Scrapbooking Q & A : Techniques, Photography + Printing


I have a question that has been bugging me for a while. The strips of journaling that you and everyone else use so often. I can never seem to make my strips the same width/size using the paper cutter. I end up triming with the exacto and that works sometimes and others not so much. How do you do it??
Another question. When I paint large spaces on a layout the paper seems to get all warped - is there a way to prevent this?

Posted by: Jen

I use a trimmer or an x-acto too - sometimes they turn out better than others. Most of the time mine are not exact either and I just go with it. I think that is part of the nature of handmade crafts.

As for the painting on cardstock, that happens to me too. I think it has to do with the weight/consistency of the paper. I just work with that too and try not too worry about it too much. One thing you can do is let it dry and then place it under some heavy books to flatten it out.

1. Do you have any tips on writing on TEXTURED cardstock? Mine just doesn't turn out.
2. Do you print your pictures out differently when you going to be covering parts of them up? example: your Seattle Simon layout. If I tried this I would have all the faces covered.
3. Do you normally stamp directly on the main layout or do you stamp and then cut it out and adhere?

Posted by: {vicki}

1. I don't have any specific tips for writing on textured cardstock. Over the years I have just gotten used to the way a pen goes on (or doesn't completely) onto the textured cardstock. I have also changed to a Bazzill texture that is lightly lined (vs. orange-peel) - that seemed to help. Lily white is my favorite Bazzill white.


2. I don't think that I print them differently most of the time. Instead I move them around (4x6 photos) on the page before cropping to figure out their placement. I had to move the photos around a bunch on that Seattle Simon layout to get them in places where most of the main content of the photo is seen.

3. I do normally stamp right onto my layouts. Often I get a little extra ink on the page (one of the beauties of stamping for me is the imperfection) and just move forward with the design. If it is a major mess up I will cover it up with another element.

I see a lot of sewing on scrapbook pages... Is there a tension setting on the sewing machine that works well on cardstock? I am scared I would mess up a layout if I sew on it.
Posted by: Rachel Ann Paci

Good question - I wish I knew the answer. I know very little about the specifics of my sewing machine and just push the paper through if it starts to get tight. I am really all about messing around with the sewing machine. Anyone know of a source where someone talks about specifics related to sewing with paper?

I need some specific information. I love the font you have "Hello Life." but how do I get it and then how do I actually use it?
Posted by: Rebecca F.

Are you talking about this layout? The journaling on there is handwritten directly onto the photo. You can download an official font of my handwriting here.



Any advice for taking great pics? Your pics always look so rich. Do you photoshop them?
Posted by: wendy kwok


As photos, for me, often are the inspiration,
my question is about pictures . . . . I find that mine often don't
capture the moment. I come back to the computer to the computer and
find them lacking.
What do you keep in mind when you start snapping? Is it the angle, the color, the expressions??

Posted by: Beth Nixon

We take a ton of photos around here. Neither Chris nor I are anything near professionals when it comes to photography. What we are good at though is paying attention and having the camera out & available and taking the shots. We aren't afraid to get up close and then go far away. We change angles (from below + above) and move around the action. We are also unobtrusive (read more about that in a question below) and work hard to be a part of the experience as we are capturing moments.

I have found that the more photos I take the more
likely I will get at least one that captured the moment the way in which I experienced it or the way in which I saw it (emotionally,

As for Photoshop, I really like "natural" photos - meaning photos that have not been overly adjusted in Photoshop. The only editing I tend to do besides cropping and resizing is to lighten a photo that may be too dark. I am not big into using actions or other enhancements - part of that is because I think for me that can become another distraction from getting to the actual creating/telling stories.

I do know lots of people who view the post-processing experience as a part of their personal creative/artistic process. I completely understand and respect that choice as well.

I quite often feel overwhelmed by the amount of photos that I have. How do you overcome that feeling?
Posted by: Tracey Holdyk

I am a deleter. Because we take so many photos around here, more than I could ever work with and more than we would ever need, I
have gotten significantly more picky with our photos after uploading
them. Do I need 50 photos of Simon playing Star Wars from today?
Unlikely. I will keep 5-10 - maybe - if they are different enough and I
can envision using that many to tell the story. Part of this is that it is entirely possible I would take that many more of a similar play situation tomorrow.

For travel situations I am also picky. I love digital because I can take tons and tons of photos. I also love it because I can easily delete duplicates, horrible shots (a matter of opinion on what consists horrible - I don't always delete blurred shots), and just keep the ones I love the best - the ones that will best tell our story.

It is ok to delete some of your photos. You do not need to keep all of them, they can all too easily become part of all the excess.

