Cardstock lanterns are one of my favorite designs. You start with a sheet (or two) of plain cardstock and you end with a gorgeous detailed lantern that makes the perfect centerpiece for any gathering. It’s almost like magic. 

If you follow the tips and steps I provide you will be able to create magic with absolutely no problem.

Please Note: While I’m showing images for the 2023 graduation lantern, these steps apply to all my lanterns. The designs might be different but the procedure is the same.

Materials

Featured Video

Watch me make a lantern or if you prefer written instructions, keep reading.

Best Tips for Intricate Cuts

All of those delicate lines makes for an intricate cut. Intricate cuts are easy if you follow the correct steps. If you need more details on how to make the perfect intricate cut please read my post: Why Is My Cricut Tearing My Cardstock

Blade – Use A Clean, Sharp Fine Point Blade

  • You will want to use the fine point blade (it’s the one that comes with your Cricut and you probably use most of the time).
  • Make sure your blade is not dull. These blades are made from premium German carbide steel. It’s probably  not dull. I’ve used the same blade daily for 5 years now and it’s not dull. But just in case…

 

  • Make sure your blade is clean. This is critical. A dirty blade will not cut intricate cuts well.

 

    • First, carefully jab your blade into an aluminum foil ball to remove any debris. This does not sharpen your blade, but it does help get the debris off.

    • Also, carefully wipe your blade down with rubbing alcohol to remove any  hard to see adhesive

Mat – Use a Clean and Sticky Blue (Light Grip) Mat

  • Sometimes a mat has just come to the end of it’s life. If that’s the case, I recommend saving some money and buying Teckwrap Light Grip Mats. 

Cardstock – Use 80lb Solid Core Cardstock

Cardstock is also critical for getting a perfect lantern. You will want to use a solid core (when you tear your cardstock you see color all the way through and not a white core)

I recommend the following cardstock brands for intricate cuts:

  • American Crafts Cardstock– my favorite for intricate cuts 
  • Recollections @ Michaels – great for last minute local pick ups
  • Bazzill Cardstock

For a larger selection of my American Crafts and Bazzill, I like to shop at 12 x 12 Cardstock Shop. I trust this company, and many of the brands they carry are great quality and perfect for cutting. 

I definitely use 80lb weight cardstock for the lanterns. Anything over 80lb is hard to cut with an intricate cut and anything lighter seems too flimsy.

Feel free to use your favorite brand, but just keep in mind, if you are having issues with your cut you might want to switch out your cardstock for a different brand.

Material Setting – Cardstock (for Intricate Cuts)

It is so critical that you use the material setting Cardstock (for intricate cuts) when you are cutting out your lantern. This will cut the design 2x. This does add time to your cut, but it’s worth it for a perfect cut every time.

Scoring Tool – Stylus or Wheel

You will need to use either a scoring stylus or if you have a Maker you have the option to also use a scoring wheel. If you have both, I recommend the scoring wheel because it scores a little deeper.

Brayer – Use This to Apply Your Cardstock

While a brayer isn’t a must have for this project, it’s highly recommended. I actually use my brayer to apply all my material (vinyl cardstock, etc. to my mats).

Glue 

While you can use any glue to assemble your lantern, Bearly Art glue is my favorite because it dries fast, but still gives you time to adjust your cardstock. And most importantly it dries clear so you don’t have to be perfectly neat when using it. 

Creasing Tool – Optional

While it isn’t necessary, you can always use your fingers, I love my creasing tool for nice sharp creases.

Preparing the Lantern for Cutting in Cricut Design Space

Which SVG File do I select?

Now you have all of your materials together, you have a decision to make. What size do you want your lantern. The lanterns come with two different files. 

Each file comes with a piece for the lantern itself, pieces for vellum cutouts (the portion that goes behind the lantern) and a bottom piece. The bottom piece is optional and should be used if your party is outside and it will be windy. If you attach the bottom piece, you can weigh the lantern down with stones. However, each file is for a different size lantern.

