Scrapbooking is a fun and creative crafting activity to document precious memories, keep souvenirs and mementos, and channel your inner artist. Even in our fast-paced digital world, creating your own personalized scrapbook album remains a popular way of preserving memories. DIY scrapbook has gained popularity among hobbyists and crafters, turning this once personal hobby into an exciting and trendy social event. With the growing number of online scrapbooking stores, this multi-billion dollar industry is definitely here to stay, even in our fast-paced digital world.
But if you’ve never tried making one, don’t worry. Just read on to learn more about how to make a scrapbook of your very own. We have tips on where to find materials, and you can learn how to choose good scrapbooking supplies such as the best scrapbook paper, pens, decorations, etc.
What are the most popular scrapbooking tools and materials? How do you even start making your first album? And what are some scrapbooking ideas and techniques that you can try as a beginner? This page has everything you need to know to start your own project, so read on!
Have you ever wondered, though, how it all began? So, before we get started on all that, let’s take a step back and take a look at the long history of this popular hobby.
History of Scrapbooking
It was back in the 1800s when the term “scrap book” was first used. It was defined as “a book with blank pages for pasting items into.” However, back in 15th century England, commonplace books and friendship albums were believed to be the origin of scrap books. Back then, guests who were invited to someone’s home were asked to sign the homeowner’s “friendship album” with their name and a personal note - similar to the modern-day yearbook. Some guests got creative with their messages and left poems, quotes, and even drawings. On the other hand, commonplace albums are for people who wanted to keep their “scraps” such as letters, recipes, poems, quotes, etc. It is similar to a photo album today, but with keepsakes and mementos instead of photographs.
As time went by, the hobby has evolved from a simple way to hold scraps to a representation of a student’s daily life. When photographs were not yet available, female college students needed to be creative with their custom scrapbook through the use of ephemera and memorabilia - from class schedules and exam booklets to a playbill, a ticket stub, and a group of visiting cards.
With the advent of modern photography, simple memory scrapbooks have turned into photo scrapbooks. What used to be a more involved and functional way of keeping one’s experiences and memories had turned into something more visual and aesthetically pleasing. The recession that followed World War I hindered the rising popularity of the hobby. There was a sharp drop in album production, and people preferred to keep their ephemera, photos, clippings, and other memorabilia in a box. Photo albums also became more popular than memory scrapbooks.
In 1980, a woman from Elk Ridge, Utah, United States, decided to preserve her family’s memories by designing pages with their photographs. She then placed the pages into sheet protectors compiled in 3-ring binders. Marielen Wadley Christensen assembled more than 50 volumes of what would turn out to be the origin of modern scrapbooking. After gaining attention at the World Conference on Records in 1981, she and her husband decided to publish a how-to booklet called “Keeping Memories Alive.” They later opened the first-ever scrapbook store in the world, aptly named after their successful booklet. Keeping Memories Alive store is located in Elk Ridge, Utah, and is still open today.
Christensen’s efforts in preserving her family’s memories jumpstarted the manufacturing and selling of scrapbooking supplies, turning what used to be an old hobby of preserving memories into a huge industry today.
Scrapbooking Industry Trends and News
According to Anthony Thomas, in the United States alone, “there were roughly 25 million active scrapbookers, supported by over 3,000 scrapbooking stores.” Even in creative industry events and conventions, such as AFCI’s Creativation Show, scrapbooking has established its strong presence.
It started as an individual hobby, a way for someone to document their daily lives, akin to a journal, or preserve essential ephemera and memorabilia. In recent years, the hobby has turned into a social event where hobbyists (known as “scrappers” or “scrapbookers”) would join groups, classes, workshops, retreats, and even scrapbooking cruises. “Crops,” which is short for “cropping” of printed photographs, became popular events for scrappers. Stores and companies selling materials would often host these crops to reach their target audience and promote their products.
