Scrapbooking Basics

Posted by barb on Feb 13, 2006 in Crafty Me |

A few weeks ago, Laurie asked if Sandy and I would scrapbook with her. She had gone to the craft store to pick up stuff to start a scrapbook for her son (who’s now almost 2). While there, she was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff, and wasn’t even sure where to start.

We haven’t gotten together yet (next Saturday), but since then, I’ve been looking at my scrapbooking supplies and trying to categorize what I have as “necessary”, “fun to have”, and “a waste of money”. I thought I’d outline some of my results here – maybe someone out there is having similar trouble, and this list might help you get started. I should make the warning that the following is just one person’s opinion – if anyone out there wants to add anything to my lists, or argue with how I’ve categorized them, feel free to chime in down in the comments.

Necessary Scrapbooking Supplies


You can argue that you can do scrapbooking without the scrapbook, but eventually you’ll want something to put your creations in. The main decision here will be the size of the scrapbook and how its bound. I always use the 12″ × 12″ books, though if I were to make a gift book for someone, I might consider a smaller book. Currently I’m using the “strap-bound” books, but I’d rather use the “post-bound” ones. Why? The refill pages for the strap-bound books require that I trim about half an inch off of the standard 12″ × 12″ papers for them to fit in the top-loading page protectors. The post-bound pages that I’ve done did not require any trimming.

Extra Pages

The scrapbooks only come with a few pages, so you’ll need some extra pages – the number will depend on how many pages you want in the book (up to a certain limit, of course). I generally buy the top-loading page protectors, which allows me to make pages on separate 12″ × 12″ pages, and then insert them in the order I want. The pages can also be pulled out of the protectors and re-arranged, if I discover more pictures or want to move the page to a different album.


These come in a myriad of designs. I’ve got lots of paper, and find that I never quite have what I need. One big lesson that I’ve learned is that in addition to the cutesy papers, buy a collection of plain colors – either a pack of random colors, or buy coordinating colors for each of the cutesy pages that you buy. These are what you’ll make frames, tags and borders out of. Another lesson is that instead of just picking one design, buy a few from the same collection – these often go well together and will also be great for frames and borders.


It’s important to have acid-free, photo-safe adhesives. I have quite a variety, and when I wonder if I need them all, I realize that I actually use them all for different parts of the pages I do. Adhesives I have:

  • photo tape: for tacking down pictures
  • glue stick: for tacking down papers and adornments
  • glue pen: for gluing ribbons or small strips of paper
  • glue with a wide tip: for gluing larger pieces (this one kind of overlaps with the glue stick, but I still like having both)


I have a couple pairs of regular scissors – one large pair and one small pair. These are both used only for scrapbooking, so that the edges stay sharp and are good for doing detailed work with paper.


Again, photo-safe and acid-free are the keys here. These are used for marking photos to cut, but also to “journal” on the pages

Paper Trimmer

I’m not sure if this should go under “necessary” or just “nice to have”, but I use it everytime I scrapbook, and I can’t imagine trying to scrapbook without it, so I’ve put it in the “necessary” list. Technically, you can get by without one, but I highly recommend it. This is perfect for cropping pictures and trimming down the 12″ × 12″ sheets to fit in the strap-bound page protectors.

Nice to Have

Die-cut tools

I have the Coluzzle “cutting system”. Basically, it consists of an x-acto knife that swivels and templates with grooves to guide the knife. I have most of the single-shape cutout templates (i.e. the circle, oval, heart, hexagon, etc.) and a couple of the alphabets. This was a great investment, and I use it (especially the circle, oval and curved-edge rectangle) all the time.

My friend Sandy has a different system (not sure the name) that she got through a friend who is a Creative Memories representative, but I didn’t like it very much the one time I used it. Her system used a blade mounted on a little grippy-thing that you clutch in your fingers and guide around a template. the one time I used it, I cut myself pretty badly (okay, it probably only seemed bad, because it was near a knuckle, so it kept re-opening). In the numerous times I’ve used my coluzzle knife, I haven’t cut myself yet (though, I expect that I will someday – I am kind of a clutz, afterall).


I bought a page lay-out template from Target, and while I don’t use it all the time, it’s a great way to lay out pages when I’m just not sure what to do, or when I want to fit more pictures on a page than I normally do. I’ve only seen these at Target, though, so am not sure where to tell you to look for them.


These actually come in a surprising number of forms, not just fonts, but there are stickers, rub-ons, and cut-outs. I’ve got them all, and use them all. Mostly I use them for page titles, though I’ve also make tags or put people’s names under pictures.


I’ve got scads of ribbons that come on cards of different designs of the same color. I love these, and use them all the time. Other adornments include stickers, charms or pre-made die cuts.

Scissors with fun edges

I cheaped-out on these fun scissors, but I don’t use them often enough that I’ve had any complaints about it. I bought a set of 4 for about $10, and a few singles for $2 each. They’ve never given me trouble, and I’m just as happy with them as I would have been with the expensive ones. I use them to cut pictures and journaling scraps.

Eyelet tools and eyelets

I just bought these last weekend, and it’s been a lot of fun figuring out creative uses for them. These are definately not a “must have”, but if you get more into scrapbooking and want new ways to adorn your pages, this is a great way.

Waste of Money

Cheap Cut-out Templates

I bought a set of cheap plastic templates for cropping pictures. These worked alright, but the sizes of the shapes was totally random, and they were hard to work with. I much prefer the Coluzzle system I’m currently using, and haven’t even looked at these templates since then.

Want to check out some of my scrapbooking creations? Here are my pictures with “scrapbooking” tags on Flickr


1 Comment

Feb 14, 2006 at 8:45 am

Wow! I am so excited for this weekend (so I hope you are feeling better and up to it!!)…I can see I have so much to learn and I can’t wait! I ordered some photos (it’s hard to get pics from online) and I tried to pick and chose ones I wanted to actually use in the scrapbook. The difficulty I see (besides getting the hang of making the pages) is picking photos. Since I don’t have all my photos printed I can see me having trouble picking what photos to use in a scrapbook, whereas someone that has all their photos printed may have an easier time picking and choosing what photos to use. Know what I mean? I guess for Saturday, we’ll try it with the photos I selected and see how it goes from there! I am super excited to see this is person!! 🙂


Copyright © 2024 My Silly Life All rights reserved. Theme by Laptop Geek.