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PSST: Pretty Simple Scrapbooking Tips

Updated on June 18, 2015

Scrapbooking doesn't HAVE to be scary...

SCRAPOLOGY 101: You should understand that scrapbooking is a process, not an event. I think this is where most people tend to run screaming in the opposite direction (present company INcluded :o) when first considering this marvelous hobby. I don't know about you, but when I first contemplated the idea of making a scrapbook, I had to confront a pile of photographs that would give Mount Fuji a run for its money. As a concept, I LOVED it; but as a reality I just couldn't see it happening. There was NO way I could possibly make it through all of those photos before I hit the centennial mark. You know what though? I did and it wasn't nearly as bad as I thought either :o)

I decided to make this lens to try to pass along some of the tips and tricks I picked up here, there and (where else?) everywhere. I'll do my best to give you a nice little pile of information from several different directions so you don't get bored while you're here. I'll also try to point out some common mistakes to avoid; all of which I made along the way, merely so I could tell you of course (*cough*).

Whether you're brand new to scrapbooking or you've been scrapping forever; if you're completely clueless (me then) or full of ideas (me now :o) you will - I hope - find something interesting here. Feel free pass this page on to a friend, lensroll it, and even bookmark it if you're like me and can never manage to find the same site twice (unless it's the one I DON'T want to revisit; those I find repeatedly :oP

I am pretty much all about the budget special, although I have definitely gotten myself into trouble a time or two (*cough-cough-COUGH*) on some mad shopping benders. Note to self: Take husband with you to Michael's because he is willing AND able to drag you bodily from the scrapbooking aisle BEFORE you can say, "Chapter 7" :o) Actually, now that I think about it, I did go to Michael's the other day for some paper and somehow managed to end up with 3 large bags full of supplies and things. I couldn't really say what happened, exactly (other than a vague recollection of seeing the word S-A-L-E posted somewhere near the scrapbooking aisle. I wonder if I can use "Temporary Insanity" to plead my case when I get home...

So how DO you eat the scrapbooking elephant?

One photo at a time, silly :o)


Definitely the Name of the Game :o)

This is the best way I've found to approach that terrifying stack of photos; if you have one, that is. And no, this alarming pile does not belong to me (are you kidding? Mine's WAY bigger than that! :o)

TO START: Get some empty boxes (shoe or envelope/letterhead size, preferably with lids). Take some notebook or copy paper and a fat marker to write with to label them so they are easy to spot from your sofa or chair. Practice your lettering on the labels. Then figure out your own system for sorting. It will be something like this:

BOX #1 - Early Pics/B4 Married

Box #2 - Dating/Wedding

Box #3 - Babies/Children

Box #4 - Family 1990's

Box #5 - Family 2000's

Grab a large lap-sized shallow box or tray to work from and let's get smart with your downtime (everybody has SOME). While you're watching the news, a movie, or just some TV, arrange the boxes around you on the floor (where you can't miss 'em :o) and go to town! Look at your pictures only long enough to identify which box they belong in, and toss 'em there. That is another potential stumbling block: once you start that trip down memory lane, you'll end up using all your sorting time as staring time and never get it done. Care to guess how I know this? :oP

When you need to stop, close the boxes and stack them neatly near your chair (out of tripping range but where you can still see them, so you don't forget) for your next opportunity. You'll be surprised (pleasantly so) at how quickly your photographically monstrous mountain becomes a smaller group of more easily managed molehills!

NEXT: Get some cheap white envelopes that are wide enough to hold your photos but will allow the tops of your pictures to stick out a little. It will allow you to see roughly how many photos - or if they're AWOL - you have (as in; a lot, a little, or where did they go?). This is also the perfect time to practice your lettering, if you're interested (I did!) If you wanted to make them easier to identify by year/decade or even topic, consider colored envelopes instead. For example, you could use all the red envelopes for "Christmas" every year, pastels for babies (pink for daughter, blue for son), yadda yadda yadda....

Write the subject on the front and the date or some sort of secondary reference in the top right or left corner. Do as many of the "big ones" as you can think of for each box you've sorted (Christmas, Easter, Birthdays, Wedding, etc.) You need to sort just a couple of subjects at a time, or you'll spend too much time looking for the right envelopes instead. No need to ask me how I know that either, is there? :o\

NOW all you have to do is the same thing you've already done ~ grab one of your sorted boxes, and sort them into your envelopes by a few subjects at a time while you're watching TV. I like to use the little "photo" boxes (shown photo below) which are fairly inexpensive (I grab them: when they're on sale, of course :o) Sticky notes upside down on the front of an envelope (like a tab) can also help you to separate the years inside the boxes for easy access later. I've slapped a few pictures below this module to give you the general idea.

Ta-Dah! That wasn't TOO bad now, was it? Hopefully you are not scarred for life, because now we are getting ready for the FUN STUFF!