Here are some fun scrapbooking facts based on The National Survey of Scrapbooking in America (2004):
- The majority of enthusiasts were females with ages between 30 to 50.
- Nearly 50% of scrapbookers worked full time.
- 82% of scrapbookers were college-educated.
- The value of tools and supplies owned by the average hobbyist was $1,853.
- 76% had a separate space for making projects in their homes.
- 51% of scrapbookers reported spending at least 10 hours per month scrapbooking.
Scrapbooking and the Digital WorldLike the advent of modern photography, the rise of the Internet has also helped scrapbooking grow and flourish into a multi-billion dollar industry. Searching for scrapbook supplies online is now a walk in the park, especially with the fast-growing number of scrapbook websites and traditional scrapbook stores popping up every year. Keeping Memories Alive has paved the way for other stores such as Creative Memories Scrapbook Store, Making Memories, Stampin' Up!, and Close to My Heart. Similarly, crafting stores such as Altenew have started carrying scrapbook paper, scrapbook kits, scrapbooking stamps, and other scrapbooking tools to cater to the growing number of scrappers. The popularity of this once personal hobby had even reached scrapbookers in far-flung countries, all thanks to the power of the Internet. Scrappers can now easily download free digital layouts or templates that can be printed in their homes. Various embellishments such as stickers, wood veneers, journaling cards, washi tapes, cut files, die-cuts, etc., are now accessible to enthusiasts, making this hobby easier than before.
Social media has also helped boost its popularity of scrapbooking. Social networking sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are excellent platforms for scrapbookers to display their works and inspirations.
Is Scrapbooking still a Thing?
While still popular, the craze has definitely slowed down since its heyday in the mid 2000s. Back then, there were hundreds of brick-and-mortar hobby shops dedicated completely to scrapbook tools and materials. As previously mentioned, retreats and workshops also exploded in popularity. These were special events where scrappers can get together and work on their albums together. Sometimes, there would also be instructors invited to show them new techniques.
Nowadays, these specialty stores and extravagant events aren’t as common anymore, but the hobby itself still remains popular.
It has definitely adapted pretty well in the digital age. You may not be able to go on retreats to share your work, but you can use social media for that. There are still tons of scrapbooking sites that offer step-by-step tips on how to decorate a scrapbook album. And while brick-and-mortar specialty stores for scrappers are fewer in number, there are now a lot of online scrapbook stores where you can buy craft supplies like custom scrapbook papers, scrapbook markers, or personalized stickers and have them delivered straight to your home.
Besides, with its wide range of health and lifestyle benefits, it’s unlikely for this popular hobby to ever really disappear. In fact, in the next section, let’s take a look at some benefits you can gain when you make your own scrapbook.
Benefits of Scrapbooking
Making a personalized album has a lot of advantages. Here are only a few common ones that most scrappers can attest to:
- For Preserving Memories. Do you have a particularly memorable event that you want to document as a photo album? You can spice it by turning it into a scrapbook! Add cute custom scrapbook stickers, sweet anecdotes, and memorabilia to add flavor to your photos.
- Improves Creativity. The more albums you make, the better you’ll get at layouting, design, and color theory. Don’t get disheartened if you think your first attempt isn’t as pretty as others. It’s all about experimenting and seeing what works and what doesn’t. Don’t hesitate to challenge yourself as well. If you’re short on scrapbook and craft supplies, try to see what you can do with a simple pair of scissors, and different types of scrapbook papers.
- Therapeutic. Making an album can be therapeutic in more ways than one. It can lower your stress and anxiety levels just by helping you get your mind off things for a while. Add some comfort food and calming music on the side and you will definitely feel relaxed while working on your project.
- Socialization. It may not be as popular as before, but there are still some that host retreats. Sign up for one if you want to work on your project with fellow scrappers. Of course, you can also work with your friends and family. After all, it’s a great way to reminisce on old memories.
What is a Scrapbook?
