Wednesday 6 May 2015


I thought I would properly introduce you to dies for this tutorial Tuesday. I have used dies for mat and layering and gutting in past tutorials. Today I will explain what dies are, the various ones you can buy and how to use them.
The tools
Essentially, dies are metal shapes which are used to precision cut paper, card, fabric or other materials. To use them, you will need an embossing and die cutting machine (1). There are lots of different models to choose from as they range in brand, size and hand-wound or motorised. Each machine comes with its own set of plates (2) and you will need to follow guidelines on which plates are needed with each different die. You should always take care to ensure you do not use the wrong plates or force them through the machine. With some combinations of dies and machines, you may need to use thin plates or card as shims to produce the cleanest cut. You may also need hand tools (3) to help release your cut out from the die : these come in the form of pokey tools and pronged rollers. You may also tap your die against a surface taking care to be gentle and only tap the flat side not the raised edge to prevent damaging the die. You should also take care to store your dies flat to prevent damage to them. You can buy different storage solutions to protect your dies when not in use and keep them organised. I would recommend magnetic sheets as a good way to hold your dies together. Its aways a good idea to keep the original packaging to show what it is in that die set and what it will look like once cut.

Thin dies - thinlits, embosslits and Framelits
You can buy lots of different dies from many companies. Most of the ones shown here are sizzix. These thinner dies are great for cutting paper and thinner cardstock. (1) shows a close up of the die. You must always use the die with the raised edge facing up with the paper you are going to cut positioned on top. (2) shows sets of thinlits which have a base surrounded by a raised cutting edge. (3) is an embosslit which work slightly differently: they are hinged to enclose the piece to die cut and emboss at the same time. (4) shows a set of circular framelits, which are great for mat and layering.
When using metal dies you must always clear your die of paper before using it again. You must never put two dies through at the same time, because the blades may cross in the machine damaging the die. You can either run them through separately or ensure there is plenty of space between them. Using a piece of repositionable tape can also be a useful to hold them down. 

Thicker dies - bigz, sizzlits and movers and shapers
These are some of the thicker dies, they are usually made of a metal cutting edge surrounded by foam to protect it (1). They can be sharp so its always best to avoid pressing down on them. Again, they come in various formats created by different companies. (2) shown is a 'bigz' die, which can be used to cut grunge board, thick cardstock or multiple layers of card or paper, even fabric... This one contains several shapes which make up a decoupage style image. (3) shows sizzlits dies which are slightly thinner than the others, meaning they only cut paper and card. The final type shown (3) are movers and shapers which are used with the magnetic base plate also pictured. The name comes from the way you can move the die where ever you want on the plate to decide the position where you cut.
I am late this week due to a weekend break and my birthday!!

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