Thursday, April 18, 2013

40 UHeart Organizing: Scrapbooking On The Go!

My organized scrapbooking queen is back today to share more of her superpowers with us!  And seeing how organized her systems are at home, it should come as no surprise that Sarah has a process for traveling too!  And scrapbooking is enjoyable in the comforts of your own home, but it's even more fun when you can get together and do it with people you adore!  Here she is now to share how she takes her scrapbooking on the go!


Happy Spring, everyone! As I look forward to getting out of the house a bit more and socializing with some of my favorite crafters, I thought it would be helpful to share some of my tips for crafting on the go.

One time I was scrapbooking at a local craft store and looked up in amazement to see a fellow patron dragging in a full-sized suitcase, a scrap tote and numerous bins. For a four-hour scrap session! While I applauded her clever use of a store cart to reduce the trek to one trip, I was still aghast: crafting should not be so complicated! This experience underscores one of my rules of thumb: crafting on the go should be fun, productive and should not require hiring a moving van to get from point A to point B.

When I travel to scrap, I limit my craft-related luggage to a maximum of three pieces.


I limit myself to three pieces of baggage because I am able to carry them all in one trip if necessary, and more importantly, I’ve proven to myself that it’s all I really need. My scrap tote is my #1 go-to bag, because it can fit nearly everything I need to make great use of my time. Depending on where I’m going and what I’ll be working on, I may also bring my die cutting machine. And if I’m going away for a weekend of crafting {a rare indulgence that affords double-digit hours for scrapping}, I will probably bring an extra bag for paper, embellishments, etc.

Maybe you’re thinking “But wait! How could I possibly fit everything I own into three little bags?!” These bags cannot fit all my crafting supplies, but they can fit everything I need to make productive use of a crafting session. No, they are not magical Mary Poppins carpet bags. Instead, I rely on a good planning system, some prioritization and a simple organizational system.

Planning Head

This is the one where most people get stuck, so I thought I would start here. I recommend selecting a limited number of projects to bring along with you on a craft-and-go session. I know it’s a challenge to even find time to get away to craft, let alone time at home to plan ahead for your craft session. But as with any successful organizational system, it is the planning time at the front-end that saves so much time later. I find that when I periodically dedicate a few precious hours to getting myself organized, my craft time is so much more productive and enjoyable.

Last year I shared with all of you my planning process, which I developed in an effort to be a more productive crafter {read: I got tired of sorting piles of pictures trying to figure out how the heck to get started}.

This process helps makes me a super-speedy crafter at home, but it is a God-send when it comes time to pack up and craft away from home. I am able to quickly flip through my bin of to-be-scrapped layouts and select the ones I want to bring along. I pick a few more than I think I can feasibly complete in the time I have available, so I’ll have a variety to choose from and won’t run out of things to work on.


Even if you don’t have time to plan exactly what you’re going to work on, I encourage you to not bring your entire “must craft” pile. Instead, select a subset of photos, memorabilia or projects to focus on during your craft session. You can’t get it all done anyway, so why not save some space and back pain?

Prioritization

Part of the trick of efficient craft travel is limiting what I bring to what I will feasibly use in the time allotted, i.e. leave the giant bin of ribbon and the kitchen sink at home. This selection process becomes even easier if you’ve selected the projects you’re going to work on, because you’ll have a good idea of the supplies you need to complete those projects.

Here’s how I decide which supplies to bring. Despite its size, I almost always bring my die cutting machine, because it’s an essential tool and I’m guaranteed to make use of it. The same cannot be said for most of my other large tools, so they stay at home unless they are absolutely essential to a project I’m working on. And if turns out I did need something I opted to leave behind, I figure I can quickly make use of it when I get home or save that step for my next craft session. The moral of the story: I pack only what I’m sure I will use.

Good Organization

So now I’ve selected my layouts and made the gut-wrenching decision to leave my giant sticker maker behind. But all that brain-power is wasted if I can’t get packed up and on my way. So my last set of tips centers on how I organize my travel supplies to make it easy for me to get out the door and on the way to fun.

