Thursday, May 2, 2013

Crafty Organization Thursdays: Organizing Patterned Paper

Organizing patterned paper; this is something that most scrapbookers seem to struggle with. We all need to find an organization system that works and makes sense for how we create, otherwise you end up with too much paper, you cannot find what you need or remember what you have, and it just ends up in a great big mess. Raise your hand if this has ever happened to your patterned paper. You cannot see me right now but trust me if you could, in fact, see me, you would find that my hand is waving, I am out of my seat, in that pick me, choose me, excited wave that students sometimes give their teachers. I use to teach, so I know it quite well.

Different Ways to Sort Patterned Paper

There are many categories in which to organize patterned paper. While doing some research online and looking at different images of scrapbook room organization, it seems that most scrappers are sorting their paper based on these main categories.

1. Color
2. Pattern
3. Theme
4. Manufacturer

Everyone thinks of patterned paper in a different way and it is important to organize in a way that makes sense to you. I am going to say this again because it bares repeating, organize in a way that makes sense to you. Do what works for you, not another scrapper, not what looks pretty, but what will make it easy for you to find. For instance, if you scrap strictly with collections or pre-purchased kits and you do not want to mix them up, then do not separate your patterned paper out. On the other hand, you might have many different papers in your stash, and you prefer picking them for each layout individually based on color. In this instance, organizing them by color might be the best way to go.

Speaking for myself, I can usually remember what papers came with which collections and manufacturer...that's just how my brain works. For this reason, I sort my papers by manufacturer and then by collection. I do keep some larger paper collections things (such as my Dear Lizzy Lucky Charm separate from all the rest of my patterned paper.) I store these larger collections separately from individual sheets of patterned paper because I often times have a variety of embellishments, Thickers, and what not that I do not want to separate from the paper. I keep these larger collections sorted in either older cropper bags from various places or large Ziploc baggies. You can purchase large Ziploc bags at the grocery store (just make sure they are larger than 12 x 12 inches and you are good-to-go. I recommend these because they are affordable and easier to find. I then put all of my collections into a large woven basket I picked up at Target some years ago (see below.)

Here are some of my collections in baggies:

Dear Lizzy Lucky Charm in cropper bag (really old, maybe like 10 years old)

Assorted Amy Tangerine in Ziploc bag-Sketchbook, and Ready-Set-Go. For me, I mix these collections together because I have enough room in the bag to do so, and they look different enough that it is easy to separate them out when needed.

Photo of basket with collection bags standing up in it. I purchased these woven baskets at Target years ago and they measure 8" tall x 16" wide x 11" deep. 

So now that we have talked about some different ways to sort our patterned paper, where do we put it all so that we can find it easily?

Different ways to Contain Patterned Papers

1. IKEA Expedit bookcases (something we have all heard of)

Really anything scrapbook related can go in this unit. We have all seen them. I found this particular photo and scrap room picture courtesy of ksirishscrapper at The link can be found here. I really like that she still has room to grow in her storage unit. She appears to be mostly storing cardstock in this unit, but you could easily switch that up to patterned paper. 
  • IKEA sells a wide assortment of cardboard boxes and woven baskets that fit the Expedit bookcase perfectly and can be used to store paper in.
  • Target also sells the ITSO baskets that fit the Expedit perfectly I am told.
But for those of us that do not live close to an IKEA, what else is there? What else is affordable?

2. Paper Racks:
Ksirishscrapper also is utilizing a metal paper rack for her patterned papers. She purchased a DCW rack and is organizing by color and pattern it looks like to me. The link can be found here.

3. Standard bookcase:

 This is a bookcase in my room, like most standard bookcases it measures about 11' deep, but the extra inch overhang does not bother me, so I work with it (see image below)

This is how I am currently storing my patterned paper. This does not include kits (I store those in white trays from Target (one is on top of the bookcase pictured above.) I really do not have that much patterned paper. I just purged a large box of assorted and largely very old patterned paper. I also have two baskets of collections however that I store in a nearby closet. I admit my shelf of patterned paper does not look very fancy right now, but I have big and inexpensive plans to give it some much needed love. For this temporary fix, I first got rid of a very large box of patterned paper. Next I sorted by manufacturer and used what I had around the house to make temporary dividers: Extra cardboard that comes with patterned paper, a marker, post it notes, and some washi tape to help hold the post it notes on better. They are all divided by manufacturer in alphabetical order, divided by extra cardboard with post-it notes, and washi tape labeling the brands. I plan on making new dividers out of the new We 'R Memory Keepers tab punches.

The white bookcase is from Target and can be found here (when I purchased my bookcase it was on sale for around $75, (you gotta watch the sales.) You could also find something similar at many other stores around the world, thrift shops, re-purpose what you already have, etc. 

Different Ways to Sort Scrap Paper

We have discussed ways to sort and contain paper, but what do we do with all of our scraps?

