Top 15 card making essentials

My introduction to card making was inadvertent; a year ago, I had just started loom knitting and having made my first ever scarf, I wanted to to make a pretty box for it. 

A quick search on YouTube took me to a simple tutorial about boxes  but more importantly, the list of suggested videos that followed opened up a whole new world to me.

I have lost count of the number of card making videos I have watched subsequently and the number of blogs I have visited but I keep learning.

At the beginning, I had absolutely no idea what supplies to buy; crafting is an expensive hobby and the list of things you could purchase is simply endless.

My guides were the YouTubers whose videos I learned from, which is great, but it’s not long before you realise that you don’t necessarily need to buy the product the blogger is demonstrating.


There are always alternatives.

And more often than not, there are cheaper alternatives.


Look, I get it. For many bloggers / vloggers / demonstrators, these videos/blogs are a source of income. Products purchased by clicking through their sites gives them a commission and I applaud them their success.

Building up a readership is not easy and to be in a position where a reader make a purchase based on your say-so requires a certain level of trust that the blogger has obviously been able to inspire. I applaud that.

I also applaud the blogger who will tell you the name of the product they have used, give you a link on their website to purchase it and STILL GIVE YOU A LIST OF ALTERNATIVES that might not necessarily be available on their site. That’s cool. Incredibly cool.

Yesterday, I asked my friend Jackie what she considers to be her top 10 list of card making essentials. Her list was remarkably concise and given the fact that she has been card making for a shorter period of time than I have, very inclusive.

I am going to use her list as a baseline and add to it but before I start, just let me clarify that I haven’t been paid to write this piece. This list is based on our experiences and preferences.

Here we go:

Top 15 list of card making essentials or What I have learned about card making over the past year

1. Card Blanks and Envelopes

There are SO MANY kinds of card blanks and envelopes out there.

Jackie recommends the Anita range and while I have never used it, the prices  look pretty good!

Another site I would recommend is Hobby Craft with their many 3 for 2 offers. I also like their range of polka dotted cards – used in this set of cards.

eBay obviously is also a good place to shop.

And finally, there’s craft fairs! Don’t forget those. You can find some amazing bargains there. There’s one coming up in September and I can’t wait to go!

My only advice here would be: try avoiding the packs of 100, please? It is probably fantastic value but if you are just starting out, you are better off trying out different sizes.

Do you want a 5″x7″ or maybe a 6″ x 6″ (inches to cm converter link here) or perhaps you prefer a 4″ x 4x? What you really don’t want to do is end up with 98 blank cards you just wish would vanish by itself so you could buy some other sizes without feeling guilty.

Trust me. Been there (sigh).

2. Stamp sets

It’s kind of ridiculous just how many companies there are manufacturing stamp sets. You can find a set for just about every theme you can think of and obviously you would want to buy stamps that appeal to your aesthetics. Instead of recommending sets, here’s some sites you can go to:

Stampin’ Up are probably the most well known brand here in the UK. I do like their products and have a few sets but ohmygoodness, they are expensive! If you do want to buy SU, I would suggest you do so only after you are ABSOLUTELY SURE you want to buy it. Leave the impulse purchasing for Hobbycraft 🙂 I’ve provided links to two SU demonstrators but you can find loads online.

Craftie Charlie do loyalty points that you can claw back on your next purchase. Their clearance section is very good value – Love their products

Buddly Crafts do a number of stamps too that are good value

eBay, Amazon and HobbyCraft of course are great options.

Another option that I am quite fond of is the Creative Stamping magazine which gives you a set of stamps with every issue. The mag is priced at £5.99 and you get pretty good value for your money. You can either subscribe or just pick it up at your local newsagent.

Word Stamps: It would also be good to invest in a basic word stamping set i.e. Happy Birthday, Best Wishes, Thank you etc, sets exist that are under £5 to buy to get you started. Once again I would check HobbyCraft, eBay and Amazon for offers.

