Project: Jazz lover’s Layered birthday card using the Cricut Foil tool

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After a year of not being able to see any of my family members, I’m on a mission to create personal, unforgettable birthday cards for everyone I care about. I’m stuck almost 2,000 miles away from my parents, and my Mom’s birthday is coming up and I wanted to send her a card that lets her know how much I miss her and how much I care about her passions.

My Mom took up the saxophone after her retirement from government work about a decade ago. She had played a little in middle school, but we’re talking about almost a 50 year hiatus from music.

Now she’s in a band, they perform live several times a year and she’s part of a great new community in her retirement. I couldn’t be happier for her. She loves jazz music, and I wanted to knock her socks off with a cool, retro, jazz-themed art-deco style card that lets her know how proud I am of her.

I designed this card using Adobe Illustrator, but I’m providing the SVGs I created for you to use. It’s a Cricut Foil birthday card that incorporates layers to really give it some extra special sophistication!

Here’s what I will be covering in this tutorial:

  • Materials
  • Setting up the project in Cricut Design Space
  • Cutting and foiling process
  • Assembling the card
  • Making a custom envelope

Materials and tools

A closer look at this card before we start

Before we get started setting up the SVG file in Design Space and cutting and assembling the pieces, we should take a look at what we’ve got.

This card is made of 3 individually cut and foiled pieces of cardstock. The graphics are originally from Vecteezy, but I have modified them significantly so they are suitable for cutting and foiling.

The front of the card features piano keys cut out of black cardstock, and the greeting “IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY” running vertically down the side of the card.

The inside of the card is another sheet of black cardstock, foiled with an art deco frame and the phrase “Jazz it Up!” Sandwiched between the black layers is a layer of white cardstock, and the counter spaces from the outer layer text are cut into this layer.

How to cut the letters out of cardstock

Normally, cutting letters in cardstock is tricky unless you are specifically using a stencil font. I chose a retro font from Fontspace (Standing Room Only) so I had to figure out what to do with the open spaces in letters like A, B, D, R etc.

These spaces are called counters. It’s tricky to cut out a letter that has a counter because how do you layer it to show the counter so the letter has a normal appearance?

an enclosed space inside a letter is called a "counter"

I had an aha! moment and cut the counters out of the white cardstock layer, so the space would be filled by the backside of the inner layer of cardstock, (also black). Here’s a quick visual explainer (slideshow):

This is an elegant method of cutting letters out of cardstock, but a word of caution. Separating the counters for cutting out of the white layer can’t be done in Cricut Design Space. I did it in Adobe Illustrator by converting each letter to an outline, then released the compound path of each shape. Then the counter shape is its own object and can be used to create a separate cut file for the second (white) layer.

Setting up this Birthday Card in Cricut Design Space

After all of that preparation, it’s time to load the card in Design Space!

This file is zipped to include separate SVG files: one for the outer and middle layer of the card (cut file) and the inner layer (foil and cut file).

  • SVG File 1:
    • Outer card layer + middle card layer
  • SVG file 2:
    • Foil pattern border
  • SVG file 3:
    • Foil pattern text + graphic

Download the project zip file to your computer and then unzip (“extract”). In Design Space, open a new project and then click the “upload” icon in the left-hand sidebar. Follow the prompts to add the SVG image of the outside card layer to the new project.

This file consists of two layers: the main black layer with the text and piano keys, and the white middle layer that contains cuts that align with the counter spaces in the main text.

(for ease of visualization, I have set the main black layer to dark grey, and the white layer to pale blue.)

open the SVG file in Cricut Design Space

Organize the Card

Make sure the layers are ungrouped. Either right click on the image and select “ungroup” or click the “ungroup” icon from the top of the right-hand layers menu.

Next, add a score line from the “Shapes” section of the left-hand menu. Adjust its length to cover the card and align it in the center of the black layer.

align the score line and the outer layer of the card

Tip: you can try duplicating this score line and aligning them so they are directly on top of each other. This will signal to your Cricut machine to run the score line twice and give you a better crease line to fold. This is handy if you are using the scoring stylus, but if you have a Cricut Maker and are using the scoring wheel tool, you can skip this optional step.

Attach the main cut layer and the score lines

In the right-hand layers menu, select the score line(s) and the black cut layer. Click the “Attach” icon in the lower right hand corner of Design Space.

attach the score line and the outer layer

This makes sure all of the different operations (cutting, scoring, drawing) are performed where you want them done. If you were to click “Make it” and the score lines were unattached, the score lines would not be aligned with the cut layer, they would be in the top-left corner of the mat.

Final adjustments before cutting

If you need to make any adjustments to this card, this would be the time to do it. The default size of the card is 5″ x 7″ (or 10″ x 7″ unfolded), but you can select all layers and resize it however you want. (If you resize, resize by width, not height. The score lines are included with the “select all” function and they are taller than the body of the card. Resizing by width will give you an accurate result).

