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Organizing Scrapbooking

How to Organize Scrapbook Paper – and Keep it That Way!

12x12 fall papers sorted in bags

Paper obsessed? Yep, that’s me! If you’re the same, your stash of scrapbook paper has gotten out of control and needs to be reigned in, I can help. Let me show you how to organize scrapbook paper so you can find what you’re looking for and your system is as pretty as your papers. I even created a free coordinating guide you can download to help you along the way.

Not only do I show you how to organize 12×12 scrapbook paper, I also show you ways to organize 8 1/2 x 11 paper and your scrap paper stash. As a bonus, I show you how I organized my stash of  scrapbook papers and how I keep it contained.

Note – if you just want to see the ideas of how I organize my scrapbook papers, just scroll towards the bottom. But if your stash is a mess and you’re ready to organize, then keep reading!

Getting Started

To get started organizing your scrapbook paper, you can download the free 12×12 Scrapbook Paper Storage Ideas PDF guide from the Resource Library. It is item 2C in the Organization section. The library is a free resource that contains cut files, tutorials and guides available for your personal use. The page is password protected. If you do not have the password, please complete the form below and it will be emailed to you. There is another form at the end of this post.

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    Step 1 – Accumulate all of your scrapbook paper

    The first step to organizing your scrapbook paper is to find a landing zone, a clear open area for gathering all of your scrapbook papers. Take a walk through your craft room, gathering all of your 12×12 and 8 1/2 x 11 scrapbook paper and cardstock, scrap papers and specialty papers, putting them in the landing zone and sorting into the following main categories:

    • Cardstock – 12×12
    • Cardstock – 8 1/2 x 11
    • Patterned Paper – 12×12
    • Patterned Paper – 8 1/2 x 11
    • Scrap Paper
    • Specialty Paper (glitter, foil, etc.)
    • Get Rid of – papers that are torn, damaged, you don’t like and don’t see yourself using

    After gathering your papers

    You have now gathered all of your scrapbook papers into one area and know how much you really have. This isn’t meant to shock you, it’s meant to help you with finding a home for them. Where are you going to store them and how much space are you giving them? Dedicate space to your paper and in return, don’t let your papers exceed that space. You may need to do some, or a lot, of purging. However, setting space limits helps in making decisions of what stays and what goes and results in a cleaner, more organized space.

    My storage includes an Expedit bookcase from Ikea (older version of the Ikea Kallax series, same cubed compartments) that is placed in the closet. I dedicated 2 rows, 4 cubes per row, to my cardstock and patterned papers.

    Your turn. Review your craft space to determine where your scrapbook papers are going to be stored and how much space they get. Along with where, you also need to think about the workflow and where you sort your papers when matching them to photos.

    How are you going to store your papers?

    Think about how you are going to store your papers. Are you going to lay them flat on a shelf or stand them up? Do you have containers you want to put them in? Do the containers fit where you want to store your paper? For me, the answer to the last question was no. You see, I was using the Iris project containers and while they worked great for storing my papers, they did not fit in the Expedit cubes. Therefore, I decided to use the Totally Tiffany 12×12 Fab Files instead. They do fit on the bookcase and are great for grabbing and going.

    2 cubs of an Ikea Expedit bookcase with 12 Totally tiffany 12x12 Fab Files containing scrapbook papers
    12×12 Scrapbook papers organized in 12×12 Totally Tiffany Fab Files Stored in the Expedit bookcase

    Step 2 – Break Apart and Sort Your Patterned Scrapbook Papers into Categories

    The next step in how to organize scrapbook paper is to sort the papers into general categories or themes.

    You probably have a good idea of the types of papers you have and the main categories for your patterned papers. If you need some help, here is a sampling to get you started.

    • Christmas/Winter
    • Fall/Halloween
    • Love/Valentines
    • Spring/Easter
    • Summer
    • Family
    • Birthday
    • Kids
    • Baby
    • Pets
    • Sports
    • School
    • Generic Patterns

    You can start with these or pick your own. Make sure you grab a stack of post-it notes or scrap paper and write your categories down, one category per piece of paper. Label each pile.

