How to Make Your Own Embossing Folders on a Budget

Created on:

June 8, 2022

Updated on:

February 26, 2024

Written by Kelsey Sergi

Let's make any design into an embossing folder with our Cricut machine!


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Creating your own embossing folder is a lot easier than you think and it doesn't have to be expensive! After a few tries (I made the mistakes so you don't have to) I was able to make a custom embossing folder out of some thin cardboard for under $1.

DIY Embossing folder made on a Cricut.

Mobile users turn your phone or watch the YouTube video here.

Materials Needed:

  • Thin cardboard (you will need to test and adjust this technique if our cardboard is a different thickness)- I am using these photo-mailers
  • Washi Tape or really any tape!
  • Glue - I am using Bearly Arts (this link saves you 10%) but you can use any craft glue *I do not suggest hot glue*

Cricut Design Space Set Up

How to set up a DIY embossing folder on Cricut Design Space.

This is actually pretty simple depending on the design you want to create. I grabbed a square and unlocked it. I changed the size to fit my embossing machine. My max size is around 4.5 inches wide (you want to make sure your folder will fit through). I adjusted the length as well. Honestly, you can make this as long as your material is but I went with around 6/6.5 inches.

I decided I wanted to do a mix of stars in various sizes. You can use any shape or words but as a heads up, the more pieces, the more you will have to keep track of gluing!

DIY Embossing folder made in Cricut Design Space.

I placed my stars all around my rectangle - then I welded them together. This is important so that you can slice. You will use the slice feature to cut the pattern out of the rectangle and then deleted the stars piece so it looks like a stencil.

DIY Embossing folder set up in Cricut Desing Space - making the design.

Now we can send to our machine. I am using my Cricut Maker for this cut - the setting does use a regular fine point blade but be prepared for many passes!

Cutting the DIY embossing folder in Cricut Design Space.

While I was making this, I was still in my trial phase so I cut the image three times BUT we only need two! So you can double your stencil image and send to your machine.

I used the Flat Cardboard setting on MORE pressure. This is what we need to remember: you will cut this THREE times. Meaning when it finished DO NOT UNLOAD THE MAT.

You need to leave your mat in the machine and hit the C (Cut) button - by leaving the mat in and hitting the button it will cut over the same spot perfectly. If you remove the mat you will not get the overlapping cuts and the project will not cut through. You will send the mat through the machine THREE times. it did cut through after two but not perfectly and we need a clean cut for this to work! If your cardboard is thinner or thicker this may be different for you. I am going based off my cardboard from the photo mailers.

Once you have it cut through, do not remove it from the mat just yet.

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Layering the Pieces

Learning from my mistakes, there may be a way to glue just the stars onto a piece of cardboard in the EXACT spot you need while on the mat. But, I will show you the way that worked for me. It does take some time so if your design has a lot of pieces, you may be building your puzzle for a while. I took my time and love the result but I will update if I try again another way.

Layering the pieces to make a DIY embossing foldering with Cricut.

I cut out a piece of cardboard (the same thin cardboard from my photo mailers to make a backing. Then I placed the stencil piece on top. I did not glue this stencil piece down. I just placed it over so I could start gluing in my stars.

Gluing pieces down to make a DIY embossing folder.

Where the holes were for each star, I placed a tiny bit of glue, grabbed the star that fit and placed it in snuggly like a puzzle. I started with the bigger stars and if you keep the stars on the mat (which I did not) it will be easier to see where they are placed.

Once I had them all placed I allowed the stars to dry for a bit. I wanted to make sure those pieces weren't going to shift from that back piece, if they shift the press on your embossing machine won't line up well and it will give you double lines instead of a clear press.

DIY Embossing folders with Cricut and cardboard.

I very gently removed the stencil piece from the top. Making sure that non of the stars were removed with it or shifted.

making a DIY embossing folder with Cricut and cardboard - peeling once layer.

I was left with just my stars on the cardboard! Now we need to layer the other side. I tested to make sure I only needed one layer of the stars, you can throw away any of the extra detail pieces.

One side of the DIY embossing folder made out of cardboard and Cricut.

I originally cut the three layers but I threw out the last one because two layers of cardboard gave me a nice press. So I glued together two of the stencil pieces together to create a thicker stencil layer. I am not gluing this down onto that back cardboard, I am simply gluing one stencil to another stencil.

Layering pieces for the DIY embossing folder.

Time to Make the Folder

Now I have all my pieces ready, we just need to reduce some cardboard from the backing and attach a hinge.

Making a hinge for a DIY embossing folder.

I put my stencil piece back onto the backing stars piece and folded the top over (if you don't have enough this is ok you can just tape). Then I cut down my cardboard backing on the sides and the bottom leaving that flap.

Two pieces of a DIY embossing folder.

Then I grabbed some washi tape (you can use any tape you have on hand) and I attached the stencil to the fold to create the hinge. You want it to have fold so the stars line up into the stencil.

Using washi tape to attach the two sides of the DIY embossing folder.

We have completed our embossing folder and now we can test!

I ran it through the machine once without paper to make sure it fit through and was lined up nicely.

Final Results:

Embossed piece of paper with stars made on a DIY embossing folder.

It gave a nice emboss and I was super happy with the results and the cost! Now my designs are unlimited!

Few reminders:

Don't rush this, remember if you have a lot of pieces you will be gluing them all down.

Two layers is enough for the stencil if your cardboard is thick enough. You can always cut more, so test with two and if you need more cut after so you don't waste materials.

Don't forget to check the width of your embossing machine so your folder will fit through!

Have fun!

Happy Crafting!

Kelsey Sergi - the owner and crafter at Dinosaur Mama.

Hi crafters! I'm Kelsey and I am here to bring you new original craft projects and free SVG files for your cutting machines every week!

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