Are you looking for a fun cheap hobby, but you do not want it to feel like an additional burden in your already very busy life? Do you want to be creative and spend some fun free time whenever you want? Then keeping a scrapbook might be the right hobby for you!
A scrapbook is a book or album in which you can keep, arrange and present personal memories or your family history. Typically a scrapbook will contain memorabilia such as pictures, drawings, prints and artwork. You can also use collected items such as concert tickets, postcards, etc. In short, a scrapbook is a decorated photo album that presents life stories or journals, the perfect way to preserve and share all moments that you want to hold on to.
Scrapbooking is a fun way to give a second life to those pictures and other items you have collected over the years. They are now just lying around your house or in boxes in the attic. You can easily organize them into albums and share them with your family and friends whenever you want!
How To Make a Scrapbook – Step by Step Guide
Making your own scrapbook is fun and very easy to do! It also does not take you a lot of money, as you can include a lot of photographs and other materials that you probably already have at home.
Typically you will follow these main steps to design and create your own scrapbook – each of these is explained in further detail in the next sections of this post (you can use the links below to jump directly to the relevant section):
- Generate ideas and define your scrapbook theme: you can keep one scrapbook that presents your overall family’s history. Or you can create different smaller scrapbooks for specific memories such as your most recent vacation, your memorable trip across Europe, the first few years of your baby, the construction of your house, and so on. Check out my list of scrapbook ideas further down this post!
- Get the perfect scrapbook album: depending on your theme, the amount of content you plan to use and your desired style, you should choose the optimal scrapbook album. You can choose between various album sizes, album binding types, album themes or layouts, the number of album pages, etc.
- Collect personal items you want to present in your scrapbook
- Get additional scrapbook supplies to further decorate your book. There are so items available that you can use to further decorate your album. Some examples are beautiful decorative scrapbook paper, scrapbook stickers, interactive 3D images, etc.
- Find the best way to store your scrapbook and all the scrapbook supplies that you keep for future use. There are lots of scrapbook storage solutions available, keep reading to get an overview of the best and most popular solutions out there.
The above assumes that you are going to create a scrapbook in a physical album, by gluing pictures and other memorabilia onto paper pages. Of course, you can also create your own digital scrapbook – find out all about this at the end of this tutorial!
Scrapbook Ideas and Themes
As mentioned earlier in this post, you can keep a scrapbook on a lot of different themes. You can make one book on your complete family history, where you keep adding pages and dedicate one or a few pages to specific sub-themes. Or if you feel overwhelmed by such a broad theme, you can create various smaller books. Each book can cover a specific memory such as an unforgettable vacation.
If you run out of ideas for scrapbooks or pages in your scrapbook, but you feel creative and have time to spend, then check out the below list of scrapbook ideas. I am sure you will find some new inspiration to keep going and create some beautiful books and pages!
- Overall family history – tell your story and the one of your whole family, making sure that it will be remembered by future generations!
- Your Wedding – surprise your partner with a book dedicated to your wedding, not just with your wedding pictures but full of memories and stories about your wedding day and the preparations.
- Wedding Anniversary – overview of all the years together since your wedding, speaking of a truly personal and memorable gift!
- Evolution scrapbook – e.g. construction or renovation of your house.
- Baby scrapbook – e.g. overview of the first year of your newborn.
- The first day of school.
- Keepsake books: albums that help parents and kids to record and remember all the fun and interesting things that happened during a certain school year. You can buy albums with dedicated album covers, for example for Kindergarten Year of First Grade Year.
- Your last vacation or your best vacation ever.
- Your favorite country where you go on holidays every year (mine would be Mexico).
- Retirement gift – memories of your years working together.
- Scrapbook on your favorite movie, song, TV show or book.
- Your pet – the most beautiful pictures and memories of your favorite animal.
- Other hobbies – memories of your favorite spare time activities.
- The city where you live, or your favorite city in the world.
- The life of your parents or grandparents.
- Overview of the life of your idol or hero.
- Birthday present – check you the video below!
- Your profession, career or own business – can also be used as a good marketing tool.
- Most beautiful beaches in the world.
- Most beautiful places in the world that you have visited.
- Your bucket list with most beautiful places in the world that you still want to visit.
