Top 10 Paper Crafting Struggles and How to Fix Them

Are you a crafter who struggles with starting a creative project? Or perhaps a frustrated one who can't seem to get the results they want? If you've ever experienced the challenges of paper crafting – be it finding inspiration, dealing with product-related hurdles, or the occasional mistakes – you're not alone. Crafting is a wonderful stress reliever, but it's natural to encounter obstacles along the way.

A beautiful floral card featuring the Versatile Greetings 2 Die Set

Versatile Greetings 2

Fear not, because today, we will address all your greatest worries and roadblocks in crafting head-on! After reading this blog post, you will gain confidence to tackle your DIY projects with a renewed mind, properly working supplies, and boosted confidence! So let's dive in together and explore the top 10 struggles faced by crafters just like you and the best tips and tricks to overcome them like a pro!

Crafty Problem #1: The Sneaky Stubborn Dies That Won’t Cut!

We've all been there: you're all excited to go through your process, you've got your cardstock ready, and you're cutting through your dies. But lo and behold, when it comes out of your machine, the die barely made it through your cardstock! Oh, those mischievous little dies! 

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When this happens, here are some things you can do:

  • Double-check your sandwich and make sure your cutting plates are all lined up properly, and if they need replacing already. Sometimes, the tiniest misalignment can throw things off.
  • Give it a little extra padding. Try adding a shim or two to provide some extra pressure and encourage that cut, especially if it's a more intricate die. You might be surprised at how this step can make a world of difference!
  • If you've tried 1 and 2 before, here's a little trick that crafters swear by: rubbing a small piece of wax paper on the die before cutting can help lubricate it and make the process smoother! 
  • Another thing to consider is if your dies are extra thin, some crafters prefer cutting with the blade side up. Instead of the usual sharp side facing down on your paper, try it with the paper on top first, then your dies would be facing up. 

Apart from these tips, you can also try checking if you need to replace your plates, clean your machine, or run your die in both directions on your machine. If all else fails, you can always try contacting the customer support of your manufacturer for more tips and suggestions! 

Crafty Problem #2: How to Breathe Life Into Your Old Stash!

If you're like us, you probably have a treasure trove of craft supplies collected over time. From that beautiful patterned paper you just had to have to those charming embellishments you knew would come in handy one day – your stash is bursting with potential! But as time goes on, you might find yourself reaching for the same materials over and over again, leaving some forgotten gems gathering dust in the corner.

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It's okay - it happens to the best of us! In that case, here are some handy tips you can do to combat this:

  • Browse through our Create & Inspire documents. Did you know that we have a free collection of project ideas and inspiration for old products and past releases? 
  • Consider mixing different crafting mediums and supplies. For example, try using your gouache paints with your stencils or your embossing powders with your pigment inks. The possibilities are endless!
  • Establish some crafty rules for yourself. Create an inventory of supplies and try to count how many times you've used that supply. For example, if you've used the Cool Decades Stamp Set 10 times already, then you're all good to buy another set! But if you go below a certain limit, try to push yourself to stretch the use of your supplies before buying another one.
  • Opposite to the previous tip, you can also give new life to your old supplies by pairing them with new releases! Pairing your existing stash with the trendy designs of new releases will give them more purpose - resulting in one-of-a-kind, unique designs!
  • Do fun crafting swaps! You can exchange some of your old supplies for items from other crafters' stash. It's a great way to add fresh elements to your collection without spending a dime, and you might even make some new crafting friends along the way!

Crafty Problem #3: White Space - Too Much or Too Little of It!

There's just one ultimate question in each cardmaker's mind: white space - how much of it do we really need? Indeed, it's a delicate balance that every crafter must learn to master. When used effectively, it can elevate your projects from ordinary to extraordinary!

In cardmaking, the key is to use white space to let your elements breathe and create a visual focus on your focal points. Here are samples of when to use white space:

  • When you want to draw focus to a bold and vibrant sentiment 
  • When your background is busy
  • When you have a focal point 
  • When you want a minimalistic CAS card 
  • When you want the focus to be on a specific area of your layout (middle, top, bottom, or side)

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Consider leaving areas of the card blank, allowing the design to stand out. We know there's an itch to fill every kind of space available on our card fronts, but having white space allows fewer distractions from your main design. Don't be afraid to experiment with different layouts and compositions, ensuring the white space complements your design and enhances the overall impact of your handmade projects! 

Crafty Problem #4: The Need for More Storage and Space!

Ah, the perpetual crafty problem – the need for more storage and space! If you are surrounded by a growing collection of crafting goodies and struggling to keep everything organized, we're here to help you reclaim your crafting kingdom!

The first step in tackling this challenge is to assess your current space and storage solutions. Look for underutilized areas, like the back of doors, the insides of cabinets, or even the space under your crafting table. Get crafty with vertical storage options, such as shelves, pegboards, or wall-mounted organizers, to free up valuable floor space. Consider investing in rolling carts or multi-tiered storage units you can easily move around.