You have really inspired me to take photos of everyday things - which I've been doing ever since my 2-1/2 year old daughter was a baby. However, she has gotten to the place that she HATES the camera & runs away or starts crying every time she sees that I have it out. I thought it was just a phase she was going through, so I backed off but... it's been going on for months, now, with no end in sight! Have you ever had something like this happen with your son & if so, what did you do about it?
Posted by: Shari

One of the things we have tried to do with the camera around here is be as unobtrusive as possible. It is rare, if ever, to hear me or Chris say, "Simon look over here. Look at the camera." Instead my goal is to capture him in his environment, doing whatever it is he is doing. Sometimes I am lucky and he will look up or look at me or I will get one of those great shots of him laughing - but those are all "in the moment" shots as I watch him experiencing life.

I have not had it happen where he cried when the camera is out. I think in that case, backing off (like you did) is a pretty good idea. Maybe you can start bringing it out when she is engrossed in something else - a toy, a book, playing at the park, etc. and begin re-introducing her to the camera in an unobtrusive way.

i love your enlarged pictures especially those that are 4X12 or 6X12. is there somewhere i could print them affordably online or at store? since i don't print my pics at home, having more options of shopping for pics would help alot!
Posted by: anna

I use and have been really pleased with their service - I love their enlargements.

What is the best way to print on transparencies/acrylic so that it does not smear? I have had a problem with that when I run a transparency through my printer.
Posted by: Jill

First, make sure that you are printing on the "rough" side. Second, make sure to select the correct paper type before printing (choose transparency or something similar). Third, let it dry a bit before working with the photo after it has been printed.

What is your photo upload/download process? Do you transfer pics weekly and then save to PC, send to photo gallery (like Shutterfly) and then do an EHD save? How to you manage all the pics? LOM way? (quarters and seasons)
Posted by: telisj

I backup and burn monthly right now. This is actually on my list of things to do this week. My photos are organized by months (inside of years) and I don't always send all of them to be printed. This has a lot to do with the way I work - often spur of the moment in terms of deciding sizes, etc. I like the instant use of my printer while in the middle of projects. From time to time I will send big uploads to for 4x6 printing.

My question is about your Printer-HP Photosmart D7360? Is it user friendly? Can you print different sizes? (i.e. wallets, 2x3, 4X6, & 5x7)??? What 'bout the quality? Is it slow or farely quick at printing?
Posted by: Dawn M.

I have been really happy with the HP Photosmart D7360 in all areas (quality, speed, ease of use). Very user-friendly. I usually print different sizes on a sheet of 8x5x11 HP Premium Plus Photopaper  (organized in Photoshop) but I know you can run 4x6 photo paper through there as well. I would say my photos are probably 60% printed on my home printer and 40% from

When you print your own photos, are you worried that because it's done on an inkjet printer the photos will fade?
Posted by: KazT

This is not really one of my concerns. HP claims their Vivera inks last for generations (105+ years) - I am not sure how accurate that is, but I have been really happy with the quality so far. Check back in a few years.

How do you organize your digital photos? I would love to see your folder structure. Do you tag your digital photos in any program?
Posted by: Cindi

Right now they are just ordered by year/month and within the month by event. I have not gotten into tagging them yet. It is not a sophisticated system, but it works so far.


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

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23 thoughts

  1. Armalite says…

    There's a really good tutorial about sewing on cardstock at:
    But it's in French.

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. nicole petersen says…

    good morning, ali
    i love your handwriting. the link didn't work, but i found one that did. thanks a LOT for offering it for free. you're a such an inspiration to those of us with yucky handwriting! here's the working link:
    have a great day & congrts on the new baby

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. jen davis says…

    Julia Stainton talks about machine stitching here:
    thanks for all the fun Q & A'a Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Joy says…

    Loving this series Ali!
    Quick tip about painting on cardstock...
    If you have a few seconds before beginning, use masking tape around the edges to hold it to a piece of scrap cardboard (paper packs usually have tons of these) or to your worktop itself, and then paint and let dry. It will keep the paper from warping up so substantially. You may have a few smaller ripples in the paper, but it's much less noticeable. I can't remember why I did this the first time, but now I always apply paint this way. It works wonders!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Linn says…

    I think the best advice of yours I've followed is to DELETE! I have been deleting tons of photos once I pick the few that tell the story, and it's made my life so much more manageable!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Shelly Kettell says…

    Thanks for all the great tips and info.
    Have a great day!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. alexandra says…

    Really enjoyed reading your thoughts/process in reference to photography and printing. So helpful!
    Thanks, Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Marie Moser says…