- Cooking – your favorite food and recipes, or all the foods that you still want to prepare some day…
- Your favorite holiday – overview of the celebrations (e.g. thanksgiving or Christmas) over the last years – great memories are there to remember and share!
If scrapbooking sounds like a really big task to you, then let me tell you that it is really not! The main item you need to start making your scrapbook is the book or scrapbook album. You start with a book with blank pages and then let your creativity do its magic. You do not necessarily need a plan or system, every page in your book can be the result of your imagination and ideas on the day you created it.
A lot of new and beginning scrapbooking enthusiasts often ask the same question: what is the best scrapbook album? As said before, choosing the best album for your book not only depends on the theme you have selected. When choosing an album you should also take into account the amount of content you plan to use. For example how many pictures do you want to include and how many pictures you want to show on each page. The desired layout and style will also influence your album choice.
Scrapbook Album Size
There are different album sizes available on the market. Again, the perfect size of your album will depend on the theme and desired style of your book. Do you want to use a lot of pictures? And do you plan to use full page images or multiple images per page?
There is no fixed logic or best way to calculate the optimal size of your album. But there are a number of most popular album sizes. These are most often used and so it will be easier to find matching paper and other items later on if you use these sizes.
The most popular album and page sizes are the following:
- The 12×12 scrapbook album: this is the most popular page size. On each page you can add several photos and still have enough room for other items, embellishments, and your personal journaling. Since this is the most popular size, a lot of supplies are available. It is very easy to find beautifully designed scrapbook papers for the 12×12 album size. As this album is quite big, you can use it for all your scrapbook ideas, really get creative and tell your story the right way!
- The 8×8 scrapbook album: this album size is also very popular and is often used to create scrapbook gifts. As it is smaller in size, you can fill up the pages quicker and use it for specific theme albums such as a birthday or anniversary gift scrapbooks.
- The 8 1/2 x 11 scrapbook album: this size fits in between the 12×12 and the 8×8 albums. This is the perfect size if you do not want to fill the larger pages of the 12×12 album but you still want to have more than enough space to add one or several pictures and other items and embellishments to each page.
- The small scrapbooks, such as the 6×6, 5×7 or 6×8 albums, are most often used for scrapbook gifts. They are great alternatives to the more popular 8×8 album size.
- There are also oversized scrapbooks that can really hold anything that you want. Up to the size of a complete newspaper page (19 ½ x 24 paper size for example). These are great if you really want to create a scrapbook that stands out. They allow you to include lots of memories. Of course, you need to keep in mind that it will be more difficult to find supplies for such huge albums.
Scrapbook Album Binding and Number of Page
When you decided on the perfect album size for your newest scrapbooking project, you also need to think about the album binding and the number of pages.
There are quite some choices in album bindings:
- Ring binders: these are not really albums but actual binders like the ones that are used in schools and offices. The advantage of these binders is that it is very easy to add pages, remove pages and change the order of the pages. You can use plastic page protectors in which you can insert paper pages from the top, keeping your pages clean and safe. The most common types of these binders are:
- 3-Ring binders: in the center of the binder there are three round rings. These binders keep the pages vertically and usually allow keeping a large number of pages.
- D-Ring binders: these binders do not have round rings, but rings in the shape of the letter D. These binders can keep more pages with the same ring size and often allow displaying pages horizontally in a landscape layout. This means that you can include large panoramic pictures or just fit more pictures next to each other on one page.
- Post-bound albums: in these albums little metal (or sometimes plastic) screw posts are used to bind the cover and album pages together. When you open the album, you can unscrew the posts (usually two or three, sometimes more) to remove the cover. Then you can add or remove pages in your album and put the cover back in place by tightening the screw posts again. Tip: when you are trying to unscrew the posts with a screwdriver, make sure that back-end of the post is not spinning around. In this case, you would keep on turning but the screw would only spin and not loosen. Make sure that you block the other end of the post so that it does not turn. You can do this by using a pair of small pliers.
- Strap-hinge albums: in these albums, a number of hinges and a strap on top to close the hinges keep the pages in their place. These albums are more difficult to open than a ring binder, making it less easy to add, remove or change pages. The place for additional pages is also limited. Once you add too many pages, it will not be so easy to close the hinges with the strap.
