We receive so many questions on the different dies that we carry, so today I thought I would try and provide a synopsis on the different varieties we sell. The information I am sharing with you today is my opinion and is based on experiments and findings I have made over the last few years. So big disclaimer here - there are definitely other products out on the market that work well, but these are the tools that I prefer to work with at this time. So many new things are always developing and my guess is that this article will need to be rewritten or added to soon, BUT for today this is the best compilation I can provide regarding the dies we carry in our store, Ellen Hutson LLC.
After many years of experimenting with different roller style die cut machines I prefer the Sizzix Big Shot and Vagabond due to their reliability. The sandwich seems to be tighter so my cuts end up being cleaner - this makes me a happy crafter! As a result the information I am going to share with you today is based on that preference and the primary reason we carry these die cut machines in our store.
Low Profile, Wafer Thin Dies
Most of the low profile dies we carry are created through a chemical etching process and are wafer-thin. These style of dies are designed to cut a single sheet of cardstock, paper, metallic foil or vellum. Some of the less intricate designs can also cut through two layers of cardstock, felt, Craft-a-board, cork, corrugated papers and our Magnetic Masking Material.
Use the wafer-thin dies together with:
- solo platform AND solo adapter plate (Sizzix no longer makes the multi-purpose platform, which was a hinged variety of these two plates)
- solo shim - for adding thickness to your sandwich if dies are not cutting properly
- metal adaptor plate - this stainless steel plate is recommended for intricate dies or if a sandwich is just not tight enough to get a good cut. These plates may become marked and even dented, but will still continue to be a great tool for easy and precise cutting. You can use this plate in both the Sizzix machines as well as the Cuttlebug. View this video for more details.
- embossing pad combo or silicone rubber sheet - use this pad if deeper embossing is desired.
- Scotch tape - shim intricate dies in specific spots on the back of the die placing tape in low spots to build up areas - view this video for a thorough explanation.
Most of the low-profile, wafer-thin style of dies are primarily used to create focal points or layers in your paper crafting projects, but you can also use them to create your own stencils and more. You will also find some fabulous containers in our collection, so be certain to explore the Die Domain category in our store if you have not had a chance to do so.
There are two styles of wafer-thin dies - closed and open. There are advantages to each style of die, depending on the type of project you would like to create.
The beauty of the closed die is that it can contain both cut lines and embossing lines. This allows you to send the die through your die cut machine, adding detail as you do so. As well, if cutting highly detailed designs in which there are no embossed lines on the die, you will get a nice clean cut without any additional embossed details added.
The dies above are being shown on the new magnetic Genius platform. I look forward to experimenting with this new tool - the idea of having my dies snapped into position so that they don't slip around on me while cutting is quite exciting and I look forwards to testing it out - I just ran out of time this week.
When it comes to open style dies there are a variety of different looks available. There is essentially no difference to the end product when cutting with dies #1 and #2 shown above. #1 is from the My Favorite Things STAX series and has an acetate backer applied. #2 is from Lifestyle Crafts Cookie Cutter Nesting series. Each of these dies has a small amount of metal that extends into the opening of the die - when cutting using one of these dies you may end up getting an embossed line on the interior edge of your cut out depending on the tightness of your sandwich.
#3 is a Sizzix Framelits die. These dies are designed with a completely void center so that when you cut with this die it will not leave an embossed detail on your cut out pieces.
When purchasing your dies decide which look you prefer and make your selection accordingly.
You can also use an embossing pad with each of these dies to create different looks. You will find many different projects on our blogs showcasing the many ways to use dies. Simply put the word "dies" in the search mechanism located in the upper right-hand corner of our blogs or click on one of the category links titled Dies - Cutting and Embossing and all posts in that category will appear.
Manufacturers - currently we carry the following Manufacturers:
- Hero Arts
- Impression Obsession
- Lifestyle Crafts
- Memory Box/Poppystamps
- My Favorite Things
Hero Arts - dies coordinate beautifully with their stamp line. These dies are created by Sizzix as a part of their Framelits program - which means that they have an open design that features the perfect registration without any interference from any interior ridges within the interior edge of the die opening.
Impression Obsession - these dies are designed to coordinate with their beautiful stamp line. Impression Obsession creates both cling mount and clear stamps. Their dies have the clever "locator hole" to help ascertain perfect placement when stamping with cling stamps. Simply stamp the image and then use the technique described in this post to align your die perfectly to your stamped image.
Lifestyle Crafts - offers a wide assortment of dies. We have tried to note in each product description what style of dies are included in each packet. Some of the Lifestyle Craft dies are designed with ejection foam, which enables the die to quickly release the cardstock. When creating using dies that have a lot of detail this comes in handy, but it does limit use to cutting lightweight products such as paper and cardstock only.
Their die line includes many different styles of alphabets which vary in size and font. If you are looking to create your own letters for cards or scrapbook pages I am confident you will find something within this line!
Lifestyle Crafts also offers a vast array of dies that will create 3-D objects such as boxes, bags, a berry container, milk carton, pizza box and so much more. Each set includes a variety of dies that are designed to work together and are an excellent value when you consider the number of dies included in each set. For example this adorable envelope set includes 11 dies for $40, that is $3.64 per die!