An organized shelf of paper crafting supplies makes for great craft storage!

Watercolor Brush Markers

You can also donate or give away supplies you no longer need or use, keeping only the essentials and things that truly spark joy. By letting go of your excess supplies, you'll find that your crafting space becomes more functional and inspiring!

Lastly, think outside the box and get creative with storage solutions. Repurpose everyday items like mason jars, old suitcases, or decorative baskets to hold your craft materials! Transforming some of your furniture into craft stations and using stackable containers can work wonders in maximizing your space. With a little ingenuity and some smart organizational choices, you'll conquer Crafty Problem #4 and create a crafting haven that sparks joy and fuels your creativity like never before!

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Crafty Problem #5: Wonky Stencils That Can’t Seem to Align!

Oh, the struggles of wonky stencils – we've all been there! Misaligned stencils are a true test of our patience and precision. But fear not; here are some fantastic solutions to conquer those misaligned stencils and create flawless designs:

  • Look for the built-in marks or guidelines on each stencil. Here, you can figure out which layer goes first, and so on, 
  • Secure your stencil firmly in place with low-tack adhesive (or the handy Sticky Mat!) before you start applying your medium. This will prevent any unwanted movement and keep your stencil in position, resulting in cleaner lines and a more precise design.
  • Search for a specific reference point in your stencil design. It can be a corner or a specific shape that you’ll use to guide the proper placement of all your layers. 
  • If you find your stencils slightly askew, don't fret! You can also intentionally create a layered or abstract effect by slightly shifting the stencil between colors or mediums. Sometimes, these unexpected results can lead to wonderfully unique and artistic outcomes.

A beautiful birthday card stenciled and ink-blended with bright colors

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For our layering stencils, Altenew offers handy layering guides and tutorials on how to use them properly, so you're in good hands!

Crafty Problem #6: When Stamps Just Won’t Stamp!

Ah, the frustrating mystery of stamps that refuse to stamp! We've all been there, but fear not; we've gathered some valuable tips to troubleshoot and conquer those stamping challenges, including those pesky dead spots. Let's turn those uncooperative stamps into a thing of the past!

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  • Ink Quality Matters: Start by using high-quality ink pads suitable for your specific stamping material. Pigment inks work great on porous surfaces, while dye inks are ideal for non-porous ones. Experiment with different ink types to find the perfect match for your project.
  • Prep Your Stamp: Before stamping, make sure your stamp is clean and free from any previous ink residue. A quick wipe with a stamp eraser or a gentle wash with mild soap and water will do the trick.
  • Press Firmly and Evenly: When stamping, apply even pressure to the entire stamp surface. A slight wobble or lifting of one corner can lead to incomplete or patchy impressions.
  • Don't Rush It: Take your time when stamping. Avoid pressing down too quickly or lifting the stamp too soon. Give the ink a moment to transfer fully onto your material.
  • Avoid Over-Inking: While it may be tempting to saturate the stamp with ink, excessive ink can lead to smudging and blurred images. Apply a moderate amount of ink for crisp, clean results.
  • Experiment with Pressure: Different surfaces may require varying degrees of pressure. Test your stamp on a scrap piece of paper or material to gauge the ideal amount of pressure needed.
  • Heat-Set on Tricky Surfaces: For stubborn surfaces like glossy papers or certain fabrics, heat-setting the stamped image with a heat tool or iron can improve the ink's adherence.
  • Repeat Stamp: Use a stamp positioner like the Stampwheel to stamp again or create a masking technique to realign and add more ink to areas that didn't transfer well during the first stamping attempt. 
  • Bubbles, Dust, and Debris: Make sure there are no bubbles, dust, or debris in your stamps when you place them, as these can create dead spots!

If you’re a beginner stamper, we recommend using a Stamping Starter Kit that will allow you to practice different stamping techniques with easy-to-use stamps, project inspiration guides, and rich, viscous dye inks!  

Crafty Problem #7: Creative Crisis and Copycat Syndrome!

l know the feeling: you sit down to start a new project, and suddenly, the inspiration well runs dry. The creative block sets in, and you find yourself stuck, not knowing where to start or how to proceed.

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But wait, there's more – the Copycat Syndrome. We've all been there too! You come across a stunning craft design online or at a craft fair, and while you admire it, you can't help but feel like you want to replicate it exactly. We're here to tell you there's nothing wrong with being inspired by other's creations, but we get the desire of wanting to make something different. 

If you'd like to be more original and creative, here are some helpful tips:

This is easier said than done, but the important thing is to believe in yourself. You are valued, respected, and your works are loved. No matter what project you come up with, it is worth making and posting. Don't overthink the process, and just let your heart guide your hands. Who knows - your own projects might be the inspiration for someone else's too!

Crafty Problem #8: Finding the Budget for New Supplies!

