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Scrapbooking Q & A : Organization + Storage, Work + Life + Finding Time


I know organization for myself, like many others, is an evolution. How are you currently storing your most commonly used tools and all of the new products that you get? I generally forget what I have before i get a chance to use it unless I leave it out - which then creates a mess on my already limited workspace!
Posted by: cherylp

I feel all too familiar with the mess issue. In fact, just working on answering these questions spurred me to do some much needed picking-up and purging. Commonly used tools are stored close at hand:


The red tool box holds adhesives, pens, scissors, silver mini brads, rulers, craft mat, etc. To the left is the metal basket cart you will see below and behind the table is a metal shelf unit that holds baskets and other containers as well as my sewing machine and black boxes for photos. This table also has storage shelves underneath and two drawers on the backside that hold other commonly used tools.

How do you store your ribbons? Any other favorite storage ideas? I am just moving into a new house and working to improve the organization of my supplies and my space. I seem to struggle most with stickers and ribbons as well as large punches.
Posted by: alexandriamom


Ribbons are stored in a soft basket (pretty sure this came from Ikea). I don't mind them being all jumbled together - pretty easy to dig in here when I want to find a ribbon to use on a project. I used to store them in a glass jar (or two) but what I found was that is was much tougher to dig around in the jar than it is in the basket.


The top drawer of a chest is used to hold small glass jars filled with metal embellishments such as decorative brads, metal rings, jewelry tags, clips, etc.


Stickers and stored in containers such as the light green tray with handles above. I like finding trays, baskets, etc. at junk stores and using them for storage (especially since I like open organization so I can see what I have on hand).


Other embellishments generally stay in packages and are stored in this baskets on a metal shelf from Costco. I found these baskets online at Target a few years ago in their clearance section.


Punches are stored in a metal basket drawer (I think this one came from Cost Plus and was marketed as a kitchen storage cart) that sits right to the left of my table.

How do you store your acrylic stamps? This has been a big challenge for me. I have many of my stamps in binders, but because I cannot see them (they are not out in the open), I tend to forget what I have. Any suggestions?
Posted by: Erin Taylor

I haven't found a good solution for this one yet either. Right now mine are in a basket and in small piles on a shelf below my wood-mounted stamps. I have some in binders too and run into the same issue - out of sight, out of mind. Anybody have any great solutions for clear stamp storage?

Did you post something a while back about a Clear Square Planter that you used to store supplies? I finally found mine and can't remember who did something cool with it.
Posted by: Cindy


Here you go - I use it to store junk mail, brochures, random pieces of paper, etc.

Do you archive your scrapbook pages in any way (in case of flood, fire, etc.)? (Photograph or scan.... if so, what kind of scanner do you use?)
Posted by: Sarah (Hutchinson, MN)

My scanner is an Epson Perfection 2480 Photo (here's an updated version of that model). I have had it for years and it has been a real work-horse. I do scan in all my layouts since most are used for publications or projects that require submitted images. Layouts are then stored on my external hard drive and burned to DVD.

How do you organize 'word cofetti'? (that is, words on little strips of paper... hubbie bought me a pack but it overwhelms me!)
Posted by: Mary

Stuff like that I usually put in a box or a basket for easier digging (kinda like the ribbon storage referenced above).

I would love to know how you organize your craft room??!!
Posted by: Melissa

In addition to the ones posted above you can see a bunch of photos of my room here. And here's the blog post that goes along with those photos: Around The Room. Most of these photos are from Feb + March of this year and the room is still pretty much in the same configuration.

What kind of albums do you use for your 8x11 or 12x12 layouts and why?
Posted by: Samara

I use 12x12 3-ring binder brown cloth albums from American Crafts for all my layouts (of all sizes). Here's a whole post that showcases the interior of one of my albums: Anatomy of An Album.

Just wondering how you organize your patterned paper? I just bought stackable paper trays & am attempting to organize by color...which also means all of the paper that comes in a pack is being separated. Have you found a better method?
Posted by: Katrina

I organize my patterned paper by manufacturer mainly because I need to keep track of that for publications. I use a large stand-alone paper holder Display Dynamics for most of my patterned paper. Cardstock and page protectors and transparencies are stored in 12x12 stackable trays.

How do you store and organize your supplies, especially your photos?
Posted by: Melissa

Printed photos are stored in file drawers (see the photo above with the four black boxes on my metal shelf unit. Older photos are currently in boxes in a closet in my hallway - many of the stories have been scrapped already so I am in the process of deciding how I want to store those long term.

At this time I am not printing out all my photos (I go back and forth on this one all the time). I back them up to an external hard drive (organized by month) and burn to DVD's. I print out 8.5x11 contact sheets so I can see what photos are on each DVD for later reference.