Lifestyle Craft dies that have an open design as shown above are referred to as cookie cutter dies - whenever you see that term used you know that it will be an open style design as shown here.
Refer to this post to see how Julie uses one of the boxes in her design - SO cute!
The kit dies come in a convenient zip-lock style bag ready to put into a binder for storage.
Memory Box - this is our most popular die assortment and offers intricate and highly detailed designs. Some of the designs are coordinates to their beautiful stamps and others stand alone. Each die comes packaged in a conveniently labeled envelope that you can use to store the die.
My Favorite Things - offers a wonderful assortment of die and clear stamp sets, as well as individual dies. As shown above each set of dies includes an instruction sheet with recommendations for the sandwich you should use in the various roller die cutting machines. MFT's die assortment includes:
- die and clear stamp sets - these dies and stamps coordinate and are sold as a set. Many of these same dies can also be purchased separately.
- Die-namics - these dies are the closed style die shown above on the left-hand side of the photo.
- Die-namics STAX - STAX are hand-finished Die-namics that are see-through due to featuring an acetate backer as shown above on the right-hand side of the photo. This see-through quality allows you to better position your die when cutting. As these are hand-finished, they are subject to variances. Should you notice any glue residue, this can be easily removed using rubbing alcohol. The acetate backers are not necessary to ensure proper cutting. The nesting arrangement of the STAX dies allows you to layer your cuts as well as maximizes storage.
Savvy - the whimsical style of these dies is a fabulous addition to the die market place. It is so very fun to realize that these dies coordinate beautifully with the other popular styles we carry. Particularly the awning and bicycle create magical little scenes together with Poppystamps windows and doors!
- Framelits are their "cut what you see" style of die shown on the left in the photo above. Framelits include basic shapes that can be used alone or in layers, as well as fanciful styles and dies that coordinate with stamp images. These wafer-thin, chemical-etched dies feature the perfect registration without any interference from any ridges at the edge of the die opening. This leaves you with a nice clean cut.
- Sizzlits are a low-profile die that is not wafer-thin and therefore does not need the solo adaptor plate when cutting. It is shown in the photo above in the lower right-hand corner. These are a chemically etched die that has a gray ejection foam adhered to the die and then are housed in a plastic shell. Once again the ejection foam helps to release the highly detailed small designs, but in so doing limits use to a single sheet of cardstock, paper, metallic foil or vellum.
Traditional Steel Rule Dies
Sizzix traditional steel rule dies feature a steel-rule construction which will cut through cardstock, fabric, felt, fiber, foam, magnet, metallic foil, mat board, grungeboard, vellum and more. Sizzix steel rule dies were designed specifically for use in the Big Shot, Big Shot Pro and Vagabond, but can be utilized in various manufacturers roller machines.
There are numeours designers who create dies for Sizzix and so many different designs, styles and sizes are included in the Bigz collection:
- standard Bigz dies measure 5 1/2" x 6", Bigz XL measure 6" x 13 3/4", and Bigz Pro measure 12" x 12 3/4" (the Bigz Pro dies are designed for use only with the Big Shot Pro Machine and will not work in the either the Big Shot or Vagabond)
- use with cutting pads only (no platforms are necessary due to the overall thickness of this die)
- the advantage of the Bigz dies are that they cut thick materials including cardstock, chipboard, cork, Craft-a-board, fabric, felt, foam, Grungeboard, Inchies, mat board, magnet, leather, metallic foil, sandpaper (in limited use) and more!
- a close variety of the Bigz dies are the ScoreBoards and ScoreBoards XL. Scoreboard style dies easily cut and score most mat board and chipboard. For best results use board that measures between .040 to .055 and a crease pad when cutting. This collection by Eileen Hull contains innovative boxes, pockets and other holders.
- On the Edge dies have the same profile as the Bigz dies, but are specifically designed to cut edges on your cards, mini books and small scrapbook pages. Each die is approximately 6" in length and can cut up to 5 1/2" width edges.
There are two components to the Movers & Shapers dies, a base tray (or die which includes an open area similar to that shown in the base tray above) and a magnetic Movers & Shapers dies:
- base dies or trays - base dies are designed to be used with Movers & Shapers Magnetic Dies. However they can be used alone to cut their simple shaped designs. When using them without magnetic dies simply insert a special magnetic ejection foam square in the open tray to eject the die-cut shape after cutting.
- insert dies - magnetic Movers & Shapers dies must be used in any one of the Movers & Shapers base dies or base trays. Use them to cut windows in cards, or cut out these fun smaller sized shapes.
Sizzix products referred to as Alterations are everything Tim Holtz - they include Bigz, Movers and Shapers, On the Edge and Sizzlit profiles.
- Sizzix, Cutting Pads
- Standard - measures approximately 6 1/8" x 8 3/4" x 1/8"
- Extended - measures approximately 6 1/4" x 14 3/4" x 1/8" - extended cutting pads are the ones I use most frequently because I am able to use them with any size die and easily align with the solo platform and solo adaptor plate.
