Part 1/4 – Card Basics (Cardmaking 101)

This is part of a four part series on making cards. In this part, we’re covering Card Basics…

CARD SIZES

The standard size for handmade cards in the US and Canada is one-quarter of an 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheet of card stock. 8-1/2″ x 11″ is commonly called “letter size”. You can achieve the standard size of card base by cutting a letter size piece of card stock in half, and then folding it in half.

  • Portrait cards are 4-1/4″ x 5-1/2″
  • Landscape cards are 5-1/2″ x 4-1/4″

Here are some options for creating card bases (click on the image to see larger):

  • TIP: For card makers outside the US and Canada, the same cutting in half and folding technique achieves similar results with an A4 piece of card stock. One-quarter of an A4 sheet of card stock is also considered a standard card size.

SCORING CARDS

You will often hear about scoring card stock before folding. A score line is an indentation in the card stock that allows it to fold more easily. To create a score line, locate where you’d like the score line (or fold line to be), and run a scoring tool or bone folder along the area while pressing lightly. This creates the indentation which is the score line.

  • TIP: To prevent cracking of card stock while fold your card base, always score the card stock with a bone folder. I cover more about card stock in this video:

Watch video below | Watch at YouTube

ENVELOPES

While you can make handmade envelopes to fit your cards (no matter what size they are), it is easier to buy envelopes pre-made. The following envelopes fit standard size cards:

  • Cards made from letter size card stock: A2 envelope (4-3/8″ x 5-3/4″)
  • Cards made from A4 card stock:C6 envelope (114 mm x 162 mm)
  • NOTE: While it is standard among the online card making community to use Width x Height for dimensions, the dimenisions of envelopes are given as H x W on most envelope websites.

For colorful envelope options, I love Hero Arts notecards and envelopes (available here).

MAILING CARDS

The standard envelopes mentioned above are large enough to go through the mail. However, sometimes handmade cards can be quite thick or heavy. If you are unsure if the standard postage price will cover mailing your card, please be sure to ask your post office, or simply add an extra postage stamp. I always keep postcard stamps on hand to add a bit extra to cards I mail.

If your card is especially thick, fragile, or has embellishments that might be troublesome for mailing, you have a few options. Personally, I tend to reserve a special card like that for times when I can hand deliver it and therefore don’t have to worry about mailing it. But if I am mailing the card, I use a photo mailer like that ones i mention in this post.

I also found this awesome video from Nancy Taylor and Hero Arts concerning mailing cards:

Watch video below | Watch at YouTube

Decorating the outside of your envelope can also be really fun! While highly decorated envelopes might take a bit longer to be processed through the post office (the automated machines sometimes have trouble “reading” the address), your card will still reach it’s destination. After all, if these cards can make it, I think anything can. :)

INSIDE CARDS

While some papercrafters like to stamp a message inside their cards, I generally leave mine blank so that I can write a message inside. It’s completely up to you. Whatever you’d like to do. :)

WHAT’S NEXT?

Next up in Card Making 101 is Part 2 – Gather Your Supplies/Tools. :)

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Cardmaking 101

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24 Comments
  1. OH wow.. although I think I kind of know the basics I love these details and that you shared w/us. Your one of my Go to Gals for inspiration & want to thank you for always sharing such awesome & very useful info always. Your one of the people that made me think hmm maybe I can make a card to so THANK YOU so much!! :)

  2. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! Although I’ve been dabbling in making cards for awhile now, I never really got a basics intro like this. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of this series. Your website is the one of the first places I go in the morning to check out what’s going on. Your cards are absolutely beautiful and you’ve helped me see how to incorporate all the designer series papers I’ve purchased.

  3. Great idea! My mom is someone who always wants to make cards but can never remember the sizes or basics. I can’t wait for her to follow along so she doesn’t have to ask me 100 questions each time! LOL! Gotta love her! Thanks again!

  4. Hello Krisitna,

    Great idea! thanks for sharing your knowledge with all of us.

    I have a question about the card base cardstock. How heavy/thick is the paper you use? is there a way to know how heavy /thick a paper is? I can only tell when I cut, fold it to make it into a card base or try to fold it in the corners.

    I have been trying to look for this information in different sites (SU or Hero Arts…from different companies (SU or Hero Arts, etc ) with no luck. I am sure you are wondering… why in heavens is Karla wondering about this particular detail? well, I have been living abroad for a year now and my stack of paper is slowly coming down to an end and I have not been able to find the exact thickness (heaviness) in local market. Maybe this info can help me find what I need.

    Thanks again!
    Karla

  5. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you! Although I never really got a basics intro like this. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of this series. Your website is the one of the first places I go to check out what’s going on. Your cards are absolutely beautiful and you’ve helped me see how to incorporate all the designer series papers I’ve purchased.

    Heidy

  6. Hi Kristina, I love watching your videos, and I’m having trouble with watching on your website. You usually post them on youtube but you didn’t post the envelope videos. Can you post them on youtube? Thank you (if you can). I really appreciate the how-twos. It’s very inspirational! Have a great Monday.
    Take care,
    Kim T.

  7. Hi — this is is so fantastic!
    Thanks so much
    Jo

  8. Hi there! I just want to tell you that I really admire all your cards and I think I’m your fan now. Actually I’m not that creative but I really into making cards when I watched your videos I’m so amazed with the variety of products you using. I’m working in Saudi arabia and unfortunately I can’t find even a nice paper for cards. Thank you for inspiring me to make beautiful cards because when your doing it seems so easy…

  9. Thanks for this basic information. Even though I have been making cards awhile, it’s always wise to return to the basics just for a refresher and you can always learn something new. I always wondered what size A4 was…now I know.

    Thanks again and stay blessed!

  10. Great idea! I am going to direct my ‘new to cardmaking’ friend over here right away. Thanks (it will save me having to explain it all lol).

  11. Oh, my little one is becoming famous :) Thanks for all your great tips, Kristina!

  12. Thank you. I can pass this on to my daughters, for them to learn the basics on card making.

  13. Wow what perfect timing . Can’t wait until tomorrow-I need to learn about inks.

  14. Simple, but awesome! Thank you!

  15. First off, girl, you look so pretty! You always do, but I really love your new hairstyle. It really suits you.

    Second, thanks for the great resource! This is one that many will come back to again and again.

  16. you’re a great teacher and an artist,
    Thanks

  17. I have been card making for a few years now and didn’t know some of the stuff you told us today….
    I love your website… I have to thank you for your 2009 christmas card series.. i made 15 cards this weekend thank to you.. going to work on the other ten this week… When will your 2010 series be starting? I was excited to hear there was going to be one for this year.. thanks again
    Laura

  18. Even though I have been making cards for years I am looking forward to this series, I know you will teach me new things. By the way, I busted out loud laughing when I looked at the link regarding “if these cards can make it ….”. I feel good about myself if I just stamp one image on the envelope, let alone what these people have done to their envelopes!! Jeez.

  19. Hey Christina,
    Great tips and videos. This card making 101 will be of great help to me…
    Thanks.

  20. you think of everything! awesome post for beginners and advanced alike!

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