Friday 23 September 2016

Intricate Die Cutting Tips

        Hi crafters, Dr Sonia here back with another post on die cutting! I got my Big Shot a couple of years back and have been in love with die cutting ever since!!Whether you are a hobby crafter like me or considering turning your hobby into a profession or side business this is one baby you should get .....and no this is not the "DT" in me speaking....I just love die cutting!!
          In the last 2 DT posts I showed you various ways to use labels/ nesting dies . Here are the links in case you missed them : Stretching your Dies and Going 3 D with Die

         I got this beautiful ,beautiful Spellbinders Floral Gazebo die from Crafters Corner for my DT post and since it is such a gorgeous intricately designed die I thought I will show you some tips to die cut such intricate designs.

And before I do that let me give you some tips on buying dies
  • Google up the name of the die and see if the project photos appeal to you .
  • See if you are getting value for money...Count the number of dies in a set and also check out the size of the dies as well as the individual die designs. for eg in this Floral Gazebo die get 7 dies which includes 3 styles of leafy vines , a flower, a cute bird and a very versatile heart in addition to the main gazebo!
  • If you are confused which brand die to get....I would advise you to opt for the more reputed brand even if it is more expensive unless you have read / heard rave reviews of the "cheaper/newer" brand! Some years back I got a circle die set from a brand which I will not name and was so frustrated that it wouldn't give clean cuts! And yes mailing them didn't change the situation. Later I bought a more expensive circle die set from a reputed established brand and boy do I love the clean easy cuts it gives!
Well I can go on and on about tips on buying dies but then are here for another subject isnt it!!

I created a Stair Step Pop Up Card using the Spellbinders Happy die as the base and used a couple of gorgeous intricate dies from Spellbinders like the Spellbinders swirl bliss pocket and the Spellbinders Romantic Agenda in addition to my all time favorite die brand Marianne Designs !

The beautiful lacy corners were made by cutting up the  Spellbinders swirl bliss pocket die cut and dressing it up with tiny pearls[ with the help of the Crystal Katana!]

I used the gorgeous papers from Bob n Betty for the base of my Pop Up Card and hence kept the embellishments to a minimal.

Now coming to the tips on cutting Intricate Die Designs...these will be known to the seasoned papercrafter but sharing here for the benefit of the newbies!

When you use an Intricately detailed die such as the Floral Gazebo or any other when you pass it through your big shot  it is common to get what you see below.....the die has hardly made an impression on the paper!

Factors which determine how easily and crisply you can cut intricate dies
How old your Big Shot is 
How bent your Cutting pads are
The brand of your die
The thickness of your paper
The Intricacy of the die design
How to Cut Intricate Dies
1. Use the Metal Adapter Plate

Well the solution which works for me and which is the standard recommendation in crafting circles is the metal adapter plate.....this literally changes your die cutting life. So if you dont have one...I suggest you add it to your next purchase!!
Add the metal plate adapter under your cutting plates and proceed with the usual die cutting sandwich.

2. Keeping your die cutting surface up
This is especially important for intricate designs. In case you have to see where you are the first round use the die cut surface down but in the event you get a partial cut ...flip it and run it though your machine with the cutting surface up

In the picture above the area in the lower part is still not cleanly cut even after the use of the metal this case just rotate the die and pass it again through your machine
3. Give 2 passes Rotating at 90 degrees

This will give a lovely clean cut unless you have a really naughty die with a super delicate design!

Releasing your Die cut

Releasing die cuts from the die or releasing the tiny die cut pieces from the main die cut can be time consuming.
You can  use the popular Spellbinders tool n one which Shalini tells me is an awesome tool and good investment as it has a brush end to clean your die and a needle end and spatula to help release the die cuts.

If you want a cheaper alternative....use nice fat pins like the corsage pins shown above which by the way are also available at Crafters Corner at this link :  Corsage Pins  and a foam pad.
You can poke the die cuts while the die  is still in the die or peel the die cut off and poke out the pieces.

I find that using the foam pad gives a nice support to the die cut and makes poking out the tiny pieces quicker and easier.
Releasing Stubborn die-cuts from the Die

Suppose you have a really stubborn die cut sticking to your die  and it irritates  you big time...there are a couple of things you can do..
1. Try the conventional poking with needle 
2. Try with needle and brush part of the Spellbinders tool n one
3. Use die release paper or wax paper between your die and paper the next time you die cut
Picking up tiny Die cut Pieces

If you want to try techniques such as inlaid die cutting or you have some really tiny die cuts or negatives of die cuts you want to use...picking up these tiny pieces can be tricky. Some of the tools which can make your job easier are
1. Reverse fav for flower making and embossing...not so much for tiny piece picking after I got the Tanto and Crystal Katana
2.Silhouette's pick me up tool
3. The best pick up reviewed in this post : Crystal Katana and the Tanto

Sticking Intricate/ Delicate Die cuts

Sticking those delicate die cut pieces can be so tricky
Here are some options
2. Fine nozzle glue which is quite tacky such as the Tombow 
3.Glue Pens
4.Thin double sided foam tape or tacky tape

And here is a final look at the card with all the intricate die cuts!
I hope you find these tips helpful.
Shoot any die cutting queries you may have in the comments and I or any of the experienced DT or Shalini will try to help you!