Any suggestions for those that only have a teeny tiny space to work with? What about suggestions on portability? For example, those that have to create at the kitchen table and have to put it all away before dinner? Any suggestions for ease of lugging craft supplies and photos to crops away from home?
Posted by: Val in Ohio

If I didn't have an office in my house I would definitely want a way to "put away" all my stuff in between projects. A dresser or a trunk or some piece of furniture that can act as storage for supplies would probably be the way I would go if that was my situation. My office space is filled with stuff but the rest of my house is much more sparse and closed storage is utilized whenever possible. I am a big fan of dressers and bureaus that can hide extra stuff for the dining room, living room, etc.

For going to crops I am a fan of page planning/project planning in advance. Set yourself up for success by making yourself a kit of things you plan to work on at the event - don't take everything you own (you'll find yourself back in that "not getting anything done because I am taking too long to decide what to use" mode) and don't bring more than you really need. In fact, take the least amount of stuff you can get away with. By spending a bit of time planning before you go you will actually free yourself up to be able to work (or chat or shop) at the event.



Do you have a routine each day where you spend a certain amount of time doing house stuff, Simon stuff and scrapbook stuff? I find that when I get a project idea it totally consumes me and I let other things fall apart until I have to attend them. Can you imagine my family wants to eat? lol Anyway I work away from home and I really want to start to do more creative stuff but it's hard to fit it into my schedule.
Posted by: Peggy

One of the things I like about working from home is that I have a fairly flexible schedule. Most days - especially during the routine of the school year - I am in my office working from 8am until 3pm or so when Simon gets home. Then, depending on what I have on my list, I will stop for awhile and hang out with Simon, make dinner, etc and then maybe go back to work in the evening (or not).

I know what it feels like to be consumed by a project and I know what it feels like to be bummed out that there are other things I am responsible for other than just having a great time making stuff. When I get into a project that is really consuming I will take a bit more time with planning other things in advance (like dinner) to minimize things falling apart. I will get the crock-pot going early and fix something simple or we will just eat popcorn + cheese + apples some nights (usually that is what Simon and I have if Chris is working late or out of town). I also have a fairly understanding husband who I can ask to cook dinner/take care of getting Simon ready for bed if I am really into something.

I have also found that sometimes when I am consumed with something I am much quicker at taking care of other stuff like dishes and laundry so I can get back to my project.

How do you find the time!? I've just adopted a 16 month old and now have a real excuse to scrap but I no longer seem to have any time or I'm just too tired!!! Help!
Posted by: Vicky

For me, this is a full time job. When the new baby comes early next year it will be a whole new adjustment that we will have to prepare for and tackle one day at a time (and probably get some additional help). Right now my work consists of a bunch of different things from blog writing to planning projects to designing digital products to scrapbooking to financial issues to organizing, etc. The number one thing I don't do is scrapbook everyday. There is never a dull moment or a lack of things to do on my list.

I am familiar with the tired feeling too. This is another spot where I think we put too much pressure on ourselves thinking we really "should" be scrapbooking (and then some horrible guilt feelings tend to crop up - there should be no guilt in scrapbooking).

If scrapbooking is something you really want to do I suggest carving out some time during your day and dedicating it to just that. Maybe you currently watch TV for a certain amount of time or read books or mess around on the computer or something else - take some of that time and make it your scrapbooking time. Maybe it is only a half hour - you can actually get a lot done in a half hour if you do it each day of the week. Break tasks down into smaller chunks: print or upload photos one day, plan your page another day (gathering supplies, etc), start assembling another day, jot down stories so you have them ready to go, etc. There's quite a bit that can be done in smaller chunks of time.

1. How did you break into the business of scrapbooking?
2. How do you balance the stuff that you do for WORK (assignments, etc.) and the stuff that you make because you simply WANT to? (and stay inspired to accomplish BOTH)

Posted by: michelle

1.Here's a link to the AE : FAQ which tells the story of how I got started: FAQ.
2. I am really pretty lucky in that the stuff I want to make gets to be the stuff I need to make (for my job) most of the time. There are a couple projects I want to do right now that are not work related (one is painting some large canvases for our dining room). Projects like that I tend to try to do on the weekends now and keep my regular creative work during the week.

How do you keep on top of all of things you do? Working, being a wife and mother, living your life? Do you limit the amount of time you spend on the computer, writing your blog, surfing the net? Do you have a set schedule for these things?
Posted by: telisj

I am working on finding a schedule for myself work-wise during the week. Lately I have been planning many my blog posts in advance (which is why many of them post at 5am - I set them to post at that time). Like I mentioned above, when at all possible I work "regular" hours as if I went to work in an office and then try to break away once Simon comes home from school. Things don't always work out just that way, but that is my goal. Chris and I are both in jobs that really don't work 9am-5pm most of the time (and don't have to - which is really nice...the downfall is that we often find ourselves working all the time). He is in and out to meetings and events so we are both pretty flexible in terms of finding time to do things as a family, taking breaks, etc.

