Tips & Thrift

Some handy tips, many of which will save you cash. From how to cut intricate dies more easily to how to save money on the latest crafting 'trend'!

Your Money Saving Tips

Hazel was kind enough to write in with this great tip for you:

I have been interested in the Rare Earth 'load & fold stamping aid. A cheaper version is an old cd case with the insert removed. You can fit a 4.5 x 5.5 inch piece of card in and it works a treat, you get a lovely crisp image.

What a really clever idea Hazel. Thank you! R

Steff wrote in with this great money saving tip:

Kmart have rolls of metallic contact paper for $5 & it works beautifully fixed to recycled greeting cards through your die cutting machines. It comes in silver, gold & copper foil.

Such a shame we don't have Kmart (or Michaels/Hobby Lobby etc etc) here in the UK as I have seen pictures & the copper one is absolutely stunning. R

Jacqui wrote in to pass on this money saving tip:

In Poundland I spied what looked like a pack of 4 embossing tools to my crafty eyes! They were in fact nail art tools in the false nail etc section. Don't know if you have seen them too. Some very small but a couple usable, can't go wrong for £1.

Thanks Jacqui, will check those out next time I am along the High Street. R

Another great tip from Hazel

To make your own card candi, cut a circle with a half inch punch, then using either a large ball tool, or the rounded end of a ball pen, emboss the circle on the back of a mouse mat and wallah, you have candi. In the colour and design you want.

Thanks Hazel, another fabulous tip!

Hazel, one of my regular readers, wrote in with this fabulous tip:

I bought a Groovi plate out of curiosity, I have found you don't need to buy anything else, I use a clip board, available in all supermarkets, and a ball pen that has run out of ink. The results are brilliant and you don't need to use a lot of pressure, so a lot cheaper than all the accessories available.

Thank you Hazel, I don't own the Groovi plate but I am quite sure this will encourage many other readers to go ahead & purchase one - now they don't have to shell out for all of the accessories too!

Christine wrote in with this great money saving tip:

I have been using make up sponges for rubber stamping. Saw 4 for £9.99 on C&C. Large ones at £ shop,Yep £1. Better still on amazon 4 cost .99p.

Thank you Christine, been looking for some larger one's!

Michelle got in touch with this great tip: 

Just seen embossing type tools in the nail art section of the £1 shop (can't remember which one sorry). Much cheaper than the 'craft' version!"

Thanks Michelle, I will definitely be on the look out for those next time I am in town!

Doreen, one of the ladies that I teach mentioned that she was stuck when she cut through the magnetic shim of her Ebosser recently so tried one of those magnetic sheets from the pound shop & it works like a dream - & I have been using one in my Ebosser ever since! (See 'Magnetic Sheets' tip below for details).

Fabulous money saving tip Doreen, thank you!

Michelle wrote in with this tip - fantastic if you are struggling to find a clear glass cutting mat in the pound shops.

"Don't buy an expensive glass cutting 'board' buy a glass 'board' from the pound shop and take the fancy printed backing off, lay it over your green mat (self healing cutting mat) and you instantly have grids and/or measurements for about £15 saving." 

Muriel, who is new to the site, wrote in with this great tip:

"Keep your old telephone directorery/Yellow pages and use it when glueing, tear out the page after each application".

Dorothy wrote in with these tips:

I was looking at your one pound saving page, and thought you might like to know that you can also get flock for nails from the pound shop, as well as very mini beads, which are good for snow glow.

Hazel wrote in with this tip:

On Ebay there is a company called 'thewholesaleposco2009' who will cut acrylic blocks to any size for you, & there are lots to choose from & they don't charge P&P!

Cyndi wrote in with these tips:

I hate having to take on & off the acrylic blocks the small rubber stamp flourishes (usually) when I am stamping so now if I have an old 1 inch inkpad that has dried out and needs to be thrown away I save the lid and put the stamp on there. Makes life much easier.

The other thing is (and this actually came about because of the masses of washi tape I was accumulating!) is I can never remember where I got the tape from. Most of it comes on a reel so now I write inside the reel the name of the company I got it from so it's much easier should I wish to re-order. This also works for ribbon or basically anything else that's on a reel of some kind.

Gaby got in touch & mentioned she had found some flocking powders on EBAY, but they are not intended for crafting, they are advertised for nails.

Gaby bought the set for less than £2 & tried them out. She assures me they work brilliantly, the pots are smaller than usual, but there are more of them - in a variety of colours. 

