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Example Step Pop-Up cards
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Card Class 2: Tutorial #11 - Card Making Idea • Pop-Up Card Crafts

Step Pop-Up Cards

What we will be making:

This greeting card tutorial features a pop-up greeting card for a variety of occasions. See how easy it is to make a step pop-up mechanism, also sometimes called a platform or double-slit pop-up. Once you learn this technique it's a simple matter to create pop-up cards of your own design. See some ideas for pop-up cards in More Step Pop-Up Cards.

This greeting card tutorial builds on the previous tutorials in the Greeting Card Class and the Greeting Card Class 2, especially the V-Fold Pop-Up Birthday Cards tutorial. If you are new to card making, review these tutorials for ideas and basic techniques.

Related craft: For pop-up card making fun, see the Valentine's Day Pop-Up Card, Birthday and Party Pop-Up Cards, Valentine Heart Chain Pop-Up Card, Halloween Pop-Up Cards and Mother's Day Pop-Up Card craft projects.

Refer to Card Class Tutorial #1: Four Patch Cards for how to make card blanks and envelopes.

Here's what you need:
  • Two white card blanks: 5½″ by 8½″ cardstock folded in half
  • Scraps of white and colored cardstock
  • Scissors
  • Glue stick
  • Pencil, ruler and eraser
  • Rubber stamps matching card's theme
  • Happy Birthday or other message stamp
  • Black stamp pad
  • Bone folder or empty ballpoint pen
  • Felt-tip markers or colored pencils
  • Optional: Repositionable glue or tape

This is a Greeting Card Class 2 tutorial and is rated AVERAGE to do.

How to Make a Step Pop-Up Card and Mechanism

Read through the tutorial before starting.
Supplies for making pop-up elements Step 1: Supplies and Prep

You'll need two card blanks of the same size for the card face and the pop-up mechanism. The pop-up mechanism is made separately and is glued inside the card face. It's best to use card blanks of the same color to camouflage the pop-up mechanism somewhat.

To make stamped pop-up elements you will need white cardstock and colored cardstock for mats.

Gather a variety of paper and cardstock that coordinate with the colors used in your card.

Make card front Step 2: Make Card Face

Use one of the card blanks to make the card face. The card face can be made using any technique you like; however, it is important that the card have a horizontal aspect to make the most effective use of the step pop-up. Set aside the completed card face while you make the pop-up.

The sample birthday card features serendipity squares that make good use of your paper scraps—see the Serendipity Square Cards tutorial.

Make pop-up elements Step 3: Make Pop-Up Elements

Pop-up elements are glued to the pop-up steps/platforms. Anything that is flat and will fit inside the folded card can be used. For the sample card, a stamped, matted message card and a stamped cutout are used. Your matted message card should be about 1¼" to 1½" by 3¼" to 3½". The cutout can be up to about 2" square.

Tip: Use felt-tip markers to color the stamped image and tiny rubber stamps to decorate the message card.

Project extras: As an alternative to rubber stamps, use the birthday pop-up elements printable to make pop-up elements for birthday cards. Choose from colored and black and white printables that you print and cut to create the elements for your pop-up card.

Mother's Day: Make a pop-up card for Mother's Day using these printable messages and banners. Choose from colored and black and white patterns that you print and cut to glue to the platforms in your Mother's Day pop-up card. Checkout a Father's Day pop-up card with step pop-ups in More Step Pop-Up Cards.

Step 4: Make Step Pop-Up

Draw lines for pop-up step platformsUse the second folded card blank to make the pop-up mechanism. To form the pop-up steps/platforms, you will cut parallel slits from the folded edge of the card blank.

First, use the pencil and ruler to draw a line 1½" from the folded edge and parallel to it. Next, draw two vertical lines from the first line to the folded edge—they should be about 2½" apart and parallel to each other. The left line should be about ¾" from the left edge of the card blank.

About ¾" to the right of the first step, draw a second step. Draw a line 1¼" from the fold with vertical parallel lines that are ¾" apart.

Tip: For a simpler pop-up, only make the first step. It can be drawn anywhere along the fold, but no closer than ¾" from either side.

Tip: Skip the measuring by using templates. See the side bar to the right for details.

Cut pop-up step platformsCut on the vertical lines from the folded edge to the drawn horizontal line.

Fold the cut steps on the horizontal line between the cut lines. Unfold.

Invert pop-up step platformOpen the card blank and push the steps through to the other side. With the pencil lines on the outside, fold the card blank at a 90° angle. You will be gluing the pop-up elements to these steps/platforms.

Step 5: Test Pop-up Mechanism

Test pop-up mechanismTest your pop-up mechanism by making sure it folds flat. Also, use repositionable tape or glue to attach the pop-up elements to the pop-up steps. Fold the pop-up flat and make sure the pop-up elements do not extend beyond the edges of the folded card.

Make any adjustments needed before proceeding.

Glue pop-up mechanism and card front together Step 6: Glue Together

Glue the pop-up mechanism inside the card face, being sure to align the edges. Apply glue to one side of the pop-up, avoiding the step, and slip it inside the card face. Apply glue to the other side and fold the card face over onto it.

Open the card and allow the glue to dry.

Step 7: Glue Pop-Up Elements and Finish Card

Glue pop-up elements to mechanismGlue the pop-up elements to the steps. Decorate the card behind and around the pop-up steps. You might stamp more images of the cutout, add a greeting or write a message. Use your imagination!

That's it! Your pop-up card is done!
Completed pop-up card

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Before you start a tutorial:
  • Make a place to work.
  • Read through the tutorial.
  • Think about what you plan to make. Imagine how you can add your own creative touch.
  • Gather the materials you will need.
Get ready, and get started!!!
Sample of pop-up birthday card

Tip: People always enjoy receiving pop-up birthday cards. This card features a card face made with Serendipity Square. For card-making details, see Paper Appliqué Birthday Pop-Up Card.

Sample of pop-up birthday card


Sample of pop-up invitation

Tip: Make a simpler pop-up card with a single pop-up step and a card face from the Matted Clip-Art and Photo Cards tutorial.  For card-making details, see Clip-Art Invitation Pop-Up Card.

Sample of pop-up invitation


Sample of Mother's Day pop-up card

Tip: Step pop-up cards can be made for any occasion.  Make a pop-up card for Mother's Day  with rubber stamped elements and/or with messages and banners from printable sheets. Choose from colored and black and white patterns.

Sample of Mother's Day pop-up card


Sample of Father's Day pop-up card

Tip: Make a pop-up card for Father's Day using a printable with colored or black and white pop-up elements.

Step Pop-up Platform Template

Tip: Instead of measuring the step platforms, print Aunt Annie's Step Pop-up Platform Template. Choose the step platform size(s) for your card, then cut out. Align the template(s) on the card blank's folded edge and trace. Be sure to place the template at least ¾" from the edge and leave at least ½" between steps.

This card has three pop-up steps with plenty of room for flower cutouts!

Sample of pop-up with three step platforms


Sample of pop-up miss you card

Tip: The pop-up step can be up to 2" tall and 4" wide. Just be careful that the pop-up element does not extend beyond the edges of the folded card. This card face features strip folding from the Strip Folding Heart Cards tutorial. For card-making details, see Strip Folding Heart "Love You" Pop-Up Card.

Sample of pop-up miss you card


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