Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Folder Facelift by Judi Kauffman for The Queen’s Ink

How could I resist? A dozen folders filled with brightly colored flowers for only fifty cents. The yard sale was for a good cause so I bought them.

What was I thinking? I haven’t used more than four or five folders in the last six months! But I wasn’t going to feel guilty, I was going to figure out what to do with my bargain treasure. Large, colorful, a fold along one side; essentially, each folder is a large piece of sturdy cardstock.

All of a sudden an idea took shape: Give the folders a facelift! 

I decided to explore two options –

First, leave the folder whole and heavily embellish it. Encrust the printed surface with glitter dots, glitter flowers, and glitter border peel-offs to add lots of sparkle. Work on top of the existing patterns and adding borders along the scored lines at the base of the folder to take it one more step. Add a bit of peel-off ‘leftovers’ to the tabbed portion because if you aren't planning on writing something in that space, but skip that step if you'd rather keep it blank. See below:

Second, cut the folder into pieces to make cards and bookmarks, tags, treat toppers or other items.

Take advantage of the existing fold for the cards. I was able to cut two 5” x 7” tent-fold cards, plus two 7” bookmarks from the side with the fold. Cut along the fold to separate the two bookmarks. (They're shown side by side in the photo, but the one at the far right was originally part of the BACK side of the folder.)) You could cut three narrower width cards and skip the bookmarks if you prefer. Cut the two long strips from the tabbed edge of the folder in half and use them to accent four more card fronts. (I even used the tiny scraps left after trimming the tabbed strips into pieces.) 

Here’s what the cut pieces look like:


Since it’s unlikely that you’ll find the same folders at a store or yard sale, YOUR ‘Folder Facelift’ won’t be just like mine. There are so many great printed folders available these days. Check the aisles of your favorite office supply company or glue together pieces of scrapbook paper and trace around an old folder to create them from scratch.

NOT being able to duplicate my project is what this is all about and it's the best part! What you create will be uniquely your own. Don't worry if you can't find folders with flowers. There are lots of other possibilities. The key is to re-purpose and up-cycle ANY folders by decorating them and/or cutting them up.

Mix in solid color cardstock or embossed paper, add low-relief embellishments as shown or as you prefer. (Don’t mail the bookmark with beaded wire tassel unless you use a padded envelope or box – the beads would break!)

Other options:
-Start with a solid color folder. Paint, stamp, stencil, add die cut shapes.
-Start with an old or damaged folder and rescue it by adding collage, making sure to strengthen the fold.
-Think of the folder as an art journal page to be cut up or left whole and embellished.

Use the following project photos for inspiration:

  • File folders
  • Solid color cardstock in colors to coordinate with folders
  • Collage materials
  • Paper adhesives
  • Glitter Dots, Glitter Flowers, Glitter Borders, and other Border Peel-offs
  • Low relief embellishments
  • Wire and beads (for bookmark)
  • Quarter-inch hole punch (for bookmark)


  1. Love the whimsy. I have a craft room full of stuff I need to use... Maybe this post will help.

  2. Thank you, Darla and paulaj - It was a fun project to do. I love to find new ways to use the things that end up in my studio. The two big flowers on one of the cards are made with the leftover pieces from a sheet of gold outline peel-offs. I hope you're inspired to give it a try - if not with file folders then with some cardstock that you can fold before giving it a facelift!

  3. You really improved these folders Judi! I'm surprised anything is safe from embellishment around you!

  4. How cool. I love what you did with this amazing find!

  5. Thank you, Quietfire. You're right - if something holds still I'll definitely embellish it.
    Thank you, Jean. I have always enjoyed putting things away in folders and miss the good old days of filing, organizing, and office work!