My friend Lesley tipped me off about these:

Holographic rainbow board covered in black 'paint'! If you feed it through an embossing plate & LIGHTLY sand, it makes a fantastic background - particularly suited to men's cards. If you sand it too heavily you will wear away the holographic surface below. I had a go & added metallic wax & I adored the effect.

Available in the kids section of your local PoundWorld shop!

Magnetic Sheets at your local PoundWorld shop

If like me you are collecting dies, you will need somewhere to store them. I have seen the magnetic sheets on C&C - can't remember how much they are - but about a £5 plus p&p for 3? Well, if you go to your local pound shop you will find two in a pack for £1! Just slide them into a file pocket along with a sturdy piece of card & you are sorted.

Crafter's are the best recyclers!

Here is a list of stuff you could salvage from around the home, that you can easily use in your craft projects.


They use this widely now in packages, it is that 'window' that allows you to see the contents of the pack. It comes in all, sizes & thicknesses. Save it all! It makes for inexpensive shaker cards. You can use it to 'laminate' a window on your card - thus giving it more strength than it would otherwise have. I use it to stick my butterfly peeloffs to & then trim around, that way I can bend their wings & they stay in position.

Shaped Acetate:

You know the type I mean - where they have heated it up to mould around the contents in the pack? Well the regular square, rectangle , oval & round one's make really easy shaker cards. Or simply use them as a bubble to protect some delicate work on your project. I haven't yet found a use for the one the tooth brush come in through?


Anything from cereal to wash tabs, & everything else in between.

Cereal boxes can be cut away & decorated with thick backing paper for fabulous magazine or A4 files. You can also use them to make your own 'chipboard' shapes! They will go through your die cutting machine*, so the world is your oyster as they say!

Soap tablet boxes can easily be decorated to give as a gift with some hand made cards inside, equally they make great storage boxes for your ever growing craft stash!

Take a new look at your shopping & you will discover that the majority of the packaging that you currently recycle can be used in your new hobby.

* More about die cutting machines later.

Buttons, bows, ribbon scraps & string:

Anything you can rescue before recyling clothing is a valuable asset! Even old hooks & eyes  have a place in your craft stash. Buttons of all shapes & sizes are to be treasured, as are bows & scraps of ribbon. Broken zips can be made into flowers, buckles from bags & shoes can become the focal point on your work. You can use the string to tie through the buttons for a rustic effect, particularly good on a mans card. You will be amazed how fast your craft stash will grow - without spending a penny. 

Gift wrap & adornments, greeting cards & envelopes:

No, you don't need to recycle all of that gift wrap at Christmas time - unless of course you want to. You will eventually learn to become selective, & rescue only the stuff you know will find a home in your projects. But the left over bits from wrapping other gifts throughout the year are also to be treasured. You bought the paper because you liked it didn't you? Well you could always make a matching card to accompany the gift with the scraps.

Cut out the bits you like from old greeting cards - even the greeting can be recycled in this way. Maybe there is only a tiny flower on the card you like - cut it out & put it somewhere safe & it will be there waiting when your project just needs that final touch.

Envelopes: I have now got the family trained not to write my name on the envelope & then I can either reuse it or if it is pretty, cut it up & punch little shapes from it!

Packaging from flowers:

There is such a diverse range of materials used to wrap that special bouquet these days, everything from the gauze to the pretty cellephane can add a new dimension to your craft stash.

Wallpaper samples & paint charts:

I used to embarass my sister when we went to B&Q, by appearing at the check out with my arms full of wallpaper & border samples, along with a myriad of colour charts. But the cashier always said it was fine! You may have some of these around the house, in the attic or garage to save you a trip? 

Sometimes the family owned shops have old wallpaper sample books they are happy to let you have - always worth asking?

Metal Bottle Tops:

You know the kind you need to prize off with an with a bottle opener? If you have a 'local' they might collect some up for you if you ask? Great for blokes cards - particularly if they are branded? But you can easily recolour or decorate them, to use as embellishments on your projects.

Plastic bottle tops:

The one's from the milk carton can be used as a base for DIY stamps. The smaller one's can be used as the hub for wheels, the centre of flowers, covered with a paper circle to match your project. etc.


It surprising where mesh pops up these days, from pretty glittery stuff around flowers, to the fine gauge netting that food stuffs come in - e.g. Baby Bell cheeses. Though the stuff your carrots come packaged in also has a place in crafting - as the body beneath a lacy tutu, or to go behind a big ribbon bow for a dramatic effect?

