About Me

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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

D is for DIE CUT - #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

Hello and welcome to D-Day for the A-Z Blog Challenge!

My theme is Scrapbooking, and today’s letter represents a technique that’s become a new favorite for me – Die Cuts.

Die cutting is where you use metal shapes (dies) to create paper designs that add dimension and texture to your scrapbook pages. This system is used a lot by card-makers, but the 3-D effect works well for any paper project.

Dies Cuts can be produced a few ways.

Themed and seasonal pre-produced die cuts (i.e. Easter eggs, Jack-o-Lantern faces), can be purchased, but are commonly sold in bulk, and are used more for classroom craft projects. Often it is a challenge to find an exact pre-cut die shape to match your scrapbook page needs.

Like cropping, you can produce a professional look using a die cut machine and manufacturer sold dies.

The Pros:

-         A Seamless, Beautiful Look - You can cut out corresponding shapes from craft foam (or pop dot adhesive) and stack the paper for a popped up effect.

-         Multi-Purpose - The dies can be used over and over in different ways. You can use up scrap pieces of paper, and customize the designs to fit your project. Dies can be used for other paper craft projects, too, like cards, ornaments, and tags.

The Cons:

-         Pricey – Formal die cutting can cost a bit of money as far as equipment goes. A small, basic die-cutting machine (Cricut Cuttlebug) can run about $80.00, plus the cost of the dies.

-         Bang for your Buck – After you invest in a die cut machine, you would want to consider how often you will use the dies that you purchase. Depending on their size, die packs range anywhere from $5 - $30, and you want to be sure that you get your money’s worth from frequent use.

I struggle with this often – I get excited when I see a new die pattern, but I try to stop and really think about whether or not it’s worth it.

A perfect example is recently I visited the National Botanic Gardens and got a great picture of the museum’s Southwest room. I later spotted a die cut set for succulent plants (cactus, ferns, aloe) that matched, but I had to ask myself whether the compliment of one photo was worth buying an entire die cut set.

I went with my gut (the shapes spoke to me), but I stayed frugal and waited until the set went on sale.

          In the end, my cacti turned out darn cute. (I think these dies would look fabulous using green velvet paper or sandpaper colored with green/brown distress inks.)
The goal, of course, is to get the most use out of the tools you have.

And machine made is not your only choice. Another simple option is to make the die cuts yourself.

I actually ran into this issue with a Thanksgiving page I have set up for later this year (you’ll see this scrapbook page again in the O is for Origami post). I used a machine die cut for the Thanksgiving turkey, but I couldn’t find a pie die cut that was functional enough to warrant the cost.

I turned to the good ol’ internet for pie design ideas when I found this:

Following the basic shapes, I cut out a rectangular pie plate, the brown dome, wavy edge for the crust, and eyelets for the steam slits. Using some stamp inks (you could use whatever you have at home: crayons, pencils, or markers), I shaded my pie to give it depth, and topped it off with “steam” from an existing coffee clear stamp set.

It turned out perfectly, and all of the materials used were in supply at home.

So, whether you cut using a machine, or create the image by hand, die cuts are a cool and aesthetic way to add appeal to your scrapbook page.

I appreciate you checking out my blog! Tomorrow is another exciting letter – E is for Embellishments. I hope you’ll stop by then.

And if you're ready for more A-Z Blog topics, please check out my fellow A-Z blogsters.

You can find them on social media using the #AtoZChallenge and @AprilA2Z.

-         SNG


  1. I saw you at the challenge and I create cards and do scrapbooking as well. It is an expensive hobby for sure and you are right about thinking what die cut you will use. I love your plant shapes and cacti.

    1. Hi Birgit! Card making is so cool - that takes a lot of skill. The cacti and I thank you for checking out my post. :)

  2. I used die-cuts for school stuff as a teacher - particularly coming up to Easter and other holidays as kids love making cards but it can be very expensive buying pre-cuts so I bought a cuttlebug. Lovely to find your blog on the A to Z Challenge and looking forward to reading further posts :) Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

  3. Hi SENCO - Oh, I image there's no better artist than a teacher - (crayons, glue), you've seen it all. :) Thank you for checking out my post. I love the letters you have for your blog - DOGGED DETERMINATION is so awesome! You have a new follower.

  4. Great to find another Handmade blogger :) I will have to add you to my list! See you again soon.
    Stephanie Finnell
    @randallbychance from
    Katy Trail CreationsLetterD

    1. Hi Stephanie! So nice to meet you, too! Thank you for the comment, I will check out your blog as well. :)