List of other Supplies
Dies : Cheery Lynn Flourish 13 , Cheery Lynn Build A Flower Embellishments 3 ,  Marianne   Anja Border , Heartfelt creations  Sun kissed fleur ,
Papers: Bob n Betty


  1. gorgeous card and Very useful tip. U have made fall in love with spellbinders again. One of my favorite brand. Have to buy the gazebo die :D. hugs

  2. Thank you Gayatri....yes spellbinders is my first love too!

  3. What a Beautifully decorated card ,I loved the delicate n intricate designed die-cuts a lot.Yet to own a die-cutting machine still I loved reading through your well explained post :)

  4. Gorgeous card Sonia...Loved it...Thanks for sharing...

    1. Thank you so much Sindhu...not seen you in blogland since long....hope all is well. Missing your creations!

  5. What a die and how beautifully used by you. I need to remember that metal plate trick now!Thanks for the tip, Sonia.

    1. Rupa you should get the metal makes life so much easier!!

  6. Stunning card,Sonia.Beautiful Dies and colours.Enjoy your weekend.


    1. Thank you so much good to hear from you

  7. Wow! It's super gorgeous! I love the way how you have used all the dies to make this fabulous card! Amazing embellishing!
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips :)

  8. As always.. Very informative post..with detail knowledge on dies n die cutting..thank you for sharing ..n super awesome card.loved each details

    1. Thank you so much Daksha ji....your comment means a lot! !

  9. Love this Fabulous pop up card with full details Sonia! Every angle, from papers to embellishment is so gorgeous, totally love it!

  10. Sonia, again you have created a stunning card.
    When I read your posts I am inspired. I am hoping when winter comes I will find the mojo to get making cards again.
    I took a few minutes today and looked at some of your past tutorials and I am looking forward to trying some of them.

    1. So wonderful to hear from you my friend....had missed you Myrna and Thank you so much for your supportive words!

  11. Beautiful card n thanks u for ur tips mam

  12. Beautiful card n thanks u for ur tips mam

    1. Thank you so much for the constant support Pooja

  13. Beautiful card...and very well explained ..
    Thanks for sharing!
    Can u please tell which paper is best to use for diecutting... is there any specific gsm paper?

    1. Sampada its a personal preference. I like to use card stock and foam the most. I dont like to use thin paper for die cutting unless I am making flowers.

    2. Well better put the grams would depend on the die design...for example if the die is going to form the base of my card I would go for the thickest paper the die can handle which would be an average 250-300gm.If I am making thin layered flowers thin punchcraft paper would work but if its for a flower which needs to hold its shape then a thicker paper
      If you are using Big Z dies then you can cut really thick paper and even jute

  14. Thanks for the tutorial Dr. Sonia.
    I use a nailbrush and pins to remove the little pieces.

    1. Thank you so much for dropping my that is one cool tip...I think I have a nailbrush in my manicure set...I must see if it works!

  15. Lovely post Dr. Sonia, I wanted to know the difference between the metal adapter plate and the magnetic platform . Can u pls tell what are the uses of both of them. .


    1. Gauri those are entirely different. Your basic big shot comes with a platform and acrylic cutting pads. The magnetic platform can be used instead of the normal is supposed to help hold metallic thin lit dies in place. The metal plate adapter replaces having to use what is referred to as "shims" which are pieces of card you need to add to your cutting sandwich to help cut intricate dies. The problem with shimming is its tedious and you need to keep adding and removing card stock to get the right pressure and its also risky as you can over shim and damage your machine.
      Hope that helps
      Dr Sonia

  16. thats sooo cool.. thanks for the useful tip mam. and by the way i want to know wat kind dies to be used in tab1 ..

    1. Afreen the picture is there on the tabs...always refer that when you are confused. Embosslits and Sizzlits go on top of tab 1.

  17. Oh my, this is absolutely Gorgeous!! I'm new to die cutting but already Spellbinders is my favorite. I can't wait to get this & the stairs die to create with! Thank you!


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