1. Sort into plastic baggies by color, theme, pattern, manufacturer
2. Sort into file folders
3. Muddled paper dump
4. Toss/ Recycle
5. Donate

I fall into the muddled paper dump category, (see two images below) because this is what works best for me. I think of patterned paper in terms of mixing them together and different combinations, so riffling through my scrap basket gives me all kinds of inspiration. Just look at all this fun...I see newer stuff with older stuff, and I like it that way. It is about 2/3 full, so probably in another month or so I will get rid of about 1/3 of it and either do a collage type project with my daughter, give it to her, or with summer coming I will probably let the kids bring some friends over and we will just go Full-On-Crafting-Palooza. Yes, that's a word (in case you were wondering.)

In Summary

For my first installment of Scrap Organization Thursdays we discussed ways to sort and contain patterned paper. We also went over a multitude of ways to store scrap paper. The most important thing to remember I think are to get rid of what you do not need, or will not use. Having less really does make it easier to find what you have and actually use it! Also, organize in a way that makes sense to you, not what others are doing, or what you think you should do. Do what you want to do and just go with it. I hope you found some of this helpful, and maybe it inspired you to organize or think of patterned papers in a different way. Next time I will be sharing my divided page protectors for my patterned paper and giving some more ideas for storage. If you have any organization topics you would like for me to cover, or any ideas you would like to share, I would love to hear them. You can either comment below or e-mail me directly at 

How are you storing and sorting your patterned paper? What about your paper scraps? Any other muddled paper dumpers out there? Let's talk organization.

Until next time, Happy Scrappin'




  1. Excellent summary! I sort my paper primarily by manufacturer, though I do separate out holidays and keep those together. I sort the super old or by-the-sheet papers by color. I use racks, plus I have plastic envelopes to hold collections together.

    1. Thank you for your comment Cindy.

  2. great tips toni!!! I really enjoy reading posts about organizing!

    1. Thanks Danielle, if you think of anything else to add/ discuss for future posts, please let me know.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment Alexandra

  4. Great Post, Toni. I currently store all my cardstock by color, my pattern paper by manufacture and all my scraps are cut down to 4x6 or 3x4 pieces and stored by color for easy access when I am working on PL :) Those are organized in a Ikea divided box with homemade tabs :)

    Awesome series to have on your blog. I am inviting you to a scrapbook organizing group on facebook, might give you a little inspiration :)

    1. That is if you weren't already a member LOL beat me to it!

    2. Thank you Taniesa. I love how you organize everything for Project Life, so super efficient. I will have to have you on as a guest blogger when we get to that topic if you would like to. I would love to have you.

  5. I store my cardstock by color and my patterned paper is in one file together. I don't have a ton of patterned paper as I buy it as I go. If I have a particular theme in patterned paper by the same manufacturer I store that together.

    It was great seeing this on your blog today. I'm always looking for new ways to organize.

    1. Thank you for your comment Carol. If you think of anything else I should cover when it comes to scrapbook organization, I would love to hear your thoughts.

  6. I have attempted several different ways of sorting my patterned paper. And I just have to keep changing it up. ~sigh~

  7. Thank you so much for developing this series. I find myself constantly organizing/reorganizing - as we all probably do. I have realized that it is more of a process than a "one shot fix". I think our organization style changes as our creative style changes periodically. In regard to my pattern paper organization, I have done it by manufacturer but am now considering reorganizing by color.
    I am looking forward to your future posts.

    1. You are so right, we do need to change it up as our styles change. I use to organize all of my papers by themes, but with limited theme products in my stash, I seldom do that anymore. Thank you for your kind words and input. I hope to see you back here. If you think of any organizational topics you might want covered please let me know.

  8. Thank you so much for developing this series. I find myself constantly organizing/reorganizing - as we all probably do. I have realized that it is more of a process than a "one shot fix". I think our organization style changes as our creative style changes periodically. In regard to my pattern paper organization, I have done it by manufacturer but am now considering reorganizing by color.
    I am looking forward to your future posts.

  9. I cannot wait for the next part of this series.

    As for patterned paper, I store my current three Studio Caliso collections in a set of 12 x 12 Sterilite drawers. Once a collection has been on hand for three months I have to decide whether I keep it together in which case I bag it in a SC bag or I split the papers and embellies up into my Alex Ikea drawer set. I have one large drawer full of miscellaneous patterned paper. There is no sorting in that drawer. I challenge myself to use at least one piece of PP from this drawer every week with my PL and at least one piece a week for layouts and it is actually getting smaller. If I really like the scraps from a kit I will bag them up in a ziploc bag. I have about half a dozen of these and I am trying to use one up a month to keep my stash within limits. I am not a very organised person so this is about as good as it gets with my scrap supplies.

    1. It sounds like you have a good system in place. I personally like mixing up scrap paper. Maybe your drawer of patterned paper could be easier for you to riffle through if you stored them in an upright file box or cropper hopper of sorts. Then perhaps you could use the drawer just for scraps?

      I forgot about Sterilite drawers or Iris containers...I use those as well. I keep kits in those, I have room for 4 kits and then I had better use them up and quick or I am out of room. I will have to mention that next week.

      Thank Claire