A - Z of other stuff


Use the local library to browse their book selection, they will even order titles in for you & call you when they arrive. Check out their discontinued book shelf too, you might be able to find something totally inspiring for just a few pence.

It will take time to decide what type of paper crafting you want to try first, & there are many to choose from. I will get into the details of some later. If you find a book that you really like, check out EBay or Amazon - where you can often get the same titles for less than 50% of the cover price. Libraries often stock magazines too, if they don't have any craft titles, maybe they can get some in for you from another branch?


If you have friends who are crafters, perhaps they have stuff you could borrow. If you can get a loan of a few punches for an evening, it wouldn't take long to punch out a whole container full of embellishments ready to use on your designs. You can use almost any papers through punches, but be careful using card, particulary card with a shiny coating - it can jam up the punch!

Cocktail Sticks/Tooth Picks:

If you don't already have some in your kitchen someplace, grab a cheap pack next time you are around a pound shop. I use then for anything from applying blobs of gel glue, to picking up little acrylic gems. They are also the key element in a couple of quick embellishment ideas:-

Making a mini scroll:

Cut a long thin strip of paper, approx. 10 x 4 cm & decorate as desired. Trim the points from two cocktail sticks & force/glue a bead to each end. Add a little line of tacky glue to one short end of the paper & wrap it around one of the cocktail sticks. Hold in position until the glue sets. Repeat at the other end. Roll the paper scroll to the desired length & attach to your project using 3D pads.

Making Mini Flags:

Cut a small pointed diamond from pretty paper & fold in half to form a 'pendant' flag. Trim away one pointed end from the cocktail stick & push it up between the fold. Add a little tacky glue to fix the flag to the 'pole' & finally glue the two sides of the pendant back to back.

Making Flowers:

Instead of using the flag on the stick, stick two flowers back to back on the end of the stick. You can make so many things using this method, just let your imagination run wild!

 Coloured Markers:

Buy a large cheap set from the childrens department, you will use them loads! Although I rarely actually 'colour' with regular marker pens I do use them in other ways. For a really 'water colour' effect, scribble the pen onto some acetate or a white plate, wet your paintbrush & use it to 'thin' down the ink & then paint with it!

Another thing I use them for is to add colour to stamped images rather than using a regular inkpad. I gently colour in the image on the stamp - don't worry if the ink dries because you simply need to breathe on it when you are done to reactivate the ink before stamping.


Make friends with your computer! You will be amazed what it can do with only the software already installed! You can print off clip art to use on your projects directly from Microsoft Word. You can create sheets of greetings & journalling simply & easily, also using Word. I have even been known to use the phrase 'Happy Birthday' to construct an entire backing sheet.

One of the programs that you may not have discovered in the Microsoft bundle is Paint. From your Desktop, select 'All Programs' then 'Accessories' you will find Paint in the list.

Here you can actually paint if you choose, but it is also good for copying images from your scanner to save in digital format. So from the paintings the kids do at school to old photographs, you can save them all on to your computer & then print them off as you wish, to use in your projects.

Craft Magazines:

There are absolutely tons on the market, so there will be one out there to suit you somewhere. Most come with free gifts too, which will help add to your crafting stash. But a quick tip here, I donated hundreds to a charity shop last year & I am sure I won't be the only one - so if your budget is as tight as mine was when I first started crafting, start there first!

If you are a part of a craft group, why not swap magazines amongst yourselves - or even have a stack for anyone to loan when they wish.

If you do find a title that suits you, buy it off the shelf for a couple of months & if you are still happy - subscribe!

You get pounds off the retail price, it is delivered to the door & you often get a subscription gift that is worth more than half of the subscription price itself! This will not only save you money, but it saves you trying to remember when the next issue goes on sale & the trouble of going out to find it around the newsagents!

Craft Groups/Crops:

Your local craft shop generally know where these are hosted. Often in church halls, libraries & community centres.

Generally it is the group itself who set the session price, so it can be free or a couple of pounds. If the group has been going a while it is likely to be long term (or seasoned) crafters. Don't be intimidated by this, as this is the best type of group to join. Not only will they be more than happy to pass on their skills, but crafters being a generous bunch,  they may well pass on some of their stash that they no longer use too!

Creating your own backing papers & card:

I am often inspired to create some paper to use as backgrounds on my cards. So roll back the years & roll up your sleeves & try out some of these ideas?

