Scrapbook Supplies 101: What you really need to get started

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook)When I asked on Instagram what you guys wanted to learn for Scrapbook Sundays, the number one question was, "What supplies do I need to get started?" Many of you expressed a desire to keep the necessary supplies on a friendly budget. I get that, and I have good news—the way I like to scrapbook is honestly not that expensive. I don't have hundreds of supplies. In the past (several years/studios ago), I had a whole room full of supplies. A. Whole. Room.

And you know what? I have learned that I am way more productive with less things, because stuff overwhelms me. And while I am by no means a minimalist, I do have a little bit of an "if you don't love it, leave it" attitude. Now I am building a collection of stuff I actually use! More stuff does not equal more creativity, so don't stress about starting small. As with any hobby,  It's good to start small

I'm here today to share my list of "must have" supplies. You don't need to make a gigantic investment to start scrapbooking. You can get super creative with just a few basic things. If you can afford lattes, you can afford to make a scrapbook. I promise! 

Ready, set, go! 

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook) To start your first scrapbook or photo book there is only one supply you absolutely need—an album. 

Choosing your first album can be a lot of pressure because there are a lot of choices. My recommendation is to try all the sizes that interest you, one at a time, and see which one is your favorite. I have tried all the sizes through the years, and right now I am doing mini books (like these 4" x 4" albums) and 9" x 12" (my 9" x 12" albums are still in production). If you scroll through my archive you can see all the different sizes I've tried. 

Whatever you choose will be great, so just pick whatever you are most attracted to and get started! Albums are fun, but what really matters in what you put inside them—your memories. 

Above: 4" x 4" Mini Albums. If you try one of these be sure to get extra page protectors, because they can fit an extra two packs at least in each album; more bang for your buck. 

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook)  I love these little 4" x 4" albums. I'm working on one right now for my niece, Penny, about our trip to Harry Potter World. :) 

Okay, every single product after this is optional, but I want to share all the things that I love and use over and over again! 

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook)   Investment-wise, a home printer is the only tool I use for every single scrapbook page. You do not need a home printer to get started; there are a million different places you can print your photos. However, if you are thinking of making bigger purchases to benefit your scrapbooking hobby, this would be my first stop. I love and highly recommend the printer I have, the Canon PIXMA iP8720

Note: I have received tons of questions about how I print custom-sized photos from start to finish, what paper I love, etc. I'll be covering that here very soon! 

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook)    When you first start scrapbooking, the best supplies you can buy are things you can use over and over. Think of this in the same way as you would think of building a wardrobe. It's smart to focus on peices you can wear over and over again and not invest too much in trendy pieces or accessories that you'll only wear a few times. 

With that said, there are several items that I use over and over and over. Stamps are a big one. Good basics inks are another. Good quality paint is very important (paint is my #1 always). 

Above: I started storing my stamps in Handbook Albums because they have pages that are the sizes of all my stamps (I mostly have 4" x 6" size stamps and a few 6" x 8" and 3" x 4"). 

A quick rabbit trail! Many of you have asked how clear stamps work. It's easy! Here's how:

How acrylic stamps workHow acrylic stamps workHow acrylic stamps workClear stamps are more environmentally friendly to produce, easier to store, and cost less because you typically get more pieces per dollar than you could with wood-mounted stamps. 

They are super easy to use. Just peel them off and mount them to an acrylic block for stamping. You can buy acrylic blocks at most craft stores and on Amazon— I use this multi-pack. If you don't have an acrylic block, that's okay too. You can use basically any shiny surface to mount them to. So you can use your ink pad cover, a small cup or jar, a piece of recycled plastic packaging… lots of things. :) 

In our new shop, we have five sets of clear stamps, including these emojis and the florals pictured above. 

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook)     If you are on a tight budget, just start with black ink! I use it more than any other color. I love our formula, and I am also a huge StazOn fan (you can stamp on many different surfaces like plastic, metal, or leather with StazOn). 

Inks and stamps can be very addictive, but it's always good to start small and build your collection over time. 

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook)      If you are on a limited budget for stamps, start with alphabets! They are the most useful and versatile stamps out there! I have about six or so different sets, and I use them all the time for both scrapbooking and DIY projects. 

Current favorite alphabet sets: A Beautiful Mess outlined alpha, typewriter font, good basic

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook)       Paint! My first love. I use paint every single day. Since I design products, I often test out ideas with just paint, markers, or colored cardstock before I start the digital design process. You can make endless cards and papers with just cardstock, markers, and paint! My favorite inexpensive paints are Martha Stewart craft paints because they're heavy enough to use for DIY projects too.

