Thursday, November 29, 2012

16 UHeart Organizing: Binder Bliss for Scrapbooking

A huge welcome to Sarah, who is back today to share more super organized and awesome scrapbooking/crafting tips!  Today, she is letting us peek inside the rest of her binders, and sharing why they work so well for her and her scrapping system!

I am so excited to be back at IHeart Organizing. I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.

During my last visit, I introduced you to my number one scrapbooking tool: my Inspiration Binder. I hope it provided you with some ideas on how to get started bring order to your own inspiration.

Last time, I promised I would talk more about the other binders that live on the shelf with my Inspiration Binder. My current collection includes 3 binders in addition to the Inspiration Binder: a binder to house my various stencils, one for embellishments and a final one for letter stickers.

The materials I used to create and gussy up my Inspiration Binder were the same for all four binders:
  • Patterned craft paper
  • Die cutting machine, sticker letters or stencils
  • Paper cutter
  • Xyron sticker maker
  • Three-ring binders with sleeves on the front, back and spine
  • Plastic page protectors
  • Card stock or construction paper
Since my binders were all going to share the same shelf, I chose 4 different pieces of patterned paper that would coordinate with one another as well as the décor in my craft room. Each binder got a different piece of paper for its front, back and spine. The binder sizes varied based on how much content each would hold, so I had to custom cut each piece of paper to fit the specifications of its binder. But with a ruler and my handy-dandy paper cutter, I made quick work of each. Finally, I used my die cutting machine to cut out a definitive verb to label each binder’s spine, selecting solid colored card stock that coordinated with {and stood out from} the patterned paper on the spine.

Once everything was cut out, I used my sticker maker to adhere the letters to the appropriate spine. I then slipped the paper into the sleeves on the front, back and spine of each binder and popped them on their shelf. When not in use, these four friends add a bright and inspiring spot of pattern to my craft space.

While we all love pretty things, though, I’m sure what you’re really wondering is what’s going on inside those other three binders.

The Stencil Binder

The Stencil Binder was actually the original inspiration behind my love of organizing with binders. I was trying to figure out a better way to store — and more importantly, promote use of — my stencils, when I noticed that some of the stencils were pre-punched for a three-ring binder {so really, I can’t take credit for this idea all on my own}.

But then my bubble temporarily burst: what about all those small stencils that are too small to hole punch, even if I wanted to attempt to add the holes myself? Luckily, inspiration wasn’t too far behind. The larger stencils I inserted in my binder using their holes. For the smaller or more I awkwardly shaped stencils, I used plastic sleeves to store the them. I placed a piece of card stock in each plastic sleeve, which increased the durability of the sleeve while also creating two sides. This way, I could store even more stencils in each sleeve without creating a jumbled mess. When placing stencils in the sleeves, I store like items together. Stencils with similar fonts get stored in a sleeve together, while shapes and borders get their own sleeves.

Now, finding and using stencils is super easy. And added bonus: the stencils are kept in pristine condition, free of the folds and bends that were constantly plaguing me when I stored the more delicate stencils in a storage bin.

The Embellishment Binder

Once I had finished putting together my Stencil Binder, I excitedly looked around for other uses to which I could put my new binder system. And that’s when it hit me: embellishments!

If I purchased an embellishment for a specific purpose, it usually got used, no problem. But if I had purchased an adorable embellishment on a whim {come on, admit it, you do it, too!} without a designated project in mind or had embellishments left over from a project, they inevitably got put in a bin, never to heard from again. I needed a solution that would keep the embellishments both organized and top of mind. My new friend the binder provided the perfect solution.

My Embellishment Binder started out the same as all the other binders. I picked an appropriately sized three-ringer binder, filled it with plastic sleeves and inserted card stock into each sleeve to add heft and create two-sided storage. Since I had a fair number of embellishments and the dimensionality of the embellishments added some bulk to the binder, I selected a 2.5” one.

