Easy and cheap custom embossing dies

May 29, 2010 at 5:03 pm 40 comments

I have been experimenting with the various ways to make my own embossing dies for the Cuttlebug for almost a year now.  I have watched all the videos and bought all the products. The results have been OK, but the processes were complicated with lots of room for error. The first thing I learned was that 2 piece folder-style dies did not work any better than one piece and the next thing I learned is that none of the home-brew methods work as good as a manufactured Cuttlebug folder, but you can get decent results that are useable and best of all, custom.

For one piece images, the easiest and cheapest method is to cut a shape from chipboard or stack several layers of cardstock and use that with an embossing mat (like the tan Spellbinders mat). I used that method in my earlier post and you can see a video on that here. But I’ve been trying to come up with an easy way to do a more complicated multipiece die and I think I have found it. Here’s how:

1. Get some self-adhesive magnetic sheets from the kids craft section at Walmart. Each pack contains 2 5 x 7 sheets and costs $1.97. It has to be self-adhesive with a backing sheet. (Cricut magnet sheets or inkjet magnet sheets will not work as is.)

2. Create your design to cut at 5 x 7 or smaller, load a magnetic sheet black side up on the mat and kiss-cut so that the magnet is cut through but not the backing. You may need to experiment first. I used a deep cut blade/housing at depth 4.5, pressure 4, speed 3 and multicut 2. I am pretty sure you can cut this with a regular blade and housing, though, as it is pretty thin and cuts easily.

3. Carefully remove all the magnet material from the areas of the design that you do not want to emboss with. If you are used to working with vinyl this “weeding” will be a familiar process. You can cut or tear the waste magnet material but be sure that all of your design positive remains in place on the backing. Once you get the hang of it you will find the magnet material really easy to work with.

4. Run your new custom die through the Cuttlebug with the “sandwich recipe” as follows: A plate, B plate, your new die with magnet side up, paper or cardstock to be embossed, embossing mat (such as tan Spellbinders mat), additional card stock shims as needed (I used 4 sheets of cardstock), and B plate. Enjoy the results. (Image on right is white core cardstock sanded after embossing.)

Download the Gypsy file and a few other Gypsy backgrounds for embossing here.

Download some CDS embossing backgrounds here.

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40 Comments Add your own

  • 1. deesdesigns  |  May 29, 2010 at 7:15 pm

    WOW! Thanks for sharing this idea – I’m definitely going to try this idea. How do you store them?

  • 2. Cindy  |  May 29, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Wow! What a great idea! I’m definitely going to try this. It looks much easier than the embossing stuff provocraft sells! Thanks for sharing this!

  • 3. Ohhh Snap  |  May 29, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    That is nicccccccce. I’ll have to go to Walmart. This beats the heck out of trying to make a folder out of cereal boxes lol.

  • 4. Barbara Lindsey  |  May 29, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    Wow Kay you just keep coming up with these great ideas.

  • 5. Trisha  |  May 29, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    This is such a great idea! The embossing you did looks very good, crisp edges and good detail. I imagine the magnet material holds up better for multiple uses. Thanks for sharing this!

  • 6. Su C.  |  May 30, 2010 at 4:42 am

    Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas. I need to shopping so I can try this!

  • 7. Julie T  |  May 30, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Thanks so much for this idea! Can’t wait to give it a go

  • 8. Karen  |  May 30, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    This is an amazing idea. Thanks so much for experimenting and sharing! Can you use the off cut as a stencil to color in the shapes too or is it too thick?

    • 9. Kay  |  May 31, 2010 at 11:38 am

      It is fairly difficult to get the “negative” to come off in one piece if the design has much complexity to it. Best idea is to cut the same file again with stencil material or card stock and weed it for the negative.

  • 10. Kim  |  May 31, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Thank you so much. I was wondering how to do this!

  • 11. DeAnne  |  May 31, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Did you pull the backing off, and stick your design to something? I can’t tell in the picture. I’m guessing a piece of ridgid plastic would work. I tried sticking it to cardboard, but the design didn’t come out as crisp as yours.

    • 12. Kay  |  May 31, 2010 at 5:27 pm

      You are making it too hard! Follow the steps exactly. The original backing stays put and you “weed” out the magnet you don’t want. I took a new photo so hopefully it will be clearer.

  • 13. DeAnne  |  May 31, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    OK, I see. My problem is that it cut clear through the backing. I’ll lessen the pressure, and raise my blade, see if that works.

  • 14. Shelitha  |  June 1, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    You’re a rockstar! This is a great idea can’t wait to give it a try – thanls

  • 15. Angela  |  June 1, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks for this post–I can’t wait to try it out!

  • 16. 7524kes  |  June 2, 2010 at 7:51 am

    You are “clever everyday”! Just love your experimentation. TFS

  • 17. thefrugalcrafter  |  June 5, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    very cool Kay! Also you can make letterpress plates with the magnet, same idea as what you did here but you can roll on ink before you emboss if you like but I use thick cotton paper and no emb mat;) great tuturail!