If you only have 4″ x 6″ foil sheets for the inside of the card, make sure you set the outside of the card to 4″ x 6″ and not 5″ x 7″.

Cricut Foil Birthday Card Cutting Process

So now it’s time to cut the card!

Mat Preview

Each color will have its own mat – so in this case we have a black layer and a white layer, so we will have two mats.

mat preview -- two cuts and a score line

Tip: Many experienced card makers recommend scoring the inside of a card to make folding easier. You can do this by mirroring the outside layer. Personally, I don’t usually bother doing this.

Material Selection and Cutting Cardstock layers

For this project, I used a Cricut Explore Air 2, but you can use your Explore 3, Maker or Maker 3.

I set the Smart Set dial to “Custom Materials” and selected Medium Cardstock from the list of option in Design Space. For newer Cricut machines, you will always select your materials from within Design Space.

screenshot of material and tool selection in Cricut Design Space

Place your cardstock on a mat (I like the blue light grip mat best, but you can also use the green standard grip mat if you choose). Load your Scoring Stylus in Clamp A and load the Fine Point blade in Clamp B.

Load your mat into the Cricut machine and press the flashing Cricut button when prompted.

peeling the mat away from the cardstock after finishing the cut for the outer layer of the brthday card

When the machine has completed the cut, carefully peel the mat away from the cardstock so you don’t curl or warp the card and weed out the cut pieces of cardstock.

Repeat these steps for the white cardstock layer and it’s time to move on to the inner foiled layer.

Set up the Inner Card Layer for Foiling

At this point, it’s time to go back to a new Design Space project window. It will be easier to set up the basic shape and score line of the card using Cricut elements instead of importing them as an SVG.

Select a square from the Shapes menu on the left hand menu, and resize it to 10″ wide by 7″ tall (you will need to click the small padlock icon above the width/height values to unlock the 1:1 aspect ratio). Make sure the line-type for this shape is “Basic Cut”

Next add a score line from the Shapes menu, adjust the height to 8″ tall. Select both the rectangle shape and the score line and then open the Alignment menu in the top menu and select “Align Horizontally”.

set up the inside layer of the card in a new project window, and start with a basic rectangle and score line.

The base of the inside of the card is now set. Now it’s time to import the artwork.

Upload SVG to Design Space

Select Upload from the left-hand menu and follow the prompts to upload the SVG file called “foil-border” from the Zip file I have provided.

When you have it positioned on the right hand side of the card design, make sure every element of the SVG is highlighted, then select WELD from the bottom of the right-hand layers menu. This was a complex design that I had to adapt significantly to get it ready for Design Space. Even after hours of adjustments in Adobe Illustrator, it still requires this final step in DS. Make sure you don’t skip this step; it will cut the processing time when you make this project.

weld all of the SVG elements together

After the weld is finished, select line-type > Foil > Fine and select the color you want. The default size of this border is 4.5″ wide and 6.56″ tall. If you only have small Cricut Foil Transfer sheets (4″ x 6″) you will have to resize this image accordingly. (I used a remnant of a 12″ x 12″ gold foil sheet).

Next, upload the SVG file called “foil-text” and place it in the blank space inside the border image. This SVG contains 4 groups (1. the saxophone, 2. AZZ, 3. IT UP, 4. !), and you can modify the linetype and color of each by clicking on the group name in the right-hand Layers menu.

I set the line-type of the text portion to Foil > Medium and selected Silver, but you can choose any color or line weight you want.

set the line type as Foil and select the line weight and color

Select the saxophone group layer and set the line type to Foil > Medium. I chose gold as my color, but you can choose whatever color you want.

Personalize your message

The left-hand panel of the card is blank for you to personalize. I chose to combine a blocky font and a script font, but be aware: unless you are using a single line font specifically designated as a drawing or writing font, your text will be outlined with the foil tool.

The first step is to select the “Type” tool from the left-hand menu. Your text will initially look huge and outlined – don’t worry. Design Space’s default text size is 72 points and you can reset that to whatever you want in the top menu bar.

The default line-type is set to Basic Cut, so you should just change that to Foil and select your foil weight (fine, medium or bold) and color.

Options for single line writing fonts

If you want the foil tool to just use a single line to write each font, you have three options:

  • You can use a specialty single line font
  • Use a Cricut writing font
  • Or, you can use a skinny font you have downloaded to your system fonts

I wrote an entire article about writing fonts for Cricut, and my recommendation for single line writing fonts for special projects is to spend the money on a premium font. I personally choose SingleLineFonts.com because they have beautiful fonts with full character sets and they very reasonably priced (only $7 per font!)

If you are a Cricut Access member, you have about 50 writing fonts at your disposal in Design Space.