“Scrapbook” is a book of blank pages for sticking clippings, drawings, or pictures in, as defined by Dictionary.com. On the other hand, Wikipedia defines it as “a method of preserving, presenting, and arranging personal and family history in the form of a book, box, or card. Typical memorabilia include photographs, printed media, and artwork. Albums are often decorated and frequently contain extensive journal entries or written descriptions.”
In short, a scrapbook album is a collection of pages, typically bound like a book or a photo album, containing photos, journaling, ephemera, clippings, letters, tiny trinkets, and other souvenirs. It is often decorated with stickers, die-cuts, stamped images, colorful washi tapes, journaling, doodles, etc. Its main goal is to tell a story with each page. Here are a few other reasons why people try out the hobby:
- To preserve precious memories for the next generation.
- To celebrate a special occasion.
- To commemorate an event.
- To simply remember a beautiful day or a funny and memorable thing that happened on that day.
- To take their journaling to the next level.
- To practice and hone their crafting skills and techniques such as stamping, alcohol marker coloring, watercoloring, mixed media art, etc.
- It’s a fun way to express creativity without exerting too much effort.
- It’s a simple but great way to pass the time.
Before you get started on your project, it is crucial to learn about the materials, tools, and supplies you'll be needing to make one.
Scrapbooking Supplies and Tools
When it comes to scrapbooking for beginners, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of materials available in local stores and online. It is important to remember that you only need a handful of supplies at first, especially if you’re simply trying out this hobby.
We’ve gathered a list of the seven most important and basic supplies you need in your crafting stash.
Cardstock is a solid heavyweight paper that is a staple in any kind of paper crafting activity. Scrapbook cardstock paper usually comes in solid colors such as white, black, and cream. But there are brighter colors available. Cardstock is often used as the background of your pages, to matte photographs, or highlight specific designs and elements of your page. It is crucial to choose acid-free and lignin-free papers, to ensure that the paper won’t turn yellow and will last longer. Choosing a durable and sturdy paper will also protect your photos and your pages from any damage.
Altenew offers various 8.5” x 11” cardstock sets, which are ready to use and come in a wide variety of colors and styles. Check out these trendy gradient cardstock sets, classic parchment cardstock set, or this stylish gold foil cardstock set.
Just like cardstock, it’s essential to use high-quality paper for your pages. Patterned paper is a popular choice since it has various designs, usually in shapes and patterns. Unlike regular printer paper, patterned paper is thicker and sturdier but not as thick as cardstock paper. They come in different sizes, colors, weight, and designs.
Here are a few things to remember when buying and using scrapbook paper packs:
- Choose designs that fit your album's overall theme or aesthetic.
- Paper pads can be single-sided or double-sided. It’s better to opt for double-sided pads like these ones from Altenew.
- Size matters! Most patterned papers are 12” x 12” or 6” x 6”. Make sure you know which size is right for your scrapbook album. Altenew paper packs come in sets of 12 or 16 or complete bundles like these.
- Patterned papers can be used as embellishments or as a background. Each paper’s beautiful patterns and designs can be cut out and used as decorative elements on a page.
- Reuse, reuse, reuse! There’s a reason why the word “scrap” is in “scrapbook.” Never hesitate to reuse those paper scraps! You can turn them into an embellishment or even make confetti out of them.
The most important thing to remember when purchasing adhesives is - the stickier, the better. You can use liquid glue, tape runner, glue dots, glue stick, glue pen - take your pick! It’s essential to know which adhesives can last long since scrapbook albums are supposed to withstand time. Scrapbookers commonly use double-sided adhesives and repositionable adhesives as they are high-quality, easy to use, and not messy. If you want to make sure that your precious photos are protected and won’t get ruined, photo-mounting adhesives are also available. Foam tapes such as foam squares or foam dots are perfect for adding that much-needed dimension.