- Slip-in albums: these albums come with a fixed amount of plastic covers in which you can insert pages by sliding them in from the top. This means that you do not need any page protectors, but it also means that you cannot add pages once you used all the covers. To change the order of your pages, you cannot just move the pages around, as you cannot open the binding. You will need to take the pages out of the plastic covers and put them back in in the new order.
- Spiral Bound: these albums have a spiral that keeps the pages together. The spiral is made from metal or plastic and depending on the album can be fixed or can be opened up. As the rings of the spiral are smaller the album can keep fewer pages than a post-bound or ring album. It will also be more difficult to add pages if the album allows you to – you will need to pass the complete spiral through each of the pages that you want to add.
- Glued albums: not often used, but these still exists. The pages are glued into the album. They cannot be removed or no new pages can be added (without damaging the album obviously).
Number of pages in your scrapbook
The number of pages will again depend on the theme of your scrapbook, and on how many items that you would like to display in it. If you are looking to tell your life’s story, you will probably need a lot more pages than when you are simply making an album for an anniversary or a specific event.
Maybe you do not want to make a choice in the beginning. You want to be able to add more pages as your scrapbook is getting full. Then you should select one of the bindings mentioned above that allow adding or removing pages easily.
Tip: if you are using a post-bound album you might have added so many pages that your album is getting really stuffed. (This is probably the case when you almost can not close your album anymore.) If this happens, you can use post extenders (also called Chicago Screws). These are extra long posts that you can put in between your existing screw and post. They are sold with universal screws to fit most of the popular posts. They are available in multiple increments and in various metals and finishes. You can even add multiple extenders to each post – so you can expand your album to accept unlimited refills!
Also, take into account that you can use both sides of each page if you want. An album with only 50 pages could then become a 100-page album.
Scrapbook Page Protectors and Album Refills
When you spend quite some time and energy to create a beautiful scrapbook, you do not want something to happen to your layouts. You do not want someone to spill a cup of coffee while going through your album and ruining it completely.
To avoid this, you can use page protectors – plastic covers that protect your paper pages against spills and other accidents. They will also help to keep your pages protected against the effects of time, dust and dirt that otherwise would slowly damage your pages.
A lot of albums come with page protectors as a standard feature. In fact, in the album overview above we talked about album pages, while these are actually mostly plastic covers in which you can insert your actual paper pages. As the basis for your paper pages, you can use cardstock solid paper or patterned paper. Learn more about this in the section below on scrapbook supplies!
The most common types of page protectors are the following:
- Top loading seamless page protectors – insert your paper pages or cardstock by sliding them in from the top.
- Horizontal Pocket page protectors: plastic page protectors that consist of various horizontal pockets in which you can insert smaller items such as pictures.
- Vertical Pocket page protectors: same idea, but with vertical pockets.
- Page protectors in color: cover your pages with a transparent color
If you opt for a ring binder, it will often include top loading plastic sheets or page protectors with white or black cardstock inserts. You can also buy page protector refills as you add more pages to your album.
It is very easy to find these page protectors online and in scrapbook or craft stores. The availability will, of course, depend on the album size that you selected. Most of the protectors are for the most common 12×12 album size. A good place to start to look for page protectors and other scrapbook supplies is scrapbook.com.
Scrapbook Album Covers and Album Styles
Maybe even more important than the size of your album and the number of pages in it is the style of your album. The style will depend on the type of cover that you choose. Of course, you can just go for a simple plain black or white plastic ring binder. But you also have the chance to choose something special and really create your personal special album. As you look for an album, you will find lots of cover choices, from fabric-covered to leather-bound and easy-clean vinyl.
Below I have summarized some of the most common cover materials – mostly available in various colors or in black and white:
- Plain plastic covers.
- Acrylic: 3 ring clear acrylic binders of 13.5×15 so you can use layouts in 12 x 12 sheet protectors without them sticking out past the edge of the album.
- Vinyl cover – very easy to keep clean.
- Fabric / Embroidered – in various colors or in black and white.
- Leather covers – gives your album a sophisticated look!
- Chipboard –hard and strong covers that really protect your album.
