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Let’s Start at the Very Beginning…..

A very good place to start

When you read you begin with A-B-C…

When you scrap you begin with a few things which are key…..


When I began my scrapping adventure, I found myself standing in the aisle of the craft store thinking, “Good Grief!  There’s so much stuff!  Where do I start?  What do I NEED?”  I was terrified of buying a bunch of useless stuff.  I was afraid of making a huge financial investment only to discover I didn’t like to scrap (I guess I didn’t have to worry about that one!).  Fear not my friends.  Mama Donna is here to help you get on your way and to help begin to make friends with your Herman.

Following is a list of what I consider to be the bare minimum in terms of tools you will need to get you started:

  • A paper trimmer
  • A pair of micro-tip scissors
  • A tweezer
  • A tape runner
  • An archival pen
  • Paper and/or cardstock

Extra items you may wish to have but are not absolutely critical:

  • A Xyron sticker maker
  • 3-D foam squares/dots
  • A bone folder

Ok, now that you have your shopping list, you may wonder what the heck it is you are buying.  Let’s go through the items one by one and I’ll explain them and tell you my personal favorites.

  • Paper trimmer – this contraption lets you cut your paper or cardstock into exact sizes.  It comes with a ruler printed right on it and will cut perfectly straight lines.  It has a replaceable blade which you can change out when the current one becomes dull.  There are tons of trimmers out there, but I have found my favorite to be the Fiskars brand.  They are easy to find and the replacement blades are easy to find as well as inexpensive.
  • Micro-tip scissors – these are the size of “kiddy scissors,” are very sharp and have very pointy ends.  They are indispensible for cutting around intricate shapes, cutting ribbon, etc.  I have tried several types, and my favorite is the Cutter Bee brand.  They have the sharpest, pointiest ends and work best for me.  They also come with a protective cover for the blades so I don’t stab myself with them.
  • Tweezer – you wouldn’t think so, would you?  Tweezers come in soooo handy when you are dealing with tiny objects and trying to place them on your layout.  They are great for placing stickers, tiny rhinestones, letters, etc.  My favorite tweezer is the Tweezer Bee brand (made by the same company who makes the micro-tip scissors).  These tweezers squeeze to OPEN, have very, very pointy tips that will hold the tiniest embellishments, and can double as a hole puncher when you are trying to make a “pilot hole” to insert brads.
  • Tape runner – a what?  A tape runner is basically a hand-held dispenser with double-sided sticky tape in it.  You put the end of the runner on your paper, pull it towards yourself, and it dispenses a line of “sticky” on your paper.  This is how you glue everything together.  You will find nearly as many kinds of tape runners out there as there are people who use them.  Some of these are refillable, some are not.  Everyone has their own favorite type.  That being said, the one I found worked best for me and that formed the best bond is the one made by Tombow.  In many stores it is marketed under the brand “The Craft Collection.”  A word of caution here – when I began scrapping I used a less expensive “repositionable” tape runner.  I found that over time (a year or so), the bond between the paper gave out and I had an album filled with falling apart photos and embellishments.  I have had to re-glue lots of stuff.  The repositionable stuff says it eventually forms a permanent bond, but I did not find that to be true.  Verrrry frustrating to have to re-do your hard work.  Whatever brand you choose, be sure to buy “permanent” adhesive (it is marked on the packaging).  You will thank yourself later.
  • An archival pen – used for writing on your pages.  Again, there are tons brands out there.  I use a Zig Memory Writer.  It is like a super-fine-tipped Sharpie marker that won’t bleed through your paper.  I have several colors, but use the black one almost exclusively.  Choose what makes sense for you.
  • Paper and/or Cardstock – this is where it gets fun, fun, fun!  There are lots and lots of ways to go here.  I’d like to suggest that for your first project you find a “paper/page kit.”  In these kits, the papers all go together and they usually come with a few stickers and alphabet letters.  By purchasing a kit, you don’t have to worry about matching papers, what goes with what and having to buy lots of embellishments (stickers, bling, etc.).  If you feel adventerous, choose 6-10 individual sheets of printed papers and 6-10 sheets of cardstock that goes with them.  You can also purchase paper pads, packs of assorted cardstock, etc.  It’s all up to you.  On a side note, paper typically comes in 6 inch by 6 inch sheets (most likely sold in a pad), 8 1/2 x 11 sheets (your standard computer paper size) and 12 x 12 sheets.  You will have to make some decisions here.  There are not a lot of 6 x 6 albums available.  Most albums come in 8 x 8, 8 1/2 x 11 and 12 x 12.  There are advantages and disadvantages to all sizes.  Using 8 x 8 or 8 1/2 x 11 you are not able to get as many pictures on a page, so you may have to make more pages; however, there can be less “blank” space left over to fill with journaling, embellishments, etc.  Going with a 12 x 12 size is great if you have a lot of photos or want lots of room for journaling and embellishments.  Also, the vast majority of scrapbook paper is sold in the 12 x 12 size, so there is not a lot of trimming your paper and winding up with a ton of scraps leftover.  I exclusively use 12 x 12 albums for all of my personal scrapbooking.  If I am making an album to give as a gift, I typically make an 8 x 8.  The choice is yours.