Bubble Wrap:

If you don't have any around the house, rip open an old padded envelope as they use bubble wrap as the padding in the sides of those. 

You can use ink pads, watered down marker ink, kids water colour paint etc. to create this effect. Though if you are using an ink pad make sure it is a dye based one rather than one used for embossing - it will say 'Dye Based' on the lid. 

Using the ink pad you can either lightly daub the bubbles directly with the pad, you don't need to press hard as that will spoil the effect. Or you could stamp the ink pad onto a white plate & use a paint brush to water it down & then use a sponge to apply gently to the bubbles. Use the same method with the watered down marker ink or the paint.

Carefully lower the paper onto the bubbles & smooth gently with your hands. If you want a multi coloured effect, allow the paper to dry (or use a heat gun to speed up the process) & repeat the process with another colour. You could also do this in one go simply by applying different colours to the bubbles first time around. Both variations create a different effect.

You can also do this using tacky glue - when you lift the paper from the bubbles, apply glitter & allow to dry.

Metallic Craft Sprays:

If I ever see these on sale in the pound shops I always buy one of each - gold & silver in the store I use. This is a great one for creating lovely card! 

ALWAYS do the spraying outdoors & before you begin make sure you are not facing into the wind, thus ending up covering yourself with the spray & not the card. Just lightly spray, slightly above the card & it will fall as a mist creating beautiful effects. You can use both colours on the card one after the other as it dries instantly. The bonus of this is that you can use the card right away! 

You can achieve similar effects using very watery ink, but you have to wait for each layer to dry before doing the next. You can buy spray bottles from Boot & Super Drug etc. for under £1.

An old fashioned ink cartridge (for fountain pens) are good, just cut the end off & drop the whole thing into the spray bottle - why get messy if you don't have to. Add water & shake well. Alternatively you can use very watery water coloured paint.  Use light sweeping movements across the paper or card & allow each layer to dry before applying the next.

Shimmer mists:

There are a variety of shimmer mists on the market, they are pure pigment blended with a solution which helps them adhere to your paper. They are a bit pricey, but go a long way. You can make your own by adding the pigments to the watery ink spray above & add a few drops of PVA glue to 'bind' the pigment, alternatively you can fix the pigment & water solution with a light spray of bargain basement hairspray, once dry.

Computer Generated: Text backgrounds

I often return to Microsoft Word to create 'text' backing papers. You just need to type in the phrase/name/occasion/greeting etc & then copy & paste that one to make two, copy & paste the two to make four etc.etc. You can change the colour & font etc as you go. It really doesn't take long to create an entire sheet, & then simply print off onto coloured or patterned paper! 

Double sided paper

You can easily create double sided paper for your projects, simply choose a heavier weight paper (so as the pattern doesn't show through) & print out the first side & then wait a moment or two for the ink to dry & then flip over the sheet & print out the same, or another pattern on the back. 

Stamping & Heat Embossing

This is one of my favourite pastimes if I have 'crafters block'! I simply begin with a plain or coloured piece of paper or card & then stamp random patterns on to it, just don't give up at the first attempt. You can use more than one stamp & more than one colour of ink. If you don't have ink pads use coloured marker pens to 'ink' your stamp. (See Coloured Markers above).

Try using a distress ink & then after you have stamped the sheet, use a damp paint brush to 'distress' the images. Once dry, you can always go back in with another stamp, or another ink & add more. It is only a piece of paper/card after all, so if you really don't like the finished result get your paper punches out or simply BIN IT!

You can use the same idea with a pigment ink & some embossing powders. I like to do this on dark card & use metallic powders. You can get some lovely effects if you do the first layer of stamping in gold, the second in silver & the third in bronze etc.

Die cuts: Removing them from the dies easily:

Use waxed paper when cutting intricate dies, simply place it between the die & the paper/card you want to cut & the pieces will come out easily by tapping the back of the die on the edge of your work table.

Die cuts: Cutting intricate dies:

If you are struggling to cut an intricate die through your machine invest in a metal shim & they are not too expensive & will easily outlive your machine & the next couple too! Simply place below the back of your die in the machines normal 'sandwich' & it will make cutting intricate dies a whole lot easier!

