Mary Corbet

writer and founder


I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

Contact Mary

Connect with Mary



2024 (40) 2023 (125) 2022 (136) 2021 (130) 2020 (132) 2019 (147) 2018 (146) 2017 (169) 2016 (147) 2015 (246) 2014 (294) 2013 (294) 2012 (305) 2011 (306) 2010 (316) 2009 (367) 2008 (352) 2007 (225) 2006 (139)

Perforated Paper Embroidery


Amazon Books

Around this time of year, my stitching thoughts wander off to the world of ornaments, cards, gift tags, and the like. It’s inevitable. It happens every year! Though my thoughts turn that way, this doesn’t necessarily mean I have the time or opportunity to indulge in making elaborate ornaments or gifts. And so, perforated paper comes to mind.

Embroidery on Perforated Paper

Update, 2020: Tokens & Trifles is no longer in business.

I’ve written about perforated paper and embroidery before. For example, several years ago, I showed you these little name plates on perforated paper that I cut into lacy cards. I still have an inordinate love of this kind of lacy paper. I like the concentration and focus it takes to do this type of cutting accurately. I find it relaxing. And I love the results! But good golly, Miss Molly! I haven’t had time to indulge in the pursuit much anymore.

If you like the idea of embroidering little tokens on perforated paper but the thought of cutting your own paper leaves you a bit muddled, that’s ok! See, there’s a company out there that makes perforated paper cards, ready for embellishment, and it’s appropriately called Tokens & Trifles.

Embroidery on Perforated Paper

Recently, Tokens & Trifles launched a new blog, and in it, they offer free designs and ideas for perforated paper embroidery, with the promise of discussing the history of perforated cards. I think it’ll be an interesting and fun blog to watch, and I’m especially looking forward to the whole “history” aspect of it.

Perforated paper for embroidery and other embellishment was popular in the Victorian era, when the industrial revolution made it possible to mass produce precisely punched card for these pursuits. Pretty little pictures or mottoes of friendship and love, of inspiration and kindness were stitched on punched paper and given as tokens to friends and loved ones. These cherished relics of the Victorian era are still around – you can find them displayed in museums, for purchase in antique shops, and occasionally nestled in old books. They are treasures that speak of human affection in a bygone era.

Embroidery on Perforated Paper

Tokens & Trifles resurrected this whole idea and created a line of punched paper cards that are perfect for card-making, gift-giving, scrapbooking, and really any occasion that we’d like to give a heartfelt token to someone else, or make for ourselves. The inspirational graduation bookmark, the Christmas card, the Thanksgiving table name plate, the Halloween doodad, the birthday sentiment, the note of encouragement, the kind and thoughtful word of recognition or gratitude – these can all find expression on perforated cards.

Embroidery on Perforated Paper

You can even make needlework accessories with them, using a couple cards together to make scissor keeps, needlebooks, and small baskets to hold pincushions! The website is full of ideas like this – the scope for these little cards is quite broad!

The cards come in a variety of shapes – the tokens and trifles cards are standard shapes like rectangles, circles, ovals, and so forth, while the “trinkets” cards are specialty shapes, like stars, stockings, crosses, mittens, hearts and so forth. There are build-able shapes (like basket cards, confection cards, and bon bon cards), as well as pretty kugel shapes for ornaments. You can find all their shapes illustrated on their products page.

Embroidery on Perforated Paper

The cards are either 18 or 20 count, and as a matter of fact, right now, they have a sale on the 20 count cards, so it’s a good time to try them out. And if you’re just wanting to play a bit with them – to try them out – you might take a look at their limited edition page, where you’ll find a collection of “seconds.” These are slightly flawed, but you get more for less. They’d be great for practicing and playing, or for mixed-media and paper crafts.

What I really like best about the Tokens & Trifles cards is that they are extremely well-made. Unlike the 14-count paper that’s available here in the US for perforated paper embroidery, the cards by Tokens & Trifles are high quality – the paper doesn’t split into layers, the finish on the paper is beautiful, the cards are durable, and of course, the finer perforation counts makes the embroidery more delicate and beautiful.

Incidentally, if you are looking for good card for your own cutting and embroidery, the best place to get it is in France, through Cousines et Compagnie, where you can find perforated card with about 18 holes per inch.

But if you don’t have time for your own cutting, Tokens & Trifles is the way to go! Check them out while their sale is on!

Absolutely no affiliation here – just a heads up on some fun embroidery stuff out there!


Leave A Comment

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


(16) Comments

  1. G’day Mary,
    Did you ever see anything so cute as those cats in the free designs for the rectangle papers? Not that I got to look any further at this stage!
    Beaut stuff, thanks. Cheers, Kath.

  2. I have a few of their cards, and they are indeed lovely – sturdy and smooth. Thanks for the heads-up on the sale and new blog, it’s been a while since I visited their site.

    1. There is a comprehensive ‘how to’ section on the site. It shows starting with a waste knot and also about threads. I guess you’d end by running the thread under the stitching on the back, just like stitching on fabric. The site is well worth browsing. It’s very generous with info and even free designs.

  3. Hi Mary:

    I heard at an industry show that they stopped producing these cards. I love these embroidery cards, and have a few miniature patterns that were designed for them on my website. Glad to hear they are not discontinued!

  4. Dear Mary

    Thanks so much for this brillant blog what a good idea the paper cards look good and next time I’m looking for ideas on embroidery I will definitely consider these.


    Regards Anita Simmance

  5. I have seen the site before, they have many nice freebies. But I never thought of buying cards from them and just now, having looked at the prices, I feel so right in not even considering buying…
    Pretty, but still just a paper… so not very practical.
    I think plastic canvas is way better.

  6. Hello there, I have been searching the webb for Perforated paper, to copy an old Victorian- Forget me not panel about 20 x 10. location any thing to full feel this project will be nice and even a template to get me started would be Great. I live in the UK, it seems this craft is no more due to cross stitch, please help??

    1. Here in the US, the company that sells perforated paper for Cross Stitch is Mill Hill (the same company that sells Mill Hill Beads). Their paper is 14 count, so rather large for the Victorian styled paper embroidery, which was more along the lines, I believe, of 18 count. There’s an online shop in France that used to sell perforated paper that’s 18 count: http://cousinesetcompagnie.fr I don’t know if they still do! It’s hard to find (if not impossible) higher counts of perforated paper reproductions of the Victorian paper pieces, I’m afraid! I’ve also scoured high and low for them, but it seems that, just as I find a source, the source goes out of business. I haven’t looked for a couple years, so maybe someone else is making it by now. If so, though, I haven’t heard!

  7. I have started working on some of Jim Shore Cross Stitch ornaments which are on perforated paper. I’m enjoying working with the paper and also the beads however the problem I’m having if finding the right scissors to use for cutting out the pattern or a video showing the right way to do this. I hope you can help me with I’m getting it done but I know it could be better.
    Thank you

  8. Just a heads up! The “Tokens and Trifles” link above now leads to a malicious site that tries to take over the computer. Here’s a new link that’s good:

  9. A dear friend of mine just passed and she had started to teach me to cross stitch. Her family gave me all her cross stitch items and among them I found Tokens and Trifles but have no idea how work them. Is there a book of instructions available? I love stitching and have framed my first with her blessing.

More Comments