In addition to the material used for the cover, there are a lot of choices of specific theme albums. These albums have covers that are decorated to reflect a specific style and theme. Often these albums have basic covers with another removable themed cover on top.
Some album themes and scrapbook cover ideas that you could choose from:
- Albums covered with Military Uniform fabrics – embroidery that meets the standards of the U.S. Navy. You can customize your album by adding a name, rank, medals or insignia and more.
- Santa suits
- Removable covers showing the map of a country or continent.
- Disney covers
Use Personal Items in Your Scrapbook
Once you have your album you can start collecting all the pictures and other items that you would like to present in it. This does not need to mean a lot of work or cost a lot of money. You can simply start by collecting all the items you already have at home. Family photos, pictures from your latest holidays and travels, tickets from past concerts that you went to or even old newspaper articles – you can include whatever you want in your personal album.
Here are some great personal items that you can include in your scrapbook.
Use the pictures that you already have at home, or order a print of your favorite digital images. You can really include any picture you would like, from your favorite family pictures to the pictures that you took on your latest vacation.
Gift wrapping paper
Next time you receive a gift that is wrapped in a beautiful wrapping paper, open it up without tearing up the paper. You can keep the paper and it will look great in your next scrapbook project.
Concert tickets and tickers of other events you attended
Did you attend a great concert recently? Or did you go attend a memorable sports event that you really want to remember in a few years when you are turning the pages of your scrapbook? Then why not adding the ticket of the event and any other memories that you collected in your album?
A great low-cost addition to your scrapbook can be newspaper articles. They look authentic and over time they will start to look aged and give another dimension to your album.
You can keep newspaper articles of events that have a link to your personal life. Or you can just keep articles or ads with a beautiful design that fit with your overall album theme.
Once you have collected all the personal items that you will use in your scrapbook, you should consider other useful and decorative supplies. There are a lot of scrapbook supplies and tools on the market. On one hand you have the basic supplies that no real scrapbooker can do without, such as cardstock paper, adhesives and scissors or trimmers. On the other hand you have the great decorative supplies that will boost your creativity. Think of patterned papers, stickers and other beautiful embellishments.
Below is an overview of the best basic and advanced scrapbook supplies. This list is obviously not complete, but it is a great starting point for your supply collection.
Cardstock Solid Papers
As said before, scrapbook albums usually come with plastic page protectors. In these plastic sheets, you can insert your actual paper pages. To have a solid basis for your paper pages, you can use cardstock papers.
Cardstock paper is solid and thicker than standard paper, but not as thick as cardboard. So it is still easy to insert in the page protectors.
Cardstock is one of the basic supplies you should have in your stash. These papers are usually not patterned and serve as a plain canvas for your creative additions. White cardstock is a safe bet to have as a basic item in your supply collection. If you need a colourful background to your pages, you can buy cardstock in all possible colours.
Cardstock paper often has a special texture on one side, while the other side is smooth. This is an interesting feature as it allows you to choose between a textured or smooth background for your pages. The textured background can be useful when you want to do some inking, the smooth background will be better for writing and stamping.
Cardstock paper is available in different sizes and packages. The most common are the 12×12 cardstock paper, given the popularity of that size. You can buy single sheets in most stores or online, or you can buy it in boxes, stacks or packs. Popular pack sizes are 15, 25 and 60 sheets.
In addition to basic cardstock paper, you can buy all sorts of decorative patterned papers. There are literally thousands of paper designs on the market. You find beautiful papers in standard colors or with a specific theme or design. Wedding papers, Disney themes, baby papers, etc. are just some examples of scrapbook specialty papers out there.
As for cardstock, you can purchase these colored and patterned papers by the sheet or in packs. So you can really collect a lot of different papers styles and themes to create beautiful combinations in your albums.
There are sheet sizes available for most of the most popular album sizes. Again the most widely available are the 12×12 and 8,5×11 paper sizes, but you will also find other specialty sizes.
You can also use special craft paper to make your own original and beautiful paper creations. A good example is paper flowers that some scrapbookers use in their albums.
Of course, you will need some kind of adhesive to start adding embellishments and personal items to your cardstock or patterned papers. Glue is probably one of the most basic supplies that every scrapbook fanatic should have!
