Design Your Own Scrapbook from Start to Finish

As I explained on my About Karla page to the left, the purpose of this website is to help others preserve their precious memories via scrapbooks. This website addresses two types of people who want to preserve their memories in scrapbooks: (1) those who do not have the time to do it themselves and (2) those who do not have the skills to do it themselves.

Last week, I addressed the topic of customized scrapbook albums for those of you who are time challenged. This week I will address those of you who are skill challenged. I will start by going over the steps of how to design your own scrapbook from start to finish in a few basic steps.

There are three phases to designing a scrapbook: (1) preparation, (2) creating scrapbook pages and (3) assembly and storage. I will cover this information in two posts. The first post will cover the first phase, preparation. The second post will cover phase two, creating scrapbook pages and phase 3, assembly and storage of your new scrapbook.

Phase 1: Preparation

1. Theme

The first thing you will need to do is decide on a theme for your scrapbook you are designing. Themes may either be general or specific. A general theme is broad like family, children/an individual child, pet(s), or extended family members; whereas, a specific theme is narrow in nature like a wedding, birthday, school year, sports season, vacation, or a holiday celebration.

You might be asking why picking a theme is important? The answer is simple. The theme is what will tie all the pictures, memorabilia and stories you are telling together so that they flow smoothly. This is why it is important to only pick one theme per scrapbook.

2. Stories and Events

Make a list of the stories and events that fit your theme to include in your scrapbook album. As you are thinking about which stories/events to include in the scrapbook, write them down. The items in your list will then be organized into the order you want to present them in your album. You can order them chronologically, by sub-topic or any other way that makes sense to you.

Tip: If you write down each story/event on a post-it note, you can then use the post-it notes to physically organize the order you want to include these stories in your album. You can also use them when you categorize your photos later.

3. Photos and Memorabilia

Go through the pictures and memorabilia you have selected again to weed out anything that may not be directly related to your theme. It may take going through the selection process several times to get down to the pictures and items that best reflect the theme you have chosen. Give yourself permission to be extremely selective during this process.

Now it is time to use your list of stories/events and organize your pictures and items that made the final cut. Sort your photos and memorabilia into the story/event categories they best fit in. You can then put each category into a labeled folder, envelope, or a bag that seals.

The organization of digital photos and memorabilia is done in the same manner as described above, except you will use file folders.

4. Paper, Embellishments, and Tools

It is now time to pick out a color scheme that will complement your stories and events you have chosen. For example, if your theme is school and you are telling stories about your elementary child’s school year, you may want to pick out bright primary colors.

Head to your favorite craft store because it is time to do some shopping.

The first thing to keep in mind when shopping for scrapbook supplies is to always buy products that are photo safe, acid-free, or archival quality. This includes pens, markers, glue, paper, card stock, and anything else you use in your scrapbook album.

Using these types of products will lengthen the life of your scrapbook and do the best job with preserving your pictures. Using water-proof and fade resistant ink with your stamp pads and pens will also prolong the life of your album.

With that said browse the scrapbook aisles of the craft store looking for paper, card stock, and embellishments.

What is an embellishment, you may be asking? I’m glad you asked. An embellishment is used to add texture, dimension, interest and/or bling to the page. In other words, it is how you dress up the page to make it look nicer.

Now that we know what embellishments are, look for embellishments that match with your theme and color scheme. This may include things like die cuts, stickers, ribbon, jewel and pearl sticker sheets, charms, buttons, eyelets, brads, flowers, fabric, etc.

You will also need to find a variety of different styles, designs, and colors of paper and card stock. Some other supplies and tools you may need are scissors, writing/drawing instruments, colored pens/markers, glue, a paper trimmer and if you wish to make your own die cuts, templates, a craft knife, and a cutting mat. That should get you started.

5. Scrapbook Album

Before you go check out, make sure you pick up a scrapbook album. These come in a variety of sizes: 12 x 12, 8 ½ x 11, 8 x 8, 6 x 6, and 5 x 7. You will need to pick the size that will work best with your theme. How do I choose?

Here are some guidelines and tips to help you with this decision.