 

  • Smaller Size Lantern 
    • This comes in one piece and you use one 12 x 12 piece of cardstock to make it
    • Each assembled panel measures 7.4″h x 2.8″w

  • Larger Size Lantern
    • Per customer requests, this comes in two pieces and can be sized up or down. The only limitation is the size of your mat and cardstock.
    • Each assembled panel measures 11″h x 4.1″w

The decision on which you use is totally up to you and your size preference. I like the smaller size, but some people have larger tables, etc. and want to use the larger size.

Resizing the File

If you would like to make the lantern larger or smaller, make sure you select the lantern piece(s) the gray cut outs (vellum) and the bottom piece (if you are using it). 

When you have them all selected, you can then grab the corner of the selection and move it up or down to make it larger or smaller.

Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines – Important!!!

Unfortunately you cannot design something in different software and import score lines into Cricut. So you have to bring them in as cut lines and change them to score lines. If you skip this step, your lantern will be cut into pieces – which we don’t want. 

There is a box with instructions on how to do this that comes in with the file. Select Ungroup and you can delete this box. 

Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines on the Smaller (one piece) Lantern Design
  • First, we will walk through how to change the cut lines on the smaller design.
  • Highlight the lantern piece and select Ungroup again.
  • Next, you will want to find the lines in the layer panel.
  • If you look at the layers panel, you will see the are all grouped together (highlighted in green below). 
  • Click on this group of lines from your layers panel.
  • Go over to the top panel and select the drop down for the Operation Box
    • Right now, you see it’s set to Basic Cut
    • Go down until you see Score and select it.
    • Your solid lines with change to broken lines with means it’s changed to a score cut.

  • Next you will want to select your score lines (which are still all grouped together) and your lantern from the layers panel.
  • Highlight each one while holding down shift.
  • Go down to the bottom of the layers panel and select Attach.

Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines in the Optional Bottom Piece

If you are using the optional bottom piece you will need to change those cut lines to score as well.

  • Find the lines in the layers panel.
  • If you look at the layers panel, you will see an outline of a box (highlighted in green below). 
  • Click on this group of lines from your layers panel.
  • Go over to the top panel and select the drop down for the Operation Box
    • Right now, you see it’s set to Basic Cut
    • Go down until you see Score and select it.
    • Your solid lines with change to broken lines with means it’s changed to a score cut.

  • Next you will want to select your score line and your bottom piece.
  • Highlight each one while holding down shift or select them both with your mouse.
  • Go down to the bottom of the layers panel and select Attach.

Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines on the Larger (two piece) Lantern Design
  • Next even though the process is the same, to avoid any confusion, we will walk through how to change the cut lines on the larger design.
  • You will want to find the lines in the layer panel. (Hint they are hard to see, so it almost looks blank)
  • If you look at the layers panel, you will see there are two sets – one set for each piece (highlighted in green below). 
  • Click on both sets of lines from your layers panel.
  • Go over to the top panel and select the drop down for the Operation Box
    • Right now, you see it’s set to Basic Cut
    • Go down until you see Score and select it.
    • Your solid lines with change to broken lines with means it’s changed to a score cut.

  • Next you will want to select your score lines and your lantern from the layers panel.
  • You will want to do each piece separately.
  • Highlight the score lines and the lantern piece while holding down shift. 
  • Make sure you have selected the score lines and lantern piece that are on top of each other.
  • Go down to the bottom of the layers panel and select Attach.
  • Repeat this process with the second piece.

Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines in the Optional Bottom Piece

If you are using the optional bottom piece you will need to change those cut lines to score as well.

  • Find the lines in the layers panel.
  • If you look at the layers panel, you will see an outline of a box (highlighted in green below). 
  • Click on this group of lines from your layers panel.
  • Go over to the top panel and select the drop down for the Operation Box
    • Right now, you see it’s set to Basic Cut
    • Go down until you see Score and select it.
    • Your solid lines with change to broken lines with means it’s changed to a score cut.

