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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

How to be Awesome at Making Cards

My newest craft idea was to make homemade greeting cards.  Now, I'm not usually a big fan of homemade things because they don't seem as high quality in my mind as things I buy.  Part of this is because I'm just not very good at making stuff yet, and part of it is because I'm just used to the professional look of store-bought things.

But now that I'm not working, we have less money, so this craft is mainly an effort to cut costs.  I figure if each card I buy costs $3-$5, and I buy 3-5 per month, I'm spending an average of $16 per month, or $192 per year, which we'll round to $200.  So my goal is to make at least 50 cards for under $200. 

I quickly realized that this is going to be harder than it might seem as I browsed the aisles of Jo-Ann Fabrics.  This craft has the potential to be a lot like scrapbooking (which I'm not allowed to do anymore because I spend about a million dollars on one book that only I ever look at).  There are the cute papers, the awesome 3-D-real-moving-parts stickers, the stamps, which must be made of platinum for what they are charging, and so much more.  I swear, they had walnut oil.  What the heck am I supposed to do with walnut oil?

But I'm sure I needed it, and it was all I could do to keep it out of my cart.

So first, I had to decide what paper to get.  I recently found a book at a warehouse book store about card making for just a few dollars, so I got it.  It had instructions for how to make lots of cute cards, and also, how to make envelopes and cards out of regular paper.  The stores do sell blank cards and envelopes, but they are obviously more expensive.  I got one pack of those so I would have some cream colored ones, and also in case my envelope-making skills were sub-par, and I got a package of colored cardstock-type paper on sale.

Then I had to figure out what stamps I wanted.  Stamps are a long-term investment, which I guess is why they cost so much.  They're like $6 or $7 per stamp, but once you get it, you've always got it.  They don't like, run out or anything.  You just get ink, and that lasts forever, too.

It is at this point that I realized I should probably figure out what kind of cards I wanted to do.  I know that, again, it seems like this step should have been way earlier in the process, but no.  Apparently, that's not how I roll.

I decided to focus on two kinds of cards for now.  Birthday cards and congratulations cards, since those seem to be what I am usually getting for people, what with everyone I know either giving birth or celebrating their birth.  Usually one of the two, but sometimes both.

So I got three stamps:  two birthday stamps and one congrats stamp.  I also got one of those little "created by" stamps to go on the back of the cards so everyone can see how awesome I am. 

Then I needed embellishments.  The book had so many great ideas for ways to decorate the cards, but of course, I left the book at home, so I just decided to wing it, and I ended up just kinda wandering around for a while.  I decided to get some cute stickers and some little cross-stitch patters that were all on clearance for a dollar a piece.  Not bad.  I also got some glue and a little ribbon.

So here's all the stuff I ended up getting that day:

Then I pulled out what's left of my scrapbooking stuff, which is mainly the hardware because I gave most of the papers and stickers away.  I still have scissors that make cool designs, shape punches, a Cricut machine, and a few little things like buttons, ribbon, etc.  I also used some leftover fabric from a past sewing project.

Then I just started putting stuff together.  Some of the ideas I got from the book, like the baby bootie one, but most of them just came from the stickers I got.

Oh, and making the envelopes wasn't hard, and in retrospect, I kinda wish I hadn't gotten those pre-made cards and envelopes, because the ones I made work just fine.  You just make a template, which takes a little time to measure and cut,

and then you just trace it as many times as you need to, cut it out, fold it, and glue the sides.  Not hard.

I made a bunch of congratulations cards.  Here's what they all look like on the inside.

And here they are on the front.

I only made two birthday cards.  This one,

and my favorite.

Time-wise, of course this is not as efficient as buying a card, but that's not the point.  I have more time, so I can use it to try to save money.  It's also fun, and I enjoyed doing different things for each card, and trying to see what all I could find to use.

Now, let's look at the cost.

Book about making cards:          $4.99
4 Stamps (on sale):                  $18.86
50 sheets Colored paper (sale):  $3.99
3 sheets stickers (Clearance):     $3.00
2 ink pads (sale):                     $9.78
Box of cards/envelopes:             $3.99
Tiny spool of ribbon:                  $1.00
Cross Stitch kits (clearance):      $6.45
Punch Needle kit (clearance):      $3.99
Sequins:                                   $0.79
Craft Glue:                                3.99    

Teacher discount:                       -$9.12
TOTAL:                                $51.71

Ok, so that doesn't sound too good.  BUT, that's enough to make about 40 cards and 30 envelopes out of the colored paper, plus the 10 or so in the pre-made pack.  Yes, I'll probably go back and get a "Thank You" stamp soon, so that's another $5 or so, but really, that's not a bad deal, compared to the $200 I spend at Hallmark/Target every year on greeting cards. 

So let's grade card-making:

Time:  A-
Difficulty:  A
Expense:  B+
Fun:  A+
Relaxing:  A

If I get really good at these, I might even try to sell a pack or two on Etsy.  I think the cross stitch ones will be cute, but they of course take a little longer to make.  Once I get them finished, I'll post them.  Until then, if you have a birthday or a birth coming up, I hope you like these!


  1. Awesome!! And super cute! Teacher discount, for the win...are you on Joann's mailing list? Cuz their weekly ad always has a 40% off one item or something like that in it. Hobby Lobby will also have regular 40% off any item coupons if you print their coupon from their website.

  2. Thanks! Yeah, I'm on their mailing list. Remember the coupon I sent you? I used one of their coupons on this same trip to get my quilting fabric. Good to know about Hobby Lobby, too.

  3. REally great pictures and love all those bright colors!
    The cards are great! Yes, being home gives you the time to do things yourself. I'm glad we have both options for the different times in life when we can or can't be home to do things. or if it's something that ties my thumbs in knots! Really cute, and looks like you really enjoyed the process on this one. Great subject!