Postage Stamp Perforations

You may know that running paper through your sewing machine with a standard needle creates enough of a perforation for tear sections of paper. But for a long time I have been wanting to create actual circle cut perforations, not just piercings, to similate actual postage stamp edges without having to punch holes one at a time with some kind of hand tool. Well, I dug around the internet enough and found an idea in a Q&A about making movie props. So I gave it a try and it works pretty good. Not perfect, but does create a more realistic postage stamp perforation than any other technique I’ve tried. I used my good sewing machine, but please use caution when trying this, I would hate for you to mess up your own machine with this project. If this is the type of thing you think you would like to do often for scrapbooking, collage, wedding invitations, etc, you may consider finding a really cheap used sewing machine, since it only has to move a needle up and down, even a machine that doesn’t work well may do.
I purchased brass tubing to replace the needle in my sewing machine. The tubing walls are too thick to cut through paper, so I used my little Dremel Stylus tool to grind down the outside area of the end of a piece of 1/16 x .014 brass tubing found at the hobby store. Larger tubing would not fit in my machine. (A bit more precision grinding would probably give the end a sharper edge for cutting cleaner, I may go back and work on that.)I cut the tubing shorter than the length of my sewing machine needle so that it didn’t poke too far down into the bottom of the machine when stitching.I created some stamp images for this tutorial using the vintage printer cuts I posted the other day, separating the images enough to perforate between. I placed a piece of card stock below my paper to get the tubing/needle to go all the way through the paper as cleanly as possible. I adjusted my stitch length to space the holes as I wanted them.Once all perfs have been made, and card stock pulled away, you can either fold along perforations and tear stamps apart for a rougher look, or use an Xacto knife or scissors to slice down the center of the perforated holes for a cleaner look. If you will be doing lots of perforating, you may need to remove your perforating needle and poke a straight pin into it to remove any build-up of paper inside every now and then.
UPDATE: Thanks for all your comments regarding stamp perforation edge scissors-those do work well for individual stamp edging. And the rotary tools for creating perforation (dashed lines) for tearing away. But the beauty of the brass tube needle is that you can create hole perforation lines that do not run the edge of your paper, such as this save-the-date I’m working on for a friend.

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51 Responses to Postage Stamp Perforations

  1. #1 - Abbie says:

    Absolutely fantastic! Damn, you are clever! 🙂

  2. #2 - Cindy says:

    Leave it to you to figure it out!!! I've used the biggest needle I have, but it's just not enough!!! Thanks for sharing this awesome technique!

  3. #3 - Kathy says:

    Interesting technique. I always use a broken needle – missing the point on it. I like your idea though – bigger hole probably!

  4. #4 - Norma says:

    Such a great idea! Thanks 🙂

  5. #5 - Kristine says:

    I just discovered your blog, I'm in awww of your fantastic ingenuity!!

  6. #6 - Jill says:

    Didn't even know that I would want to make my own perforations….now, I'm sure I need to!!

  7. #7 - CBH-Freebies Search says:

    Just unbelievable great idea! So cool… Thanks so much for sharing. I got to try.

  8. #8 - Monica says:

    You never cease to amaze me! That is such a great idea.

  9. #9 - My name is PJ. says:

    Brilliant! I love the effect! And to think you come of with these ideas without the use of mind bending pharmaceuticals!

  10. #10 - Two Dog Pond says:

    again- you have the most amazing brain! Being less creative, but still loving the effect of postage stamp edges, I bought a decorative edge scissors and simply cut my stamps out.

  11. #11 - ~ ~ Ahrisha ~ ~ says:

    BRILLIANT!

  12. #12 - FleaMarketTrixie says:

    You always amaze me, neat idea.

  13. #13 - Frippery says:

    You are brilliant!

  14. #14 - casualgal says:

    Great idea! There is a small paper cutter called a Cutterpede that has a little perforated cutter that does this for you. I have one and it works great, I got it at Michael's.

    • #15 - Edward Fletcher says:

      Greetings ..
      Do you know if those Cutterpede gadgets are on sale in the UK? Could you post a pic of the finished results of perforating paper?
      Thanks for your time
      Edward

  15. #16 - Queen of Dreamsz says:

    Cathe,

    You are so clever! I love this..it really is realistic and I do have to agree with you on using an old machine for this..thanks so much for sharing this.

    Have a lovely day,
    Stephanie

  16. #17 - Cottage Panache Antqs Blog says:

    Ingenious!What will think of next?!
    Every time I check your blog you amaze me with yet another Bright Idea! I'm picturing a book in the future!
    Maureen

  17. #18 - Stephanie says:

    I love visiting your blog and seeing such clever and fun ideas. Do you happen by chance to be a fan of Jo Mora?
    I just love everything here, it feels like my own home. I know that sounds silly, but I'll say it anyhow.

  18. #19 - Penny Duncan Creations says:

    VERY clever idea!!! Thanks so much for sharing it!!!

  19. #20 - Little Birdie Secrets says:

    Fantastic!

  20. #21 - Karen says:

    Very clever! Now, do I try that technique tomorrow, or do I go ahead and clean the room the sewing machine is in like I was intending. Every time I read your blog, I think I need to try your ideas! You are one ambitious person!

  21. #22 - Diana says:

    I have to agree with Maureen…every time a check your blog, you have another brillant idea! Keeps me going.

  22. #23 - Mel says:

    ALWAYS inspiring!!

  23. #24 - SisterDG says:

    Holy Moly! This is an idea of such extreme genius, my head might explode!

  24. #25 - Karen Marchetti says:

    You are ALWAYS full of such great ideas! Thanks, and keep them coming!