  • Next you will want to select your score line and your bottom piece.
  • Highlight each one while holding down shift or select them both with your mouse.
  • Go down to the bottom of the layers panel and select Attach.

Changing the Cut Lines to Score Lines in the Optional Bottom Piece Larger File 

The process to change the optional bottom piece cut lines to score lines is the exact same between both files. See the section above for the steps.

Changing the Cut to Score Lines in Design Space App on Your iPhone / iPad
  • Select the Ungroup button to Ungroup the image.
  • Across the bottom, scroll over until you find the Layers button. Select this. It will bring up your layers panel.
  • Highlight the layer with the cut lines.
  • Select the Edit button from across the bottom.
  • You will see the Operation box come up on the bottom left. It currently says Basic Cut. Click on it and from the drop down select Score. Click Apply.
  • Select the Lantern arrow above the score lines and the lantern design. This will highlight both the score lines and the lantern design. While both are highlighted, select the Actions button at the bottom. Then select the Attach button.
    • If you are working with the two piece lantern attach each one individually.
  • On the layers panel, select the instructions and click on the trash can icon right below it.
Changing the Cut to Score Lines in Silhouette

Full disclosure: I do not have a Silhouette Cameo, but I do have the Silhouette software so I can walk you through changes the lines from cut to score in the software.

  • You must have Silhouette Designer Edition or above for this file to work in Silhouette (it will not work in the free version).
  • Upload the SVG into Silhouette Studio
  • Right click and select Ungroup
  • Pull the lantern onto your mat
  • Select the Send button
  • Go to the Lines tab
  • Change the cut lines to Score
  • The cut lines are the ones that look like the black square

Cutting The Lantern

You now have your file all set up and ready to cut.

Cutting the Vellum

First up are the vellum pieces. Did you know Cricut has a setting for Vellum? You do now!

  • If you have an Air Explore turn your dial to custom. Everyone else, browse materials for Vellum.

  • Attach your sheet of Vellum to your clean sticky mat ( hopefully with your brayer) and load it into your Cricut and select Go.
  • When it’s finished remember to turn your mat upside down and peel the mat away from the vellum. This way the vellum does not curl up.

Cutting the Cardstock

Grab your solid core 80lb cardstock. Remember to attach it to a clean sticky mat with your brayer if you have one.

Cardstock Setting – Cardstock (for intricate cuts)
  • Remember, you want to use the material setting Cardstock (for intricate cuts). This will cut at a pressure of 200 and cut 2x.
  • Since you are using 80lb cardstock you will probably want to also select More Pressure.
  • I have never needed more pressure than this for a successful cut on 80lb cardstock, but if you do, please read my post: Why Is My Cricut Tearing My Cardstock for instructions on how to add a custom material.

Loading The Scoring Wheel
  • If you are using the scoring wheel (Maker), load it into clamp B. The Cricut will score before it cuts.

You will be prompted to switch back to the fine point blade once the Cricut is done scoring.

Loading the Scoring Stylus

Load the scoring stylus into Clamp A for both the Maker and Explore Air.

If you are using the stylus with the Maker, you will need to go back into Design Space and under Step 2 – Load tools and materials, select the Edit Tools button.

Then select the scoring stylus box.

The Cricut will first score and then continue on to cut.

Removing the Lantern from the Mat

Like before, you want to flip the mat over and peel the mat away from the cardstock. This prevents tearing and curling of the cardstock.

Cleaning Up

Most of the cut outs stay behind on the mat. Sometimes you have a few clingers. Just be sure to push them through and pull them off from the back. That way if one tears the cardstock, it will not be visible.

Since most of the cut outs stay on the mat, you will eventually need to remove them from the mat. I always use my large Cricut scraper to remove the pieces. 