These days I don't spend a lot of additional time on the computer just messing around. If I am on here I am designing something, emailing, composing blog posts, scanning, uploading, burning, researching, etc. There's just not enough time to get lost in the depths of the internet (not to say that it does not happen from time to time for sure).


Q & A posts :
MiniBooks/Sharing Your Story/Supplies
Design/Inspiration/Finding Your Style
Events/Teaching/Internet/Creating Keepsakes/Misc.
Hybrid/Digital Scrapbooking/Photoshop
Excess/Feeling Behind/Overwhelmed/Purging/Donating Supplies
Organization + Storage/Work + Life + Finding Time
Scrapbooking Baby/Getting Started + Design Teams/Telling Your Story
Techniques/Photography + Printing

Related Posts

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32 thoughts

  1. sara says…

    In answer to the "not having workspace" question...
    I live in a small condo and have no extra room for a craft area. I downsized some of my clothing area and took a closet (regular bedroom size), took the doors off, put up a curtain and called it my "alcove." It fit a desk perfectly and was already equipped with shelves for storage since it was a closet. It didn't take away any space from the room and I can close the drapes if I want it closed off to hide any mess.
    It's not a perfect solution, but it's an idea for those in small spaces. You can see photos here:
    Hope that helps someone!

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  2. Candice PJ says…

    I am loving this Q&A thing you got going - so informative!
    In regards to the acrylic stamps organization, I keep mine in empty CD jewel cases. Since the cases are see through, I can quickly go through my stack and see what I want, and since the cases are plastic, the stamps stay put!
    Here's another question for you (in case you just don't have enough - lol): Often times my pages have a ton of 3D embellishments and I am having a hard time storing them in the plastic sleeves in my albums. They tend to get smooshed and/or the page protectors get wrinkled and warped. What do you recommend?

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  3. Erin says…

    Speaking of time, how do you even find the time to answer in depth all these questions! Thank you SO much for making the time to answer these questions-you ROCK! Erin :)

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  4. Karen Kelly says…

    Hi, Ali! I've really enjoyed reading all of the Q&As you've been posting. Very informative. Just wanted to share that I store my acrylic stamps using the Clip it Up system. You can hold a good number of sets on one system!

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  5. Linn says…

    I have my stamps in a silver box (like the ones on your shelf from Ikea) without the lid and can flip through them like a rolodex to see what's in there easily. Thanks for the answers on time management. That's the hardest part, I think.

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  6. misti says…

    Hi Ali, I haven't had questions but I've really enjoyed reading all of the q&a you've shared. You are always an inspiration.

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  7. sherrieg says…

    I LOVE the 'mon petit chateau' sign! :)

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  8. dr berry says…

    I have throughly enjoyed reading all these Q&A segments, thanks so much for sharing. I can only dream of working from home doing something this creatively fun & get paid for it.
    I have a suggestion for acrylic stamps. I also fit into the category of outta-sight, outta-mind when it comes to using my supplies. So for acrylic stamps hang a piece of plexi-glass on the wall & stick the stamps to it. Kinna a cool inspirational art piece.

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  9. Diane says…

    I have a suggestion for storing clear acrylic stamps. Well, not so much storage as how to remind yourself of what you have when they are stored away. Everytime my scraping partner and I buy a new stamp set we stamp the whole set on a piece of paper which is then stored in a binder of "inspiration". All the stamps are sorted into categories, i.e., Nature, Animals, Words & Alphabets, etc. Not only does this help us to remember what we have it provides great inspiration when you're stuck. We keep samples of the stamps from magazines or layouts etc. with the stamp set it corresponds to.

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  10. Vicki says…

    Hi Ali- you asked if anyone had a good way to store clear stamps. YES - at least it works for me.I find I do not use what I cannot see. My local rubber stamp store(which is just the greatest place) sells white plastic cling sheets that fit a three-ring binder. I removed all of the clear stamps from the original packaging and arranged them on the cling-sheets. Then I put the cling-sheets in a large school binder that zips shut all the way around. I have several of these and all I have to do is open the binder and see all of them rather than digging in a box. I keep the original design sheet in the pouch in the front of the binder. Hope that gives you an idea.

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  11. debby says…

    I am truly loving these Q&A's. I'm learning so much and everyone is asking the right questions.

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  12. jackie says…

    Ali, thanks for sharing! the q&a is great! i am just wondering how you keep on schedule with everything you have going on. do you keep a running to do list, a day planner, or something online? thanks again.

