Thursday, February 23, 2017

How to Start Scrapbooking

I have created this informational blog post to help anyone who is interested in starting a scrapbooking hobby, but perhaps does not know where to begin. I've tried to address as many options as I could explore, but this post is not exhaustive. The beauty of scrapbooking is there is NO wrong way of doing it. So, this post may not be comprehensive, but I hope you find it informative. Feel free to comment with any all questions you may have, and I will try my best to have the answer.

Please note: There is an entire world of digital scrapbooking out there, of which I know nothing, so we won't address that here!

Do your homework

Since there is no wrong way to scrapbook, there are many options for scrapbooking. I suggest doing a bit of online research to find the best option for you before you begin.

Instagram is my go-to source for scrappy inspiration. There are so many amazing creations out there. You can use Instagram as a spring-board to discover amazing blogs or online communities to follow and learn more information.

Additionally, you can find great information on Pinterest, although it is likely that the original source may be a bit more difficult to track down.

Some hashtags I suggest searching include #scrapbook, #scrapbooking, #scrapbookpage, #memorykeeping, #documentlife #scrapbooklayout, #layout, etc.

While viewing these inspiration sources online, you can get a feel for the FORMAT and STYLE of scrapbooking you may want to try initially.

Pick a Project

With the ready availability of cameras, especially on our phones, it is likely you have *MANY* photos. The thought of printing them all and trying to decide what to do with them could easily be overwhelming. Scrapbooking should be FUN! The best option is to start small so as to not be overwhelmed.

Personally, I chronologically scrapbook our life in a yearly 12x12 album. I would not suggest that as a starting point for someone dipping their feet in the waters of scrapbooking, as it is an ongoing process in my life forevermore!

My suggestion for beginners is to pick a project for which you can envision a completion fairly soon. This could be a mini album of a particular event, a single month of project life, an album of one particular vacation - any project for which you have a finite amount of photos.

Completing a scrapbooking project can be immensely satisfying. After your first project, you will have a feel for things you enjoy doing and things you would rather not try again. You will know how you would like to continue on in the hobby.

Find your FORMAT of scrapbooking

For this topic, when I say format, I'm speaking of the type of album you plan to use. This will dictate your page choices.

Traditional Album

If you choose 12x12, you have the options of a D-Ring binder or a postbound scrapbook. There are pros and cons to each type.

If you plan to create double page spreads, the postbound albums allow essentially no space between the pages, so the double page spreads may flow together well. However, a D-ring binder does not prevent you from creating double page spreads!

The D-ring albums are VERY easy to rearrange your page protectors and add more pages. The postbound albums, in my experience, are pains in that department.

I also feel like I can fit more page protectors into a D-ring album than a postbound album without making the album cumbersome to carry and hold in your lap.

I used postbound albums in the past, and have changed to D-ring in the recent few years, so I may be partial - but check them out in a store and see which you prefer!

Similarly, you can also buy postbound or D-ring in 8.5x11 and 8x8 sizes. I have seen D-ring 6x8 and 9x12 sizes, but I do not know where you can find them in postbound form.

I suggest hitting up your local craft stores and comparing sizes. Envision a pound or two of paper within the covers, flipping through the album, and view papers in each size to see upon which size you prefer to create.

Alternative formats

Recently, the scrapbooking world has welcomed a new trend in the form of travelers notebooks. The original intention of this Japanese based trend was to have a hand-held notebook or set of notebooks temporarily bound within a leather cover to carry around for whatever purposes one sees fit. Many a scrapbooker has embraced this trend and turned the TN into a personal, mini album. This is a fun, and likely very quick format to complete.

Additionally, art journaling is a popular hobby. While this format may not be necessarily meant for scrapbooking, one could certainly add photos into an art journal as another type of mini album.

You can find small, bound paper albums or chipboard flip books in many hobby and craft stores. Basically anything in a book form could be transformed into a scrapbook if you try!

The planner trend is wild these days, and many people have incorporated their scrapbooking into planners. Heidi Swapp has a great example of this with her memory planner.

Determine your STYLE of scrapbooking

This is the most important determination when you begin scrapbooking, but just know that you can switch up your style, and put them all together (for the most part).

Traditional pages

A traditional scrapbooking page or layout would be considered a full page of paper which contains your photo & other papers or embellishments. This is the way scrapbooking began (at least in the current, modern sense of the word), and is possibly the most common type, although the popularity of pocket pages is growing rapidly.

If you are itching to play with paper and pretties and you have creativity flowing out of your fingertips, this style is probably for you - jump on in! It is likely that this style of scrapbooking could require one to obtain a larger stash of products. However, that would depend on the look you're going for, as simplistic is beautiful and stylish.

If you are not too sure about your creative abilities, or just want to start more simply (a 12x12 or 8x5x11 canvas of blank paper CAN be intimidating), perhaps another style is a better starting point.

Pocket Pages

I *think* pocket pages can be attributed to the wonderful Becky Higgins originally. She started the Project Life photo storage system, but you can now find basically every other manufacturer creating pocket pages and filler cards.

The idea is brilliant and quite do-able.

Most pockets are 4x6 and 3x4. You can fill them with photos or cards, in whatever amount you want. If you don't have cards, you can cut up scrapbook paper and use that. It is probably the easiest way to create a pleasing-to-the-eye page of photos and pretty paper.