    You don’t need to come up with all of your categories right now. You can add categories or combine categories in the next round. Next round? What? Yes, it is common to do this sorting 2 to 3 times. Keep doing it until you are happy with their categories and the categories are manageable.

    How to organize papers that fit multiple categories?

    You have a couple options. One option is to set them aside and look at these after you sorted all of your papers. This option worked for me as it gave me a better idea of how to categorize these. Or, think about the type of layout you would most likely use with this paper. Is it a layout of the family or of your daughter or of friends? Go with the category you think of first. You can always put a note in the other categories mentioning which paper lines are stored where.

    Second Round of paper sorting

    Yep, we do this again. After you have sorted all of your scrapbook papers, look at your piles. Are there some piles with only a few papers and some piles that are overflowing? Consider combining the small piles with other, complimentary categories. Think about categories which are closely related. Some categories I chose to combine are school and sport. Other categories I combined are family and birthdays. One reason I combined categories was because I was using the 12×12 Fab Files and wanted to make the most of each container. You may choose to keep some categories smaller and use paper files to store them.

    What if a pile is overflowing?

    When that happens, you should sort through those papers again, looking for a smaller category you can pull out. In my case, I had an overflowing pile of travel-themed papers. Within the travel papers I removed the camping and outdoors papers to make their own category.

    Continue sorting, purging and evaluating your piles until you are happy with them. What does that mean? It means there is no right or wrong answer. It means that if you feel the category contains a manageable amount of papers to sort through when matching them with photos, it’s good.

    I can’t decide which papers to keep and which ones to get rid of?

    When that happens, and it will, set the papers aside. Once you’ve sorted all of your other papers, come back to those and ask yourself:

    • Do I have space for it?
    • Is there a similar pattern I like better?
    • Do I truly see myself using it?

    If your answer is no, it’s time to move these papers to the get rid of pile.

    If you still can’t decide, then put those papers in a box. This box is for the papers and supplies you’re not quite ready to get rid of, but not sure you want to keep them, either. Mark it with a date 6 months or a year from now. If you haven’t touched the box by that date, you don’t need them and can get rid of them.

    What about cardstock?

    The easiest way to organize cardstock is by color. Make piles of each color and store them in rainbow order – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. I add the whites and pinks before the reds. and the browns and blacks after the violet. This order is visually pleasing and the in-between colors can go, well, in between where one color transitions to the next.

    How to organize 8 1/2 x 11 papers?

    This depends on how much 8 1/2 x 11 paper you have. Most of my paper is 12×12, but I still have a few patterned papers and a sizable stack of 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock. If you have a lot of 8 1/2 x 11 patterned paper, you can go through the same sorting process as the 12×12 patterned papers. If you have a few sheets, you can mix them in with the 12×12 papers. Next, do the same thing with your 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock. If you only have a few sheets, mix it in with the 12×12 sheets. If not, find a spot for them and sort them in to rainbow order. I stored these in a Large Multi-Purpose Bin from the Container Store.

    8 1/2 x 11 cardstock in rainbow order in plastic container
    8 1/2 x 11 Cardstock sorted into rainbow order and stored in a Multi Purpose bin

    Organize 12×12 paper lines within each category?

    We all fall in love with paper lines or buy paper collections. Find a way to keep them together and subdivided within the larger category. A couple suggestions are the Paper Files by Storage Studios, Fab File 12×12 File Pockets by Totally Tiffany, and 13×13 Plastic Sleeves from ScrapnTime.com. The 12×12 Fab Files each come with 5 of the 12×12 File Pockets. I do mix these with the 13×13 Plastic Sleeves from Scrapntime.

    In these sleeves and file pockets, I keep the coordinating papers, 12×12 stickers sheets and any scraps from the line. Occasionally, I keep other coordinating embellishments in a small baggie with the paper, but I ‘m careful it doesn’t get too bulky.

    Patterned scrapbook paper stored in clear plastic bags and clear paper files
    Paper lines are sorted and stored in 12×12 Paper Files and 13×13 Crystal Clear Zippered Bags

    How to organize my scrapbook paper scraps?

    Good question. Start by sorting them in rainbow order, same as cardstock. As you are sorting, get rid of pieces that are smaller than 6×6. I store mine in a container without any type of divider between the colors. If you want to keep them divided by color, you could use a 12×12 plastic sleeve or 12×12 Paper Files or the 12×12 Fab File Pockets.

