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10 Must-Try Creative Ideas Using Embossing Folders

Embossing folders can be used in a variety of creative ways to add dimension and interest to your paper crafting projects. In this post, we will show you how to use 2D and 3D embossing folders to create unique card designs, scrapbook pages, journals, and more! Whether you are a beginner or an experienced paper crafter, we guarantee that you will find some helpful tips and fun ideas in this post!

Handmade card with gold embossed background

Clematis Jingle Bells 3D Embossing Folder

Embossing for Beginners

What is embossing? How does it work? If you have been crafting for a while, you’ll already know that embossing is an essential technique for adding texture and dimension to any handmade project - from cards and scrapbook pages to art journals and DIY home decor. For beginners, a good way to understand the art of embossing is to categorize it into two:

  1. Heat embossing - Also known as wet embossing, this technique involves using embossing ink, embossing powder, and a heating tool. It adds a shiny, raised dimension to any stamped image - just like magic!
  2. Dry embossing - This technique will also add a raised design or pattern on your surface, but minus the shine from the embossing powder. You can use embossing folders for card making, stencils, or dies for this. Additionally, a die-cut machine is needed to achieve that perfectly embossed result. You will also need an embossing mat if you choose to emboss with stencils and dies.

DIY tags made with embossing folders

Daisy Bed 3D Embossing Folder

What Do You Need to Emboss With Embossing Folders?

Before we dive into inspiring cards made with embossing folders, let’s discuss the basic supplies and tools you’ll need for this technique. 

1. Embossing Folder - This is an essential tool you’ll need! It is a translucent white plastic folder with embedded patterns, shapes, or designs. It comes in different sizes, which makes it perfect for various paper crafting projects. The standard sizes are:

  1. 4” x 6”
  2. 5.5” x 4.5”
  3. 5” x 7”
  4. 6” x 6”

Nowadays, 3D embossing folders have become increasingly popular among paper crafters.

2. Cardstock Paper - Although you can emboss on different surfaces, it is best to emboss on high-quality, smooth cardstock paper when making cards or scrapbook layouts.

3. Die-cutting Machine - A die-cutting machine provides the pressure needed to emboss the design or pattern from the folder to the cardstock. By creating a sandwich (with the die-cut plates), you’ll get a gorgeous embossed effect. Not all die-cutting machines can be used to emboss, though. Make sure you check your machine’s manual to see if it is compatible with your embossing folders.

4. Embossing Mat - This embossing tool is usually made of silicone rubber. Without an embossing mat, your die-cutting machine would cut through the cardstock when you try using a die with it.

Learn more easy ways to emboss here!

Holiday card made with embossing folder

Perfect Poinsettias 3D Embossing Folder

How to Make Embossed Cards

Now that you have an idea of what embossing is and what supplies you need, let us inspire you and teach you how to make embossed cards!

1. Make a background on a card or scrapbook layout. This is the easiest way to use embossing folders for card making. Create a quick and instantly stunning background on any handmade creation using your favorite embossing folders.

Easy ideas on using embossing folders for card making

Craft Your Life Project Kit: Hello Beautiful

2. Add a border around an image. Make a simple die-cut image pop by creating an embossed border around it. You can create an entire border, partial border, or create a whole background - the creative possibilities are endless!

3. Create a textured focal point on your project. If you are familiar with the eclipse technique, you can give it a try using your favorite 3D embossing folders! Keep your background a neutral or plain color and make your focal point pop by adding colors to it! Take a look at how our design team member Michelle did this amazing trick!

Handmade card made with embossing folders

Craft Your Life Project Kit: Seasonal Blooms

4. Let the embossed design shine. Emboss the image on colored cardstock, and then lightly brush some white pigment ink (or any ink of your choice) over the raised areas of the embossed cardstock using a small sponge dauber. Easy peasy! The gorgeous card below (by design team member Emily) will give you a better idea of this fun technique.

Handmade card made with embossing folders

Whimsical Bouquet 3D Embossing Folder

5. Faux letterpress effect. This is a must-try for anyone looking to use embossing folders for card making and other paper crafting projects. Basically, this will do the opposite - instead of adding a raised effect, it will create a debossed design. It’s a terrific way to change things up a bit.

Pro Tip! To soften up the fibers of your cardstock and prevent them from cracking, try spritzing it with water before embossing. Through this, the embossing folder's layers will be pushed into the paper easily, creating a crisp embossed image.

6. Ink it up! Simply adding some ink to an embossing folder does a couple of things. Depending on which side of the embossing folder is inked, it accentuates the 3D texture or creates a faux letterpress effect.

Easy card ideas using embossing folders

 Ornamental Feature 3D Embossing Folder

7. Embossing on white cardstock. If you want to keep it simple and let your die-cuts and embellishments shine, try embossing on white cardstock. It will add texture without taking the focus away from the main elements.

Card with embossed background and scrapbook ephemera

 Waffled Diamonds 3D Embossing Folder

Browse Altenew's embossing folders for card making and start recreating these designs!

8. Watercolor your embossed pattern. Yes, you can watercolor your embossed image! You can take your 3D embossing folders to the next level by using watercolor paper to emboss your design and coloring away! Check out the project inspiration by Michelle below.

Floral embossed card made with embossing folder

 Ranunculus Bouquet 3D Embossing Folder

9. Use part of the embossed design. If you want to stretch the use of your 3D embossing folders, try using just a part of it instead of using the whole design. This will give your projects a fresh, new look. You can even mix and match two different patterns from two different folders.

10. Emboss on colored cardstock or other types of paper. This is pretty much self-explanatory. Embossing on white cardstock gives off classy vibes, but there’s nothing quite like seeing a gorgeous embossed effect on colored cardstock, vellum, parchment, or woodgrain cardstock!

We’ve got more project ideas for you! The video below showcases more fun ways to use embossing folders for card making.  

Can you use any ink for embossing?

For embossing (with embossing folders) there are many techniques (a few were mentioned above) where you can use dye inks, pigment inks, and even watercolors.

If you are trying to do heat embossing, use embossing ink. It is essentially a type of clear ink with sticky properties and results in a watermark effect. It’s like glue but in ink form. This ensures that the embossing powder sticks to the stamped design. Pigment inks can also be used for heat embossing since they take a while to dry.

What surfaces can you emboss on?

You can dry emboss on surfaces that are thin, smooth, and flat. Some examples are cardstock, paper, vellum, textile fabric, parchment, and leather.

Embossing folders for card making

Altenew Embossing Folders

It’s not too late to get in on the 3D embossing folder trend. From handmade cards and scrapbooks to home decor items and DIY crafts, there is no limit on how you can creatively incorporate embossed designs into your projects! Even if you are a beginner, these 10 creative ways will help spark your creativity and explore different card making techniques using this handy tool. You don't have to limit yourself to one method, layout style, or design! Don't forget about all of the great benefits of using embossing folders for card making - they add dimension, texture, and interest so your paper crafting projects look more professional and polished.

Ready to take your embossing skill to the next level? Check out our unique selection of 3D embossing folders!