Scrapbooking Basics: Your First Project

by Lain Ehmann on August 21, 2010

I’ve been getting a lot of questions from beginning scrapbookers, as well as veteran scrapbookers who have been fielding similar questions from their friends and family: Where do I get started in scrapbooking?  They want to know if they have to invest thousands of dollars and dedicate a whole room of their house to this new hobby they’re not even sure they like. They want to DATE scrapbooking, not make a life-long commitment — at least, not yet!

My advice? Forget about starting an annual album for each of your children. Forget about committing to one size of scrapbooking. Forget about spending hundreds of dollars. Instead start with a simple scrapbook project: A mini-album.

Mini-albums are small scrapbooks, usually less than 8×8 inches, that are focused on a specific topic, event, or person. Examples of mini-albums are:

  • A Christmas album where you gather all the photos from the season (decorating the tree, wrapping presents, making cookies, etc.) and put them in a single album.
  • An engagement album documenting the soon-to-be-married couple’s engagement period.
  • A sport-specific album where you collect all the images from your child’s football, swimming, or ice skating season.

Mini-albums require less commitment, they have a specific beginning and end, and they can be compiled relatively quickly, in an afternoon or a weekend. Mini-albums are also fantastic gifts! Here’s how to get started creating a mini-album of your own:

  1. Gather supplies: a small album, a few sheets of coordinating patterned paper or cardstock, and a handful of embellishments (stickers, labels, buttons, rhinestones, brads – pick one or two! Don’t get complicated).
  2. Select 15-20 photos. You can put anywhere from one to three or four on a page, depending on how you crop them.
  3. Choose a single page design. By using the same design on every page, you cut down on the amount of time you’ll need to spend creating the scrapbook and thinking and re-thinking how to layout out everything.
  4. Trim your photos. Crop your photos down to fit in your design. The size will depend on your album and page design.
  5. Trim your cardstock and paper.
  6. Add your photos to the pages.
  7. Embellish and add journaling. (Never forget the journaling — even just a few words about “who/what/when/where.”)

If you love the process, you can do another mini-album or move on to a larger project. Decide scrapbooking isn’t for you? That’s okay! You still have a cute, concise, creative scrapbook to keep or give as a gift.

P.S. Are you a new scrapbooker looking for inspiration and support? Think about joining our Layout a Day challenge for October! Check it out here: Layout a Day (LOAD) 10/10. You’ll find community, fun, and lots of ideas!

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  • Zima

    Great tip!

  • GrandmaJudy

    I have 6 grand kids, so I do chronological scrapbooking, 12×12 size. When I have photos that aren’t worthy of a whole 12×12 page, but I really want to scrap them, I create “Grandma’s mini album right in my 12×12 book. I just devide the page into 4 (or8 for a double spread) using a paper strip and treat each 5.5×5.5 square as a little scrapbook page.
    I try to come up with one stamp, embellishment, or background paper that will more or less work for all the unrelated pix. I also sometimes, to save space, make a “two-fer” page by deviding the page in half with paper strip or ribbon and treat each half as a separate 6×12 page. It’s fun and gives the album some variety.

  • Colleen McCauley

    I love the idea of mini books. Thanks for the creative idea!

  • Judi

    I totally agree. I did 3 for Christmas gifts this year….such a sense of accomplishment in a short time.

  • Hanna Lyons

    This is really helpful Lain. I am starting to help people who are doing their first scrapbooks, and it’s all a little overwhelming for them at first. I do thematic mini albums and they work great. Thanks.

  • Colleen Kennedy

    Mini albums are really fun to make. A single theme works great.

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