Without embellishments, you might as well just create a photo album. Scrapbook embellishments are needed to add creativity and personality to your pages. There are many types of scrapbook accessories to choose from - from stickers and washi tapes to chipboard frames and die-cuts. You don’t need to buy all of them; you can make your scrapbook page pop with just a handful of embellishments. These scrapbook essentials can be found in any arts and crafts store, and they often come in ready-to-use sets or packs.
Check out these commonly used scrapbook embellishments:
- Chipboard stickers
- Alphabet stickers
- Word stickers
- Themed or decorative stickers
- Journaling cards
- Enamel dots
- Embossed foil frames
- Creative cut-outs
- Washi tape
- Acetate die-cuts
- Metallic thread
- Wood veneers
- Epoxy Buttons
Scissors or Trimmers
This is pretty self-explanatory. If there’s paper, you definitely need a pair of scissors, trimmers, or any kind of cutter. Paper trimmers are quite popular among scrappers because they are instrumental in scrapbooking. If you’re looking for the best paper trimmer, Fiskars has a good line of paper trimmers that will suit your budget. The most important thing to remember when choosing scissors is to invest in a decent and high-quality one without breaking the bank. Titanium precision scissors, made of stainless steel, with ergonomic handles, are the best choice for scrapbooking.
Binding or Album
Unless you’ve already bought a ready-to-use album beforehand, you have to figure out a way to bind your pages. The most popular way to compile your pages is with a D-ring or three-ring binder album. This has top-loading page protectors, making it easier for you to insert, remove, or move around pages. While some post-bound books include page protectors, others do not. You would have to buy the page protectors separately.
According to Crafts For All Seasons, the three-ring binder type is the most economical album type. With this album, regular acid-free photo-safe sheet protectors can be used as the pages. Then you can slip your completed pages into the protective sleeves. One downside is that you'll have a two-page layout with a gap where the rings are so the layout won’t be seamless. If you are going for a near-seamless two-page layout, you can opt for post-bound albums with top-loading pages. There are also custom type albums already bound with non-removable pages, but these usually don’t have sheet protectors. With this type, you can simply paste your photos and embellishments onto the page. This is perfect if you have bulkier embellishments. That way, you can simply add envelopes or tags that pull out with additional journaling or photos.
If you want to go more DIY, you can always create your own album with a paper puncher, some rings, ribbons, or any kind of string. You can also try the popular “stack the deck binding technique,” wherein you adhere pieces of folded cardstock together to form the cover.
Having a few decent journaling pens is vital in your scrapbooking journey. If your only purpose is to jot down important dates, names, or short journaling entries, a black or blue fine point pen will do. You don’t need to go fancy with your pens, but you want to make sure you get a decent one. You don’t want to run out of ink while you’re writing something. Getting pens and markers with water-proof, acid-free, and fade-resistant inks is also crucial for longevity. Gel pens are quite handy when you want to add some sparkle or cute and colorful doodles to your pages. Fine-tipped alcohol marker pens are also ideal if you want to add some calligraphy-like style to your journaling.
If you want to take your scrapbooking skill to the next level, here are some optional scrapbook materials that you can also add to your to-buy list.
- Page protectors
- Stamp and die sets
- Dye inks
- Watercolor paint set
- Brushes (for painting and other mixed media techniques)
- Scrapbook paper storage
Types of Scrapbook
As scrapbooking art evolved from simply collecting “scrap worthy” scraps to remembering special occasions and people through photo scrapbooks, different types of scrapbooks were created. Here are the eight most common types of scrapbook.
This type is usually a collection of pages inserted into page protectors and compiled into a post-bound scrapbook album. A traditional scrapbook’s size could be 12” x 12” or 8.5” x 11” and includes the usual - photos, ephemera, and journaling.
This is a recent type which was started by Becky Higgins. In this simplified version, all you need to do is insert photos and journaling cards into pocketed pages of your scrapbook album. You can write stories or whatever you want on your journaling cards, of course. To make it easier, you can scrapbook-on-the-go digitally using the Project Life app! This is perfect for busy bees who want to give pocket scrapbooking a hand, minus all the tools needed.
