7 tips for packing for your next crop

The first time I went away for a weekend crop with a friend in 2003, I about lost my mind while I was packing for it. I kept running from pile to pile in my craft room, sure that I would “need” some of everything. In the end, I filled the back of my SUV with scrapbook products. I took so much more that I could have possibly needed. I felt overburdened with stuff to lug around and overwhelmed with choices; it just about paralyzed my creativity that weekend!

These days I crop monthly with a few friends at my neighborhood Archiver’s. After our first outing together I realized that the only way I could look forward to these get-togethers on a monthly basis was if I stressed a lot less about the packing. I have a little system now that works quite well for me, and while I was packing for this weekend’s crop I thought I would take a few photos to share with you (as well as the resulting layout at the end of the post).

Tip 1: Pack a limited number of photos

My first big tip is to choose the photos you want to work with ahead of time. That way you can pack products only for those photos. I know we all have tons of photos we need to scrap, but if we take several stacks of photos along we have to try to pack products that could go with all of them. So for my six-hour night of scrapping I start my process by selecting photos for just four or five layouts. I hardly ever get even that many done!

Tip 2: Plan each layout on paper (or in your head)

I start all my layouts with sketches. It’s just how I get down. So for each set of photos I choose a sketch to go with them. This quickly leads me to the product-choice part of my process because I know how many patterned papers and embellishments I’ll need. If you don’t use sketches when you create, try to envision a rough draft of your final layout so that you can pull products from your stash that will work together.

Tip 3: Pull all the products you might need for each project/layout

I look through my stash with sketch and photos in hand and pull products that I like together. Even if I see something that could work for one of my other layouts, I try to focus on one page plan at a time. I’ve fallen into the trap of packing for all the projects at once, a little here and a little there, but it just makes it take longer to pack in the end.

Pull together your products

Tip 4: Create a page kit for each layout

Put everything that’s flat enough to fit into a 12×12 envelope. I just put it all in this one place so I don’t have to dig through my bag for it or remember what I had thought would work well together. That kit is done, so I can move on to the next.

Create a page kit

Tip 5: Pack the bulky items and tools

After I’ve packed my separate page kits, I pull together all the tools and extras that I’ll need. There are the constants—like my Basic Grey magnetic mat, paper trimmer, bin of patterned paper scraps, etc. And there are also things that I think I’ll want to use with the page kits but that won’t fit in the envelopes. This includes things like punches, bags of buttons, etc. I pile that all into my rolling organizer (one that I purchased at Costco years ago and still love).

Pack the bulky items last

Tip 6: Grab your tool bag

I keep my small-stuff tool bag packed all the time. It sits next to my craft desk, so it’s always in use and ready to go. So, that’s the last step—grab the tool bag and get out that door!

Grab your tool bag

This process of mine takes a little more planning, but it saves me so much packing angst! I kid you not, there’s a woman who sometimes crops on the same night I meet my friends who wheels in a big flatbed cart chockablock full of scrapbook supplies! The time and backache involved in packing that way…well, I’ll just say it’s not for me. I prefer to walk in pulling my little cart and carrying my tool bag. I’ll tell you what, I usually still have more supplies than I need for a night of fun scrapping.

Bonus tip 7: Share

Another way to really cut down on what you pack is to plan on sharing. If your friend always brings her die-cutting machine, offer to bring your dies to share with her each time in exchange for the use of her machine. Or perhaps you have a great collection of punches that you can share, and your buddies can bring their circle cutters or Crop-A-Diles. You get the idea.

I thought after all that, I should share the layout I made with the page kit shown above. :-)


My baby bro after a day of teaching.

Go green: Recycling your designs is good for creativity

Once you’ve created a layout would you consider it a crime to reuse that design? Are you a one and done kind of scrapper?

Let me show you why I believe designs should be a reusable resource in your scrap stash.

Just below is a layout I completed a while ago. It’s a portrait of my husband and his siblings when he was in high school. It’s a rather simple design that relies on good old-fashioned color blocking and a few embellishments.


This layout follows a simple color-blocked design.

