How to Make a Side Step Card the Easy Way- (Engineering Degree Not Required)

Completed card for non-traditional Chinese New Year

Looking to make a card that’s more interesting than the normal folded-in-half kind? (Also known as a standard A2 fold.) While there’s nothing wrong with the “norm,” sometimes you want something that is a little less boring stands out from the crowd. Or maybe you want a card that tells a story. Or you just want something fancy schmancy that can support some frills and doodads. OK, a lot of frills and doodads. Enter the Side Step card, the miniature staircase that has all sorts of paper real estate that begs to be dressed up.

Don’t be fooled – the side step card looks complicated, but it’s not

You may have seen directions to make side step cards that look something like this:

There’s nothing wrong at all with instructions like these – they’re extremely precise. But if you’d rather take a shortcut than the slow boat to China, there’s a faster and easier way to get there.

Now in the spirit of full disclosure, the easiest way to make a sidestep card is with a cutting machine. I use a Silhouette Cameo, which makes cutting this card easier than breathing. OK, almost easier. But if that’s not in the cards for you right now, my method will have you cutting a side step card in minutes. As opposed to exhausting your brain with measurements, lines and numbers, oh my! So let’s get to it.

Supply list

The list is short and sweet:

Materials required for card
  • One piece of cardstock measuring 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″
  • A scoring board (mine’s ancient and not as good as this one, which I’ve just ordered – it helps with making boxes and envelopes too!)
  • A paper cutter
  • Additional cardstock and embellishments
  • A small scrap of ribbon or cardstock (optional)

Instructions for making a side step card the easy way

More full disclosure (because I’ll always try to credit my original inspiration): I was introduced to the side step card courtesy of the creative genius of Beate Johns’ tutorial over at Splitcoast Stampers. Hers was the original quickie method. But I still ruined cardstock because apparently, I needed slightly more spelled-out instructions. As in to. the. letter. So I’ve reworked her original tutorial to include the extra fleshing out.

All images are my own, of course.

Step 1

Line up the short side of the cardstock in the paper cutter at the 3″ mark. Start at the 1″ mark and cut to 6 1/2.” You now have a slit in the middle of the cardstock, and you’ll see that the paper is now divided into two widths: 3″ and 2 1/2″. (For a total width of 5 1/2.”)

Starting the only cut for this pattern
The only tricky part of the process

This is the only tricky step because you’re cutting inside the piece and not from the edge. And while a separate ruler is not required for this step, I find I get the most precise measurement if I use one. If you’re good at eyeballing (I’m not), you won’t need one.

Step 2

Place paper on the score board and score the narrower (2 1/2″) side at the 4 1/4″ mark. Score only to the slit.

Making the first score mark on the narrower side of the cut cardstock

Step 3

Without moving the cardstock, and starting at the slit, score the wide (3″) section at the following marks:

  • 1″
  • 2″
  • 3 1/4″
  • 4 1/2″
  • 6 1/2″
Making the rest of the score lines
All of the rest of the score lines happen on this side

You should have 5 score lines on this side.

It only takes one cut and 6 score lines to make an easy side step card
No need for an engineering degree, these score lines are a breeze to measure

Step 4

Fold the score line on the narrow side (at the 4 1/4″ mark) into a “mountain.” This means to fold the paper down along the line.

Folding the score line on the narrow side downward, into a "mountain"
Making a “mountain” on this score line

Step 5

On the wide (3″) side, fold the first score line (1″ mark) down into a “mountain” fold.

Fold the second fold up (a “valley” fold).

Continue to fold the remaining score lines in alternating mountain and valley folds.

Fold the last score line down (“mountain” fold).

Voila, your side step card base is finished.

The finished side step card base
See how easy that was?

Step 6 (optional)

While not absolutely necessary, attaching a small piece of ribbon to the inside of the tall “step” adds stability to the card. This allows the addition of embellishments without causing the card to fall open and flatten. It IS essential if you’re going to load the card up with pretties as I did in this Christmas side step card. You can use a scrap of cardstock for the purpose, but I prefer ribbon. It’s lighter in weight and prettier. And it folds nicer when the card is folded flat for mailing.

A small piece of ribbon attached inside the tall section to add stability to the side step card
Almost essential for adding stability

And that, lovely reader, is the super shortcut to making an easy side step card. The decorating… well, I’ll be back in my next post to ‘splain how I gussied this card up.

The completed easy-to-make side step card
A fancy fold that’s easy to make

Now it’s your turn

Have you ever made a side step card? How did you make it? Was it easy, or were you frustrated? Try this method and share your results on the G&B Facebook page! We’d love to share your success!


You might also like…

A Side Step Card Full of Color, Texture and Fun!
Christmas Side-Step Card
Halloween Side Step Card

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on one of my affiliate links and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission for referring you. This in no way affects your price. Please know that I only recommend resources and items I use and believe in. You can read my full disclosure statement here.

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Hi, I'm Shea!

Hi, I'm Shea!

Do you prefer handmade to store bought? Would you rather make something than buy it? If you want to tap into your inner creative genius and say, "Yes, I made that," stick with me. From greeting cards to soap to old-fashioned desserts "from my mother's recipe box," (sprinkled with tales of life as an almost-senior), you'll learn that handmade beats the socks off store bought!

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