Just to be clear, you don’t really need to buy word stamp sets. It depends on the look you’re going for. Do you want a hand-crafted look? Do you have a neat handwriting? Then by all means, write your sentiment and don’t bother with stamping!

On the other hand, if you’re handwriting is illegible like mine, then you really want to be investing in stamps. Find a basic set to start with; don’t spend too much on it!

3. Ink pads

You need a basic set of ink pads. Word of caution: please, please, PUHLEEEZE don’t think you need to buy every colour or that you need to buy one particular brand. Be brave and try different brands.

Jackie recommends the Dewdrop Memento range; they are a great starter kit and don’t take up lots of room as they are small. I’ve used them as well and like their colours.

Another site I buy from is Craft Clearance. They do an eco-friendly  range I like called Paris Trunks; the colours are really quite nice and its pretty good value

As always, visit the holy trinity of eBay, Amazon and HobbyCraft

4. Cardstock

If you plan on creating a single layered card then you would just stamp on your card blank. However, if you are looking at multi-layering and creating dimension, you need card stock. You can either buy plain white or buy multiple colours (or both)

Great for matting and you can choose the size you want. I would recommend the smaller size as it takes up less storage space. Unless of course, you want to make larger cards in which case you might want to buy the A4 sizes. This selection from Papermania is beautifully textured and the colours are just lovely.

5. Coloured Paper

Coloured paper is good for paper piecing. They are available in 6″ x 6″ as well as 12″ x 12″. The advantage of the smaller size is they take up less space and you don’t necessary need a larger size for punches. Try the Dovecraft essential pack of coloured paper which is available at all the Usual Suspects

6. Designer Cardstock

I love love love designer paper. There is so much you can do with it. You can stamp on it and use it for paper piecing. Or use it as a matt. Or if the card stock is thick enough, use it as a card blank.

Jackie recommends this buyer from eBay and yes, they do offer a pretty good bargain. I love the Botanical Notes pack. There’s also some really cool Christmas packs.

Craftie Charlie is another place I would go to for designer paper

7. Adhesives

This is a massive section and there are so many types of adhesives you could use. Glue dots, glue pens, foam pads, double sided tape. I would recommend buying adhesives from HobbyCraft simply because of their 3 for 2 offers.

Another site that’s worth checking out for adhesives is EveryCraftsaPound and whilst everything here isn’t priced at a pound this is a great place for buying embellishments, card blanks, glue, paper pads, washi tape – I love these guys – the only thing is you need a minimum order of £20 (I think)

The one investment you might want to make is an ATG gun. It’s not cheap and the refills are priced between£5.50 and £8.00. Having said that, if you use a lot of double sided tape, you might find it’s cheaper to use one of these instead of the smaller tape rollers.

I use a lot of Tombow glue; it’s strong stuff! I bought a load for about a pound each during the last crafting fair at Ally Pally. Am hoping they are going to be selling them again

8. Cutters

Ok, you really don’t need to buy a guillotine when you are starting out. A good pair of scissors will do the job just as well. A scalpel and ruler can give you a straight line. However, if you’ve decided to buy a guillotine here’s a couple of things that will be worth remembering:

This is the first trimmer I bought. It was discounted and  I paid £20 for it. It trims, scores, and cuts squiggly lines. However, if you want to cut anything larger than 7″, it can be difficult. It’s just the way it’s setup.

This is my second trimmer and I far prefer it to the former. It cuts and scores and you can buy separate blades for squiggly lines if you like. The arm extends out so you can cut 12″ x 12″ sheets and it also allows you to measure and cut out very thin strips

You could also buy scissors that cut all sorts of squiggles – these will be available at your local craft store for not a lot. I bought 3 from Tiger for about £2

9. Clear Stamp Blocks

You will need a clear stamp block if you plan on using clear stamps. These are available in different sizes and you can either buy them one at a time or a set. They aren’t particularly expensive and are available easily.

