Scrapbooking on a Budget

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Scrapbooking on a Budget

Scrapbooking can be expensive -- anyone who's browsed around a craft store can tell you that! But there IS a way to enjoy this hobby with out breaking the bank! Join us for this 10 week series and learn tips and techniques to help you save big without compromising quality!


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Isn't technology great?! It allows us all sorts of fun options when it comes to scrapbooking. You can include things like audio clips (for FREE) with just a few clicks of your mouse! (This technique is great for handmade greeting cards and a plethora of other projects as well.)

 If you don't know a lot about QR codes (Quick Response Codes) they let you link to digital items, such as audio clips,videos, webpages etc with a quick scan from your smart phone or tablet. It might sound complicated, but it's not. There are tons of free QR code generators out there. I like The QR Code Generator. There, you can simply type in a URL, message, contact info, etc and it quickly generates a QR code file you can save to your computer.

But to create your QR code, you'll first need a file/link to use. Since you're creating audio or video clips for a scrapbook page, you'll need to make the file you want to use accessible to future generations who read it, by saving it in a public cloud file. Yes, I said public. That means you'll want to be EXTRA CAREFUL about not including personal information in your clips. Stick to more safe content -- if you wouldn't want to share it publicly on your Facebook page, don't make it into a clip for your scrapbook in this way.

QR codes link directly to the file you design them to link to, but it's still possible for viewers to also see other items saved in the same public folders. So make sure that each project you link to is in it's own, public folder in your cloud drive. There are a lot of cloud drives out there to check out if you're not already using one. Google Drive, One Drive, Box, Amazon Cloud Drive, just to name a few.

From your cloud drive folder, find the option to "get shareable link" for your file and copy paste that link into the applicable blank field on The QR Code Generator  to receive your code. Save the file for this code to your computer or device. This code can be added to digital projects or printed and used traditionally.   

Try using this technique on your next round of holiday cards, record a birthday greeting or to send out Thanks and tell (or sing!) your greetings to friends and family. 
You don't need to spend a fortune buying up all the latest gadgets. I know it's tempting. There's a lot of really cool stuff out there! And sometimes it's okay to splurge. But do you really need all that? Make every purchase count. Try to look at the cost-per-use of an item. Will you use it twice a year? A couple times a month? If you're able to use an item for a wide variety of projects, it might warrant spending a little more. Stock your craft space with quality items that will last and get more done with less.

My electronic cutting machine is my number one go-to machine. There are a lot of great machines out there, but I've always loved my Cricut. Their new machine, the Explore Air, does it all. Well worth the investment. Not only can you draw and cut with it -- wirelessly! -- you can utilize their app on your tablet or smart phone to further customize your projects. You can even cut all sorts of materials such as: paper, vellum, vinyl, iron-ons, Washi Tape, craft foam, specialty papers, chipboard, aluminum cans (yes I said aluminum cans!) felt, fabric, denim, burlap, leather, Balsa wood, magnetic sheets and more! This machine is so great, we've dedicated an entire page to it

Manual cutting tools are also important for scrapbooking and a variety of other crafts. I keep a selection of cutting tools on hand, starting with my craft knives, ruler and cutting surface. Read more on my cutting tools essentials page here.

A bone tool is also a must. You're not only going to need this to get those perfect, sharp creases, but you'll also use it to score lines or burnishing with ink. You don't need anything fancy here. A basic Bone Folder will work

Another item (well, items) that you're going to use a lot are your pens. Make sure that you buy quality pens that will last. Not only will you use pens to color in items, but you'll also use them to blend, highlight, shade and more. Sometimes you'll want a brush nib, sometimes a bullet. The Chameleon pens do all this -- with one pen and are definitely worth the investment. You can even change the color tone with one pen! And with replacement cartridges and nibs, these pens are very affordable and made to last. Another item I felt so strongly about I gave it it's own page. Check out videos and tutorials using these pens on our website here.

Invest in an embossing machine that works with a variety of company's dies. I love my Cuttlebug.  It's reliable, stable and gets the job done, and I love that it folds up for crafting on the go. Use can use this simple, hand-turn crank machine for die cutting and embossing. To learn more about what you can do with this versatile machine, click here.


Week 1: Enhance it with Audio
Week 2: Invest Wisely
Week 3: On Top of Organization


Organize, organize, organize. I can't say this enough. If you can't find it, you won't use it. And you'll probably waste money buying extra supplies and materials you don't need. Don't be afraid to think inside the box on this one. Boxes are a great way to keep supplies separated and in order so you can find them quickly and easily. I purchased these two 9 cube shelving units online from Amazon.  They are just shy of 12" -- so not great for storing 12" x 12" scrapbooking supplies, but they have been a great spot to store tools, materials and supplies that I use on a regular basis.  Notice all the boxes within the boxes? Upcycle shoe, shipping and other small boxes to store like items that can easily be pulled and brought to your work station. I use smaller boxes to store things like: ink pads, adhesives, pens, scrap paper bits, quilling supplies, glitter and flocking, candle making supplies, beads, decorative staples, eyelets, brads and more! Clear containers are my favorite -- then you can see everything you have at a glance. If you're ready to invest in your organization, Create for Less has some really great deals you won't find in your local brick and mortar stores, so stop by their website and check out some of their great deals on organizational and storage items. 

