Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Cuttlebug All in One Folders Review

Provocraft have introduced a new line of embossing folders for the Cuttlebug - called the 'All in One' folders.  The system works with existing Cuttlebug machines but the 'A' plate is replaced by the new (sold separately) 'Master Folder'.

Bottom Line 
I want to love it, but I can't quite love it yet.  As much as I can see it being useful for me, I definitely couldn't recommend it without a few reservations - particularly if you hate Coredinations card (can it be? apparently there are some!?) and experimenting.  So bottom line:

* It is fabulous to be able to customise the embossing areas yourself and the monograms are really fun to work with.

* I really like the designs and can see lots of ways to mix and match them.

* It works really well with Core-dinations type card (great for people like me!) BUT with other card and paper it can sometimes crease if you are embossing multiple elements spaced around a page.  I've found that trying different sandwiches (using one B and some card as a shim for instance) the creases can be reduced considerably - but this also reduces the height/depth of the emboss/deboss.

* The biggest annoyance for me- and I don't know if there is a secret I just haven't learned yet - but trying to get the folder through with both B plates when using the large (5x7) embossing elements is nigh on impossible.  I've broken a few nails and said some very unlady-like things while trying! When I can get them through it is HARD WORK. Instead I've used a B plate and a 'No More Shims' mat which is a little easier (but not really easy) to manage and gives a nice emboss.  If I do find out the secret to using the plates you're supposed to use - I'll let you know!

[EDITED 10 August - after a bit of online research it seems I was unlucky and got a faulty Master Folder.  I contacted C&C who got a replacement to me (quickly!) and it's an amazing difference.  The sandwich feeds through easily - even with the regular B plates.  Hurrah!!]

What you get:

Remember that you need a Master Folder which is sold separately- none of the All in One sets are any use without it!  The Master Folder has a green side and clear side - both with holes which the embossing elements fit into.

Each set comes with a storage box (very useful - I can't imagine trying to manage all the pieces without it!), and a number of embossing 'coins' (or as I often call them 'elements').

Most sets contain a large 5x7 element, and 9 smaller elements of various size (which , if used altogether create a 5x7 embossing area).  The alphabet sets contain the full alphabet an '&' and a few small design coins (flowers or birds).  They do not have 5x7 elements.

For each element there is a green piece and a clear piece, and these fit together as the green one is the 'emboss' and the clear piece the 'deboss' (ie they are negaitve images of each other one goes in where the other goes out!)

How it Works:
Setting up the folder is pretty straightforward - the embossing pieces are attached to the Master Folder using a lego like mechanism (ie little sticky up bits that fit into little holes).

The green piece of the embossing element goes onto the green side of the folder.

Rather than trying to put the clear piece into the top half of the folder by counting and guessing you can simply place the clear element is placed on top of the green piece, and then close the folder which pops the clear piece on to the top half.

You place the paper you want to emboss into the folder (with right side up if you want it to emboss, right side down if you want it to deboss), close it and add the 2 'B' plates before running it through the Cuttlebug.

The Results:

Based on my first few hours of playing with the folders I'd say it seems to work best with Coredinations (and I exepct other similar) card. That was the card I started with and overall I'm really pleased with the results it gives and expect this is how I'll use the folders most.

I had no creasing issues when I was embossing a single coin/element on a piece of card the same size.   But when I started taking on embossing multiple coins, and spacing them around a page there were a few issues.

Embossing Coredinations Card
I started by taking a single piece of card, and then adding 4 embossed elements - one at a time!  There was a teeny bit of creasing when the monogram was added - but the beauty of Coredinations/distressed card is that is pretty easily accommodated!

My next test was to use the monogram letters - and use a word with one repeated letter.  My first couple of attempts were crooked - I could not line up the letters 'by eye' through the plastic.

Finally, a very simple solution occurred to me - putting a piece of tape along the bottom of the paper (low tack naturally).  This way after the first pass I could flip the paper up - with the tape holding it in exactly the same place - put the required 'extra' letter down (an 'O' in my case) flip the paper back into place and then emboss again.

I hadn't cut the paper quite wide enough so the 'BLOOM' is a little off centre which is annoying me like you wouldn't believe but it demonstrates the point.

Embossing Mirror Card
Things got less impressive when I moved away from Coredinations.  I next tried some mirror card.  I don't know the weight - but it's a reasonably heavy card.  This creased pretty badly, particularly with the first central element.  And there is no place to hide with mirror card!!

I did the same process of embossing each element one at a time.   (In fairness, the worst area is the most complicated bit - where I tried to emboss the monogram in the centre of a previously embossed medallion. I dropped this from future runs as I think it was just a step too far!) But you can see it's not very tidy and I wouldn't use it on a project.

At this stage I decided to try a few other 'sandwich' combinations to see if that helped - and it did. This gold sample was done using 1 B plate and 7 pieces of card.  The result had no creasing - but the trade off is that the embossing isn't as deep.

I've seen a suggestion that if you place a thin piece of tissue paper in the folder when you are embossing it can help minimise the creases as well.  I tried this but it had no effect for me.

Embossing Vellum
My next experiment was with Vellum (112 GSM apparently) and I didn't really have any issues with creasing although I did a second sample with a thinner sandwich which I think I prefer.  The embossing isn't as deep and somehow it just looks better to me.

Embossing with the Large 5x7 Element (or a Smaller Element at the bottom of the 5x7 Frame)

Edited 10th Aug: It turns out I had a faulty Master Folder which caused the problems below. C&C have replaced the Master Folder and it now feeds through (with regular B plates) smoothly and easily! 

Finally I decided to try the 5x7 elements and here I started to get really annoyed!  Attempts to put the Master Folder, with the 2 B plates (no paper!) through the Cuttlebug were generally hard going.

I tried a different 5x7 element (just in case it was just a wonky set) but had the same problem.

Undeterred - I added a sheet of card and I did eventually get a 5x7 through with the 2 B plates (found it a little easier if the 5x7 element is placed as high as possible inside the folder) but it was tough going (definitely a LOT of effort to turn the handle) and it flew (across the room!!) out of the other side of the machine with a bang.

I was a little more successful with a sandwich of one B plate and a No More Shims mat - the embossing wasn't quite as deep - but it was perfectly fine.

I have no idea if there is some secret I'm missing - I've googled for tips but haven't found any yet although I have seen a couple of other comments about similar issues.  I'll try emailing ProvoCraft and see if I get an answer.

I've seen a few videos with people using the longer 'B' plates - and that might make feeding the folders through easier - but I don't have the longer plates so can't confirm that.

For no useful reason - here is a picture of a piece of blue card which has been embossed by all 6 5x7 elements!!  It was a long crafting/play session and it is now a very tired piece of card.


  1. Very useful, Soo. May go for the monograms eventually but will now be aware I may need to use a smaller piece of card and mat and layer. Many thanks

  2. Thanks Soo - more useful than the brief demo I caught on C&C.

  3. This post highlights your thoroughness in approach!
    I see cupcakes in the last photo...you know what must be done!

  4. Fantastic detailed review Soo, thanks so much for doing this. :)

  5. great review!! Just wanted to say for scrapbooking it's sometimes nice to work from a sketch when you are first starting out. It gives you some guide and inspiration!


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