What comes to your mind when you think of a planner? Is it a leather-bound notebook filled with pages of daily, weekly, and monthly to-do lists, meetings, reminders, and tedious work notes? Or is it the very trendy and popular Starbucks planner, which you’ll get for free after collecting a certain number of “stickers” every time you order a drink? Planner scrapbooking is basically turning your plain and simple planner into something more creative and personalized. You can add stickers, stamps, and other keepsakes onto your planner to make it more exciting.
Project Life is a type of pocket scrapbooking. However, doing traditional pocket scrapbooking requires more involvement and effort from the scrapper. Unlike how it’s done traditionally, this type is relatively more straightforward since you don’t need to design a full layout. You only need your photos, some journaling cards, and a few embellishments inserted into pocket pages on your album. Easy peasy!
Simply put, a traveler’s notebook is a leather-bound notebook. The company called “Traveler’s Company” started creating these simple and durable leather notebooks, which was a hit among travelers and crafters alike. According to Bette Ha, a traveler’s notebook is “a piece of leather cut to size, with an elastic strung through the middle, allowing you to slip a notebook in between. Another elastic close the leather, with the notebook inside, and protects its contents.” In short, it is a refillable notebook! Enthusiasts have recently jumped on the bandwagon and started decorating their traveler’s notebook with stamps, stickers, ephemera, and other DIY scrapbook embellishments. This traveler’s notebook mini kit by famous scrapbooker Amy Tangerine is a definite must-have!
Believe it or not, there is a community of creative and religious people who have combined their passion for journaling and faith and turned it into a fun hobby. This type was believed to have originated back in the 1400s, but Shanna Noel started a blog called Illustrated Faith in 2014 and kickstarted modern bible journaling as we know it today. While some decorate their bibles, others opt to jot down their favorite bible verses or notes from their bible study on a separate notebook and add embellishments and designs to it.
Digital and Hybrid Scrapbooking
One of the most recent types of creative scrapbooking, it simply means creating a layout or page using a computer and printing it out. It is pretty much like traditional scrapbooking minus the physical layers, cutting of papers, and sticking embellishments. Hybrid scrapbooking, on the other hand, is done by combining some digital and traditional elements.
Just as the name suggests, mini albums are pretty much like miniature photo albums but with additional decorative elements, making it a must-try for scrapbookers. With mini albums, you can focus on one event, occasion, or theme. It could be about a person, a place, or food. The sky's the limit with this art type.
How to Make a Scrapbook
If you have put together a photo album before, then creating a customized scrapbook is a piece of cake. Aside from where to buy scrapbook supplies, one of the most common questions asked by beginners is how to get started. As long as you have photographs, some quality paper, and page kits, you’re good to go! A quick look through Instagram and Pinterest will jumpstart your journey. But if you are still unsure and want to learn how to start, here are some inspiration and techniques for you:
Check out this super easy YouTube video tutorial on how to create a scrapbook layout:
Best Scrapbook Ideas
This is the perfect way to preserve your family’s precious memories and milestones. It’s easy to get creative with a family-themed album. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- You can dedicate each page to a family member.
- Make one about a special day like a birthday or an anniversary.
- Try creating a wedding scrapbook!
- Christmas scrapbooks, Halloween scrapbooks, or holiday-themed pages are great ideas too.
- Document an event like your little one’s first day of school or your first trip abroad. Baby scrapbook kits are quite popular these days.
Companies offer themed kits, which are perfect for beginners since every kit has all the accessories they need to get started. Altenew’s Our Family Scrapbook Kit is complete with custom scrapbook paper, stickers, die-cuts, chipboard, etc., to help you craft the best scrapbook page for your family.