10. Punch

Punches are really handy to have; they make the whole process of making a card quick and easy but of course, you can always something using a pair of scissors. Or you could buy stencils like Fiskar’s Basic Shapes and use those.

When buying a punch, don’t forget to make sure you check the sizing of the punch and if you are going invest in punches, start with basic shapes. Circle, square, rectangle, triangles (great for tree shapes!).

One punch I do recommend is a corner punch – you can get an X-Cut for about £5. Rounding off the corners of your card makes it look so much nicer.

11. Scoring tool

I think a scoring tool is essential; it just makes your card look that much more finished. If you’ve got a trimmer with a scoring attachment, you really don’t need to buy a scoring board separately. At least not at the start of your card making journey. It will do just fine.

However, if you are going to buy a scoring board, go for something that will fit a 12″ x 12″ sheet of paper. This will be more expensive than the smaller sizes but in the long run, it will serve you well.

12. Ruler

Whilst this might sound like a silly one, you do need to have a good ruler with you! Try buying a ruler with a steel edge so you don’t completely destroy your ruler.

If you plan on matting your cards, you might want to try this ruler. The Perfect Layers Ruler allows you to crop matts as fine as 1/16th of an inch. I use this every time I need to matt and it gives me a great result every time.

13. Distress Tool

Is a distress tool essential? Well it depends on the kind of cards you want to make. If you are going for a vintage look, then yes, you should get yourself a distress tool. The cheapest one I could find was this one and it works just fine.

14. Cutting Mat

Invest in a cutting mat; ideally an A2 sized one; they are available on eBay for not a lot. Your craft table will thank you for it.

15. Embellishments 

This is a HUGE section and warrants a top 10 list by itself. There are all kinds of embellishments available; glitter, ribbons, embossing powders, toppers, shiny pens, brads the list goes on. Stay tuned for my top 15 embellishments list!

In addition, if you are starting out with card making, you might want to take a look at these bloggers who do amazing work and have been such an inspiration.

Blogs /YouTube channels I follow

  1. Lindsay Weirich who is TheFrugalCrafter.  Love her energy, her creativity and her gazillion tips on crafting on a budget.
  2. Vicky Papaioannou from ClipsnCuts. A very creative lady who offers detailed instruction on card making. Also one of the good guys who always offers alternatives to the products she uses.
  3. Gina Krupsky from StampTV. Gina has her own range of products; Gina K Designs, I love her range of stamps and my only complaint is that it’s far too expensive to import them to the UK 😦
  4. Caroline Wright from CraftyCarolineCreates. A Stampin Up demonstrator who does lovely gift boxes along with card sets
  5.  Sam Donald from PootlesPapercfraft. Another Stampin Up demonstrator I go to for gift box ideas
  6. The LawnFawn blog. I love their stamps!
  7. Helen Allen. Came across Helen’s channel quite recently and I like how she uses mix media in her card making.
  8. Jennifer McGuire offers tons of tutorials on techniques, different products and her craft room is to die for.
  9. Melanie Muenchinger does some great tutorials on Copic marker drawing. Whilst I don’t own any copic markers, I’ve learned a lot about colouring images thanks to her tutorials! (I use Derwent pencils instead)
  10. Kristina Werner from KWernerDesign. Another super creative lady who does a number of tutorials on different card making techniques. Also her cards are so cute!

This list is by no means comprehensive but if you haven’t seen these blogs before, do have a look!

Thanks for stopping by!

P.S. The header image on this piece is the first card I made – it was a birthday card for my father-in-law and I was really quite pleased with it. Looking at it now, what strikes me more than anything else is just how clean my cutting mat is. The poor thing has seen better days!

P.S (2) – I never did make the box I wanted to for my first loom knit scarf but instead re-purposed an Ikea box. I covered it with patterned paper and et voila!

P.S (3) – I wish I wish I wish I had pictures of my early crochet and loom knitting work