Monday, March 10th, 2008...9:15 pm

Frugal Scrapping

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This post is for all those scrapbookers out there who are also trying to watch your spending, which can at times seem impossible with the myriad of tools, papers, embellishments available. Since we try to keep on a fairly strict budget and scrapbooking falls into the discretionary category, I have become the Queen of frugal scrapping. It’s not necessary to sacrifice style to cut costs and listed below are some tips for scrapping on a budget.

Throughout this post I have incorporated some examples of layouts from my own collection, so you can see these techniques at work. Hope you enjoy the layouts and tips and can start saving money while still having a great time scrapping and preserving your memories.

Save your scraps.

Color BlockingEach piece is precious. Ok, you don’t have to save every piece, but if it’s bigger than a 1″ x 1″ square it’s worth saving. If you have a good system to organize your scraps by color or theme you can use them later to make cards, punches and small die cuts. A technique I love is color blocking and it is also a great way to use old scraps. Also if you only have one piece of patterned paper using it in blocks can be very efficient and a great way to incorporate a lot of photos. You can also use one smaller piece on a plain background if you don’t have a full 12×12 sheet. Sometimes this is all the pattern you need for your layout.

Shop the sales.

My favorite scrapbook store has a great clearance room where all the paper eventually ends up. Time your trip to the clearance room around big tradeshows, such as CHA, when the store is making room for new product. I also just picked up a DCWV Extreme Paper Stack for 1/2 price – over 300 sheets of patterned paper at Jo-Ann’s! Make sure you cut out all the 40 and 50% off coupons for Jo-Ann’s, AC Moore and Michael’s to use on big items such as tools or paper collections. Sign up as a preferred customer to receive mailings and emails with additional sales.

Keep it simple.

Jolee's SplurgeI find that over the years I have adopted a very simple style. This may not be for everyone, but it is fairly cost effective. My style tends to rely on clean lines and timeless layouts. I’m not a huge fan of a page that has a lot of embellishments since I find that as trends come and go you can get caught up in it. You may end up with an album that uses decorative scissors on every page and realize that may not have been the most timeless way to preserve your precious memories. (If you are a beginner scrapper, it is always helpful to start on a small vacation or pet album before jumping in to your wedding.) I also tend to buy coordinating paper on sale (at least 3 sheets, since you may never find it again!) and then shop through my paper stash when I organize my photos. I do use the occasional Jolee’s, or other expensive embellishment but I try to keep it to a minimum and pick them up on sale. Another cost effective solution for a themed album is to pick a few coordinating embellishments and paper to use throughout the album. This way you can buy the cardstock in bulk. It makes a theme album come together quickly and it will look pulled together in the end.

Print on sale.

Every photo processor offers sales. Make sure you aren’t caught without any photos to scrap before a big crop. If you plan ahead and wait for the sales you should have photos ready to go for the next time you scrapbook. If you have to order prints quickly you may get stuck paying a premium price for one hour service. We use Kodak Gallery, but any site that you and your family decide to use will offer print deals. I find with Kodak the sales are typically around holidays.

Use ink, chalk or die cuts to make white pages fabulous.

If you make an investment and buy ink and chalk you can create your own background papers for pennies by using value packs of white paper. Distressing is a great way to turn plain paper into patterned in minutes. You can incorporate all those scraps into fabulous background elements with punches and die cuts. If you crop at a store you can typically use tools that they have that will include punches and die-cuts. This will save you from having to amass a costly collection of tools as well.

Sew, draw or use other craft items.

To save on embellishments you can try your hand at sewing on pages. It looks great and is cheap! If you don’t like to sew you can try for the same effect with pen. Buttons and ribbons can be found cheaply at the fabric store when they are not necessarily labeled for scrapbook use. Not unlike putting the term “wedding” in front of things, scrapbook specific items can be expensive. Look for the same products in their original departments for use on your page. Another favorite thrifty technique of mine is saving all brochures and other memorabilia and using parts and pieces on your layout.


HalloweenAlthough we all like trying the latest technique or tool, you can save money by being savvy about your buying habits. It does make sense to invest in high quality basics tools like trimmers, scissors etc, which you will have for years and will use on every page. If you already have a bunch of gadgets you never use, challenge yourself. Dust off that circle cutter and do a few layouts. It will refresh your style and you may find a new use for an old tool. Make sure you try out new tools while at a crop. If you only will use something a few times a year at a crop it might not make sense to own the tool.

If you want more scrapping inspiration visit my friend Michelle’s blog. She is an amazing scrapper! Or check out the Crop Shop, a favorite place of mine to shop and crop.

Here is a list of the techniques that are shown in each of the layouts below:

Colorblock : Pool (643kb), Animals (698kb), Day at the Zoo (707kb), Arnold Arboretum (1.46Mb)

Stencils and/or Die Cuts: BBQ (1.36Mb), Julie & Keith (1.17Mb)

Dust off those old tools: Halloween (480kb)

Wedding/Party/Event (Use invite or brochure): Dan & Gen (403kb), Waterfire (517kb)

Jolee’s Splurge: Red Sox (520kb)

Inked Background Paper: Red Sox (520kb)

Use Patterned Paper as embellishment: BBQ (1.36Mb), Red Sox (520kb)

Happy Scrapping!


  • Steph,
    What a great job. Keep up the good work on this blog, you never know who you may be encouraging.
    I told some of my church friends about pop dots,only they had “0” money, so I off the top of my head, suggested a single paper hole punch and styrofoam plates that were right in front of me, and glue them for a pop dot. Nowthey probably were not acid free and all that,but these girls went crazy with pop dotting with styrofoam from the dessert plate……oh well, we had fun anyway.

  • One of my favorite album creations was a heritage wedding book. I created two to four pages for each of the weddings of great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, siblings, telling their traditions and customs amid the pictures of the day.

    But no, even after several years of scrapping, I haven’t been brave enough to scrap own wedding album! The pictures are already in a 12 by 12 strap hinge book, so it won’t be difficult to convert the photos to scrapped pages, but I’m going to be really picky on the details.