    White plastic container filled with colorful paper scraps standing up
    The Ikea Kuggis containers come in a couple sizes. They have a sleek look, tapered sides and work well for holding paper scrap scraps.

    Step 3 – Contain your Scrapbook Papers

    Congratulations! You made it through step 2. That’s a big one! Now it’s time to make all of your hard work come together. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to pick containers to hold your papers. Find containers that are appropriate in size for the for the amount of papers you have and the space in which you have to store them. Warning – if all of your papers and containers don’t fit your space, you may have to go back to step 2 and do more sorting with a focus on purging.

    Here are a couple quick tips for how to store scrapbook paper:

    • I prefer to store paper vertically instead of horizontally. I find it’s easier to pull papers out and put them back when the papers are standing up instead of laying flat.
    • Do not store papers directly on the floor, especially if your craft space is in the basement. They can soak up moisture from the floor and warp.
    • Do not overstuff a container. It makes it hard to pull papers out when they are crammed together which increases the risk of damaging your paper.
    • If your container does not have a full back and paper flops over the back edge, place a piece of 12×12 chipboard behind the papers to support them.

    12×12 Paper Storage Ideas

    Here are ideas for containers to use for storing your papers. Remember, pick containers that fit the space and are functional.

    12×12 Fab File – Totally Tiffany

    12x12 plastic case with the saying Live Life in full Bloom and a daisy on the front. It holds 12x12 papers.
    A decorated 12×12 X-Large Fab File from Totally Tiffany. These come with 5 – 12×12 File Pockets which are great for keeping your lines of paper together.

    12×12 Fab File X-Large by Totally Tiffany. I use these for storing all of my themed patterned paper. They come plain, but you can customize them with vinyl as I did for this one. There is a handle and space for a label on top and on the side which makes the great to grab and go to a crop. They also come with 5 – 12×12 File Pockets which are great for keeping your paper collections together. I also use the 13″x13″ Crystal Clear 2mil Zip Bags for keeping my papers sorted within the Fab File. These are available in packs of 10 or 100.

    Acrylic Drawers from Michaels

    Clear acrylic 3 drawer organizer filled with colored sheets of paper
    Clear 3-Drawer Organizer is great for storing cardstock.

    This clear 3-drawer organizer is found at Michaels. You can easily see your cardstock colors through the trays. There is a hole in the bottom of each tray you can poke a finger through to push the paper up for easier access. My only issue with these is it is that the trays should have slightly more room for the paper and work best for cardstock.

    Multi Purpose Bins – The Container Store

    Semi clear plastic bin with an open top and 12x12 patterned paper inside
    The Small Multi-Purpose bin from The Container Store is perfect for holding individual sheets of scrapbook paper.

    Multi-Purpose bins from The Container Store. These come in small, medium, large and XL. I love them and use them for a lot of different scrapbook supplies and even camera gear. If I didn’t already own the acrylic drawers, I would use these for my cardstock. I do use them for my generic patterned papers.

    12×12 Stacking Trays

    Clear acrylic paper tray that is 12x12 filled with paper with a wood pattern
    Clear acrylic stacking trays that hold 12×12 paper

    12×12 Acrylic Stacking Trays – I use these for my background and specialty/foil/glitter papers. It’s easy to slide a stack out and grab what I need. I can also store the scraps right in the tray. These also fit perfectly on top of the acrylic paper drawers in each of the Expedit Cubes.

    Plastic Crates

    Black pastic storage crate, empty
    The plastic storage crate holds a lot of papers and is fairly inexpensive, but works best when you don’t have to move it to access the paper.

    Plastic Crates. These are relatively inexpensive and hold a lot of paper. However, they work best when you can access the paper without moving the crate. The crates get heavy, especially when full of paper.

    8 1/2 x 11 Paper Storage Ideas

    It’s easier to find non-traditional scrapbook storage for this size paper. Here are some you can try:

    8 1/2 x 11 front loading paper trays stacked, each one with a different color of paper
    The Like-It Bricks Stackable Letter Trays provide easy access storage for 8 1/2 x 11 papers. Like It Bricks are modular and have other components that can be stacked on top to take advantage of vertical space.

