How to emboss with background files

Good Afternoon!

As soon as I made the checker plate background I knew an embossed version would really bring the design to life and wanted to see if I could use my background files for embossing. Of course this method can be used with any background pattern which is awesome but what’s even better is that it also means that we can save some money on embossing folders :)

Pic 1: I cut the checker plate background at 8 x 8 inches to have a larger pattern which I thought might emboss easier, as the card I used is so thin I cut 4 copies then glued them all together ensuring to line up the pattern as exact as possible. If you were using thicker cardstock you would probably only need 2 layers of card.

embossed card 1

Pic 2: I took one of the cutting plates from my big shot, I laid it on top of my cut panel and made a mark each side where it needs to be cut to fit through the big shot. I cut mine with my guillotine but you could also use a ruler and a craft knife.

embossed card 2

Pic 3: When you make your sandwich, the card you wish to emboss needs to be between your cut pattern and an embossing mat, I’ve used the spellbinders junior rubber mat for my big shot.

embossed card 3

Pic 4: I embossed some silver satin card to try to achieve a realistic result, here’s how it looks after it has been run through the big shot on tab 1 (you can add a shim if you need a little more pressure):

embossed card 4

Pic 5: I was so impressed with the result that I also cut some letters then ran those through the big shot and embossed them in the same way, they looked just as though they had been snipped out of an aluminum sheet! Some large silver brads or snaps finish off the look on my simple but very masculine card:

embossed card 5

My cut pattern is sturdy enough to keep and use again which will save me from having to cut it each time I wish to emboss, I’m now going to make a version for each of my background patterns so they will be on hand whenever I need them. I just love it that I have another use for my cut files and I can save money at the same time :)

64 thoughts on “How to emboss with background files

  1. Janis Spear

    Oh my! I was wondering exactly how to make a “home made” embossing folder. This explains it perfectly, and has inspired me to go try it myself. I agree – this is a very good one to make into an embossing folder. I LOVE this. thank you so much.

  2. Trish Reddick

    Wow, you are so responsive to questions!I am thrilled to see how to make embossing folders with your cut files! Thank you so much. I wonder if packaging plastic will cut with the Silhouette and work as well? i will experiment and see.

  3. Michelle E

    I love using this technique Bird and it’s great to see that you have done a fab tutorial so that others can now do the same.

    Michelle E x

  4. Jackie

    What a fab idea – I love all your designs and will certainly give this one a go

    I have not commented much lately, however if any one would like to know why ……it’s because we now have a lovely little Grandson, Logan – he took four years in the making and almost four days to arrive but, both he and our Daughter and his proud Daddy are all doing well.

  5. Karla capo

    Congrats, Jackie!

    Thanks Bird for the wonderful tutorial – never thought to do this. And thanks for sharing your talent. Now to find time to play.

  6. Jenna

    Question do you just sandwich the cutout, the cardstock them a blank cardboard or something? I don’t have an embossing machine and just purchased an embossing folder and use with my pasta machine I use for polymer clay. I notice the cuttlebug embossing folder has a positive and negative side. I guess my question is do you do the positive and negative as well likes lot of the “cereal box diy embossing folder” tutorials out or just the several layers of your background glued together ? I hope my question makes sense. Haven’t finished a cup of coffee yet lol. But I love your background files and appreciate your offering them. Just want to make sure I am understanding your instructions. Thanks again!


    1. Bird Post author

      I know exactly what you mean, if you have an embossing mat you don’t need a second side to your embossing ‘folder’ as the rubbery-ness of the embossing mat forces the cardstock through the holes in the pattern so you need to ensure that the front side of your card faces the cut pattern especially if it is single sided card. Some companies have embossing plates that emboss in the same way, you can also use stencils in this way too :)

      1. Jenna

        Thanks so much for your reply! Sadly I don’t have the mat or anything but I am sure I can diy something. I’m cheap lol and really love the challenge anyway. I think I have a few things. Off to try later. Gotta finish my studio expansion. Day four…hopefully last I’m exhausted!!!

        1. Elizabeth

          You might try a couple thickness of fleece fabric, perhaps from baby blanket you might find at a thrift store if you don’t have one. I use this in my Big Shot since I don’t have a rubber mat.

        2. Ann Marie Robalik

          You can use a rubber plumbing gasket from Home Depot or Lowe’s in place of the “fancy” rubber from Sizzix etc. It is about $2.00 and works great!

        3. Anne

          Depending on the thickness available on your pasta machine, placing the rubber side of a mouse pad against your cardstock would probably work for embossing.

  7. Trisha

    So cool! Thanks for checking this out! I know it will be at least a week before I get to try it.

  8. Marie

    You are so generously sharing – thanks a million. I’ve known about making embossing folders but never thought of using your background cut files for this purpose. Your card is superb! Thanks for the files and the idea – going to try it out soon.

  9. Beverly

    Oh wow, what a marvelous idea. Hmmmmmmm, let’s count. I think you’ve given us 10 background files. I’m going to be rich in embossing files. LOL Thank you.

  10. Darlene Ripley

    Wow! Can’t wait to try this! thanks so much for all the files you share. Love them all!

  11. Valerie

    What a great idea! Thank you so much for the tutorial and for sharing your creativity. What a wonderful way to stretch supplies and get more out of our cutting machines.

  12. Deb

    All your cut files are so great and this is a wonderful idea! I was wondering how you glued them together and what type of glue you used. Thanks!