Embossing Powders v Ink Pads:

If there is one huge money saving tip I can give you right now it is this: buy coloured pigment ink pads & clear embossing powder OR buy coloured embossing powder & a clear pigment ink pad. You really don't need both! My personal advice would be go for the clear pigment ink pad, then you don't have to keep cleaning the ink from the stamp to change colour! (Though I do keep a little brown or mustard ink pad to hand to 'distress' the edges of my card).

I store all of my ink pads in resealable bags once I have opened the packaging, I find this helps preserve the ink, so the pads last far longer. Once they do begin to run dry, I store them face down to help the remaining ink come to the surface. This rule applies to all ink pads apart from the 'Big & Juicy' range - or so I am told - personally I have never bought one?


Vivien sent this tip in: "Most large supermarkets have left over envelopes from cards, if you ask nicely they will let you have them for nothing.  Some odd sizes but FREE". Thanks Vivien!

Eyelets & Brads

Eyelets are available widely in haberdashery departments world wide. They are generally the medium sized ones & you can also pick up the ones with a domed head there too - like the one's they use on the pockets of jeans to give them additional strength. You can also buy big packs in those big bargain outlets too - they are all far better value for money than you will find in craft shops.

Brads are widely available in stationers across the world. You can usually pick up a pack of 100 medium size for the came price you would pay for a 30 in the craft shops! You can easily colour them with a spirit based marker. Glitter them by covering the surface with double sided tape & then dipping in the glitter pot, a firm press & they are done. Cover them with paper to match your project in the same way, you can always add a coat of varnish to make them shine. Rub them in a pigment ink pad &, with a long pair of tweezers, heat emboss them. etc. etc. etc.

Florist Shop Finds:

Get to know your local florists. I often stroll into a florists shop, if they are friendly they will be happy to sell you some of their wrapping materials. this can range from glitter mesh & beautiful wispy gauzes to beautifully patterned cellophane, there are also things like jute & ribbons - which they will let you buy by the metre. Have a look around while you wait, I have found stuff like tiny glass pebbles & gorgeous feathers - they will even let you buy florists tape if they have some spare.

Foiled (mirri) & holographic card:

Keep your eyes open in all of the bargain superstores. Home Bargains is a good one, they sell packs of holographic card with 16 A4 sheets in the pack for less than £1. The added bonus is you can feed this through your printer & print things like templates directly onto the back!

A tip for buying Mirri card - look out for the Anita's range. You can pick up packs of 20 for around £5. You can get them in gold or silver & I think they do a mixed pack too. It is good quality at 250gsm.

If you look at the kids craft range you can also get a pack of 50, silver mirri & gold matt in an Anita's pack. Some of the silver is sometimes marked, where it has come to the end of the run, but for the price - less than £5, & the quality that I would estimate at around 300gsm, just cut those bits out. I adore the gold in this pack!

Free Downloads:

Go to some of the craft magazine websites, they often have a download section where you don't have to subscribe to the magazine to get access to. Though many will only allow you to download if you subscribe to their newsletter.

MY TIP! Set yourself up with another email account - they are free so you can have as many as you want! Then give that email address anywhere you suspect will involve loads of junk mail. You will only ever have to go there if they send you an activation link, but otherwise just ignore it. All of the junk mail will go there -  keeping your personal email address - personal!

  Glass (heat resistant) cutting mat:

Go to the kitchen sections of the economy type stores & take your pick - just remember it needs to be mirror smooth as opposed to textured, like bathroom window glass.

If you buy a completely clear one you can put it on top of your old self healing mat, so you can see the grid through the glass. Not only will you be able to use your craft knife on it, but you can use it for heat embossing - without fear of warping! You can also use it to daub a dye based or distress ink pad in one corner & use a damp brush to paint directly from your cutting mat - then just wipe clean!

Glitter Glue:

I only ever buy the sets meant for kids. They work just as well as the craft one's though if you really like your bling, you might want to sprinkle a bit more glitter on before it dries. 

'Hand made' type papers:

I adore textured papers, they add a bit of luxury to your project. I always look in the Works if I am nearby, as they generally have lots of lovely packs. These range from a bargain packs at around £5 - but there is generally a whole wad of the same stuff in these one's - just to bulk them out! I found that the smaller packs have the best variety.

But they also do crepe paper, linen fibre papers etc (also available in Home Bargains), as well as tons of lovely goodies to embllish your projects with.

I have had some wonderful finds in a market town in Northumberland, the tourist information centre has a whole array of local artists work & I have found some stunning sheets of hand made papers there - they are a bit pricey - but a little goes a long long way! Assume many country towns have the same sort of thing? 

