Getting started with scrapbooking

Bring special occasions to life with beautiful albums of mementos and memories. By Kirsty Robertson

PP scrapbook being made - Get started with scrapbooking - Craft -

Scrapbooking has been a hobby since the very first photographs were produced, and over recent years it has become a thriving craft, with a wealth of books and supplies to support its popularity. Scrapbooking is not simply about sticking photos into albums - it is a way of creatively displaying and preserving your photos in albums as beautiful keepsakes or gifts.

The great thing about scrapbooking is that you need very little in the way of tools and materials, so it's really easy to get started. Projects can be as simple or as complex as you want to be - it's so easy to learn this craft that your children can enjoy learning it with you!

All you will need to start are a few basic materials and tools.

Basic materials

Album There is a wide selection available, varying in size and number of pages. Look for albums with ‘acid free' and ‘lignin free' pages to increase the preservation of your photos. Acid free ensures photos and pages do not become discoloured or damaged and will last a lifetime.. Lignin free- lignin is a natural substance in wood that reacts with light causing paper to yellow and deteriorate. Lignin free paper will prevent this discolouration and deterioration. Look for albums with protective page sheets as dust or dirt can scratch photos over time. Buy your album first before you start anything else, then you know exactly what size paper and card to buy for the pages.

Card and paper It is essential to buy the correct card and paper to preserve your photos so always buy acid and lignin free. You can buy card and paper in a spectrum of colours. Choose a colour from your photo and use this as inspiration to choose a plain colour background card for the page. Try experimenting with colours when selecting your paper or card - different colours will complement your photo in different ways.

Adhesive There are so many different adhesives available for different uses. Where possible use acid free glue to preserve both photos and card. Go for the least messy options, these include: double sided tape - ideal for securely and neatly sticking photos; photo mounting squares - double sided sticker squares great for sticking photos and also other decorative bits; glue dots - small dots of glue to peel off - invaluable for sticking small items; spray glue - great for sticking fine paper as it gives a smooth finish; PVA glue - multi-purpose white glue, perfect for sticking decorative items as it dries clear and can be used on paper, card, fabric, wood and metal. Spray glue can be very useful as initially it allows you to change your mind and move the photo even after you have stuck it down!

Embellishments Decorative items add detail. You could try adding any of the following: beads, buttons, crystals and gems, fabric and felt, punched shapes, ribbons & bows, stickers and sequins. Your style of scrapbooking will change as you progress so avoid being tempted to buy embellishments just because you like them - buy only what you will use for your current pages. Keep embellishments simple - you do not want the decorations to detract from the photo.

Basic tools

Scissors A good sharp pair are invaluable for cutting clean lines and intricate shapes and corners

Craft knife and metal ruler -For cleanly cutting paper, card and photos.

Punches These are plastic and metal tools used for cutting out shapes, available in a huge selection of styles from flowers to hearts. You can also buy border punches or decorative scissors to create pretty edges.

Acid-free pen For journalling (explained later). Initially, buy a black pen as this always looks professional and stylish. Avoid ballpoint pens as they cause indentations.

As you progress with scrapbooking you will find there are many tools that save you time and are well worth investing in, such as templates and die cutters.

All the above-mentioned materials and tools should be available in your local art and craft shops. You can also order all these items online.

Easy steps to follow

These are the key steps to follow to make your first successful scrapbook album.

Theme Decide on a theme for your scrapbook. Ideas include: a child's first year; special occasions - christening, wedding, birthdays etc; family tree - great to create for grandchildren; holidays; pets; school days. Bear in mind that it's easier to start with your most recent event/photos and work back!

Photos Choose your photos. Usually no more than three per page works best. Select the best photo as the focal point.

Card Select background card to co-ordinate with the photo. Different colours and textures will complement the photo in different ways.

Cropping Crop your photos. This means cutting elements, such as unwanted background, out of the photo to create visual impact.

Matting This means adding a coloured background (or mount) to your photo. It's a great way of highlighting the photo and adding colour to the page. Stick the photo onto your chosen card or paper and cut around the edges leaving a border.

Layout Decide on the layout of the page allowing space for photo(s), title, journalling and embellishments.

Decoration Add embellishments to the page. The photo is the most important piece on the page and should be emphasised and not overwhelmed by decoration!

Title Decide on a title for your page and how to mount it. It could be handwritten, printed on paper, or adhesive letters.

Journalling Add the finishing touch to each scrapbook page by including information about the photo, such as who, what, where, when and why. This is called journalling and provides information telling the story of the photos. Journalling styles are best kept simple, ie captions, bullet points. It's easy to make a smudge or spelling mistake so journal onto card and stick this on, rather than journalling straight onto an album page which you can't undo!

Easy idea for beginners

Keep it simple! The most stylish scrapbooks are those which are uncluttered and simplistic and don't distract from the photo. For some simple scrapbook layouts and ideas to get you started try these projects:

Research in books or on the internet for scrapbook layout ideas. To start with, choose a layout to copy - once you have a layout it's easy to personalise it by changing the colours and embellishments to suit your photos. Arrange all the photos and embellishments in the right place first before sticking them in place to avoid mistakes and make any adjustments.

Get inspiration from:


Clean & Simple: Scrapbooking: The Sequel by Cathy Zielske

Scraptastic by Ashley Calder

Modern Memory Keeper by Ronee Parsons

Show it Off published by Memory Makers Books

Cut Loose by Crystal Jeffrey Rieger

Need to Know? Scrapbooking published by Collins

The Best of British Scrapbooking & Cardmaking by Joanna Campbell Slan

Finding the Right Words by Beverly J Daniel


There are many scrapbooking classes running throughout the country. To find your nearest class search the internet, or visit and Both sites list scrapbooking classes in your area. Alternatively, ask at your local art and craft shop - they may even run classes themselves.


Local art and craft shops are good sources of supplies. Visit:

Hobbycraft for everything you could possibly need and more!

Paperchase for funky card, paper and decorative items.

WHSmith for tools and materials

Lakeland for tools and materials


There are so many websites selling scrapbooking supplies so it is definitely worth having a search around for the best prices. Try: - great for children's supplies

You might also like...

10 stylish scrapbooks to buy
Make a holiday scrapbook

Make a birthday scrapbook

Learn a new craft: beginners' guides to lots of potential new hobbies


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