  25. #26 - Erica says:

    Wow – they look very cool. I have decorative edge scissors that do the "stamp" cut. I think I'll stick with those 🙂

  26. #27 - CitricSugar says:

    How awesome is this?? Thank you!

  27. #28 - Nouveau Stitch says:

    Is anyone else terrified that Cathe will get on to us and her blog will suddenly disappear, to be replaced by a brilliantly bound, vintage covered book of more of her infinite creativity?

    Thanks for your generosity, Cathe!

    Ellen

  28. #29 - The Redhead Riter says:

    You NEVER cease to amaze me!

  29. #30 - 32˙North says:

    Beyond awesome!

  30. #31 - Shrimp Salad Circus says:

    This is BRILLIANT! I loooove the Save the Date cards!!!

  31. #32 - Shrimp Salad Circus says:

    Oh, by the way – you should definitely submit this to Totally Tutorials!

    http://totallytutorials.blogspot.com

  32. #33 - The Tulip Lady says:

    I am now your faithful, loyal fan. This is AWSOME. Someone else cook the kids dinner, mommas got to get her craft on!

  33. #34 - ilovethecolormint says:

    Gorgeous save the date. Are you printing in color and leaving the text white (no ink) or are these screenprinted? Thank you!

  34. #35 - Cathe Holden says:

    ilovethecolormint said…
    Are you printing in color and leaving the text white (no ink) or are these screenprinted?

    ………………

    The first way : )

  35. #36 - CraftCrave says:

    Thank you! This blog post will be advertised on CraftCrave in the Printables category today (look for timestamp: [16 Feb 01:00pm GMT]).

  36. #37 - vintage peony says:

    omg they are amazing!
    i want to do 🙂

  37. #38 - Brenda says:

    Wow, this looks amazing. I’m guessing hobby lobby has the 1/16 x .014 brass tubing? I can’t wait to use it on my daughters birthday party invitations next month.
    Thank you so much
    Brenda 6 passenger vehicles

  38. #39 - Dave Redder says:

    Love it! Agree with Kathy though that a broken needle is a slightly easier way to do it, although it doesn’t look as good as yours. Dave @ http:///www.red20.net

  39. #40 - Edward Fletcher says:

    Thank-you for that bright idea. I’ve been wondering how I might afford an expensive perforating machine; the cheapest costing £130 .. far too much for a pensioner who only wants to perforate 100 home-made stamps to fit around the borders of a watercolour painting of a postman delivering mail. I’m now on the scrounge for a non-working manual sewing machine.
    Your pics make things quite clear, but I’m wondering if I could buy half a dozen stamps from you to keep as examples of the standard I’ll be aiming at if I ever get up and running, or should I say perforating.
    Cheers
    Edward

  40. #41 - Joe Shepard says:

    Would you consider making 1 or 2 sheets on photo paper for me, say for $5 each and I pay shipping? I want to make custom stamps and gum is not a requirement but do you have a tip for that?

  41. #42 - sherrie says:

    that is so clever…

  42. Pingback: Dremel Tools Giveaway | Just Something I Made

  43. #43 - Jesse Jolibois says:

    Very interesting. I collect stamps and have wondering how to make fake stamps with pictures of friends, etc. (Just for the fun of it of course, not to use or to counterfeit, as is often done.) I was trying to print on the selvage which is the blank paper sometimes attatched to stamps on the borders of the sheet. I never thought of using a sewing machine. The next step would be adding gum. a simple formula should be easy to find and it could be rolled onto a sheet, probably before perforation as printers used to do before self-adhisive stamps.

  44. #44 - Ficus strangulensis says:

    Hi, Cathe.

    Your technique may be of interest to mail artists who make “artistamps”. Most that I know of use old postal perforators and as one earlier comment states, they are expensive. Also, a search of tool and stock suppliers might turn up already sharpened stainless steel tubing.

    And a question. I don’t see where you say how you hold the sharpened brass tube in the machine. Does it slip over the needle?

    Y’r [new] ol’ Bud, Fike

    • #45 - Cathe Holden says:

      The tube fits up into the shaft just like a needle and is tightened into place with the thumb screw. So you treat it just like a needle being replaced in your machine. If your not familiar with machine needles, they are much thicker at the base area than the tip.

      Hope that helps. See link in text for the source that inspired me. It’s a prop makers site.

  45. #46 - Farid Uddin says:

    Dear Sir ,
    We are a Trading Company in Bangladesh,one of our costumer need
    one automatic stamp perforating machine.
    If you have this type of Machine pls cont with us.
    Kind regards
    Farid Uddin
    Bangladesh
    E-mail:farid05uddin@yahoo.com.au

  46. #47 - Denis Holden says:

    Dear Cathe,
    I’m searching for a tool to make postage stamp sized perforations (13 or 14 to the inch) in single sheets of 118gsm paper. Your guidance / advice would be very much appreciated.
    Yours sincerely
    Capt. J Denis Holden
    “The Moorings”
    12 Binnington Esplanade
    Mackay, Queensland
    Australia 4740
    Ph. +61 749 510 990
    Fx. +61 749 510 880
    (hailing from seafaring Holden family of Liverpool UK, some of whom settled in California in the early 1900’s ?)

  47. #48 - Owen F Silvious says:

    Please let me know if you would be interested in doing some perforations for replica postage stamps and how much per sheet of 100. Thanks

  48. #49 - Brooke says:

    You are a genius! Will all the little tiny circles be caught inside the tube in your experience? Have you ever had paper circles piling up on your bobbin area below the plate? Is there a way to make a paper circle catcher so that it doesn’t interfere with the bobbin mechanisms? These are my only concerns. Thanks so Mich for your post, I see that you have helped many with this tip! Let the stamp making begin!

  49. #50 - Martha says:

    Thanks. I intend to make one of these perforators. Love new ideas!