The interior of the Embellishment Binder was organized in a very similar fashion to the Inspiration Binder I shared with you back in October. The plastic sleeves were divided into the main categories of embellishments:
  • Decoration
  • Relationships
  • Travel
  • Nature
  • Seasons
  • Holiday
  • Milestones
  • Food
  • Sports
  • Home
Each category section was identified by a repositionable, write-on label, which I adhered to the first plastic sleeve in the section. These were the same labels I used in my Inspiration Binder.

Where appropriate, I divided the plastic sleeves within each category into sub-sections, to ensure everything was organized in a way that made embellishments easy to find and visible enough that they would get maximum use. For example, the Milestones section was comprised of Wedding, Baby, Child and Accomplishments. To minimize the number of labels, I identified these sub-sections by stenciling the name of the section right on the card stock I had placed in the sleeve, rather than using the repositionable labels like I had for the category identifiers. By organizing my binder in this way, I was able to easily modify the binder over time, as the number of categories or sub-sections increased or contracted, without having to spend too much time on the updates.


The Letter Binder

I’m going to start to sound like a broken record now, but the organizational ideas I used in my Inspiration and Embellishment Binders were perfectly suited to one last solution: a Letter Sticker binder. The set up was the same: three-ring binder, plastic-sleeves stuffed with card-stock, repositionable labels.

This time, though, the binder was organized by color scheme:
  • Black & White
  • Brown & Tan
  • Red
  • Blue
  • Green
  • Orange & Yellow
  • Pink & Purple
  • Silver & Gold
  • Multi-Color

Because letter stickers store relatively flat and my collection isn’t overly large, I selected a narrow binder, but of course, the size of your collection should dictate the size of the binder.

Because sticker sheets are often too large for the plastic sleeves or contain multiple colors, I take a scissors to them when necessary, cutting them down to size or dividing up the colors. I typically store a couple of sheets in each sleeve, so I can see what I have without having to pull all the sheets out.

What about my collection of adorable themed letters, you may be asking? Great question! I suffer from two serious afflictions —clutterphobia and out-of-sight-out-of-mindness — whose solutions tend to be in opposition to one another. If I store things away to kill the clutter, I forget I have them. But if I keep them on display, I go insane. You can see the problem. Therefore, the driving force behind all my crafting storage is to create solutions that will keep my space clutter-free while also ensuring that all of my supplies get used. So while I have a designated storage solution for letter stickers —my Letter Binder — I actually store my themed letters in my Embellishment Binder.

Before you decide I don’t know a thing about organization and storm away from your computer in disgust, hear me out. I used to, logically, store all my letter stickers in my Letter Binder. But I would find that unless I specifically planned to use letter stickers in a particular layout, I would forget those themed letters were in there until it was too late. But I always skim through my Embellishment Binder when working on a scrapbooking layout or card, to determine if I have an embellishment that is perfect for the specific craft project. So now I keep themed letters stored in the appropriate section of the Embellishment Binder. For example, I have some adorable animal print letters in the Nature section of my Embellishment Binder, patiently waiting for the perfect layout before being liberated. Now my themed letters get used with equal regularity to their color-coded counterparts in the Letter Binder.

With the advent of personal die cutting machines, many of you may have found that your supply of store-bought embellishments and letter stickers has significantly dwindled, now that you can create your own. I know mine have. But as a result, I find the binder solution to be even more essential. Because there are fewer of them and I reach for them less often, keeping stencils, embellishments and letter stickers organized and close at hand ensures I still use these solutions often and therefore infuse greater variety into my crafts.

There you have it. My love affair with binders has now been revealed. But there is one more secret to share. As I mentioned in my last post, there is one more reason to love binders, aside from their storage versatility. They travel well. When I am on the go, my binders slip perfectly into my travel case, like they were made to be travel companions.

{I plan to share more about my traveling secrets in a future post}.

I hope this binder confessional has given you a few ideas on how you can corral your craft clutter and bring those delightful accoutrement like stencils, embellishments and letter stickers to the light of day again. What brilliant uses have you put binders to recently? Do you have any bright new ideas on how you can reinvent the binder?