In Design Space, highlight your text and open the font menu in the upper menu. Select Cricut fonts, and under the filter, check the box for Writing fonts. There will be about 50 fonts for you to choose from. I find that most of these fonts are very light-hearted and informal, so you may have to search through quite a few to find the right tone you are looking for.

how to select a writing font from Cricut Design Space

The other option is to use a thin font from your own collection. If you use the medium or bold foil tip, you will get a result that looks like a single, heavy line, even though Design Space will still outline the font.

In our guide to selecting writing fonts for Cricut Design Space, we feature samples from Cricut fonts, where to find free fonts that will give near-perfect results, and even more resources to find premium single line fonts.

Attach Elements and final adjustments

Now it’s time to make sure everything is in position, all of your elements have the correct foil weight and color selected and you have everything spelled correctly!

Once everything is good to go, highlight everything on your card and select “Attach” from the lower right-hand menu. Save your project and then click the “Make it” button.

Mat Preview for Inner Card

In the mat preview, everything should be contained on one mat. Adjust the positioning if you need to, then follow the prompts to the next page.

mat preview of inner card layer to be scored, foiled and cut

Material Selection and Tool Setup

As I said earlier, I made this card with an Explore Air 2, so if you are making this project with an Explore 3, Maker or Maker 3, the following steps will differ slightly.

Design Space will do each of the steps in this order when using the Foil Transfer Tool:

  • Scoring
  • Foiling
    • Fine foil
    • Medium foil
    • Bold Foil
  • Cutting

This means you will have to load your cardstock and your mat into the machine without taping the foil transfer sheet first. I’ve had more than a couple of sheets messed up by the scoring tool, so even though it’s harder to tape the foil down while the mat is in the machine, you are going to get the best, most predictable result this way.

After the scoring operation is finished, you will be prompted to apply the foil and put the Foil Transfer Tool in Carriage B. I’ve run a lot of tests, and Design Space will always run fine lines, then medium lines, then bold lines for each color. BUT, I have never had consistent results predicting which color is going to be foiled first.

laying a sheet of rose gold transfer foil on cardstock after the Cricut has already completed foiling gold and silver layers

Work your way through the foiling steps following the machine prompts, and be careful not to unload the mat. If you are using a lot of different colors it can take some time, but be patient. The results are definitely worth it!

Finally, remove the last of the foil and move on to the final cutting step. Use the Fine Point blade to cut the basic card shape, and it’s time to unload the mat and remove the cardstock!

(Tip: I always flip the mat over and peel it away from the paper so the paper doesn’t curl.)

Assemble the Cricut Foil Birthday Card

Now that you have your three separate pieces of cardstock, it’s time to glue them together. Start with the outer layer and the white middle layer. Apply glue (I used Aleene’s Tacky Glue) to the back of the black cardstock layer, and you’ll have to work fairly quickly to get the glue on the skinny ribs between the piano keys.

apply adhesive to the outer layer of cardstock

When the glue is evenly applied, lay the white cardstock over the black layer, and line up the outside (right-hand) edge. The cutouts of the letter counters should line up with the cutout letters in the black cardstock layer.

I often sandwich the cardstock between two heavy books and leave them for an hour or so to get a good bond. When the outer and middle layer are dried, apply glue to the outer two layers and lay the black inner layer on top. Line up all four edges and press between two books.

Bend the paper at the score lines and voila! Your card is finished and ready to send.

a look at the cricut foil birthday card

Making a Custom Envelope

A card this fancy deserves a special envelope. I wanted to make a luxe envelope out of heavier cardstock, complete with a foiled interior. This is an easy project, and the step by step guide is available here.

make a foiled envelope using your Cricut machine

SVG Files for Download

As promised, here are the files needed to make this card. Please note, the artwork in this project is derivative artwork based on the work of other creators. This is available for personal license only. If you make and share this card, please link back to this article if possible.

Images included in the zip (SVG only) are available at our free Resources Library.

a preview collage of each SVG image used to make the cricut foil birthday card
click image to download the SVG zip
  • This .zip file includes the following files:
    • layered-foil-card-outside-layers.svg
    • foil-border.svg
    • foil-text.svg

Resources used in this project

a visual guide to all of the fonts and graphics used to make the c ricut foil birthday card

Fonts

This project included more fonts than I usually work with, but I was having fun and experimenting with elements to give this card a 1920s/1930s jazz era look and feel.

Images

Final Thoughts

We’re finally finished! How did your card turn out? I can tell you my Mom was thrilled to get it and it made the physical distance between us more bearable knowing she appreciated the effort. This tutorial seems like a lot of steps, but once you get into it, it rolls pretty smoothly. I had to do a fair bit of trial and error to get the images to foil the way I wanted, but if you use the SVG files as I’ve supplied them, you shouldn’t have to fuss too much.

Let us know how your card turned out!

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