Father’s Day Craft: A Pop-Up Card for Pop

My first pop-up card turned out okay, and it was fun to make. I think my dad will like the eagle since he is a birder. (photos by Bob Farley)

For this Father’s Day, I think I’ll make my pops a pop-up card. When I was a child, I loved pop-up books better than any other kind of book. I have always been fascinated with pop-ups and the paper engineers who make them. I still buy the books and add them to my home decor. My father worked as an engineer, so he likes them as well.

Years ago, my dad would challenge me to make 3-dimensional boxes in various geometric shapes. He said that I had built-in geometry. My dad was a bonafide rocket scientist, and I think he really hoped I would become an engineer of some kind too, but I went in the opposite direction. I was more artistic than scientific, so I became a visual merchandiser and then a slipcover designer/maker instead. I have always been creative, and I have always been inclined to make the things I visualize in my mind’s eye. In my work as a visual merchandiser for department stores during the 1980′s and 90′s, I made props for displays, cut out lettering for the walls, built stage sets for fashion shows, and designed and built shop concepts for departments. This was back when department stores were owned by families and the creative freedom of visual merchandisers and the glitz and glamour of store windows and displays helped drive the market. It sure was fun.

Back to paper, art, geometry, and engineering. Now, my dad and I have nature in common. Plants, trees, and the birds we love, so I’ll make a pop-up Father’s Day card that I know he will appreciate. My parents live on a lake along the Tennessee River. They are big into birding, and they love to watch bald eagles, water fowl, and other resident and migratory birds. They feed the birds, garden for birds, and keep regular bird lists. I think maybe a bald eagle pop-up card will be just right.

I printed out Happy Father’s Day on green card stock, cut the words out, and glued the pieces to the outside of the card.

I love the work of Robert Sabuda and of Matthew Reinhart, and it is nice they both have downloadable DIY plans on their websites. I am going for simple since this is my first attempt at making a pop-up card, plus I am a stubborn do-it-myselfer, so I will design my own card. I will glean tips and the pop-up basics from the Robert Sabuda site. If you want to be more adventurous, you can find Robert’s templates and directions here, or you can find Matthew’s here. If you want to get really snazzy with a design, learn all about kirigami and download plans from Easy Cut Pop Up.


Step 1

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Gather materials and tools. You’ll need two cards (an inside card and an outside card), card stock in various colors, photos for inspiration, paper for your pattern, scissors, glue sticks (I like Elmer’s brand with disappearing purple), and a pen or pencil.

Step 2

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Sketch a design for your pattern. I am making an eagle here but you may pick your own design.

Step 3

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Make a pattern by cutting out the drawing. I did not make a pattern for the eyes or the feet. I just cut the small parts out without patterns.

Step 4

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Cut out all of the parts.

Step 5

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Line up the body parts on the outside of the fold and make a mark for each. This is for cutting out the inside layer card. The inside layer is your foundation and provide the hinge parts for the pop-up pieces to be glued upon.

Step 6

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Follow the How to Make a Pop-up Layer guide on Robert Sabuda’s website for the inside foundation card. The directions will help you understand the basic concepts, and they show how to cut to the marks (mentioned in the previous step), and invert the folds to make little platforms for the pop-up pieces.

Step 7

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The wings here are my bottom layers. Fold the bottom layer to match the inverted fold. It is a little tricky to get the measurement just right, but feel free to make marks and use a straightedge if you need to.

Step 8

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Glue parts together. I separate the eagle into pieces — the head, tail, wing, and body. I glue the eyes and beak onto the head as one piece. The dark brown wing part gets glued to the overall wing piece. The talons are glued to the body. The tail is a lone piece.

Step 9

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Assemble the pop-up in layers. I applied glue to the top hinge and attach the head. I applied glue to the bottom hinge and attach the tail. I folded and pinched to make sure the glue is holding and the parts are sticking well.

Step 10

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Glue the body on in layers. I first applied glue to the middle hinge/platform, attach the wings, and pinch closed to make sure things are sticking well. I then attach the body in the same manner.

Step 11

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Make two little accordion tabs to hold down the wings. Cut out two 1/2″ X 2″ strips of card stock. Fold in half, and fold the ends back and in half again (should look like an M). Glue one end of the tab to the inside of the wings, apply glue to the other end of the tab and attach to the card. This allows the wings to float but open with the card.

Step 12

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Now you’ll want to address the outside card. Print a message on a full sheet of card stock with your home printer. Pick a message, pick a font, pick a font point size, and print. Cut out the words in one big piece or in several pieces. I chose to cut out each word and line them up in a stacked fashion before glueing them to the front of the outside card.

Step 13

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Glue the inside card to the inside of the outer card. Apply glue to the outside of one side of the inner card, line it up in the outer card, and press. Repeat with glue on the other side. You may want to put the card under a heavy book for an hour to make sure all of the glue sticks well. Happy card making!


  • 2 cards
  • card stock
  • photos for inspiration
  • paper for pattern


  • scissors
  • glue sticks
  • pen or pencil
About Michelle Reynolds 


I’m a slipcover maker who refuses to fill the trash with the cutaway bits of designer fabrics, so I strive to make use of every scrap. I live with my ...

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