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How to Use 3D Decoupage Sheets for Card Making

By Edited Jun 18, 2016 0 0

Tutorial on using 3D decoupage or paper tole sheets

One of my favorite paper crafts is a traditional one. It is known by a number of names which include paper tole, papier tole and 3D decoupage. This craft activity is very relaxing and a wonderful way to build layered and dimensional designs for framed pictures, handmade cards and even scrapbook pages. The finished images are something to enjoy from many angles.  

3D decoupage projects range from basic methods shown here up to more advanced ones. I love this craft because there is so much scope for taking the basic techniques further. You can really make this as easy or as challenging as you prefer. It is a good craft that you can sit at and work on quietly, something to enjoy and take slowly.

If you particularly enjoy using scissors then you should love using these decoupage sheets because there is a lot of cutting involved. If you don't enjoy cutting, look for papier tole die cut sheets that come with designs that you can simply press out. I find it very restful to sit and cut out designs and it reminds me of crafts that I enjoyed as a child such as making paper dolls.

When pieces of the design are either cut of punched from the sheets, you layer them up over each other using 3D foam pads or a thick adhesive called silicone glue. This method eventually creates a dimensional picture.

You Also Get Die Cut Versions Too

No Cutting is Required, Just Press Out and Use Die Cut Sheets

I happen to really love the process of cutting using scissors and craft knives to make some very precise, tiny and detailed snips in the paper decoupage sheets. However, there are many reasons why you might not wish to cut out these images by hand. Time constraints or dexterity issues may mean that cutting is not the best idea.

That's where these die cut papier tole sheets are just perfect. These printed design sheets make it very easy for you to still enjoy this craft without the need to use any scissors. Simply press the shapes out from their backing sheet and layer them up in order. The sheets are normally numbered so that you can quickly see how to use the pieces to create the design.

Note: This post contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated. 

Instructions on Using 3D Decoupage Sheets

If you've never worked with adhesive craft foam squares before, they are very easy to use. They are already cut to size and you just need to remove them from the backing and stick them down on your project.

Materials and Tools Needed:

  • A 3D decoupage sheet or 3-6 copies of a photo or print
  • 3D foam squares or a roll of craft foam tape
  • Scissors or a craft knife
  • A cutting mat if you are using a craft knife

1: Equipment Used for this Paper Craft

3D Decoupage Equipment

The photo shows the equipment that I often use to complete this paper craft. I have a decoupage design sheet with printed images all ready to cut out. Floral scenes are particularly nice to layer up and make useful embellishments for many greeting card occasions. If you do not have a decoupage sheet, you can use several copies of one photo or print to achieve exactly the same thing.

I prefer to use foam squares but you can also get tape on a roll that you cut to size. A variety of scissors are useful so you can cut around bigger areas as well as very detailed parts. I sometimes use a craft knife although I prefer to use scissors as much as I can. 

2: Work from the Largest Design Piece

Cutting out floral designs from the printed decoupage sheet

Some sheets, often called 3D papier tole die cuts, require no cutting. Simply press out each shape from the sheet and layer it in the order given. Most sheets have a specific order to work from and use numbers to order each piece. Usually this means selecting the largest design piece first because this goes right at the back.

With paper tole or 3D decoupage, you normally work from the largest part of a design at the back and then add the next largest part of the design. Pieces that you layer up gradually get smaller and more detailed. Cut or punch out the largest piece of the printed design.

3: A Craft Knife Sometimes Works Best

Cutting floral paper designs with a craft knife

Identify the next design element to cut or punch out. This is normally the next biggest in size if not numbered. Sometimes pattern sheets will leave white spaces in the print and you can cut these away. If these occur in the middle of a design, you might need a craft knife to remove them.

Getting used to a craft knife can take time. You will need a cutting mat to work on top of to protect your work surface. Take your time with a knife because it is easy to make mistakes with them. Carefully put the point of the knife where you need to start cutting and pull the blade slowly down the design. You might need to rotate the design as you cut round it. Not all decoupage sheets are like this and there are many that can just be cut with scissors.

4: Using the Adhesive Foam Pads

Using 3D foam squares or pads

Once you've cut or punched out your second piece, you need to stick foam squares on the back of it. You don't need these pads to cover every bit of paper so you can spread them out. Sometimes the foam squares are too big to fit in an area so you can cut them down to size with scissors. Remove the backing papers from the adhesive and carefully place this layer over the top of the first, taking care to match it up with the design.

3D foam squares are easy to use and will add some height and dimension in the different layers of your design. You can also use silicone glue but that takes more time and patience to work with. 

5: Make Use of Craft Tweezers

Floral paper pattern cut out for a card

Carry on working on cutting or punching out the next layer of your design. Stick adhesive pads on the back and then fix layers in place on your growing paper embellishment. I like to use craft tweezers to help me put each layer in the right place. They also help with getting the backs off from the sticky foam pads.

6: Embellishing Your Paper Design Further

Adding glitter glue to finish an embellishment

Once your three-dimensional design is complete, you can embellish it further by adding on glitter glue, stickers, gems, ribbon, beads and more. I really like to use Stickles glitter glue which is very easy to apply where you want a bit of added sparkle. You can use designs for handmade cards, scrapbook layouts, framed pictures, hanging ornaments, gift boxes, gift tags, and as decorations around the home. 

Handmade Card Made with a Floral Decoupage Sheet

An example of a 3D Decoupage handmade rose flower card made using Papier Tole techniques of cutting and layering.

3D Decoupage is a Beautiful Craft for Making Cards and More

If you opt to get sheets that require cutting instead of the die cut papier tole options, a really good pair of scissors will make that task easier. I like to use a range of sizes and have a tiny pair that can cut with a great level of detail and precision. 

Some people prefer to use a craft knife for this craft. I use a knife when I need to cut away areas from the middle of a design. Otherwise I prefer to use scissors because they are easier to work with. You will find a method of working for this activity which you prefer.

Image Credits: The introductory image belongs to the author, Marie Williams Johnstone. All other images (unless watermarked with the author’s name) are product photos from Amazon.



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  1. Marie Williams Johnstone "How to Do 3D Paper Tole for Beginners." Crafty Marie. 23/12/2015 <Web >

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