    Acrylic trays from office supplies stores work well. These are the Like It Bricks line found at The Container Store.

    Fold N File – 31

    Bright zig zag patterned fabric covering a paper file holder filled with colorful cardstock
    The Fold N File by 31 is a great option for 8 1/2 by 11 paper. It also has handles making it easier to grab and go.

    The Fold N File by 31 is a fun option for storing your 8 1/2 x 11 papers. It fits neatly on a shelf. The only issue is that the papers visible.

    Baskets

    Fabric lined wicker basket with colorful cardstock standing on end.
    This is a discontinued basket from 31, but is a great example of how you can store your 8 1/2 x 11 paper in a basket.

    While this basket is discontinued, it does make a great example of how you can add a little country charm to your scrap supplies while showing them off.

    Multi Purpose Bins – The Container Store

    8 1/2 x 11 cardstock in rainbow order in plastic container
    8 1/2 x 11 Cardstock sorted into rainbow order and stored in a Multi Purpose bin

    For my personal stash of 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock, I chose the Multi-Purpose Bins from The Container Store. My goal is to use these papers up before cutting into my 12×12 sheets. 8 1/2 x 11 and 12×12 cardstock could be stored together in these containers, too. I did mention that I have used several of these for organizing my scrapbook supplies, right?

    Containers for your paper scraps

    We’ve made it this far and only have the scraps to go. I figured that if you’ve made it this far with me, I’d actually walk you through my thought process on deciding which container is right for my scraps.

    Brown with tiny polka dots fabric square tote stuffed with cardstock scraps
    A brown 31 tote started as my scrap paper bin.

    I used this tote from 31 for the longest time to hold my scrapbook paper scraps. It did work well, at first, but it became overstuffed and hard to access the papers. I wasn’t using the papers faster than I was adding to it because I had a hard time flipping through them to find the perfect scrap especially as it got overstuffed. The issues with this container is that it’s fabric, so the sides have some give and extended beyond the opening, the straps weren’t long enough to making carrying it easy and the bottom wasn’t sturdy. I had also tried sorting my scraps by color using manila folders as dividers. Good thought, but big mistake. They aren’t sturdy enough or taller than some of the scraps and got lost in the container.

    Pluggis Recylcling Bin – Ikea

    White plastic bin filled with colorful cardstock bins
    The Pluggis 4 gallon recycling bin works for scraps of paper and even 12×12 sheets.

    As I changed containers, I purged my scraps and tossed smaller scraps and pieces that were torn, bent and damaged. Next, I tried the Pluggis 4 gallon recyling bin from Ikea. It worked well and is quite sturdy. Note how the sides flare out a bit. This makes flipping through the scraps easier, as long as it doesn’t get overstuffed! Although I liked it, I thought it was a bit bulky for what I wanted. Note: we’re not at that point in organizing yet, but this would make a great container for your projects in progress. Plus, it fits in a cube in the Expedit and Kallax Ikea bookcases.

    Kuggis – Ikea

    White plastic container filled with colorful paper scraps standing up
    The Ikea Kuggis containers come in a couple sizes. They have a sleek look, tapered sides and work well for holding paper scrap scraps.

    I did one more round of purging my scraps and decided on this Kuggis container from Ikea. I felt that this was a manageable size to grab off a shelf and flip through to find the perfect scrap for my project.

    Conclusion

    Wow, there you have it. How to organize 12×12 scrapbook paper along with 8 1/2 x 11 papers and paper scraps. It’s a journey. The destination is worth it!

    Cubed style bookcase with paper in acrylic drawers, bins and plastic files
    Done – all of my papers are organized and stored neatly in my bookcase.

    Here is my papers look like, all organized and stored together on the bookcase.

    How did your paper organization turn out? What worked and didn’t work for you? I’d love to hear about it and see pics!

    You’re on a roll with organizing, have you checked out How to Organize a Craft Room?

    If you haven’t already downloaded the 12×12 Scrapbook Paper Storage Ideas PDF guide from the Resource Library, you can do that now. The password to access the library appears in the confirmation message and in your email in-box.

    Thank you and happy sorting!

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