  • 18. Paula Puckett  |  June 14, 2010 at 7:56 am

    Love your idea! This will save some $$$! Just a thought, if some company could come up with a way to make personal embossing folders with the Your Story product or some such machine, that would be nice.( I believe Cuttlebug already sells blank folders) The machine would probably have to work sort of like a shrink wrap though, wouldn’t it? I don’t know. Just rambling. Haven’e had my morning coffee! Enjoyed the tutorial! And TFS!

  • 19. Nance  |  June 14, 2010 at 10:33 am

    You are clever….Today!

  • 20. Whitney C.  |  June 17, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    This is wonderful. Thanks for the idea. I will have to try this.

  • 21. Julie  |  July 7, 2010 at 12:44 am

    How thick is the magnet material that you used? Do you know how it compares to the Xyron Magnet/Laminate material?

  • 22. Cindy Thrall  |  July 8, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    I’m wondering how the Creatopia would handle this material…could cut a 12 X 12 adhesive magnetic sheet with the Expression for a “full page” embossing sheet, then run it and the paper of choice through the Creatopia- maybe…..haven’t ever used the Creatopia…need to find someone who has one and give it a try….

    • 23. Kay  |  July 9, 2010 at 6:43 pm

      I looked at this a few days ago and the Creatopia, unfortunately, can only “folder” emboss a maximum 6-1/2 inch wide page. It only embosses its full 12″ width with its patterned rollers. The only machine I know of that could emboss 12 x 12 inches with dies made using my method is the Big Shot Pro.

  • 24. Cindyn Thrall  |  July 11, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    And, well- WOW! The Big Shot Pro costs more than I paid for my Expression…..tho’ I would love to be able to emboss materials in larger pieces- especially 12 X 12″- I think this idea just got put wayyyy back on a back burner!

  • 25. Mel M  |  August 2, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    This is GENIUS!!! LOVE the way you’ve arranged the shoes. :0)

  • 26. Joanne M  |  August 2, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    I was just wondering about this!!! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful method.

  • 27. carrieq  |  November 9, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Thanks to your superb idea I just embossed 160 wedding invitations in the blink of an eye. Thank you, thank you!!!!!!!!!

  • 28. Debbie  |  July 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    This is wonderful!! Thank you so much for all of your clever ideas you so generously share.

    Thank you! :-)
    Debbie adk doodlingdebbie

  • 29. Jean Underwood Bradley  |  January 10, 2012 at 9:16 am

    I am wondering if there is any way to make a monogram folder to use on a wedding invitation…Or is there someplace a person could order one.

    • 30. Kay  |  January 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      You should be able to make one using this procedure.

  • 31. Claire Johnstone  |  May 7, 2012 at 8:48 am

    This is awesome! We are going to attempt making a design for a wedding invite, thanks.

  • 32. Pam  |  June 10, 2013 at 3:26 am

    I have been trying to figure out to do this! SO EXCITED to find your blog. I clicked the link to the video and I don’t see the video/tutorial. Is it still available?

    • 33. Pam  |  June 10, 2013 at 3:27 am

      It’s actually the video to the “earlier” method that I’m looking for. Where you emboss & stamp

      • 34. Kay  |  June 10, 2013 at 3:42 pm

        There was not a video that showed the stamp and emboss process. I was referring to the video that just showed how to use homemade cardstock embossing plates. Sorry for any confusion.

    • 35. Kay  |  June 10, 2013 at 3:40 pm

      Thanks for letting me know about the broken link. I could not find that video, but I did find a similar one so I’ve replaced the link and it should work now.

  • 36. zee  |  September 20, 2013 at 11:48 am

    Hello, I am new to this embossing world. I have a project that I want to work on & needed some help aka advise. I am trying to emboss a suit case with a designer logo on it. I was trying to emboss the paper on my cricut but its taking way to long to do just one sheet of paper. The design I guess is kind of complex but think it would really make my project pop & look very professional & impressive all the things I am looking for.. If you can lend me some of your help on this i would be greatly appreciated. :-)

    • 37. Kay  |  September 20, 2013 at 12:30 pm

      I assume you are using an embossing tool of some sort? I have little experience with that an suggest you ask the vendor who sold you the tool and/or holder. In general embossing designs need to be simple for best results, and certainly if speed is a concern for you.

  • 38. Rhonda  |  February 16, 2014 at 10:41 pm

    Fantastic idea! I’ve been looking at your tutorials and you tube videos and want to thank you. I’ve learned a lot. btw,,,I first heard the term ‘weeding’ on your video and am not sure what it means. Can you explain?

    • 39. Kay  |  February 17, 2014 at 1:36 pm

      Thanks, Rhonda. Weeding is when you cut (usually vinyl) and then remove the unwanted material, leaving just the design.

  • 40. Kymmaree  |  March 12, 2014 at 1:52 am

    fyi some wargaming shops sell the adhesive backed sheets in either magnetised or non magnetised versions. they use it for miniatures that have magnets in their bases already.


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