- Extra Long - measures approximately 6 1/8" x 26" x 1/8"
- On the Edge - measures approximately 6" x 3 1/4" x 1/8" and designed for use with the Sizzix On the Edge dies as you create edges for your cards and mini books.
- Decorative Strip - measures approximately 2 5/8" x 13" x 1/8" and is designed for use with Sizzlit Decorative Strip dies. As well it works with the longer low-profile, wafer-thin dies when placed atop the solo platform and solo adaptor plate.
- Embossing Pad Combo - includes two embossing pads approximately 5 x 7 inches in size. The thin pad is approximately half the thickness of the thick pad. Use to emboss details of low-profile dies and embossing plates.
- Genius Platform (I have not yet had the chance to work with this product being it just arrived, but following is the information I have been able to put together)
- this kit comes with a brand new MAGNETIC platform which is 6" x 13". This magnetic surface will hold your dies in place so they won't slide or fall off!
- use the magnetic platform with your metal low-profile, wafer-thin dies made by Impression Obsession, Lifestyle Crafts, Memory Box, My Favorite Things, Poppystamps, Savvy and Sizzix Framelits.
- includes two mats - one for low-profile, wafer-thin dies and one for cutting thick metal traditional steel dies. The cutting mat is touted to be thicker, more durable, self-healing, and will last longer. Cutting mats also include a grid and centering ruler.
- compatible with the Vagabond, Big Shot, Cuttlebug, Epic 6 and Evolution die cutting machines.
- Metal Adaptor Plate - use this plate to shim your intricate low-profile, wafer-thin dies. This special stainless stell plate helps support the cutting action and results in better cuts. These plates may become marked and even dented but will still continue to be a great tool for easy and precise cutting. View this video for more details.
- QuickStik - this is a precision pickup and placement tool. Removable adhesive on the end of the stick makes it excellent for removing small pieces from dies after cutting.
- Sizzix Premium Crease Pad, Extended - recommended when using crease-rule, traditional steel rule dies such as Bigz, Scoreboard and Movers & Shapers dies. This pad helps to create cards, envelopes, bags, boxes, and 3-D pop-ups with subtle fold lines.
- Sizzix Texturz Impressions Pad - a durable embossing accessory for use with Sizzix Texturz Plates and can be used together with the Silicone Rubber Sheet to emboss metal stencils and dies.
- Sizzix Texturz Silicone Rubber Sheet - this pad can be used to emboss the details on low-profile metal dies and/or metal stencils. Use it in a similar manner to the Embossing Pads in the Embossing Pad combo.
- Solo Adapter Plate - this adapter is designed for use with the Solo Platform and Shim to accommodate the low-profile, wafer-thin dies we carry listed above.
Many different varieties of storage are available for the various assortment of dies, following are three of my favorites that we carry in our store:
- case measures 10.25x3.25x9.625 inches and accomodates approximately 21 magnetic sheets when full
- magnetic sheets measure approximately 7.325 x 9.125 inches each
- TIP: Sheets can be slightly bent at the edge when they arrive in the container - if sheets are slightly bent, place beneath a heavy, flat object such as a stack of books to flatten overnight.
Lifestyle Crafts Magnetic Storage Book - store your dies on two interior pages which measure approximately 8" x 10" in size. I have found that this storage book is the best to hold the acetate backed dies that Memory Box and My Favorite Things manufacture.
TIP: Use label maker to create labels for the spines of your books which identify contents within.
Sizzix Plastic Envelopes come as a 3-pack and are a great solution for organizing and safely storing loose dies and stamps. These envelopes measure approximately 6 7/8" x 5" and feature a snap closure.
TIP: Create a label for each envelope identifying contents within.
Download Die Comparison Chart - we hope this little chart will help you select which accessories you will need to use when cutting with the different style of dies.
I couldn't finish this post without a little eye candy - so I have one little project to share with you after ALL this information.
This is a trifold card.
I like to snap my dies to separate them. This allows me to use different papers and cardstock colors without wasting paper. Simply snap and then use a Basic Grey Precision file to file away the sharp little nubs.
To create an extended look I positioned my die at the very edge of the cutting plate extending it slightly over the edge and held it in position using Tissue Tape. I like to score my cardstock before beginning to help guide the positioning of the die.
Align the top plate to match exactly with the lower cutting plate and cut.
You will end up with a piece that looks like this.
If you look closely at the photo above you will note where I added a second piece of 4 1/4" x 5 1/2" cardstock to the front of my card to complete the tri-fold design.
Add faux stitching using the design ruler and a piercing tool to create the holes and a Copic Multi-liner to add the stitching. A little glitter, stamping and coordinating papers makes this fun little design that will welcome a sweet baby girl to this world.
Thank you for hanging in there with me - this has to be THE longest article I have ever written, but there is so much information to compile and I didn't have a better way to shorten it. We hope that you find this information helpful when you try to figure out the differences in the dies we carry.
stamps: Technique Tuesday Sweet Baby by Ali Edwards