Heat Resistant Mats (in a roll) 

If you actually need one of these go into the pound shops, in the kitchen section & pick one up from there, why pay five times more in the craft shop for the exact same thing?

Light Box:

I have to be honest & say that I would never have actually owned one if one of my groups hadn't gifted me one for Christmas one year? If you have a glass table, stand the lamp beneath it & it works in exactly the same way. Alternatively you can work up against a window, but personally I would only use that as a last resort - too much arm ache!

Magnetic Sheets: 

These are a popular way to sore all of your metal cutting dies. They are widely available for about £5 for three, plus P&P, but honestly PLEASE don't waste your money - go to your local Pound shop, they sell two in a pack for £1!

So for the same price as a pack of three plus the p&p you could have bought 16! I slide two into a polly envelope with a sturdy piece of card (cereal box) between & keep them in an A4 file box on my chraft unit.

Old Books:

If you are wandering near a charity shop, pop in & see if there are any old books? You can rip out the pages & use them as backgrounds! You could scrunch & ink them for a distressed look. They also make beautiful flowers if you use your dies or punches on them & then ink the edges to suit your project. Fabulous for collage type backgrounds on your scrapbooking pages too! Or simply cut out the pictures to use as focal points on your projects!


I only ever buy the kids water colour sets, they do a wonderful job if you use a half decent paintbrush with them. Though I have to admit I adore Cosmic Shimmer paints, they are a bit pricey at around £2 per teeny pot - but they do go an awfully long way. They are lovely when dry as they have a gorgeous pearlescent finish, fabulous for fairies & flowers in particular! I am building up my range by buying a couple of colours at a time.

Peel off/Acetate Markers:

If one of the family hadn't given me some as a gift way back in the beginning I would never have bought these either! Don't waste your hard earned cash, if you don't own any Promarkers, go buy a set of permanent pens, they do exactly the same job as the peel off pens, at a fraction of the price!

Post & Packaging Charges:

If you are fed up paying post & packaging charges, check out the demonstrators own sites - many have free P&P or free if you spend a certain amount! Joanna Sheen is a good example - her p&p is free! Recently Card Craft Plus (the home of Hunkydory) have changed their system & now you get free p&p, but the more you spend the faster they deliver.

Printer Paper:

This is the one area of craft that I would really, really recommend that you don't skimp on! If you run regular copier paper through your printer to print out images, the ink absorbs into the paper, not only spoiling the definition of the image, but wasting all that ink.

If you use quality paper the images are much more defined, & your ink tanks will last way longer. As a rule of thumb you need to be paying roughly £10- £12 for 200 sheets - (watch out for BOGOF's & stock up) but you WILL save a fortune on ink, I promise!

Quilling Tool - Make your own:

You learn a lot teaching groups & many of these tips are a direct result. If you want to try out quilling but don't have a tool, simply go in the kitchen draw & grab one of those wooden skewers. At the blunt end wrap a bit of tape round & round about 5 or 6 mm from the end & then CAREFULLY, cut a slit in the end with your craft knife. The tape will prevent it spiltting further than you need. This will create a bigger hole in the centre of the roll than with a quilling tool, but in most cases when the item has 'relaxed' when taken off the tool - there isn't much difference between the two.

Quilling Papers - Make your own:

If you have a guillotine type paper cutter it is real easy to cut thin strips from regular paper to use for quilling.

Ribbon - colour to match your project

You can colour some ribbons to match your project. Instead of buying a whole range of different colours, buy one big roll of white or ivory that you can colour to suit - such as American seam binding. You can do this with ease using spritzers of diluted ink, or cosmic type mists. You can add pattern using marker pens, or stamp directly into it. You can even fix it to paper using a temporary adhesive, & print onto it through your printer. But make sure you stick it down well or it can get stuck inside your printer!


When I first began paper crafting, I 'didn't have two pennies to rub together' as the old saying goes, so a great many of these tips are embedded in my psyche from that time. For example, I would trawl the charity shops looking for pretty fabric prints (from tops & dresses etc) & then stretch these over a piece of card to scan into the computer. Hey presto backing papers! 

You can also scan in the kids paintings, old photographs, old atlas pages etc etc. & use them all in your projects. So make friends with your scanner & see what you can come up with!

Shaker Cards:

Save all of those little bits of paper waste from your punches & dies & keep them in a container as 'confetti for your shaker cards. 

