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How to Make Pop Up Cards - Tabs and Slots - Lesson 5


This post has been revised.  Read the updated post here.
Now that we've looked at the possibilities of cutting a pop up box mechanism from a separate piece of paper (Tutorial lesson 4), I'm sure you're wondering exactly how to attach those boxes to the card.

Directly Glued

If your box mechanism is a complete, closed box (like the picnic basket or the 6-pack on the picnic card), you can glue one or two sides of the box directly to the card or to another element.

At least one face (side) of the box must be parallel to one side of the base card for the pop up to close properly. On the picnic card the basket can't help having faces parallel to both sides of the base card as it is glued to both card sides.

how to make pop up cards

See that the 6-pack is glued to one side of the card, and to the front of the basket. Again, it has two faces parallel to the two sides of the card.

It could have been moved a bit to the left and glued to the card only. The basket would have pushed on and collapsed the 6-pack as the card was closed.

Check out these wonderful cards from one of my favorite pop up designers, Cornerstone's Pyrography and Pop-ups. See the boxes?


Haunted Room

Haunted House

Tabs and Slots

It becomes a little more complicated when a pop up mechanism uses the card base as some of its sides. There must be some way to attach the separate piece to the card.

Enter tabs and slots.

The addition of tabs and slots to your creation takes a bit of thought. You need to consider both function and appearance. The tab must be large enough to support the pop up, yet hidden from view (or incorporated as a design element).

Let's experiment a little. Print out (or draw your own) box mechanisms as shown. Cut out. Fold the card in half and glue the tabs to the shaded areas. Sample one: tabs glued so they are visible.

Sample two: tabs glued under the mechanism.

Sample three: tabs glued though a slot. Cut the two slots, slide the tabs through the slots and glue to the outside of the card. Note that you will have to plan for a design element to conceal the tabs on the outside of the card.

What happens when you move the tabs so the box angles are no longer 90 degrees?
Sample four: tabs moved toward the outer edges of the card.

Sample five: tabs moved toward the fold of the card.

Picture below shows, left to right, a side view of sample 5, sample 1, sample 4.

There is no law that says you can't use a combination of tab attachments. This is particularly true if your pop up is not symetrical. Imagine a fish with a tab at its mouth. You could slot that tab through the front of the card and use the tail as the other tab, gluing it directly to the card.

Let's take another look at the cake pop up from lesson 4 with the boxes and tabs highlighted.

The parts of the plate that are glued to the card are the tabs, even though they are part of the design. The dragonfly card is exactly the same. The body of the dragaonfly is the box, and the wings that are glued down are the tabs.

This cupcake from Cornerstone has small tabs built into the icing.

Here is an example with hidden tabs. The cake has tabs on either side.

They are folded under and glued to the card under the cake. (Bonus: can you see that the candles use a V-fold?) Template by Robert Sabuda

And now some examples using slots.


by Cornerstone.

What a clever combination of tabs and slots! The mailbox post is tabbed and slotted on the ends of the horizontal crossbar. The letter is attached to the card on the right, and slotted through the mailbox on the left, so it appears to emerge from the mailbox as the card opens.

Easter Egg (follow link for more information and template)

pop up easter egg


As always, you can share your creations by putting a link in the comments or emailing me your photos