Finding the right glue for you depends on knowing which types of surfaces you actually want to glue together. You should also take the size of the surfaces into account when determining the best size and packaging of your glue.
Some of the most common adhesives used for scrapbooking are:
- All-purpose liquid glue: the liquid glue that can be used on most surfaces, such as paper, fabric, burlap, trimming, silk, wood, metal, glass, ceramic, foam and plastics. Available in small and larger bottles, up to a gallon. You can opt for non-toxic formulas that dry to a clear finish. A big advantage of liquid glue is that it allows you to adjust before setting.
- Liquid glues in other practical forms, such as glue dots and glue pens.
- Double-sided permanent tape: tape with adhesives on both sides, practical to glue bigger surfaces together. You can first attach the tape to your patterned paper or cardstock and then attach your items and embellishments. Double sided tape is available in easy to use tape runners.
- Other self-adhesive double sided items such as pearls and foam squares.
Scissors and Trimmers
As scrapbooking involves a lot of cutting and pasting, another indispensable tool is a good pair of scissors or a more advanced cutting tool.
- Scissors: For cutting detailed shapes out of paper, or to cut up other items not made out of paper, you can best use a good pair of precision scissors. Of course you probably already have a pair of scissors at home, but you can better get a dedicated pair for your scrapbooking projects. Keep them with your other supplies so you do not have to look for them every time you need them most.
- Paper trimmer: If you want to cut a higher number of paper pages or for quickly cutting off the borders of your pages, you can best use a portable paper trimmer. Most of these come with a handy ruler – you can quickly measure the desired size of the paper and then cut it with a high precision. As you will use the trimmer a lot, make sure you can replace the blade. There are even self-sharpening models on the market.
- Rotary Cutter and cutting mat: for very high precision cutting, you can use a rotary cutter in combination with a cutting mat. A rotary cutter consists of a sharp rotary blade that is attached to a practical handle. Place your paper or other surface that you want to cut on the cutting mat, and easily glide the blade over the surface to cut it. Make sure you get a good cutting mat, that is thick enough so you do not cut right through it. To measure and line up materials easily, most cutting mats come with printed grid lines and metric / imperial guides.
- Self-healing cutting mat: you can also consider getting a self-healing cutting mat. These typically consist of multiple layers that make the cuts in the mat disappear by itself in a matter of seconds.
Scrapbooking Pens and Markers
Scrapbook pens and markers are indispensable tools for all your journaling and layout creations.
Selecting the best pens and markers will highly depend on your personal tastes and preferences. My favorite pen would not necessarily work for you or other scrapbook fans out there. To select a good pen, I would advise you to try some of them in your local craft store.
A great way to decorate your album is by using scrapbooking stickers! It will make you feel like you are back in your childhood. And let’s face it, stickers are so easy to use. Just peel them off and stick them anywhere on your scrapbook pages. No cutting or adhesives required.
There are really thousands of stickers out there, you can buy them online and in most craft stores. You can buy single sheets of stickers or larger value packs consisting of multiple sheets.
To give you some inspiration, these are some of the common sticker themes used to create some beautiful scrapbook pages:
- Disney characters
- Celebrations and events, such as weddings, Christmas, Easter, 4th of July, etc.
- Alphabets and numbers
- Animals and pets
- Halloween stickers
- Baby stickers
- Birthday stickers
- Party Stickers
- Phrases and expressions
- Family and Friends
- Love stickers
- Pregnancy and Maternity
- Travel and country stickers
- Recollection stickers
You can also create 3D scrapbooking effects by working with some beautiful 3D Stickers.
In addition to patterned papers and stickers, you can find all sorts of other embellishments to further decorate your albums. Embellishments are all small items that you can use to add creativity and color to your pages. Below are some common embellishments that people use to give their albums the finishing touch.
- Small cards typically in various sizes such as 3×3, 2×2, 4×4 or 6×4
- Die Cut Chipboard Tags – decorative chipboard pieces to showcase your colorful style
- Decorative brads – available in various themes, for example, baby boy or baby girl brads, and different materials, such as chipboard, metal, brushed copper, etc.