I look forward to being back with some new ideas in the new year. In the meantime, our furry little children, Hermes and Bronte, wanted to wish you a happy, crafty holiday season.

"My name is Sarah Eelkema and I live in a suburb of Minneapolis, MN with my husband of almost two years, Eric, and our two adorable Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Hermes and Brontë. I am a Communications Consultant by day and by night/weekend/any spare moment, I indulge in my passion for writing, crafting and organizing. I am honored to share with all you dedicated iHeart fans my tips, tricks and secrets for organized crafting, which will not only help you get control of your craft clutter but also allow you to make more efficient and productive use of your precious crafting time. While I am blessed with an entire craft room, I promise to explain how all the solutions I share can be tailored to your specific situation, whether it be a dedicated room, a small storage space or mobile crafting. In the meantime, Happy Crafting!"


  1. Great tips for organizing your scrappy stash. Mine has taken on a mind of its own and has multiplied like rabbits. Being on design teams have helped that one. ;) your Cavvie pup looks so happy. ;) I have a Ruby colored Cavvie... I think we should have named him Droopy. He is always so sad looking. LOL

  2. Oh my goodness, Sarah, this is brilliant!! I love the way that you use card stock to reinforce your binder pages. I have tried keeping oddly shaped items in page protectors, and using the card stock would make it so much easier! I totally agree -- who cares if you're "supposed" to group all of your letters in a separate binder? If it's not working for you, then it's useless! The way you labeled and separated all of your categories based on what made sense and worked for you realistically is so smart. Thanks so much for sharing your ideas -- I want to go give my binders a makeover right now! :)

  3. I don't scrapbook, but my girls and I have a rediculous amount of stickers. I'm always buying duplicates because I can't find what I need for a project. I never would have thought of a binder but it would be perfect. Thanks!!

  4. I like this idea! My scrapbooking supplies really need some serious organizational help.

  5. Hi Sara, I also live in a suburb of Mpls and in case you're interested, Scrapbooks Too in Bloomington is having a huge going out of business sale with everything 50-75% off through Saturday. I stopped in today and got tons of paper and stickers! It's a great deal. Both my daughter and I scrapbook.

  6. Sarah, these binders are AMAZING. I could definitely use some organization in my "scrapping" life. One question, do you have some way of adhering the embellishments' packaging to the card stock within the sleeves? It seems like, once the binder is closed and tipped upward, they would all fall down to the bottom of the sleeve. Thanks:)

  7. I also have the same question as above, how do you keep everything from falling down to the bottom of the sleeve when you stand up your binder? Your binders look amazing. I have a few scrap booking supplies and it would be great if I could sit down and make a binder that holds everything together. Thanks for the inspiration- this is going on my todo list.

  8. Although I'm not into scrapbooking, I can appreciate using binders. I have a huge plastic box of them holding files. Easier to find things in them than when papers are loose in a file folder. Everything stays in order.

  9. Headed to Target for binders. I have been searching for ways to store letter stickers. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. Genius! I'm so angry at myself for not being brilliant enough to put this together...I have a ton of binders in the closet because I'm a fan of all things back to school- seriously my kid is stocked through middle school and he's only 5. Add to those binders the drawer units and boxes full of scrapbooking supplies that I can never figure out how to organize let alone find....and DOH! Thanks for this post! My husband may not thank you for the organizational insanity that is about to commence but I thank you!

  11. Oh heavens binders are awesome! I've been implementing them at work to help organize our office. My favorite parts are the colorful dividers you can use (like the ones you use, Jen, in your household binder). I never thought about using them to organize my craft supplies; mine are all currently in small plastic containers. Labeling them helps, but I definitely don't have that nice feeling of knowing everything I have. How remarkable to be able to just pull a few binders off the shelf and have all my embellishments and stickers instead of pondering over tons of containers! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Binders are fab and pooch is lovely!

  13. I don't often leave comments but I love this series! Please keep it going!

  14. Every time you post for Jen I drool over the pics and absorb every word! Thanks for sharing your brilliance!

  15. Love your ideas! How do you store your punches or know which ones you have so you don't duplicate? Thanks!


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