Everything You Need to Know About Scrapbooking

Scrapbooking is a fun and creative way to document precious memories, keep souvenirs and mementos, and channel your inner artist. 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 scrapbook stores, this multi-billion dollar industry is definitely here to stay, even in our fast-paced digital world.

Have you ever wondered, though, how it all began? What are the most popular scrapbooking tools and materials? How do you start scrapbooking? What is the best scrapbook paper? And what are some scrapbooking ideas and techniques that you can try as a beginner? This page has everything you need to know about the world of scrapbooks, so read on!

scrapbooking tools and materials

I. History of Scrapbooking

It was back in the 1800s when the terms “scrap book” and “scrapbook” were first used. Scrap book 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 scrapbook. 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 history of scrapbooking 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.

FUN FACT! Did you know that an American President created his own DIY scrapbook too? Thomas Jefferson was known to keep newspaper clippings about his presidency in a scrapbook album. American author Mark Twain also capitalized on the popularity of scrapbooking. It was believed that he brought a scrapbook with him whenever he traveled so he could keep essential collections such as photos, souvenirs, and clippings. Furthermore, Twain was believed to be one of the first inventors of scrapbooking supplies when he created the “Mark Twain's Adhesive Scrapbook.” It was a book with pre-pasted pages, making it easier for scrapbookers to create their customized scrapbook.

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 scrapbooking. There was a sharp drop in scrapbook 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.

Memory scrapbooks

photo scrapbooks.
Modern Scrapbooking

It was in 1980 when scrapbooking history took another turn. 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 scrapbooking supplies 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.

II. Industry Updates (Latest News and Trends)

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.

Scrapbooking 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, DIY scrapbook has turned into a social event where hobbyists (known as “scrappers” or “scrapbookers”) would join scrapbooking groups, classes, workshops, retreats, and even scrapbooking cruises. “Crops,” which is short for “cropping” of printed photographs, became popular events for scrappers. Scrapbook stores and companies selling scrapbook materials would often host these crops to reach their target audience and promote their products.

Here are some fun facts about scrapbooking based on The National Survey of Scrapbooking in America (2004):
  • The majority of scrapbookers 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 scrapbooker was $1,853.
  • 76% of scrapbooking enthusiasts had a separate space for scrapbooking in their homes.
  • 51% of scrapbookers reported spending at least 10 hours per month scrapbooking.


Scrapbooking and the digital world

Like 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. Scrapbookers 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 scrapbook lovers, making this hobby easier than before.

Social media has also helped boost the popularity of scrapbooking. Social networking sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are excellent platforms for scrapbookers to display their personalized scrapbook pages, as well as share scrapbook inspiration.


III. What is a Scrapbook?

Dictionary.com defines “scrapbook” as “a book of blank pages for sticking clippings, drawings, or pictures in.” On the other hand, Wikipedia defines “scrapbooking” 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. Scrapbook albums are often decorated and frequently contain extensive journal entries or written descriptions.”

In short, a scrapbook 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. The main goal behind scrapbooking is to tell a story with each page. Here are a few other reasons why people start making their DIY scrapbook albums.
  • 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 personalized scrapbook, it is crucial to learn about the materials, tools, and supplies used in scrapbooking.

Personalized scrapbook

IV. Materials and Manufacturing of Scrapbook

When it comes to scrapbooking for beginners, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with the number of scrapbook materials available in local scrapbook 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 scrapbooking supplies you need in your crafting stash.

1. Cardstock - 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 scrapbook page, 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 last longer. Choosing a durable and sturdy scrapbook cardstock will also protect your photos and your scrapbook page 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.

2. Paper - Just like cardstock, it’s essential to use high-quality paper on your customized scrapbook. Scrapbook paper is also called patterned paper since it has various designs, usually in shapes and patterns. Unlike regular printer paper, patterned scrapbook 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 scrapbook’s overall theme or aesthetic.
  • Scrapbook 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 scrapbook 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.

3. Adhesives - The most important thing to remember when purchasing adhesives for scrapbooking 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.

4. Embellishments - Without embellishments, you might as well just create a photo album. Scrapbook embellishments are needed to add creativity and personality to your scrapbook page. 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:

5. Scissors or Trimmers - This is pretty self-explanatory. If there’s paper, you definitely need 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 scrapbook 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.

6. Binding or Album - Unless you’ve already bought a ready-to-use scrapbook book or scrapbook album beforehand, you have to figure out a way to bind your personalized scrapbook pages. The most popular way to compile your scrapbook 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 scrapbook 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 type of scrapbook. With this scrapbook 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. The downside of using this type of scrapbook, a two-page layout will have a gap where the rings are so that the scrapbook layout won’t be seamless. If you are going for a near-seamless two-page layout, you can opt for post-bound scrapbooks with top-loading pages. There are also custom scrapbook albums already bound with non-removable scrapbook paper 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 scrapbook 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 scrapbook cover.

7. Scrapbook Pens - 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 scrapbook 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 as scrapbook pens 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.
  1. Page protectors
  2. Stamp and die sets
  3. Dye inks
  4. Watercolor paint set
  5. Brushes (for painting and other mixed media techniques)
  6. Scrapbook paper storage

V. 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.

1. Traditional Scrapbooking – Traditional scrapbook is usually a collection of scrapbook 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.

