Mountain Bike Birthday Card

Is there anything more challenging than a masculine paper project? Not because it’s hard to find masculine prints and embellishments, but because you have to restrain your urge to glitter everything in your path… or maybe that’s just  me.

This is a project my mom put together for my cousin’s birthday. She was sending a check and therefore had the additional challenge of making the envelope fit (and disguise) the gift.

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There were a lot of techniques and a few firsts in this project. My cousin is an avid mountain biker, so the theme was obvious, especially with the amazingly detailed Jolee’s stickers available. The bike sticker sort of dictated the color scheme as well, although the striped piece on the front is a scrap of Basic Grey’s Oxford collection from one of the projects I had going at the same time – it doesn’t match perfectly, but it keeps that grungy, outdoorsy “guy” feeling going.


The gears are from a Tim Holtz collection. I love Tim Holtz and have a habit of collecting his embellishments, but they don’t usually work into my projects – in this case, the gears mimicked bike gears perfectly, and the bronze pieces matched that striped paper nicely.

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Unnecessary grommets! Seriously, these have no purpose in this project (in others it might be ribbon or jewelry) besides making it look more like “hardware”. I love hardware on masculine projects, my personal favorite being brads that look like screw heads.

Mom bought a Crop-O-Dile, the one tool that absolutely terrified me every time I saw it at the store. What is it? Why does it have so many levers and punches? Is this some sort of craft torture device? The answers to all my questions came the first time mom used it on this project: it’s awesome, easy, and means I need grommets on EVERYTHING. There’s a side to punch, a side to set the grommet, and it takes no more effort than a craft squeeze punch. Nice!

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The trickiest part of this card was the check envelope. We wanted the focus to be the bike, so we sort of wanted to hide the check – but not so well that he never found his birthday gift! The orange paper is actually folded to make a sleeve with a short pocket in the front (where the bike tag sits), a technique we stole from the exploding box patterns we were learning at the same time; and it’s tall enough to fit the check. We knew we wanted to put a tab on top that was irresistible to pull, thus preventing him from throwing away the check by accident, but neither of us was quite sure the bank would accept a crafted check, so we decided not to put the tag directly onto the paper. What you see here is two scraps of used laminate sheet (you know, the pieces you cut off once you’ve laminated something else… nothing gets thrown away in this craft room!) taped around the edges to make a clear envelope for the check. The tab is attached to the top, and it all slips into the orange sleeve. The tab was created using a Tim Holtz Sizzix die, thought it’s easy enough to freehand one of these. I liked the window in this one that allowed the striped paper to be pulled across the project.

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The back of the bike tag has the “card” part of this whole ensemble. A nice quote about biking and a place for the family to sign, framed in the two colors from the envelope to make sure it coordinates. You can probably tell the orange paper is pre-distressed, and certain parts were prettier than others. My trick for printing on the part that you want to use? Type up your sentiment in a normal word processing document and print it on plain paper. Then cut out the piece of patterned or colored paper that you’re actually going to use and tape it over the sentiment on the white paper. Put that whole sheet of paper back in the tray and print away! The printer will always print in the same place unless you change something, so you can predict exactly where your words will land. Simple!

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Aside from mastering a masculine styled project, my favorite part of this is definitely the clear check envelope. It’s clever, well-hidden, but still a part of the overall piece. The only drawback is that it requires a larger envelope (we sent this one in a padded manila envelope), but it’s a very minor problem if you’re going to deliver the card in-person, include it inside a box or bag, or if (like me) you already send your crafted cards in padded manila envelopes just to protect them from the trip through the postal system. 😉


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