    Sewing Machines:
    The tension you use on regular items (should be preset to your machine unless you change it) should be just fine for scrapbook sewing projects. Here are some tips though:
    1) adhere what you are sewing to your page first (otherwise you are almost sure to sew something on crooked)
    2) when adhering, avoid putting adhesive on the edges OR where ever you are planning on sewing through (this is the main reason why paper gets "stuck" in the sewing machine, the needle gets gummy)
    3) after you finish, be sure to backstitch just a smidge to complete the stitch, otherwise your stitches may come loose.
    4) if what you are sewing through is really stiff or multi-layered, it would be best to do the stitching only on the first one-two layers and then adhere the element to the main LO, this way you still have the sewn on look without the headache of dealing with thick layers and jamming up your sewing machine.
    5) oil, oil, oil your gears!
    That's all!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Marie Moser says…

    Another comment about sewing machines:
    Gummy needles are an easy fix with a little cotton ball and a squeeze of Un-Do (the bestest adhesive remover on the market!).

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Deanna says…

    I'm reading your post this morning while my daughter sits next to me eating a combinationof goldfish crackers, a pretend waffle and pretend chocolate syrup. I'm never sure how to capture these things, but your post inspired me to just grab my camera anyway and snap a few. I got at least 3 that captured the activity before she started "cheesing" (she's 19 months). I love your book Life Artist and can't wait to get Mini Albums. Life Artist really helped me think about my work as art. Thank you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. sara says…

    I have found, since reading sites like yours, how much I prefer and now take "life photos" instead of "posed photos." The hardest part is getting people to not stop and smile... we are all so programmed to do it! (Even my dog stops and poses... I'm not kidding.)
    I've loved these question/answer/advice pieces. Thanks for taking the time to communicate with us!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. tchrtiff says…

    Thanks so much for all your time in answering all the questions. I really appreciate your answers and honesty. As always, you're such an inspiration and I've learned so much from you!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. anna says…

    as nerdy as i am, i am so excited you answered my q about the 4X12's and 6X12's. i will absolutely love the new website.
    thank-you for sharing your wealth of information, and making scrapbooking sound 'doable'! :)
    also loved what you said about stamping, inperfectioon is okay! hooray for inperfect me!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. kat-in-texas says…

    Thanks for doing all this Q&A for us. I'm soaking it up.
    (And Man! You're patient!)

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Melanie says…

    Hi! Thanks again for the Q&A.
    My Question is: My scanner is not 12x12. So how do I scan stuff in so I could, for example, submit it to a magazine? I have tonnes of layouts and I've tried just taking photos, but it's not the same. If you help, I'll be one step closer to publication! Whee!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Jodee says…

    You are awesome for ansering all of these questions! What wonderful answers. After reading this latest post, I have a question. You said you use HP premium plus photopaper. That is what I use. I notice that this paper gets fingerprints very easily. Do you notice this problem? Or is it just me? Or is it my printer? Just wondering your opinion. thanks Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Lily says…

    Thanks for another very informative post

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Lori Johnstone says…

    Thanks so much for this series, ALI! Loved it.
    About the machine stitching question...
    I just wanted to point out really quick, as I don't believe it was mentioned. You need to also use a heavier needle when machine stitching on pp. It is the same needle that the book for your machine recommends you use on denim.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. caro says…

    Hello Ali,
    I am really enjoying these Q+A's.
    Just a request on "how to make a photo mosaic" please?

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. Catherine Scanlon says…

    I don't usually have an issue with tension on my machine and stitch some pretty thick projects sometimes, even using chipboard with multiple layers of paper. Most of the time I use a size 14 Universal needle or a top stitching needle. Though, I can tell when it gets dull because my stitches start looking funny. It's a pretty big needle and will got through many layers of paper without any problems.
    When I teach sewing on paper classes the people that have the most problems with tension don't have their machine threaded correctly. Either the bobbin thread is not going in the correct direction or the top thread missed the tension adjustment spot.
    Have a great day!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. free scrapbooking printouts says…

    Wow I just keep learning so much about scrapbooking, I am finding those in the community are always willing to share, and your post is no exception, thanks!

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. free scrapbooking printouts says…

    thanks so much for the post, Ive been looking all over the web to learn more about my wifes favorite passtime in hopes of finding the perfect christmas gift.

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Nancy says…

    You are amazing. I look at your site everyday.
    How do you scan your information onto the computer? If I take pictures on my camera of my scrapbook pages they look aweful even though I think the pages look pretty good in real life?

    Reply 0 Replies

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