    1. Bird Post author

      I used some spots of double sided tape here and there between the layers but I’m making another one now and I’m going to try wet glue this time so I have a moment to slide it into place to line them up perfectly, I guess any adhesive would work ok.

      1. jANET

        Don’t know if you have ever heard of Misty Fuse but I have just started using it to “glue” delicate pieces together. I made some 3 1/2″ “quilt” blocks out of paper that had 30-40 pieces and the blocks went together like a breeze. It is an iron product generally used with fabric (my go-to for applique). You might give it a try for small detail work.

  13. Betsy

    Really neat! When I saw your card I thought it would also make a very good template for misting or stamping. I’d love to see you try that. Thanks

  14. Jeanette

    I will definitely have to try this! Thank you for the tutorial and for the 10 wonderful background files.

  15. DeAnne

    Thank you so much! I am constantly learning something from you. This is going to be so useful. DeAnne

  16. Diane

    Thanks Bird! This is why I wanted the Zing, I thought I would have to cut 2 sides from cereal boxes to get the impressions, I am so glad you showed me another way! Thank you for all the wonderful tips, ideas, inspiration and files you share. Big hugs, ~Diane

  17. Gisele

    I loved this idea!! I will sure try it.
    I am from Brazile and I discovered you site a few weeks ago. Love your freebies.
    Thanks for sharing.

  18. Jocelan

    Bird thanks for the great tutorial,and what a good idea.I know of another idea that I seen on You tube from luvleescrappin,she made a texture paste with Baby powder,Gesso and Modge Podge.she showed the technique with a stencil made out of plastic,so I got some Grafix stencil plastic and I will cut one of your background cut file.
    Be sure and go to You Tube and watch her video on Texture Paste,here is her you tube name again luvleescrappin.
    I love your posts and your cut files.
    Blessing’s Jocelan

  19. Elizabeth

    Bird, I saw this as a possibility for these when I saw this design! As a matter of fact, this card you made looks a lot like the one I pictured in my head!
    Thanks so much for sharing all these with us!!

  20. Karen

    Thanks for sharing, I have been trying to create my own embossing folders as well, they do tend to get expensive if you want a big variety.

  21. Diane Lindall

    Is this what some people use a rubber plummers gasket material for (instead of the embossing mat)? I have heard of people using them, and bought some at the hardware store, but have never tried it…guess I will be busy today!
    THANKS for your ideas.

  22. Paula Gale

    Oh Bird, you are a star.

    I have been collecting all of your backgrounds and downloaded some from the silhouette store. My intentions have been to make embossing folders and also masks for spraying/sponging projects. I have some doflex (or whatever it’s called) so that they will withstand a little (or a lot) of moisture; i’m just hoping my Cameo will cut the doflex as some say it will…

    Thank you for sharing your ideas – fabulous as usual. I love your ‘Dad’ card too. Simplicity itself – and effective using this masculine pattern.


    Paula x x x

  23. Sandy Karlovich

    Thanks so much for the lovely files that you share and this tutorial Bird. We all appreciate your talent and sharing of it so much. God Bless You. Sandy

  24. Cynthia H

    WOW!!!!! This card looks amazing. I am sure it looks even better in person. Thanks for all the work you put into your cut files. Have had the idea to use some of the background type files as stencils, just haven’t gotten around to it yet. This idea of embossing makes these files go even further toward my crafting/art budget. Thanks again.

  25. Yvonne

    Oh dear, I tried the same thing so often. Buf it didn’t work with my wizard and I’m so sad! I think the next thing I’ll buy is a big shot ;-)

    Sending great wishes from germany!


  26. Kathy

    I just found this post and am overjoyed. I can see so many applications for this technique. Thank you so much for being so brilliant and sharing.

  27. Beth Anne in PA

    What a wonderful idea…it’s got my ideas flowing today! Thank you again for for sharing your awesome files and your creative genius with us so graciously..your the best! :)

  28. cupcakekiller702

    I just ordered a Big Shot this morning, and I can tell already that this tip is going to save me a ton of cash in embossing folders. THANK YOU!

  29. Alison

    Just found your website by accident. It is fantastic, full of ideas and extremely helpful resources. Many thanks, so many, it’s hard to decide what to try first!

  30. Gramma LuLu

    Your files are some of the best out there. Thank you SOOOOOO much for allowing them to be used for personal projects. Your tutorials [just read the one on making an embossing folder from a background] are THE BEST anywhere!! Simple, clean, easy to follow directions. You are inspiring AND generous!


    I acidently came across your web-site last night and was SO thrilled! Thank you for taking your time in designing these beautiful cut files and for sharing your talents with us. I am so excited to get started!

  32. yoli

    Thank you very much for your generosity, sharing everything and with a very clearly tutorial. thank you so much. This is brilliant and helpfully.

  33. Marlene R

    I just found your site today. It is wonderful!!! Thanks so much for sharing! I can’t wait to try this embossing technique.

  34. Anne

    What a great idea! I have a Big Shot and it will not cut or emboss anything wider than 6″. How would I cut the file? If I made it 6″ the pattern would also be smaller and I’d want the pattern to be the same size? Love all of your cut files and you are very generous to share them!

  35. Cheryl


  36. Ross

    This is a great tip. I use Doflex but I have to buy that in, now as I always have card in stock this certainly seems a better option.
    Thank you

  37. susan smith

    Thank you so much for this tutorial…I made a great embossing folder too….and used it on a card for son in law – with a die cut car for him and it looked great…..

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