Are you a nature lover who enjoys documenting beautiful sceneries such as stunning fields of flowers and rows of trees or huge, roaring waves crashing onto the shore? Nature-themed projects are always a great idea for beginners. You can simply focus on anything in nature - flowers, trees, mountains, oceans, or even animals. This idea is also great for those who love to travel and take pictures of sceneries. This scrapbook starter kit from Altenew has beautiful florals and foliage embellishments for your project!
If creating a full scrapbook art layout is too intimidating for you, you can always start small! Document your most joyous moments during your local or international trips by creating an adventure scrapbook. It doesn’t need to be a trip too! You can document a fun or memorable day in school, work, or even a lazy weekend. Turn a simple day into an adventure by documenting it. Try using this scrapbook set to embellish your adventure album.
Here's a super simple and quick layout that you can try:
There are a few creative scrapbook ideas that you can easily try even if you’re a beginner. Friendship-themed scrapbook albums are quite popular and trending among the younger generation. As the name suggests, this is used to preserve memories with friends and acquaintances. Crafting companies like Altenew have released a complete scrapbook kit that features a variety of fun and colorful papers and scrapbook accessories which are ideal for your friendship scrapbook page!
Here’s a quick look through this friendship-themed scrapbook set:
Are you looking for some quick and easy friendship scrapbook ideas? Here you go!
- Create a DIY paper gift box like this one. It’s so easy to make and you only need a handful of scrapbooking supplies. You can put your photos and notes inside the box afterward and give them to your friend as a gift or keep it as a memento.
- Take your scrapbooking skills to the next level by making a 3D pop-up scrapbook page like THIS!
- Think outside the box! Try creating a gorgeous and super creative banner-shaped friendship album. You only need some scrapbook paper set and a banner die set to recreate this beauty!
- When in doubt, go for florals! Altenew has a wide selection of stunning and realistic-looking floral stamps for all your scrapbooking needs. Here’s an easy friendship scrapbook layout that you can recreate!
The best thing about making creative scrapbook albums is that you have a lot of creative freedom. The sky’s the limit when it comes to colors, patterns, and designs! You just need to let your imagination run free.
Now that you’ve got some inspiration and essentials, it’s time to learn a few techniques. Although any paper crafting technique can be used on your page, it would do you well to master a few methods. Check out these three quick and easy must-try techniques!
1. Create your own embellishments
Most sets come with a complete scrapbook kit, including patterned paper, stickers, and other embellishments. If you do not have the budget to buy these kits or if you need a specific decoration, you can simply create your own embellishment! Die sets and washi tapes are great for making quick and easy embellishments, just like in this blog post. You may also use leftover scraps of paper or negative die-cuts.
2. Add a floral wreath or a floral frame
Flowers are always fantastic embellishments. Adding a floral wreath or a floral frame around your photos can quickly elevate your project. You can use floral stamps with dye inks and give them dimension by using their coordinating dies. Check out this simple but beautiful scrapbook layout with floral embellishments that you can try.
3. Customize your traveler’s notebook and scrapbook covers
The beauty of a handmade scrapbook is that you can customize it however you want! For instance, instead of buying a pre-made traveler’s notebook or cover, you can always create or decorate your own. You can add a beautiful watercolor wash to it, stamp some images, or glue die-cuts or stickers on it. Here’s a quick hack on how to decorate your scrapbook cover - use washi tapes! Nathalie, our design team member, shares three easy ways to create personalized scrapbook covers using washi tapes here.
Are you ready to embark on your scrapbooking journey?
Creating a DIY scrapbook to document life’s most precious moments is a beautiful way to have some “me time” and de-stress, explore and embark on a creative journey, or simply bond with family and friends. Thanks to the Internet, what started as an individual hobby can now be enjoyed with other people - even random strangers from different parts of the world. The most important things to remember before you start creating your customized pages is to find the best supplies, invest in high-quality custom kits, search for inspiration, and of course, enjoy the journey! We hope this page helped you understand learn everything you need to know about scrapbooking.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Scrapbooking
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