Organizing Paper – Part Deux

Hi there! If you arrived here from my guest post on, welcome! If you’re a regular here, welcome back and don’t forget to drop by SimplyFrugal  to check out my article about frugal scrapbooking!

Hopefully the previous post helped you get rid of some of the paper that was cluttering up the precious storage space you have for your scrapbooking and paper crafting supplies (PS – I’d love to hear what you ended up doing with it!) Now that you have SOME order to your paper, it’s time to finish up sorting, organizing and storing it. In this post I want to share with you  a system that works for me and also give you some ideas that other scrappers use. Then, I’ll give you your “task” for today. And remember I said we would try to only spend 15 – 20 minutes on each of our little tasks!

Before you jump in, take a minute to think about how you use paper in your scrapping process.

  • Do you like to use papers that coordinate/are part of the same line or mix it up by using a wide variety? 
  • Do you take the time to search for a solid paper that is exactly the same color as the flower in the patterned paper you are using or are you OK with “close enough”? 
  • When you think of a specific paper you remember buying, do you remember the colors in it or the manufacturer’s name/brand?
  • Do you have scraps that you keep for other projects or only use full size sheets. 
  • Also, think about any past efforts at organizing –  what worked? What didn’t?

The answers to these questions will give you clues into how you can organize your paper to really work for you. If you think in terms of colors, by all means sort and store your paper that way. If you work in collections, containerize all pieces of the collection together in one spot so you’ll be able to put together a layout easily. If you tend to remember the names of paper manufacturer’s or their styles, then organize the paper that way. Or, if you are like me, you may use an assortment of these and other paper storage solutions.

Here’s what works for me:

I sort and store my solid cardstock by colors. I keep neutrals (brown, beige, cream, kraft, black, gray and white) together in one vertical paper holder by Cropper Hopper. Warm colors (red, orange, yellow, pink) go in another holder and Cool colors (blue, aqua, green, purple) find their home in a third. This was I can easily locate a piece of background paper or a perfect match to a color in a patterned paper I am using. I use this system for my 12 x 12 paper as well as my 8.5 x 11 paper, which I store in inexpensive cardboard magazine files. All solid cardstock is kept together on a low shelf in the cupboard right behind my scrap desk.

My frugal nature prohibits me from throwing anything out, so I hang on to every little scrap of paper that might be useful again (but usually anything smaller than 2 inch square gets tossed in the recycle bin.) I organize these paper scraps of all sizes by color. I have two three-drawer 12 x 12 Sterilite units stacked on top of each other underneath my scrapbook table. The 6 color categories I adopted here are Neutrals, Blues, Greens, Red, Pinks/Purples and Yellow/Oranges. Solid and patterned scraps are assigned to drawers by their MOST OBVIOUS COLOR, even if there is more than one color present. I find I go to my scrap drawers more often now that I have organized them this way as it is so easy to find a small piece of paper in a color that would work on the layout I am doing.

As far as patterned paper goes, I most often remember individual pieces according to the names of the manufacturer, so it makes sense for me to organize it this way. In my scrap space I have one of the IKEA Expedit bookshelves as an additional work and storage surface. I keep four inexpensive storage boxes in the lower shelves that work great for storing 12 x 12 paper. I first identified and sorted my paper by manufacturer and then placed each small pile of paper in 12 x 12 polypropelene craft keepers. I labeled the top of each craft keeper with the name of the manufacturer and stacked them upright in one of the boxes so that when I pull the box out from the shelf I can see at a glance the keeper I need. I did them same for coordinating collections or groups of products I am using for a particular project and I labeled these with the project name (ie: “Sam’s Baby Album” or “Project 365”). My Brother P-Touch Labeller is perfect for these types of jobs!

(I do also have a small selection of patterned paper that I cannot identify the manufacturer. I keep these in smaller Cropper Hopper vertical units along with my solid cardstock. BUT…since I reorganized this way last summer, I find I am not really using this paper, so I think it’s next to be purged!)

I think that covers my paper organization. For the most part this system really works for me and when I have a few minutes to scrapbook I can usually find the papers I want to use very quickly. That’s what great about organizing and storing supplies according to your own needs – NOT just because someone says it’s the “right” or “best” way to do things. Think about the way you work and seek solutions based on that.  To inspire you a bit more, here are some ideas that might work for you. Click on the links below each picture to get more information.

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Use a Locker Bin to store paper in hanging folders

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Use a file box to store scraps

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If you have a closet in your scrap space, try hanging up your papers in plastic bags or stacking paper holders in a hanging sweater shelf.

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Use a rolling cart that you can move to wherever you are scrapping.

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Build the perfect storage center for paper (and other items) using customizable cubes. (PS…similar cubes are available at Michaels…use your 40% or 50% off coupons!!!)
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If you can splurge a bit, consider purchasing a standing wire rack like scrapbooking stores use. They can be expensive but may be worth it, especially if you have a dedicated scrap space that you will be using long term.

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If you don’t have a dedicated scrap space or if you mainly scrap at crops or with friends, think portable! An  accordian style paper file or a deluxe wheeled cart that you can outfit for paper storage (shown above) would work well to store and transport your paper.

If you are so inclined, have a quick read of how the fabulous Stacy Julian organizes her papers and other supplies by color. Her system was definitely the inspiration for my own.

And from an organizational point of view, check out Aby Garvey’s tips for scrapbook storage, which addresses different aspects of sorting and storing and offers a variety of solutions.

Lastly, if you can ever see this book

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grab it and run to the nearest cashier! You will be so happy you did! Sadly it is out of print, but The Organized and Inspired Scrapbooker was written by Wendy Smedley and Aby Garvey and is the quintessential guide to organizing your scrap space! It offers hundreds of valuable tips and oodles of to-die-for pictures!

OK…we’ve spent more time talking about paper organizing than doing it! So, if you are inspired, here’s your task for today. Try to do each task quickly and don’t think too much about the next step while you are working, and try not to spend more than 15 – 20 minutes sorting and organizing. (Containerizing might take you a little extra time!)

  1. Gather all the piles of paper you purged during our last task. Once you have decided which type of paper organization system you think will work for you, sort your papers according to those groupings. (ie: solid colors 12 x 12, solid colors 8.5 x 11, scraps by color, patterned paper by color or manufacturer, groupings by collection or manufacturer, product collections for specific projects etc.)
  2. Look at the space you have available to store your papers. Decide which type of storage solution  might work best – upright/vertical, hanging in a box, on shelves etc. See if you can repurpose some storage items that you already have or decide what items you might need to purchase. Remember that containerizing comes LAST in the organizational process, but is one of the most important. 
  3. Place paper in containers, label if necessary and store!

If you can’t containerize and store right away ( ie: if you need to go and purchase storage items first), keep each pile/category of paper separate from each other and put a sticky note on top to easily identify it. You might think you will remember what category each pile is, but chances are you’ll forget! And make sure to set a due-date to ensure you finish up the task at hand!

After you have your system in place, test it out by sitting down and making a layout. Are things handy? Does it work for you? If not, you may have to make a few tweaks here and there, but the majority of the grunt work has already been done, so any alterations shouldn’t take too much time.

Whew! That was a lot of info and a lot of work! How do you feel? I would love to know if this was helpful to you, what results you had and any additional tips you have. Please share your advice and experiences and leave a comment!

Good luck with that pesky but oh-so-pretty paper!

Next up: Organizing your embellishments!

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