Look Out below... Clockwise from Left

1. Cheap white envelopes with my practice sessions on lettering :o)

2. Ramen Noodles Value Pack boxes are great for storing photos and small memorabilia;

3. An empty letter envelope box from the office for the first big sorting spree;

4. Official photo boxes from Michael's (on sale 2/$3)

The Great Divide...

The Great Divide...
The Great Divide...

Choose your creative space...

Set it up and get organized with some fun finds

Even if you only have a small scrap of space (ha) in the house to call your own, there are ways to make it work for almost any size craft area and budget.


In addition to being handy in small spaces, going vertical allows you to keep things out of reach if you have small children as well as maximize your available space if you need lots and LOTS of room (that would be me :o) Pegboard has got to be one of my most favorite things on the planet for scrapping. I like having everything organized and handy; and this stuff is perfect to hold all kinds of scrapping things (see photos below). WalMart even sells little pegboard baskets in sets of 3 for your stuff (I keep my "corners" in there).


Some of the handiest things I've found had nothing whatsoever to do with scrapbooking :o) Flowerpots (inset) and coffee mugs from thrift shops and flea markets are great for scissors and such or that favorite set of markers you use. Decorative tins are great for holding your glue and acid-free adhesive dispenser thingies (that's a technical term :o) and other odds and ends. Punches fit great in a bait box and the small hardware organizers with itty bitty drawers are perfect for saving all the different small shapes you've already punched.


For a safe place to "hold" your pending pages, try some stacking trays, drawers or just use a 12x12+ scrapbook storage box. Want to take them out and about with you? Try a handy page tote with dividers (I found mine at Michaels and used a 40% off coupon to get it :o)

Pegboard is perfection... - (and it ain't just for boy toys ya know :o)

Look Out Below... Clockwise from left

1. Flowerpot from a thrift shop, $1.50;

2. A "grape" tin from a flea market for .75c;

3. Pegboard from Lowes and an upside down spice rack from WalMart for glue (hey, it works great! :o)

4. Two tier rattan shelf I found at flea market, $5;

5. Plastic utensil holder on clearance for $1.50

Souped up spaces in those itty-bitty places :o)

Souped up spaces in those itty-bitty places :o)
Souped up spaces in those itty-bitty places :o)

When time is an ongoing issue...

Pick 'em out and pile 'em up

If you think you don't have time to do all of this scrapbooking and page layout stuff, stay with me! Hopefully, you've now gotten a little bit more organized (we never actually finish, do we?) but maybe you're still not too sure how this will fit into your turbo-charged days....

It is true that everyone is busier these days, BUT ~ considering the fact that my days are sometimes SO crazy I seem to enter a time warp continuum where I swear I am passing myself in the hallways (and I can still get a page done here and there), it's safe to say you can too. Honest!

Wanna know a neat time saving trick? Pick 2 or 3 subjects that you really (REALLY, REALLY) want to get done and pull those envelopes out of your storage box. Go through the photos in the first envelope and pick the ones you're going to use for your pages (usually, you can't scrapbook ALL of them, so you need to pick and choose :o) Go through your paper and choose your background pages and some coordinated papers that go with the photos. Figure out your page title and any other little doodads you will want on your page. Crop the photos you selected (if you have time now) and tuck them back into the envelope along with any other smaller items that will be on your page. Now put your little pile on top of your background pages and set it aside somewhere safe. Do the same thing (when you have a few minutes) with the next 2 sets of photos, piling your choices on on top of the other until you are ready for the next step. You'll end up with a small stack of pages ready to work and neatly separated by your background pages (pretty handy, huh? :o)

Frequent Fliers and Fanatical Favorites

I just LOOOOVE this stuff!

*~* Scan-Scan-Scan: To fit in all you can! *~*

If you're like me, you tend to save all of the cards you receive over the years, the drawings your child did in kindergarten, their school papers, blah-blah-blah; you know what though? Those little boogers pile up QUICK! Not to mention the fact that if you try to scrapbook them you can end up with 10 pages full of nothing but cards (booorrring!) Solution? Scan 'em! I am pretty sure I have scanned just about everything I could :o) Take birthdays, for example. Why can't you scan all of the cards your child got and use them to create an L-shaped border around a picture of birthday girl or boy opening their presents? One thing's for sure, you can definitely maximize your pages. Scan newspaper clippings too; your scans won't turn yellow like the real thing. Scroll down for some examples below this module.

*~* Got Glue? Adhesive? An icky sticky subject :oP *~*

I am pretty sure there are over a gazillion (a technical term) different kinds of glue floating around out there. How do I know? I think I've tried most of them at one time or another *sigh*. I have narrowed it down to a handful of favorites; Xyron big and small sticker makers (shown below), Scotch brand adhesive (great skinny tip for small things), adhesive dots.....