2. Project Life – This is a recent scrapbook type which was started by Becky Higgins. In this simplified version of scrapbooking, 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 scrapbook tools needed.

scrapbook album
Pocket scrapbooking
3. Planner Scrapbooking – 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.

4. Pocket Scrapbooking – Project Life is a type of pocket scrapbooking. However, doing traditional pocket scrapbooking requires more involvement and effort from the scrapper. Unlike the traditional scrapbook, pocket scrapbooking is relatively more straightforward since you don’t need to design a full scrapbook layout. You only need your photos, some journaling cards, and a few embellishments inserted into pocket pages on your scrapbook album. Easy peasy!

5. Traveler’s Notebook – 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! Scrapbookers 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!

Traveler’s notebook mini kit

6. Bible Journaling – 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 of scrapbook art 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.

7. Digital and Hybrid Scrapbooking – One of the most recent types of creative scrapbooking, digital scrapbooking simply means creating a scrapbook 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 scrapbooking elements.

8. Mini Albums – 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 scrapbook art type.


VI. How to Use 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 scrapbook beginners is how to get started. As long as you have photographs, some custom scrapbook paper, and scrapbook page kits, you’re good to go! A quick look through Instagram and Pinterest will jumpstart your scrapbooking journey. But if you are still unsure and want to learn how to start scrapbooking for beginners, here are some scrapbook inspiration and techniques for you!

3 Best Scrapbook Ideas

Family Scrapbook

1. Family Scrapbook - When it comes to scrapbook inspiration, there’s no need to look that far. Not only is a family scrapbook easy to create, but it’s also the perfect way to preserve your family’s precious memories and milestones. It’s easy to get creative with your personalized scrapbook. Here are a few ways on how to create a family scrapbook:
  • You can dedicate each page to a family member.
  • Scrapbook about a special day like a birthday or an anniversary.
  • Try creating a wedding scrapbook!
  • Christmas scrapbooks, Halloween scrapbooks, or any holiday-themed scrapbook 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.
Scrapbook companies offer themed scrapbook kits, which are perfect for beginners since every kit has all the scrapbook 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 for your family.

2. Nature Scrapbook - 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 custom scrapbook is always a great idea for beginners. You can simply focus on anything in nature - flowers, trees, mountains, oceans, or even animals. This scrapbook 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 nature scrapbook album!

Custom scrapbook

3. Adventure Scrapbook - 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 scrapbooking about it. Try using this scrapbook set to embellish your adventure scrapbook album.

Scrapbooking Techniques

Now that you’ve got a few scrapbook inspiration and scrapbook essentials, it’s time to learn a few scrapbooking techniques. Although any paper crafting technique can be used on your scrapbook page, it would do you well to master a few methods. Check out these three quick and easy must-try scrapbooking techniques!

Scrapbook inspiration
Scrapbook essentials
1. Create your own embellishments

Most scrapbook 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 need a specific decoration for your scrapbook page, 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 scrapbook page. 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.

Floral stamps
Beautiful scrapbook layout

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 scrapbook 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 scrapbooking hack on how to decorate your scrapbook cover - use washi tapes! Nathalie, our design team member, shares three easy ways to customize your scrapbook covers using washi tapes here.


VII. Closing Note

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 scrapbook pages is to find the best scrapbooking supplies, invest in high-quality custom scrapbook kits, search for scrapbook inspiration, and of course, enjoy the journey! We hope this page helped you understand scrapbook art and learn everything you need to know about scrapbooking.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Q1: How do I start scrapbooking?
A1: When it comes to arts and crafts it’s really easy to get started. You can start scrapbooking by making sure that you have the most basic scrapbook materials and tools such as paper or cardstock, adhesives, scissors, pens, embellishments, and of course, photos!

Q2: How do you make a good scrapbook?
A2: There’s no secret sauce on how to make a good scrapbook. The best way to do this is to keep on practicing and never stop creating. Get ideas from other scrapbookers through Instagram and Pinterest. Try new scrapbooking techniques. Just like any other hobby, you have to constantly do it in order to get better at it. A good scrapbook has a great balance of all the elements so don’t overdo it as well.

Q3: What scrapbooking supplies do I need?
A3: The most basic scrapbooking supplies that you’ll need are paper, cardstock, scissors or trimmers, pens, adhesives (glue, foam tape, or washi tape), embellishments such as stickers and ephemera, and photos. It’s also good to invest in a scrapbook kit - it has everything you need to get started on scrapbooking.

Q4: What kind of paper do you use for scrapbooking?
A4: Cardstock paper is great for scrapbooking. There are also scrapbook patterned paper available online with various colors, designs, and patterns that you can choose from. It’s always good to invest in high quality and sturdy scrapbook paper.

Q5: Are cardstock and scrapbook paper the same thing?
A5: Cardstock paper often comes in plain colors and with two sizes 8.5” x 11” or 12” x 12”. It is perfect for cardmaking, mixed media art, and of course scrapbook art. Scrapbook paper, on the other hand, is slightly thinner than cardstock and comes in a variety of colors, designs, and patterns. A patterned paper is usually 12” x 12” or 6” x 6” and can be single-sided or double-sided.