Every crafter's main enemy is their budget for new supplies! Crafty materials are too pretty, though - so we can't blame you! If you're having trouble scraping some money for new supplies, maybe these tips might help:

  • Set a Craft Supply Budget: Start by setting aside a specific amount of money each month dedicated to craft supplies. Treating it like any other essential expense will help you prioritize your creative passion without overspending.
  • Sell Unused Supplies: Take a look at your current stash and identify any supplies you no longer use or need. Consider selling them online through platforms like Etsy and Facebook groups that are looking for secondhand craft supplies!

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  • Coupons and Sales: Keep an eye on sales, discounts, and seasonal promotions at your favorite craft stores. Sign up for newsletters or follow their social media accounts to stay informed about upcoming deals and exclusive offers.
  • Buy in Bulk: For frequently used items like cardstock, glue, paper, or basic embellishments, purchasing them in bulk will save you more money in the long run. 
  • Consider Selling Your DIY Projects: Crafting is not just a hobby - it can also be a source of income! Some crafters are able to make some money on the side by selling their projects on websites and through blogging. 

Crafty Problem #9: Not Knowing What Technique to Use!

With the plethora of paper crafting techniques available, it can be tiring to think of what techniques to use and try on a project. Luckily for you, we have a FREE 30 Days of Crafting Calendar that can inspire you to try out a different DIY method every day! It will spark your creative juices, widen your skills, and help you stretch the use of your products. 

Aside from this, here are some other tips to guide you: 

  • If you're overwhelmed by the number of techniques out there, begin with the basics. Master foundational techniques like stamping, coloring, and stenciling before venturing into more complex ones.
  • Join crafting classes or workshops that introduce new techniques. It's a fun way to learn, and you might discover your new favorite crafty skill!
  • Connect with fellow crafters in online communities or local crafting forums like r/AltenewCrafters. They can offer you valuable insights and recommendations on techniques they love.
  • Maintain a crafty journal where you jot down new techniques you come across. It'll be a handy reference for future projects.

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Sometimes, the best way to find the right technique is through experimentation. Mix and match techniques, let your creativity run wild, and see what activities spark joy the most!

Crafty Problem #10: How to Tame New Tools Gone Wild!

Want to know the secret to happiness? New supplies! Every crafter loves the excitement of finally getting their purchase in the mail. From unboxing it to finally using it on a project, there is no happier feeling! However, at times, this dreamy state can be interrupted by a certain mishap: new product awkwardness!

Most new products come from storage or long transit, which is why some items might need some extra TLC before they are fit and ready for comfortable use. Like any new supply or material, it takes a while to prime them, and there are certain steps we have to take to ensure a smoother adjustment. Here are some examples:

Stuck Glue Pen

If the glue inside your glue pen isn't coming out, try tapping the pen tip down multiple times on scrap paper. Or try placing the glue pen in a cup of warm water for a few minutes. Avoid using excessive heat, as it might damage the glue or the pen. A close-up shot of a hand using a glue pen for crafting

2 in 1 Precision Glue Pen

Before using your glue pen, you can also try wiping the nozzle with a damp cloth to remove any excess glue residue. Check the barrel to see if there is any stuck or dried-up glue, then try it again. Make sure you close the glue pen when not in use to avoid glue drying on the tip, causing a blockage. 

Too Tight Caps and Lids

Dealing with too-tight caps and lids on markers, paint tubes, and ink pads can be a real hassle, but fear not, we have some clever tricks to make your crafting experience smoother! First, consider wearing rubber gloves to open them or wrapping an elastic rubber band around the cap for added grip. These simple hacks provide you the leverage needed to twist open stubborn containers effortlessly. 

Easy-to-open ink lids for paper crafting!

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 Most ink caps feature a lip - this is an indent that you push on the cover. Using these lips will help your ink caps pop right off. If all else fails, invest in a jar opener or gripper tool, perfect for tackling even the tightest lids! 

Did you know? Tight lids are a thing of the past with Altenew’s Fresh Dye Round Ink Pads! These round ink pads were specifically designed to have easy-to-open and close lids. They’re both modern and convenient!

Remember also to avoid over-tightening when closing markers or ink pads to prevent future frustrations. As an added precaution, make sure to also wipe the nozzles and sides of your materials after using them to prevent ink pooling or paint drying on the caps.

 By incorporating these tips and tricks into your crafting routine, you'll bid farewell to the woes of stuck lids and welcome hassle-free creativity into your projects! If you need more assistance, especially with Altenew products, don’t hesitate to contact - they’re there to ensure that your experience is nothing short of amazing! 

Conquer the World of Crafting With These Handy Hacks!

Crafting is a delightful adventure filled with boundless creativity, but it's not without its challenges. We've explored some of the most common crafty problems and armed you with ingenious solutions to conquer them like a pro!

Now that you know these tips, we hope you create, innovate, and never let anything hold you back from expressing your creativity! Happy crafting!

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