And now for the extras:

  • Xyron Sticker Maker – this nifty little device (it is the pink X-shaped thingy in the photo) is awesome.  You feed your bits of paper, letters, small pictures, etc. into the top, give the paper tab on the bottom a pull, and when everything has passed through and you tear off the tab, your pieces are coated with adhesive on the back and turned into a sticker!  This works amazingly well when you have lots of small pieces that are hard to get adhesive on using the tape runner, and it is refillable!
  • 3-D Foam Squares/Dots – applying these little gems to the back of your embellishment will “lift” it up when you apply it to your page.  These are great for adding a little dimension to your embellishments.  Lots of brands of these are available.  I prefer buying the pre-cut squares or circles versus the rolls of 3-D tape.  This is just my personal preference.  It makes me cranky to have to cut lengths off the rolls and it gunks up my scissors.
  • Bone folder – I use this almost exclusively with my sticker maker.  Before I peel off the filmy layer (we’ll go over this later), I trace around each shape with the bone folder.  This helps the excess sticky adhere to the film and not to your sticker.  The bone folder also works great for making super-sharp creases in your paper.

So what’s the bottom line to all these supplies?

Let’s do some quick math:

  • Paper Trimmer – $15 – $20
  • Scissors – $8 – $10
  • Tweezer – $7 – $8
  • Tape Runner – $6 – $8
  • Archival Pen – $2 – $4
  • Paper/Cardstock
  • Xyron Sticker Maker – $10 – $11
  • 3-D Foam Squares – $2
  • Bone Folder – $6 – $8

Total Cost:  $56 – $71 not including your paper. 

To help defray this cost even further, watch for sales in your area.  I am very fortunate to have a Michael’s, JoAnn’s and Hobby Lobby in my area, and they regularly offer excellent sales along with 40% off coupons. is a great place to buy the basics online as is  WalMart and Target typically carry a small line of supplies.  There are also tons of great scrapbooking websites out there with very reasonable prices.  Remember that if you decide not to pursue this passion, there are tons of ways to use up what you have purchased and to use the things like the paper trimmer, scissors and tweezer in your household.

Next time I’ll discuss choosing photos for your first project.  It will be easier than you think!

Happy supply shopping!

Mama Donna


About mamadonna58102

I am a 40 -year-old Domestic Engineer. I live in Fargo, ND with my husband of 26 years. I have two grown children, one son and one daughter. I also have two fur boys - an 11-year-old cocker spaniel dog and an 8-year-old British shorthair cat. I've often been called "Woman of a Thousand Hobbies" by friends and family and have a love for all things crafty. My favorite passion; however, is scrapbooking which I have been doing for just over three years. I also sew, embroider, crochet, knit, bead and I LOVE to cook and bake. I am always eager to learn something new. Thanks for joining me here!

One response »

  1. I didn’t know you have a blog! This is so awesome!! EXCELLENT post too! I REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY REALLY miss you and playing with paper with you. Can we work on this after the wedding?


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