Pocket pages now come in all sizes. The most popular are probably 12x12, 8.5x11, 6x8, 9x12, and 6x12. However, with the ingenious fuse tool from We R Memory Keepers, the possibilities for pocket pages are endless!

While the original intention of this system *I think* was to do a weekly spread of your everyday life (Project Life) and end with 52 weeks of scrapbooking layouts, they are used in a variety of different ways. I suggest you decide your desired outcome and figure out how they can work for you.

Personally, I like to use almost all of the photos I take in my scrapbooks. I know it is unrealistic to create traditional layouts with all my photos, especially since I typically only use one or two on a traditional layout; therefore I combine my traditional layouts with pocket pages.

Mini albums

Another form of scrapbooking is a mini album that does not fit within page protectors. Travelers notebooks fall within this category.

Mini albums are typically quick projects that focus on a single subject and can be quickly completed. Many times a mini album is made of chipboard, or is a small, bound book with a finite amount of pages.

I do use a travelers notebook as my planner/memory keeper in a monthly format. While I would not classify taking a month to complete a project as "quick," I can work on it a few different times within a month during a short time and it is easily completed.

While mini albums are fun, and possibly a good place for a beginner to start, storage of multiple minis could be a problem, as they typically don't fit on a regular bookshelf.

Minis are fun, and can be created with basically anything you can think of; tags, an old book, a deck of cards, cardstock, etc.


PRINT your photos!

For physical scrapbooking, you must have some photos printed. There are many schools of thought on how to store, manage, edit (or not) and print your photos.

If you typically use your phone for photography, the best way to accomplish this task would  be to simply upload the photos to a print service app on your phone. You can download a myriad of photo editing apps, or use the one iPhone comes with.

I upload my phone photos to the Walgreens app, but there are plenty of other companies you can use. These include  Persnickety printsSnapfishShutterfly, or Sam's Club - just to name a few. Make sure to google a promo code before you order!

If you use your camera, you can use any of these services by uploading to their websites as well. Photoshop has a free editing app in the Windows store.

Another option for printing is a personal photo printer at home. I have tried a few, but I always prefer the quality of photos printed in a store. However, many scrapbookers I know indicate that printing at home is the key to success, especially in a Project Life style scrapbook.

I like to print some of my photos in 3x4 size to fit in that size pockets. To do this, I download a collage app and choose the option with space for 2 photos. Ensure it is in a 4x6 rectangular ratio, and include two photos you wish to print at 3x4. You can do this to obtain any other size photo as well.

BUY supplies!

Some of the most popular scrapbooking options are presented above. Now a choice must be made! After you have chosen your project, format and style, printed your photos, it's time to do the best part - SHOP!

You don't need to run out and buy all the things. Most people regret doing so, actually. However, there are some necessary supplies.

The most basic of items would be scissors, some type of scrapbooking double-sided tape, page protectors, album, pretty papers and/or pocket page cards and a pen.


Many people would insist that a guillotine or paper trimmer is a necessity for scrapbooking. While not required, it could help your sanity.

There are many types of die cut machines. The electronic machines can be a pricey investment, but the manual machines can become just as pricey when you add in the cost of buying multiple dies. These are fun to play, but I would suggest ensuring you're in the hobby for the long haul before this investment.

There are many punches available in lieu of die cuts. Basic punches of shapes or borders could be the most useful.


Back in the dawn of modern scrapbooking, there was a huge emphasis on everything you place in your scrapbook being acid free. While most supplies are now acid free, you can choose from a myriad of adhesives.

A clear tape is best in case you encounter transparent elements. A glue pen is also a good idea for tiny bits.


SOOOO many options!

For a single project, I would suggest finding a specific line and buying coordinating items. A paper pad is the most economical way to get all the pieces of a line. It is also easiest to find all items in a line by online shopping.

With local scrapbook stores becoming few and far between, online scrapbooking boutiques are your best bet. A few options are Paper IssuesA Cherry On TopElle's Studio, and Pretty Little Studio.

Additionally, there is

You can find plenty of options at your local craft store; Hobby Lobby, JoAnn's or Michaels. Tuesday Morning also has a good, inexpensive selection, but you never know which brands or items they will have. Michaels and Hobby Lobby have a majority of items of their own brands, so they tend to carry less of the top brands, at least in our area.


Now you have gathered all your supplies, and you are ready to create your scrapbook.

Some important things to remember:

  • There is no wrong way to scrapbook!
  • Creative time is important! It is important for our souls and sanity to allow creative juices to flow. Do not feel guilty for carving "ME TIME" into your day to do something for you. 
  • Join the online crafty community! I have made some wonderful friends through crafty resources online, and there is unending inspiration. Specifically, I adore my interactions in The Scrap Gals Facebook community. The owner creates two weekly podcasts about our hobby, and there is constant inspiration, scrappy chat, and help with any crafty problem which may arise. Being in this group has really changed the way I scrapbook, and helped me to be more mindful about my hobby. You can learn A LOT here!
Find me on Instagram @scrappinhappy. Feel free to message me for any information regarding the hobby, how-tos, or even the best accounts to follow for the Style of scrapbooking in which you're interested.

I hope you have found this extraordinarily long blog post informative and helpful. If you are already a scrapper, feel free to pass it along as a crafty evangelist to bring more into our fold!

Thanks for looking!

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