First, I make a list. I know, I know… not exactly rocket science, but stay with me here! I’ve been burned multiple times, getting to a crop only to realize I had forgotten some essential supply, like my paper cutter. There goes my productivity down the drain! So I created a list of all my essential crafting-on-the-go items, laminated it for durability and tucked it into my scrap tote. Here’s what’s on my list:
  • Paper cutter
  • Adhesive roller
  • Glue pen
  • Small sticker maker
  • Ruler
  • Scissors
  • Cutting blade
  • Stylus
  • Spatula for die cutting mat
  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Colored pens
  • Cutting mat
  • Die cutting mat
  • Inspiration and stencil binders
  • Layouts to work on
  • Sticker and embellishment binders (optional)
  • Additional tools (punches, stamps, inks, embossing tools, etc). (optional)

When it’s time to pack up, I just pull out my tote, grab my list and begin assembling my supplies. I make decisions about what layouts and optional supplies to bring as noted above. As a go down the list and collect the items, I lay them all out on my table. This way I can double check that I have everything before I pack my bags.


In addition to my scrap tote itself, I have a number of containers that help me organize my supplies within my tote. These are not spendy items I picked up from “Expensive Storage Supplies Are Us.” They consist of some vinyl zipper pouches I got on sale in the school supply section at Target, some durable pencil cases I picked up from the dollar section at Target and some inexpensive 12X12 plastic pockets I purchased from Michaels. These containers serve a sole purpose: to organize my craft supplies when I’m traveling. This way I don’t have to try and find containers each time I pack my supplies. And they live in my empty tote between travel sessions, so I don’t have to waste time hunting them down when it’s time to pack up.

Two of the zipper pouches fit all my small supplies that I don’t want to leave rolling around in my tote, like my scissors, my adhesive runner, etc. The third pouch I use to corral any small, optional items I decide to bring along, like stamps or inks.




I usually need two pencil cases to house all my colored pens. I bring almost my entire collection, because I do believe those are essential to almost any craft project. Luckily the cases are compact and fit easily into the nooks of my scrap tote.


The 12X12 pockets are reserved for layouts. Depending on how long I’m going to be gone, I may bring a couple of these. It’s an easy yet inexpensive way to transport in-process and completed layouts and to keep them same from harm, since I don’t typically lug my entire scrapbook along.


Once I have everything laid out, I do a mental inventory to evaluate if everything will fit in my allotted three bags. If the answer is no, I weed things out. Once I’m good to go, I pack it all up. I start with the big items — like my binders, my mats and my pocket full of layouts — and then fill in around with the small stuff.



Selecting a scrap tote with nice side pockets and adjustable dividers helps make really good use of the space. If I need a bit of extra capacity for paper, embellishments and the like, I allow myself a third tote, loading up a durable, reusable bag.


So that’s a bit about how I travel to craft without bringing everything I own and still get a ton done. I’ve found that having this easy process — supported by a little planning ahead — has allowed me to spend more of my time creating. I hope these ideas helped get your creative juices flowing and inspired some ideas to get you out the door with a bit more ease.

What great tips do you have for minimizing your craft supplies when you travel? How do you ensure you spend less time packing and more time creating?




"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!"


40 comments:

  1. My biggest suggestion is to add a post-it note pad and shopping list pad to your supply list. I always find that there is something I just can't complete for whatever reason (ran out of "e" with my alphas, thin brown marker quit working, etc.) and it's usually just one little thing that needs finishing. I attach the sticky note to my LO with that missing item noted and can finish up the project in 5 minutes at home. And the shopping list: the brown pen quit so I need a new one, I finished up ___ supply. This way I know that the next time I go out for craft supplies, I need to pick up A, B and C. :)

    I also use either the 2 gal ziploc bags for my projects or if everything is flat, supplies for a LO (or two) just get slipped into a page protector. :)

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    1. Chris - great suggestion! I actually do always bring along post-its (clearly I need to update my laminated list ;) ), for the very same reason. You and I could be scrap buddies!

      :)Sarah

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  2. Right now I am starting to do Scrapbooking. Me and our friends started when we came back from Florida this February. The did the premade album, while I wanted something different. This will help me if we decide to get together and spend our time together scrapbooking...while the men go play Basketball!

    Take care!!
    http://anythingonmymindpr.blogspot.com/

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  3. Great post, but oh I am so happy to be a digital scrapbooker if I see this. Paper scrappers need so many stings! It wouldn't even fit in my small appartment. I only need my laptop, my Wacom Bamboo and my HD to scrap. :)

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    1. Thanks, Berniek. Yes, traditional scrapbooking is definitely for those of us with a hard-core commitment to the tactile experience. :) I'm so glad you've found something that works well for your life-style and allows you to indulge in your creatively - I think that's so important!