Now here is another layout of Matt’s family, taken years later. I used the same design as the first; in fact, I didn’t even flip the side on which the photo is situated. Because the photo, patterned papers and embellishments are different the resulting designs really don’t resemble each other that much. In fact, I believe that unless I pointed out to someone looking at the family album that these two layouts share the same structure, they would be very unlikely to see that on their own. Even when held next to each other it’s the differences that take the viewer’s focus.


This layout follows the same color-blocked design but uses different papers and embellishments.

When you find a design you like, I say “reuse, recycle, re-imagine.”

How to use a movie poster as scrapbook inspiration

After seeing the movie “Julie & Julia” in 2009—which intertwines the story of Julia Child’s start in the cooking profession with blogger Julie Powell’s challenge to cook all the recipes in Child’s first book—I received Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” for Christmas. There’s a scene in the movie where Julie Powell has to cook dinner for a special guest and chooses to make Boeuf Bourguignon. Matt and I decided that would be the first dish we would try.

Let me tell you, you don’t just make Boeuf Bourguignon one day after work. This recipe takes several hours and requires some special ingredients that most of us don’t normally keep in our pantries. In our house when we undertake a project like that, we take photos.

My process

Julie & Julia movie posterWhen I was ready to scrap these photos I already knew what I wanted to title my layout. So I decided to look to the movie art for inspiration. First I looked up “Julie & Julia” on IMDB and thought the title treatment on the movie poster was something I could work with. I could cut out the title with my Silhouette, but what were those fonts?

So I searched on “what fonts are used on julie & julia poster?” and the most helpful result I found was on FontFeed. This site identified the two fonts used as Didot for the words Julie/Julia and Bernhard Modern for the ampersand. The problem was that I didn’t have either of those fonts, and I couldn’t find them on any free font sites.

Then I did another search for “fonts similar to Didot” and found identifont.com, where you can find lists of fonts that are similar to the one you’re looking for. Following this site’s recommendations I found replacement fonts within those that I already owned and I was able to go to town setting up my cut files in the Silhouette Studio software.

I decided to base my color scheme on the movie poster as well. Black and green factor heavily in what makes this poster pop, so I tried to use those colors. I found the perfect paper in my stash that combined the black and green from the poster as well as the red and gold in my photos. From all that came this layout. Bon appetit!


Scrapbook advice written on the back of a business card

I recently heard about a book concept that struck me as applicable to scrapbooking (Though really, what isn’t? Am I right?). The book is Advice Written on the Back of a Business Card: Leaders share their most valued words of guidance by Roger Dean Smith.

Mr. Smith’s idea was to ask hundreds of successful business people in various industries this question:

Imagine that you are about to give your business card to a young person entering your profession. But first, you turn that card over and write a short piece of advice to help them get started in their career. What would you write on the back of your own business card to help them?

Do you see where I’m going with this? I think we as a scrapbooking community are full of lessons learned—about photography, telling stories, buying products, combining colors well, etc.—and the advice that comes from learning those lessons.

And we’re certainly a generous bunch. I mean how many hobbies do you know that like to give as much as us? After all, I don’t hear anything about the American Hunters and Shooters Association pulling their resources to help sick children feel loved by sending them fresh venison (à la Jennifer McGuire’s Cards for Kids drive). Or about members of the Dumpster Divers’ Association who donate the antiques and CDs they find to the homeless (like all the scrappy groups that collect and donate supplies to homes for the elderly or women’s shelters). But then, maybe they do and I missed hearing about it. Nonetheless, people in our hobby love to share not only what they have or what they make with their supplies…but also what they know.

So, I would like to urge you to take out your virtual business card, flip it over and jot down a short but vital piece of advice to the new scrapbooker. In other words:

Imagine that you are about to give your business card to a person just starting to scrapbook. But first, you turn that card over and write a short piece of advice to help them get started in their hobby. What would you write on the back of your own business card to help them?

And by business card I mean the comments at the end of this blog post. Please take a moment to participate. I would love to compile all your hard-won wisdom and make it available to those just getting started (or who feel stuck and uncreative, for that matter). Thanks so much for sharing.

Here’s my business card’s worth:
Just start putting pictures, stories and paper together, and don’t feel that you have to know a lot about design concepts before you begin. Seek to learn the theories behind good design as you go. And don’t feel at all guilty about scraplifting; it’s a great way to learn and to explore different styles.