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Camille says…

    "are both in jobs that really don't work 9am-5pm most of the time (and don't have to - which is really nice...the downfall is that we often find ourselves working all the time)."
    Man Ali, this is SO me (and my hubby)! This topic has just come up in conversation a few times over the last couple of weeks too. We've been in business almost 7 years and I *still* struggle with that balance, that discipline.
    So anyway, how you described it, just struck such a chord with me. And for some reason, it just makes it a little better when ya know you're not alone. = )
    p.s. Won't be able to come to the Sept. bummed! I'll make it to one one of these days--Christmas will be a year since I met ya and was at your house! Time flies waaay too fast. I'm so excited for you, Chris, and Simon and the pending arrival. = )

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Joanna says…

    Val, From Ohio-
    I, too, have a small space. Years ago I tore out an article from CK titled 'Embrace your Space'. With that article as my inspiration, here's what I've done with my small space:

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  15. Kerry says…

    Hi Ali. Thanks so much for answering both of my questions. I am always looking through Life Artist because I swear I always find something I didn't see before and I've paid lots of attention to the Disney album. Great inspiration. I don't know if you are answering any more questions but I thought of another one. How do you go about keeping all of Simon's projects and school papers organized? Have a great weekend!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Sue says…

    Ali -
    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! for running this again and adding more information. I meant to print out some of your tips for organizing your work space the last time you did this, and then it went off the front page and I never was able to find it in the archives.
    If I may make a suggestion - could you add these posts to a link on the side of your blog to make them accessible always? There's a lot of good information here, and I would hate to lose it again.
    Thanks again!
    PS - I'm in the middle of the Twilight series myself, so the big question is...are you an Edward or a Jacob fan :-)?

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  17. Emma says…

    HI Ali
    Love reading all the answers to the questions.
    I know you have written you odn't have time to search the net but I have just started my own blog space and would love you to have a look and comment on my work. I am a 24 year old who lives in an area in outback New South Wales (Australia) where no one in a 2km radius does anything like I do.
    I am only starting out with the blog but you have to start from somewhere.
    Thanks for all your great ideas. I really enjoyed the weekend challenges.

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  18. gabby says…

    thank you ali once again!
    I have been storing my acrylic stamps in cd cases with the middle bit taken out. friends who are tidier than me store tha cd's within boxes. hope you are feeling energised and able to enjoy the second trimester.

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  19. Victoria says…

    This comment isn't on this post in particular but on your blog and especially the links and quotes lists. WOW. I just found htis blog tonight in a link from "The Comfy Place" and WOW! I am going to be exploring here for months, learning and using the links. Thank you.

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  20. Lyra says…

    These Q & As are great! I liked the suggestion of stamping the image (for acrylic stamps) on a piece of paper. My solution to the too-many-stamps-to-remember-them issue was to do a database (Excel). It only took a couple hours and now I can see what stamps I have according to category (e.g. Christmas, animals, etc), brand, etc. I blogged about it here:

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  21. Shirley says…

    On a recent vacation in the US, (I am Canadian), I bought a plastic clamshell case for my clear stamps. It is similar to a large CD case and it fits into a 3-ring binder. You can put 2 layers of stamps in one unit. It was very reasonable in price... maybe $3.00. (Cannot locate the receipt). The company who makes these is Stamp Keepers and the product number is 50615. I probably should have bought more because I have not seen these in Toronto yet. Hope this helps.

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  22. lisa truesdell says…

    i recently bought the new MM stamp envelopes - but not the binders. i have them in a basket and am loving it. it's easy to flip through them to find what i need. way better than my previous solution, which was to throw them all into a little suitcase where they stuck together into a giant clear stamp clump. ;)

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  23. Teresa says…

    I store my clear stamps in a binder with page protectors. It's super easy to find what you need.
    I don't know if you will answer more questions...I have one:
    You said you store left over pictures in your hallway closet. Did you ever think about putting them into normal photo albums or something like that? Or do you have another idea? I just don't want to throw away my left over photos.

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  24. Marie Moser says…

    You asked about storing clear acrylic stamps: I am just beginning to buy these as I was intimidated by stamps/stamping and their price for quite some time. But now some companies are selling their stamps a la carte for like 99 cents, so I find myself picking them up a lot more.
    So back to the question: Since most of my stamps are individual versus large sets, I have gone to using old CD covers (not the side where the CD sits, but the cover) since they are clear. I then take the plastic sheet that the stamp is mounted on and adhere it to the cover. This way they are easily accessible and you can see them AND they have a place to go back to! I love it.

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  25. Lily says…

    Wow, what a wealth of information. thanks for taking the time to put all this out there. Congrats on the pregnancy

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