      :)Sarah

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  4. might I suggest "project life" by Becky Higgins? it's beautiful, complete, and simple. The only way I scrap book. coming soon to Michaels, hobby lobby and Target.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions on Project Life. I believe Jen is a fan of that as well, and Becky Higgins is a contributor to my favorite scrap magazine, so it must be a great alternative to traditional scrapbooking!

      :) Sarah

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  5. This is a great post for us scrappy people. :) I haven't gone to a crop in forever. Prefer to work at home, as I am more productive. I tend to talk more than work if I am at a crop. ;O May I share this on some of the scrapbooking message boards?? People are always posting questions about how to pack for crops.

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    1. Michelle, you missed an earlier draft of this post where I talked about how I can't "think and gossip" at the same time. It is a challenge for me to create from scratch while I'm catching up with my girlfriends, so planning ahead alleviates some of that challenge.

      And feel free to share away! :)

      :)Sarah

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    2. I did catch that Sarah. And ions ago when I did go to crops, I had all of my pages preplanned. :) Now, with me being on DT's and such, having a ton more product and needing to be more productive (LOL) I stay home. My friends don't scrapbook anyway. :) I have seen so many posts over at 2peas and such where someone is always asking how to prepare for a crop. I just wanted to be sure it was ok to post over there. Love your crop bag by the way.. is that a CM bag?? Kind of reminds me of theirs. I had one when they first came out forever ago. How are you enjoying the weather?? Hubby works in Mpls and we live in River Falls. He still isn't home from work yet.

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  6. I love reading your scrapping organizational tips. You inspire me. I have been guilty in the past of being that person who is carrying everything but the kitchen sink to a scrap party. It really takes the fun out of the whole thing when you do that. Great Post!

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  7. May I ask, What kind of die cut machine do you have?

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    1. Jen, I have a Cricut as well as the Gypsy.

      :)Sarah

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  8. Great post! I've always been interested in scrapbooking....but I will admire your organization from afar instead!

    http://wifeinprogressblog.com/

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  9. That's why I started to work with Project Life. It makes scrapping so much easier and the good thing is - you don't need tons of supplies. ;)
    Jule

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  10. I am a quilter rather than a scrapbooker, but I'm guessing this tip will work just as well for scrapbookers as it does for quilters.

    Yes, of course, the ideal situation is to bring the tools and materials you need, and only those items, to your events. But sometimes you forget something vital. Quilters are incredibly generous people. They are always willing to loan a tool or even give fabrics to friends and complete strangers. I've been the recipient of this generosity, and I've done my share of, well, sharing.

    So if you find you forgot something, ask the other participants!

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    Replies
    1. Right you are, Dorothy!

      :)Sarah

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  11. Sarah - Do you have a blog? I have been so inspired by your posts. I love how your posts are about my two favorite things...crafts & organization. I am always looking for new craft organizational ideas. My little crafting world could really use your great organizational skill set! Thanks for sharing your secrets with us!

    Ashlee

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    1. Ashlee - I don't have a blog. I save all my creative ideas for sharing with the IHeart readers. :-) If there is something specific you would like my to write about in future visits, I would love any suggestions. Thanks!

      :) Sarah

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    2. Sara - I would love to see pictures of your craft area! Something that I am still trying to figure out for myself is the best most efficient set up to have for my workspace while I am scrapbooking. I always feel like end up getting up a million times to find something. I am sure there is a logical way to set up my workspace, but I have not found it yet. Any suggestions would be GREATLY appreciated. BTW, I am in the process of implementing your process of preparing using the folios. I think that will come in very handy when I work on my next big project.
      Thanks again for sharing!
      Ashlee

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    3. Hi Ashlee!

      I actually "raided" her scrap room about two years ago and you can see it here: http://www.iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/2011/03/reader-raid-scrappin-up-storm.html

      Although, I am sure it has evolved a bit within the last two years, I know that many of her great systems have stayed the same. :)

      xo!
      Jen

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    4. Thanks, Jen! That was just what I was looking for. Now, I am curious about what exactly is in all those nicely labeled binders. I would love a peek inside!
      Ashlee

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    5. Ashlee, you're in luck! Check out my past posts to see my new and improved Inspiration, Embellishment, Sticker Letter and Stencil binders.