Check out some of our past organizational tips here!
Week 4: Garage Sale Scores
Have you ever started a new craft / hobby, only stuck with it a short while, then moved on? Guess what?! You're not alone! This happens more than you might think! Garage sales are a great way to score inexpensive crafting supplies and meet fellow crafters.  Check your local paper for upcoming garage sale listings, or spontaneously stop by unlisted sales when driving by. You won't always score big, but the times you do may warrant the time you spent at the rest.

I've found everything from: beads, lace, fabric, candle making supplies (which spurred a new hobby for me!), old windows (you'll see these used in an upcoming tutorial!), wood for random projects, electronic cutting machines/cartridges, paper crafting supplies, decorative edged scissors, organizational items and more. One of my favorite parts about craft garage sales are meeting local crafters. Odds are, if they're selling craft supplies, they probably used them at one point in time -- so just ask! If nothing else, they can probably give you some pointers for the supplies you're purchasing, and you might even make a new craft friend!

If you're looking to round up some extra cash to spend on your craft hobby (or something else), think about going through your own supplies and holding a garage sale yourself! Are there things you don't use any more? Someone else might like to! Listing your sale in a local paper or online site can help bring in traffic -- especially if you specifically mention some of the items you're unloading. 
Week 5: Make Your Own Embellishments
Buying pre-made embellishments can be very expensive! Learn to make your own and you'll save a small fortune -- and be able to add an extra, one-of-a-kind touch to your projects.  

Search through our library of embellishment tutorials here or pre-order our upcoming e-book. This paper crafting e-book has an entire chapter dedicated to just embellishments! Having a few essential tools will also aid you in creating professional looking embellishments. A sheet of embellishments is typically a few dollars, but invest that money into your tools and you can create your own for a fraction of the cost! And if you can afford one, an electronic cutting machine will change. your. life
Week 6: Love Your Penmanship
Dies, stickers, stamps, rub-ons -- there are a lot of ways you can spend money on adding text to your projects. But take it from a genealogist who pours over historical family documents almost daily -- YOUR OWN handwriting it by far preferred.  Have you ever come across your great grandfathers signature on a WWI draft card? Or your great-great grandmother's signature on her marriage certificate? (Did you know you were once considered a "spinster" marrying at 21 years of age?!) 

With a little practice, and a few easy tricks, you too can learn to love your penmanship. And future generations (and your bank account) will thank you! I still have a ways to go until I "love" my own, but I'm definitely getting there! Check out this awesome tutorial by Amy -- the One Artsy Mama. If her post can help ME, I Know it can help you! ;)
Week 7: Paper Stacks Are Your Friend
Paper stacks are a great way to save big! Pick one out that matches the project you want to work on (if you can, stock up when they go on sale!) and use it for both backgrounds and to make embellishments that match! It can cut your cost per 2 page layout, from upwards of $20 (with purchased, pre-made embellishments) down to less than $5!!! Layer similar -- or different -- shapes together to create interesting borders and edges. Use your favorite punches to create decorations to adorn your pictures and try layering them with dimensional adhesive for a 3D look. The sky is the limit for what you can make with the paper from these stacks. Below are just a few examples of pages I've done from paper stacks (and a few other items I had on hand.)  You can recreate these layouts with the paper stack of your choice, or use them for inspiration to design your own!
Week 8: Build it with Love -- And Safe Materials
"Do it right the first time!" This has probably been my dad's biggest lesson for me in life. I even have the saying on a magnet on my fridge. But it's so very true. Do it right the first time, and you (or someone else) won't have to do it again later. If you don't create your scrapbook with high quality, archival materials you may be accelerating it's aging process. Brush up on your scrapbook preservation tips here, and prolong the life of your artful storytelling for future generations.  
Week 9: Back it Up -- Just In Case
Back it up -- just in case. Cause let's face it, sometimes really awful things happen that are out of our control.  Having a back-up of your treasured album couldn't hurt, and might save you some heartbreak in the future. I recommend making a digital copy of each page (easy to do these days with even a smart phone!) and save it to a cloud drive, or better yet, burn it onto disk as pack it away somewhere safe -- like a safe deposit box or fireproof safe. Whether you're on a budget or not this is a free step you can't afford to skip. Your future generations will thank you!  
Week 10: Waste Not, Want Not. 
Always save your scraps!
Once you've mastered making your own embellishments, you'd be amazed all the great decorative elements you can make with your scraps, large and small! Save and sort them by size and color, and you'll always have "that perfect color" to use down the road on random projects that come up. You'll save yourself a ton by not cutting into that fresh 12"x12" just to make one tag. These above tags were made using only scraps, but don't limit yourself to tags! We have a trove of "paper scrap" uses, and if nothing else, you can always use it to make your own handmade paper!
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