Where I shop online: You might be surprised to know that I don't shop a million different places. One of the reasons we started our new shop was because we saw a real need for an awesome online crafting supply shop! Here are my favorite places to shop: A Beautiful Mess (obvs—I mean, we designed/picked everything out ourselves!), Ali Edwards (love her stamps), Studio Calico, Amazon (so useful for both basics and random finds. It's hilarious how many Amazon boxes we receive at our office each week.), Ashley Goldberg/Aha Arts (the best pattern-making stamps out there), Kelly Purkey (for general cool girl vibes), American Crafts (favorite letter stickers), and last but never least, Etsy (you can find just about anything from an Etsy seller! I shop there weekly.) 

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook)Need proof that you don't need tons of supplies to get started? This page was made with just white cardstock, paint, and one set of white letter stickers. That's it! 

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook)        Everything I own for paper crafting fits in this cart. All of it. You can totally get started with just a little crate that fits under your bed or into your closet! (My cart is Martha Stewart, by the way.)

Scrapbook Supplies 101 (what you really need to start your first scrapbook)          My number one tip for collecting the basic supplies for scrapbooking—only buy what you love.

Again, it's so much like shopping for clothing. You don't need more stuff; you need more stuff you LOVE. Clutter will never make you creative, so be selective and choose things that inspire you! You can be so creative with just a few basics. I hope this has been helpful and affirming to you today. If you're brand new to scrapbooking, let me know if you have any questions or road blocks. I'll answer you in the comments section. Happy Sunday! xx. Elsie 

Credits// Author and Photography: Elsie Larson. Photos Edited with Norma from The Folk Collection

  • Ok, first of all, that cart may be just what I was looking for!

    Second, I started scrapbooking when I found you online and in magazines, I don’t even know how many years ago. I’ve recently been trying to get back to it and I’m loving these new posts on it. Simplicity and using products you love truly do make a world of difference. So excited to see what else you’re creating!

    (and OHMYGOSH cannot wait to see your new 9×12 albums!)

  • I’m SUPER interested in doing a 9×12 scrapbook for 2015. Are you going to be making and/or selling scrapbooking albums and protectors in that size?

  • Can’t wait to see the photoshop class, I have the new software and can’t wait to use it. Where do you get inserts for photos for your small albums? I liked the ones that had 4 seperate compartments for pictures etc. xoxo shawn

  • I’ve never scrapbooked in my whole life, but your pictures just look so great I want to get into it. This blogpost would be a good start. Thanks!

  • Thanks Elsie!!

    I’ve tried scrapbooking with project life, but I think I’d also like to include some more traditional pages too.. When will all your scrapbooking materials be available in your shop? I need supplied but know if I buy now I’ll just wish I’d waited for yours 🙂

  • So excited!! I can’t wait. Share how you customize photos on softwares you use as Photoshop, etc.. 🙂

  • Hi Molly! Yes you can 🙂 -Jacki

  • Sooo,
    Don’t you go through ink in your printer like crazy! Every time I print photos I feel like I drain my ink SUPER fast?

  • Yay! This is what I commented for on Instagram! I love this and definitely want to start. Is there a way that I can buy all the ink colors from your shop? I love them!

  • I’ve learned that minimal supplies works best for me, too, especially at first. Sometimes I’ll pick one piece of scrapbook paper that really inspires me and fits with the photos I’m working with and then slowly build my other supplies around that piece of paper to make everything cohesive.

  • Hi girls 🙂 I just bought a Canon Pixma IP725 Printer last week and now I want to print all my photos and make scrapbook albums all day long!!! 😀 Ha-ha, I’m a bit crazy. Today my first scrapbook supplies arrived, so I can jump into that beautiful hobby again. I’m starting this week a Project Life album + a December Daily album soon! Thanks for your helpful tips Elsie! Everything you do is fantastic!!!

  • I am in love with this scrapbook sunday thing. Please keep it going!

  • I LOVE stamps. They’re probably my favorite thing to collect right now. :))
    I’ll be sharing more ways to use them soon!
    xx- Elsie

  • For my 9×12 albums there aren’t a lot of options out yet. Mine will be coming out soon, though! So for now I’ve been hacking these October Afternoon pages that have 3×3 squares and just cutting off one of the rows of squares. I have seen people sewing up Project Life papers too. 🙂
    xx- Elsie

  • Are there page protectors out that that have a variety of pocket sizes? Or do you usually have to sew your protectors to fit the size of photos you want?