*~* Paper Shapers: Borders & corners are a breeze *~*

This works really well with the quilting ruler below :o) if you have a leftover "strip" of themed (or plain) paper about 2" wide, take the ruler and divide it straight down the middle on the wrong side. Now take your scissors and cut straight down the line; flip them over and voila! You have great coordinated edges for opposite sides of a two page spread ~ cheesy easy, isn't it? Variation: divide your leftover strip diagonally and cut it that way (cool, huh?) Leftover strip too small for borders? Cut it into squares instead and then use your small pattern scissors to cut them in half diagonally and you have yourself some nifty little corners to use frame out your photos.

*~* Quilting Ruler: Who says it's just for sewing? *~*

I do NOT sew; I was so traumatized by evil bobbins in Home Ec in Junior High that I STILL can't go anywhere near a sewing machine without developing a twitch in my right eye. This was, however, probably one of the handiest things I ever bought. The grids make it super easy to keep your lines straight without having to make umpteen separate marks on your paper to stay straight or continuously move the ruler to see where you are. Even better? It's 18" long, which is a total plus when working with 12x12 papers :o)

*~* Want not, waste not: It's all reusable! *~*

All of my leftover paper gets tossed in a plastic drawer, separated into jewel tones and pastels for later use. This is the stash I pull from to make the borders mentioned above and also to use for punches (see #2 in photo below).

This one was too big; that one was too small - A scan, a re-size and they're juuuuust right ;o)

Recycle and Repurpose...

The empty cookie trays (above left) were perfect for storing rubber stamps and a stray notebook sorter (right) was a nifty way to organize my solid color papers :o)

What's What Below Clockwise from Left

1. Xyrons big and small; the 2 sizes reduce waste;

2. Leftover paper for borders and punching later;

3. The coolest "ruler" on the planet :o)

4. Tackle boxes make GREAT punch storage (has a handle and everything!);

5. Bored? Punch some stuff and save it for later in a mini hardware sorter.

A few of my favorite things...

A few of my favorite things...
A few of my favorite things...

Tip: Cutting Edge Technology

Okay, not really. Use aluminum foil with your paper shapers and punches to keep them sharp; try some wax paper if things get a little sticky :o)


Are you a scrapaholic? - I Know I am :o)

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    • tysam lm profile image

      tysam lm 

      5 years ago

      Lots of great organization ideas here! Thanks for sharing

    • EpicFarms profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago

      @lesliesinclair: Oh thank you, Papier, that was a lovely comment :o)

    • lesliesinclair profile image


      6 years ago

      Naw, but Oh Boy! this is one superior tutorial, like a Scrapbooking graduate course in one.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Yes I am, I have acquired so much "stuff" in a short space of time? your lens is a godsend. I've found a starting point to get myself organized. I now have a plan of attack to get this all sorted and make some progress in the new year. Thank you for this most helpful lens.

    • psiloveyou1 profile image


      7 years ago

      yes! Guilty as charged! Scrapaholic and loving it. Great lens with tons of information :)

    • Sylvestermouse profile image

      Cynthia Sylvestermouse 

      7 years ago from United States

      Truly a lot of great tips for scrapbooking! I love all of the organization tips and I see several ideas that I could use in my overall craft room.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      great tips! I always intended to get in to scrapbooking, but never did....

    • spritequeen lm profile image

      spritequeen lm 

      8 years ago

      Yeah!! Another scrap-junkie! :-) Great information here. Thanks for sharing!

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      9 years ago from Vermont

      I am intimidated by the many boxes of cards, keepsakes, mementoes and PHOTOGRAPHS I've got waiting for me to begin the Great Scrapbooking Adventure. I've even bought supplies and I have 4 blank scrapbooks. Now I have some courage ... thank you for the scrapbooking pep talk. I will will will start my scrapbooking inn 2010. I will. 5*, and lensrolled from lotsa places that relate.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I love the way you wrote this. It is so full of personality it practically jumps off the screen. Keeps you totally involved, and I don't even have an interest in scrapbooking, lol. Well done!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      It's like you read my mind and wrote a lens about it. LOL I have all the pics sorted but the thought of getting to the end product kept making my head spin. You broke it down into steps I can manage. I think I might actually get somewhere! Great tips and ideas. Can't wait to get started now! :)

    • jsmyth lm profile image

      jsmyth lm 

      10 years ago

      I think you're my idol! Thanks for all the great ideas.

    • Holley Web profile image

      Holley Web 

      10 years ago

      Do you ever sleep? :) This is another nice lens creation!

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Oh my gosh I have pegboard envy. And scrapbook organizational envy. And scrapbooking tools envy. Okay, I'm just envious! Great tips, i bookmarked it :)

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      There's some great tips here _ I will probably come back when I finally get around to sprting out all my photos.....


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