- Buttons – traditional buttons or buttons in various themes such as Disney characters
- Eyelets embellishments – available in all colors and finishes
- Flower embellishments
- Self-adhesive Jewel Art
Complete scrapbook kits
If you are just starting with your first scrapbook project, or you are overwhelmed by the choice of supplies on the market and do not want to buy every item separately, you can buy a scrapbook kit.
Scrapbook kits are packages that include most of the essential scrapbook items for a given project. You can find a lot of different kits, from scrapbook starter kits for beginners, to theme specific kits such as wedding scrapbook kits.
Scrapbook Storage Ideas
When you are working on your scrapbook, you want to spend your time on creating beautiful pages and albums. You do not want to be looking for your supplies all the time – when you need something you want to find it right away.
That is why it is very important to organize yourself and think about possible storage solutions. As a starting point, here are some storage ideas for your scrapbooking paper, supplies, and albums.
Scrapbook Paper Storage
Most of the storage solutions that you will find are 12×12 scrapbook paper storage solutions. This does not come as a surprise, given the fact that the 12×12 paper is the most popular paper size.
Some of the most convenient storage solutions for your solid and patterned papers are:
- 12×12 plastic paper storage cases (stackable for convenience)
- Metal paper storage racks, or small storage carts on wheels
- Desktop paper organizers with drawers
- Stackable desktop drawers
- Vertical paper storage: letter file system with separate letter pockets
Storage Ideas For All Your Scrapbook Supplies
Of course, you do not only want to organize and store your paper. As you will collect lots of other supplies it is probably a good idea to think about storing these items as well.
Below are some practical solutions for storing most of your scrapbook supplies:
- Divider and compartments boxes: you can get these with small, medium or large compartments. This allows you to store all your supplies, from your smallest stickers and glue bottles to your paper cutters and scissors.
- Wall-Mounted organizers.
- Craft storage tote bags on wheels – very easy and convenient if you work on your scrapbooks from multiple locations.
- Ribbon and paper dispensers.
- Photo storage carriers with separate plastic storage cases.
- Simple sealable bags – great scrapbook sticker organizer, simple but efficient!
Scrapbook organization furniture
If you are really serious about your storage, or just have a collection of albums and supplies that are so huge, there are also great furniture items to store your items.
- Storage chests with cases or drawers – these can be fixed or on wheels
- Complete collection drawer cabinets: you can find cabinets with drawers that all have the same size, or cabinets with various drawer sizes. These cabinets are available in simple plastic or in solid steel. They also come in a lot of different colors, so they are not only great ways of storing your items but also good for decoration of your hobby area!
- Modular flip-out bins
- Large rolling scrapbook carts
- Scrapbooking desk – a complete desk dedicated to your scrapbooking projects, with a real desktop workspace in combination with a lot of storage drawers and shelves. Some people go pretty far in this, see the picture below of an example I found on scrapncube.com
Digital Scrapbooks and Online Scrapbooking
If you do not want to go for the traditional method of scrapbooking, you can now also choose to create a digital scrapbook. When you go digital, you will not have the mess of a traditional album. No need to be cutting out papers, gluing pictures, etc.
A digital scrapbook will also save you some space, as you will not have your albums lying around your house.
You can also save money by creating your digital scrapbook. In the traditional way, you often spend some money on embellishments, paper, stickers, and other items. To fill up a 12×12 album with a nice number of pages, you quickly collect a pile of supplies. You can easily create a digital scrapbook online. And you can add digital pictures and other items that you can often find online for free.
Digital scrapbooks also allow you to share your creations through your social networks. With just a simple click, you can post your scrapbook on Facebook or sent it to some friends via email. When you create a traditional album it is much more difficult to copy or share your album.
Digital Scrapbook Sites and Software
A digital scrapbook can be made online or by installing simple software. Once you created an account (often free) with a digital scrapbook provider or installed the software, you can get started.
You can choose from hundreds of readily available scrapbook designs, layouts, and styles. These can easily be customized by adding your personal photos, embellishments, journaling and so much more.
Below I have listed some of the most popular digital scrapbooking sites at the moment. If you know about other interesting sites, then please leave a comment to this post and I will add it to the list.
- The Lilly Pad