If you buy the same pack of 3D stickers from the pound shop as I do, save the acetate 'bubble' they come packed in, as they make contructing shaker cards a breeze. Any domed acetate works so long as it is a regular shape - though I am sure eventually someone, somewhere will come up with an idea for the one from a toothbrush!

Silk Flowers:

Please don't tell me that you are still buying silk flowers in the craft shops! Go to the High Street card stores or party shops & in the accessories department, take your pick of pre-strung silk flowers. When you get them home simply snip the string to separate them! You can get anything from 60 to 100 on a string for a couple of pounds!

You can easily match them to your project by colouring them with silk paints, watered down ink, marker pens. You can add dots, stripes, hearts etc. Tint the edges with dye based ink. Stamp on them, heat emboss them etc. etc. 


This is where you wrap threads around a piece of card to make a pattern. You can buy the shapes but you certainly don't need to. Any scalloped edge punch or die will create the shapes for you. Or use your decorative edged scissors & create a shape for yourself. It doesn't have to be a regular shape, you can made up your own - I have seen everything from a fish to a heart! It is something a bit different to decorate your projects with, so have a go. The only tip I can offer is to tape your thread down at the back every couple of turns - as this will prevent it slipping off as you get further around your shape.


Over the years while I have been compiling these tips trends have changed & acrylic stamps have replaced wood mounted one's. This in turn brought down the price dramatically (not to mention helping to save our trees) so making them much more accessible to us all.

But there are still bargains to be had......... a lot of crafters got rid of their old wood backed stamps because they take up more space than the acrylic version, so keep your eyes on the charity shops as you are likely to find some really good deals.

The only other tip I can offer is to look at digital stamps, they are widely available on the internet - priced from pence to pounds - & there are some really cute one's to be had.

Stamps - Make your own:

Honest, stamps are really easy to make, I remember using a potato to make stamps when I was a kid! You still can if you want, but I mean something that will last a bit longer.

You will need access to a die cutting machine or some punches; some funky foam - the kind with adhesive on the back is best - but the stuff without will work too; & a plastic milk bottle top! Choose a die or punch that will fit onto your bottle top, use it to cut through the foam & stick it to your milk bottle top - done!

You can do this with any size die, so long as you have something big enough to stick it to in the long term as you will damage it by keep peeling it off an acrylic block! But then they are so easy to make just toss it when it gets tatty & make a new one!

Stencils - Make your own:

You can easily make  a stencil to try out dry embossing - this is where you apply pressure to one side of your card to produce a raised effect on the other. All you need is a strip of card & a punch that will go through it! Punch through one end & then fold the card in half - lining it up so you can see it through the shape you have just punched. Align the punch over the first cut out, & punch again. Slide a piece of card, face down in between the folded stencil & with something like a dry biro, 'draw' around the edge of the shape. You don't need to 'fill' the shape, just go around the edge. Take the card out & turn it over to reveal your design.

String - Jute

All of the garden centres & gardening suppliers sell that lovely jute string. It isn't the creamy white stuff, but the old fashioned 'hairy' kind. It is beautiful on seashore projects, kraft card bases, rustic, garden, or vintage themes & you can get a huge roll for just a couple of pounds!

String - Parcel

Even the creamy white stuff you can buy to secure parcels has its use in crafting. You can eaily colour it to match your progect with marker pens or spritzers.


You can have access to a lot more kit than you currently own having swaps. If you are part of a craft group ask everyone to bring in one punch (for example) to the next session & swap them around. Spend an evening using them & you will soon amass lots of new elements to use in your projects. Or you could have a session where everyone brings in a piece of kit to show everyone how it works & to let them have a try? These used to go down really well with my groups!

 Used Tea Bag/Black coffee:

No, I am not advocating you should have a dogged old tea bag in your kit, but a used damp tea bag is a great way to 'age' your projects. Make sure it isn't too damp & simply wipe it across the piece you want to 'age' - allow it to dry (or use your heat gun) & apply more if you want a darker tone. You can also do this with cold black coffee too!

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Great Tip!

Embossing vellum through an embossing folder.

It is really easy to emboss vellum through your embossing folders, simply fold a piece of regular copier paper in half & slip your vellum inside, place inside your embossing folder & run through the machine as usual.


This prevents the vellum from cracking & you get a fabulous impression not only on the vellum, but on the paper too!


For larger embossing folders just use full sheets of coper paper to 'sandwich' the vellum.