HOTP men layoutHave you wondered how to start scrapbooking on a budget? We have 10 tips that will get you off the starting blocks fast.

I’ll give a class of Seniors their first scrapbooking lesson next week, and one of the questions I have to answer is: “What is the basic ‘tool-kit’ that a beginning scrap booker needs to get started? It seems that so many of the supplies cost a lot; especially if you are starting from scratch. I just have trouble determining what is essential to get a good start on my scrapbooking experience.”

So I’ll start the answer here, and maybe post some of the results of their efforts with minimal tools after the class.


Tip 1: Start scrapbooking with what you have
pencilsYou probably already have the basics to enable you to start scrapbooking without shopping for anything apart from perhaps some scrapbook paper. These are: a cutting tool, pencil, ruler, eraser, and adhesive. (And if you have been into cardmaking you will have the basic tool kit already.)

Tweezers are used for picking up and placing small objects on your layout. You may already have some in your first aid box or toilet kit.

Distressing paper, card, scrapbooking embellishments or the edges of your photos is very popular. An emery board works well for this technique.

Tip 2: Surf the net for ideas
OK, so you’re enthusiastic and ready to get some scrapbooking done, so where do you go from here?

You’ll find many ideas including layout designs here on See the related posts below.

Tip 3: Don’t be afraid to go looking for help.
It’ll be much more fun learning with others.

Find a class or a ‘crop’ in your area. A scrapbooking crop is where enthusiasts gather to work on their scrapbooks. They will have instruction on techniques as well as the opportunity to work on their projects. This may be the cheapest option for a new scrapbooker as you will be able to share tools and get ideas. People are usually very friendly and keen to share their knowledge. You may also be able to buy a single paper or embellishment instead of having to buy the whole package.

There will probably be a club fee – but most clubs try to keep this low.

Tip 4: Look for alternatives to the basic tools
Fathers Love LetterFor example, getting a straight edge when cutting paper with scissors can be difficult … so skip the straight edges! Include angles and torn edges that are not meant to be straight. If you really want a straight edge then tear against a firmly-held ruler.

When you can afford it there are a variety of paper cutters; try them out at a crop before spending your hard earned cash.

Tip 5: Use black & white photographs
Photo of photosIf you have black & white photos then the color of the papers you use does not matter which makes it easier to shop in the sales.

You can get a black & white copy of your photograph relatively cheaply.

Tip 6: Cutting and tearing paper
Cutting paper with scissors or a cutting tool gives a clean sharp edge. Tearing the paper will reveal the inner white core: pull towards you to reveal the core; away from you and you will not see the white core. This adds a decorative edge as well as being an inexpensive way to cut your papers. You can chalk or ink the white edge to enhance it.

Handmade greeting cardTip 7: Use what comes your way
Many cards have handmade elements to them. Save them to use on your scrapbook pages. Or cut out decorative accents from them to use, too. Wrapping paper can be useful for backgrounds or accents again – and it doesn’t matter if it has been crumpled.

Note: products that are not acid-free may damage your photos in the long term, but if that does not concern you then have fun with what you find.

Tip 8: Share and swap papers
But I hear you say you need every bit you can scrape together and can’t afford to be generous … If you are generous, others will be generous, too. Even if it’s just the half page you have left over from your current layout, you may get a whole sheet in return another day.

Tip 9: Make your own embellishments
Cut accents to make embellishments like flowers from papers and greetings cards you receive. A fine pointed pair of scissors will enable you to cut details in images you download from the internet. Use the chipboard from the back of legal pads to make chipboard flowers and shapes. (Bear in mind our comments about how long-lasting you might want your scrap books to be.) Make your own tags from chipboard or light card, and tie them on with ribbon or fabric scraps and fibers from old clothes. And if you have other suggestions let us know.

Tip 10: Try digital scrapbooking
The products are less expensive, instantly available and re-usable. Sounds like a good start!

Even if you don’t have a digital camera you can make your layout, print it and then add your photographs.

Yes, there’s a huge 3 billion dollar industry grown up around scrapbooking with many, many wonderful products, but you can opt for the simple life and use the expensive items sparing, making your photographs and your memories the focus of each layout.

When you do have money to spend from birthday gifts for example, head to your local scrapbook store and give them all the support you can.

And if having tried the basics, you fall in love with the game and decide you want to scrapbook for posterity – as a legacy for your descendants beyond your children and grandchildren – then there are some important factors to take into account. We’ll not go into all the details here save to say that in these circumstances you will want to make sure you use acid-free, archival products, as using some modern papers and products will damage your photographs over time.

Whether you are just starting scrapbooking on a budget or have been making scrapbooks for ages and have loads of money to spend on your hobby, having fun doing it will make it all the more enjoyable. Look at the related posts listed at the end and see which ideas inspire you. Then tell us about it.

[tags]scrapbooking, scrap books, tips n snips, budget scrapbooking, start scrapbooking[/tags]