  • I love love love scrapbooking! I haven’t done it in so long – this makes me itch to get back into it! Thanks for the inspiration and ideas. I’ll probably be heading to a craft shop soon enough.

  • I am one of those people who started small 10 years ago and quickly got hooked on the many ways to use scrapbook papers and stamps, besides the scrapbook process itself. I have a room full of supplies (a wall of stamps!) and have finally started reducing my stock to what I absolutely adore or I absolutely require. I think it’s terrific you are simplifying the process for your readers. I have two “lessons learned” items that are worth mentioning to those just now starting to scrapbook: Scrapbooks are for a lifetime, and then some…. use ACID FREE EVERYTHING ~ ALWAYS! Paper, adhesive, stickers, ink all contribute to the quality of your work, and the top priority to retain the quality of your photos. Additionally, over the years I’ve found that I love the consistency of 12×12 binders for family albums, that look good on bookshelves (scrapbooks are best stored upright)and hold a lot of photos — I now use only 3-ring black binders that will look good for generations, with quality insert sheets (Stampin’ Up’s line is top notch, but I’m sure there are others, as well.) Thanks again for highlighting this fun and relaxing way of capturing memories for family and friends 🙂

  • Thank you so much for this new post series. I love scrapbooking, but I’m always kinda scared by where to start 🙂

  • Awesome. I love every single post of yours. You are very creative and I have become fan of yours.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • I only have a small stack of supplies.
    Even smaller than yours I think. And I love it.
    I know for sure that if I would have a room full of supplies,
    I’d never get any scrapbooking done. I like my options
    limited and I like to be creative with what I have!

    By the way, great post! I have yet to invest in some stamps.
    I’m a little afraid stamps are going to be my new addiction once I get started 😉

  • Awesome post elsie…now i just want to scrapbook all the time…also i didnt know anything about clear stamp and since my english is not that good i had to read few times to understand what it was!!i’ll try to find some here (france) i just bought a mini album and an other size album to scrapbook all my travells…cant wait to be on this journey with you

  • This is my first time reading one of your ‘Scrapbook Sundays’ posts, and I see it was perfect timing! I’ve just started my own journey into scrapbooking, and have been totally overwhelmed by all the products and options and methods. I feel much better now, knowing that I can start minimally and build up!

  • This post has me extremely excited to start scrapbooking! I really enjoyed reading your post!

  • Love this stuff! I tried scrapbooking a while back but basically only got an album and printer…so it didn’t work out that well

  • Love love love.
    I’m going to start scrapbooking again!!! Just bought a cute floral album for five bucks at Michaels. Not sure if they’re on sale everywhere, but definitely worth checking out 🙂


  • I print with my home printer. I use photoshop to make them squares in the size I want and then I put them all on a 13×19 file to print them all at once. I’ll be blogging more details about the process soon! 🙂
    xx! Elsie

  • Hi Jari!

    I gave away SO much stuff to a few of my friends who also like scrapbooking. Back when my mom was an art teacher I used to send it to her school too! 🙂

    xx- Elsie

  • Hi Caroline!
    I’ll be working on that one in the next few weeks! 🙂 It’s super easy!!!

    We are about to launch a Photoshop e-course that covers pretty much everything about editing photos! It will be out in a couple weeks!

    xx- Elsie

  • I did scrapbooking for years and years. I tried to keep it minimal and I did. But, it was still enough stuff to make me realize….. most online photo printing places (Shutterfly, etc.) let you make amazing online scrapbooks. They are neat, clean, and don’t require even one bin of stuff to store and fuss with. Plus, there’s no chance that stuff will come unglued, yellow, fall off…. And, it is all saved online. That means it can easily be reprinted and replaced (or another copy made for a friend/relative.)
    It’s a fun hobby, but doing it online is just as fun and, I have to admit, more professional. No printers, no stickers, and the cost is less than the paper and doo-dads needed to scrapbook, even minimally.

  • Hi Elsie,

    How do you clean your stamps? Both clear and wood mounted.

    Thanks 🙂

  • This is such a helpful post, thank you! I’ve been wanting to start scrapbooking for over a year now but I had no idea where to start and now I feel inspired to really get my act together regarding scrapbooking!

    Beauty and Lifestyle Blog


  • I love scrap-booking and used to do it all the time, whilst I was studying at uni. Now I collect images on Pinterest, even though I do miss collating all my collected visuals in a scrapbook. You have inspired me and I must start!!