  • 12 x 12 pages can fit up to six pictures if they are not too big. You want to pick a large album like this when you have a lot of pictures, memorabilia, and/or embellishments to include in the scrapbook. General themes fit well in this size scrapbook album, as well as, wedding themes.
  • 8 ½ x 11 pages can fit up to three pictures once cropped. This size works well for specifically themed scrapbooks like a vacation, school year, child or pet.
  • 8 x 8 pages could fit two smaller pictures.
  • 6 x 6 and 5 X 7 pages only fit one picture.

The last three sizes make nice brag books for grandchildren, children, pets, accomplishments, etc. They also make nice gifts.

Congratulations! You picked out the size for your first scrapbook album, but there is one more thing you need to keep in mind because albums do not always come with enough page protectors for your project. So, if you need to pick up more page protectors, you will need to know what type of binding is used on the album in order to choose the correct page protectors.

There are three basic types of albums: post-bound, strap hinge, and 3-ring binder/D-rings. Post-bound albums have posts that go through the pages and are fastened with a screw. This type of binding is usually hidden by a flap.

Strap hinge albums feed a strap through staples connected to each scrapbook page. The straps are visible in the front and back of the album on the inside.

3-ring binder/D-ring scrapbook albums resemble 3-ring notebooks which we are all so familiar with.

Because the binding of scrapbook albums allow you to remove pages as you wish, it is relatively easy to rearrange pages or add/remove pages to/from the scrapbook as needed.

Congrats! Time to Start Creating

You have covered a lot of ground so far. Let’s review what you have accomplished so far.

You have:

  • picked a theme,
  • made a list of stories and events to cover in the scrapbook,
  • organized your pictures and memorabilia to fit into categories of the different stories and events,
  • selected the specific photos you want to use in your scrapbook,
  • purchased paper, card stock, embellishments, supplies and a photo album needed for your project

That is a lot of information, but don’t fret. Feel free to leave any questions you may have in the comment section below, and I will be happy to answer it for you.


11 thoughts on “Design Your Own Scrapbook from Start to Finish”

  1. Hi Karla,

    I’m not too experienced on scrapbooking. This seems like a really good way to preserve memories and special events. Would this make a nice present for someone?…meaning a completed one for a couple or family?

    Where do you find supplies for scrapbooking? Are they at hobby stores? Online?

    Thank you so much for the great detail and well written info! Tim

    1. I personally like to shop at Michaels and Amazon for my scrapbooking supplies, but there are may also be some scrapbooking stores where you live. There are a couple here in Springfield, MO. Yes, hobby stores like Hobby Lobby also have some scrapbooking supplies. Walmart even carries a limited supply of scrapbooking materials. Thank you for your comment and kind words.

  2. This is great information!! My son did gymnastics for 13 years, and I have saved 13 years of pictures, awards, competition schedules, etc. I have had this plan to put together a scrap book of his 13 years as a gymnast, and you have got me into it….I am going to get busy. He is 18 now and off to college. I would love to get this done and present these memories to him Thanks for the great information.

  3. I have kept a scrapbook of all my singing memoirs and it is great to pull it out sometimes to have a look through
    Great post

  4. it’s really a great guide for everyone of how to design our own scrapbook. Your post really interests me. I always take many photos to my son and daughter. All the photos are stored on my computer. But sometimes I feel boring that always face the monitor. I want to create something creative for my family.

    You break the details down into small step. It’s easy for everyone to study and follow.

    Try to imagine if I have many scrapbooks with the different beautiful theme. What a beautiful picture and good decoration of my house.

    I will create a scrapbook with my daughter when she can do.

    Thanks for you sharing.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I am so glad your interest was peaked. I love to be creative! Please feel free to use my website one of your resources for your research as I continue to add posts about scrapbooking.

  5. I’ve never heard of someone creating a scrapbook from scratch but this seems like a no brainer since you can personalize it to your hearts desire. I will make mine blue since that is my favorite color but keep EVERYTHING in it so everything is in one place, for ultimate convenience, of course 🙂

    1. I am so glad that I could be of service. As you create your scrapbook, keep revisiting my website, and I will continue to guide you through the process of designing your own scrapbook. Then, I will continue by posting tips and techniques to make your scrapbook really show your unique personality and tastes.

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