Assembling the Lantern

Now that we have all of our pieces ready, we can assemble the lantern. 

Folding the Lantern

If you used the scoring stylus you will want to make the lines a little deeper for easier folding. You should be ok if you used the scoring wheel.

  • Take a ruler (mine has been through a lot in it’s lifetime) and line it up with your score line.
  • Put your scoring stylus on the line.
  • Make sure the stylus lines up with the score line.
  • Then pressing down hard, run your stylus down the line about 3-5 times.
  • This gives you a deeper easier to fold line.

Since the paper is heavy (80lb) you want to carefully fold the paper. If you fold too quickly you will get “cracks” in your cardstock and it won’t look nice when done.

To fold the lantern flawlessly

  • Put your finger behind the score line and slowly bend the line toward your finger working your way down the score line.
  • Do this twice.

  • Next, bend a little more pinching it between your fingers, but don’t close your fingers all the way (still not a full crease).

  • Then, you can start to crease the score line. 

  • Lastly, you will want to sharpen the crease by running your fingers over it or a creasing tool.

Glue on the Vellum Pieces

Next, you will want to glue on the vellum pieces.

  • Flip the lantern over so the front is facing down.
  • Run glue around the outside of the lattice on a panel.
  • Also put glue on the back of some of the larger pieces within the lattice.
  • Attach the vellum

Glue the Lantern Together

Almost there, now the lantern can be glued together.

Glue the Smaller Lantern (no bottom)

The smaller lantern only has one side that needs to be glued together.

  • Put glue on the top side of the tab.
  • Attach the top side of the tab to the bottom side of the next panel. 

  • Line up the ends and pinch either end together.
  • Then, put the lantern on the table and run your finger or a tool (if your hand doesn’t fit) up and down the tab to stick it together.

Glue the Smaller Lantern with a Bottom (Optional)

It is best to glue in your bottom to the lantern if you are adding one. That way, you can weight the lantern down with stones and it’ll be nice and sturdy. 

  • Start by bending the tabs up.
  • Next, put glue on three sides of the tabs.
  • The side without glue should line up with the side of the lantern that has the folded tab.

  • Line up the bottom with the bottom of the lantern so it’s even and fold the other three panels of the lantern onto the bottom tabs with glue.

  • Once those are dry (which is seconds with Bearly Glue), glue the last bottom tab and the tab on the lantern. 

  • Tuck the lantern tab into the opposite panel and hold it together until it dries. 

Glue the Larger Lantern

The larger lantern  has two pieces that need to be  glued together.

  • Put glue on the top side of the tab.
  • Attach the top side of the tab to the bottom side of the next panel. 
  • Line up the ends and pinch either end together.

  • Then, put the lantern on the table and run your finger up and down the tab to stick it together.

  • Repeat this step to glue the last side of the lantern together.
Glue the Larger Lantern with a Bottom (Optional)

It is best to glue in your bottom to the lantern if you are adding one. That way, you can weight the lantern down with stones and it’ll be nice and sturdy. 

  • Start by bending the tabs up.
  • Next, put glue on one of the tabs on the bottom piece.
  • Adhere it to a panel so the bottom edges line up.
  • Next, glue the other side of the bottom tab and adhere the other panel.

  • Put glue on one more tab on the bottom and also on the tab side of the panel that you just glued to the bottom.

  • Attach the second panel piece to where you just put the glue. 
  • Line up the bottoms
  • This will leave you with only one side not glued down at this point.

  • Put glue on the last tab on the bottom piece and also put glue on the last tab on the lantern panel. 
  • Tuck the tab of the panel into the opposite panel and make sure the bottom tab sticks to this panel correctly as well. 

Safety

Please only use led lights inside the lantern. It is paper. An open flame is a fire hazard.

Now you have a gorgeous lantern centerpiece for your next gathering.

2 thoughts on “Step by Step Instructions for Making a Lantern

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>