  • Love this!
    Just a question – how do I print my pics in squares like what you have?

  • We’ve been long-time readers, but gotta be honest and say this is the first Scrapbook Sunday post we’ve read! (shock!) Love this and you are so right that simplicity and working with fewer supplies is actually way more productive and helpful to the creative juices! Keep inspiring us! xo – R&R

  • We’ve been long-time readers, but gotta be honest and say this is the first Scrapbook Sunday post we’ve read! (shock!) Love this and you are so right that simplicity and working with fewer supplies is actually way more productive and helpful to the creative juices! Keep inspiring us! xo – R&R

  • Like you, Elsie, I was a scrapbook material collector. I have a whole room full still! But I need to let go of most of it, because like you said, I just don’t love it.

    I’m inspired to go minimal and start getting creative again. It’s time to make some albums for my family to cherish for years to come. Thanks friend!

    (What did you do with all your supplies you didn’t use anymore and wanted out of your house?)

  • Great post, I need to work on my scrapbook! The app freeprints is great for photos 🙂
    – Grace xx
    P.S. Would really appreciate it if you could check out my blog and maybe subscribe if you feel so inclined? <3

  • This really makes me want to give scrapbooking a go – although saying that I’m already massively addicted to washi tape and this has the potential to open a whole other can of worms!

  • These are some of my favorite posts! Can’t wait for the post on printing sizes and such. I bought a similar Canon printer, but haven’t been able to print much bc I’m not sure how to adjust the sizes to print multiples on the 13 x 19 sheets. Have you thought of offering a photo editing class for Lightroom? I have a few projects I’m itching to start, but have lots of photos waiting to be edited and printed first.

  • love this post. i just started scrapbooking and this is really helpful and inspirational. can’t wait for my next trip into town to get some supplies!
    xo, cheyenne

  • Love this feature on the blog and your post… this goes perfectly with Ashley’s paint plan play class I’m in now at SC…. loved the layout.. and you are right… some color some photos of your life and just one more thing.. that’s all you need.. sometimes, we tend to want more more more and what we need is less less less.
    xo loved this.
    xo bonitarose in FL

  • First of all, this is an awesome post! I am so excited for you guys and where you’re going with the blog and your franchise of beautiful things. Reading this blog is always a treat.
    I don’t scrapbook much, but I took a trip to Canada with my boyfriend this summer and I collected bits of things along the way with the intent of making us a book. I’ve been too intimidated by the idea of scrapbooking to get started, but this gives me some great pointers to know where to begin! Thank you for this!

  • This is such a good idea and I think I will definitely come back to this post when I come round to makeing one!

  • This is great advice! I just bought my first pack of stamps and am excited about using them. It’s good to know that even someone experienced tends to get overwhelmed when there are too many options. Now I’ll look at things at the scrapbooking store totally differently.

    Cool Gear Cavalier // Men’s Style and Lifestyle

  • Although i do not scrapbook (I don’t take many pictures), these posts are still inspiring for me. These ideas can be applied to making cards or all sorts of other things. I’m also overwhelmed with all of my supplies sometimes and it can actually hinder the process, making me unsure what I want to use, thinking how should I make this, etc.. Sometimes less is more! 🙂

  • I too am a big fan of these Sunday posts about scrapbooking. I love the Plastic Stamp Binder inserts that Studio Calico sells for stamp organization.

  • I used to love scrapbooking! This definitely inspires me to start again – would make such a sweet holiday gift!

    Warm Regards,

  • Uh, I really love scrapbooking! Your posts concerning to that are always great. Very good tips and I really have to go shopping some new stuff soon.

    Best wishes

  • Really enjoyed this post! I’m a giant fan of Scrapbook Sundays. I made my first complete scrapbook last week with just some thick white paper and 4 colour papers. It’s mostly photos and I still have the journalling to do, but It only took me an afternoon! I love that is doesn’t always have to be a long process. I need to get my hands on some paint though!
    Thank you for the tips, I’m impatiently awaiting next Sunday for another scrapbooking instalment. 🙂
    xo Kat

  • Thank you so much Jessica! I am having so much fun writing these!

    Excited for you to receive your Happy Mail too!!!!
    xx- Elsie

  • Hi
    just wanted to say that although Scrapbook Sundays are newish to the blog they are quickly becoming my favorite posts to read. Thanks for inspiring a new hobby, for teaching me what an acrylic block is used for and congrats on the new shop. I’m happily, impatiently waiting for my happy mail 🙂

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