      And my list for future posts include 1) organizing tools and 2) organizing embellishments (there have been some changes since 2011 and there are more in the works!) in a way that makes it easier to work. So hopefully those future posts will provide you with some more ideas!

      :)Sarah

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  12. Sarah,
    I appreciate your helpful posts so much! Thank you.
    I have a question for you regarding your Scrabook Paper organization post using the Itso bin. I can't find any folders that fit in the bin. The make your own don't seem like they would work as the paper would hang out the sides and get ruined. Would you be willing to e mail me with some suggestions (unless answering here is OK)? My e mail is hanelson@live.com
    Thank you,
    Heather

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  13. Oh my gosh, again I had a jaw-dropping experience as I saw that your post matches what I was working on in my blog plans last night (with my new blog planner, thanks to you)!!! I'm tellin' ya, great minds think alike! This is something that's getting increasingly tougher for me to manage as I collect more supplies, so I'm glad for some more tips!!!

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    1. Too funny, Crystal!


      :)Sarah

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  14. Great tips!I love your rolling luggage bag. Where did you get the bag? so roomy!

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    1. That bag is a Paper Studio bag. They sell them at Hobby Lobby - and you can use their 40% off coupon. They even have them marked 50% off sometimes. They also do free shipping if it's over a certain dollar amount!

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    2. Hi Yeon Soo-

      I actually got mine at Michaels, also using a 40% off coupon. So good to know that it can be gotten at a couple of different places, either going to a physical location or ordering online. I like options!

      :)Sarah

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    3. Thank you for letting me know! =)

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  15. I loved this post and can't wait to get out to my next weekend crop.

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  16. I always look forward to your posts on this blog. I am a long-time scrapper who seeks better ways to organize my supplies and be more productive. I always learn from you.

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    1. Thank you for the kind words, Debbi and everyone else. I really look forward to my visits to IHeart. As I said to Ashlee above, if there are any specific topics you would like me to write about, I would be more than happy to take suggestions. Thanks!

      :) Sarah

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  17. I love everything about this! I'm a long time scrapper and have everything set up in my basement (it's semi organized, here's my set up: http://sweettownhome.blogspot.com/2012/03/guest-post-my-craft-room.html), but I've always been nervous to go to crops and to other scrapping events because I have no idea how to travel with my supplies.
    This is so helpful! Thank you!

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  18. Great article!

    I finally gave up on my big scrap bag (similar to the one you show) because my papers got too beat up in it. I have a mix right now of CM and (I think?) cropper-hopper poly organizer pockets, separated by color. I keep them in two hard-sided file boxes from CM and they fit nicely in a milk crate. A couple years ago I picked up a collapsible crate/cart thing that works quite nicely and stores away flat. I can put both paper boxes and a project tote with the album, cutting mat, and a few tools in it.

    I have two "tool pouches" - one is a toiletry kit that has a roomy section that all my pens fit in, with a small section where I keep good scissors, an exacto knife and a couple other hand tools like that.

    The second is a bigger one where I keep my tape runner, a couple of punches that I use a lot, blades for my cutting tools, a corner rounder, some adhesives, etc.

    I store everything in these containers on shelves at home, and then when I want to pack up for a crop, I pop them into crates and off I go.

    I still take too much stuff to the "away" crops because I'm not very good at planning my layouts ahead. I usually leave most of my embellishment doo-dads at home and add them later if paper, cut-outs, punchies, and ribbon isn't enough.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for sharing, Nicola - that sounds like a great system and I love that you re-purposed non-scrap items to do the job!

      :) Sarah

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  19. I'm about to head off to Australia for a year travelling and working. Last time I did this I came home with a craft kit. This time I'll be taking one. Not on your scale but it's a great article which should help me plan what to take so thanks.

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  20. Happy packing and happy travels, Gemma!

    :)Sarah

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  21. Great ideas! I'm curious, what kind of pens are those in the pencil boxes? They look like paint markers...?

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  22. Wow...This is what i have been looking for and you have done a great job. Beautiful layout. Thanks for sharing.
    Scrapbooking

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