Smaller Scrapbooking

September already! Life just continues on at rocket speed, doesn’t it?

While I’ve been a bit quiet here recently, lots has been happening behind the scenes. One of the main things I’ve focused on is how to take the aspects of the Project Life process and translate it to the smaller scrapbooking size that I thoroughly enjoy right now.

120818J6054I jumped on board with the 12×12 size in 2012 – thinking if everyone liked it so well, maybe I could transition to it. Wrong. I bought the album, the page protectors, core kit(s), and jumped in. But the size remained a stopping point for me. I understand the reasoning behind 12x12s, but I found myself sighing heavily when dragging out these monsters that need over two feet of table space to open. A full one I use for some of my research photos for Yellowstone weighs in at nearly 10 lbs! No wonder it feels like a chore.

I need to be true to myself and downsize to a smaller size – basically the half sheet binders, but in searching online, I never quite found one that satisfied, so I created the ones I wanted – and am selling them in my Etsy Shop. But what to do with all those lovely page protectors? How can I make them work in this lighter size?

Time to slice and dice!

The first thing I wanted to do is to measure exactly what sizes do fit. The album itself measures 8.5″ wide by 9″ tall with a 2.5″ spine. Inside there’s a 2″ D-ring that has 3 rings spaced in the traditional half sheet hole spacing. To measure how wide anything added can be, I measured from the center of the binder rings to the edge: 7.25″ – you’ll also notice that I’ve painted the chipboard here – it’s my hands-down favorite way to start customizing it. (I’ve used Martha Stewart’s craft paints in satin here).


Wanting to not have to rethink this multiple times, I created a reference book for myself, starting with cut sheets of cardstock (my new favorite is the Office Max Bristol brand – good for sketching as well as a base for photos) to see how they match up with the album.


Next, gathering together all the plastics (page protectors) in one spot, I started to slice and dice them, and fill them with cards that will help me remember which ones I used to create the various types:


I got two of the above types out of one page protector. The other side left needed some extra added to it so there was room to punch holes. Washi tape works great for that.

To punch new holes in plastic, first fold over a sheet of paper and insert the plastic. The paper on both sides gives the punch enough ‘purchase’ to grab hold and cut cleanly. Works like a charm!

To finish using the Design A pattern, I had two 4×6 pockets left from the bottom (or you could cut the bottom ones if you wanted to flip the look of the one in the photo above.). I chose to just fold them over to fit.


So they could be opened up.


Moving on to another type I have in my stash, I pulled out a page protector from the Design I pack – three 4×4 pockets, cut off one and punched new holes:


Leaving one  4×4 pocket that can be added in by itself:


Next up was Design F. You can see in the photo above, that I cut out the 4×6 pocket on its own (punched new holes for it). Then I was left with all those vertical 3×4 pockets. Two were cut on their own that had the extra 1/2″ to punch the new holes in:


And then I took four pockets and added a washi tape edge (the butterfly washi tape came from Michael’s – think it was a store brand) and punched it. It could be left open, but in this case, I folded it over.



The next page protector I pulled out was one made for sports cards – these fit 2.5×3.5″ photos or cards. Half of a 3.5 x 5 photo, which might be a system to consider for this size, but so much of what is out there right now is 4×6 or 3×4. Again, I had 4 pockets, then two more left and punched new holes and added washi tape as needed.


Next up, Becky Higgins’ vertical 5×7. Fits fine, but needed new holes punched:


And then, the We R Memory Keepers’ 5.5×8.5 page protectors. These are designed for the smaller binders and the holes worked perfectly. These also match up on the outside edge with the Field Journaling notebook paper.


And I’ve purchased some of the Simple Stories items – they work, but come to the edge of the Field Journaling binders –  not a big issue for me, but using them means I’ll need to either be OK with making tabbed dividers that will stick out on the side, or I can put them on the top where they’ll still stick out a bit, but not as much. Or just not worry about tabbed dividers.

The one thing about the Simple Stories 6×8 size is that it’s not actually 6×8. I put the dotted cardstock behind an actual 6×8 so you can see. It’s actually fits the same size as the field journaling paper: 6.25×8.5. Persnickity prints has a 6×8.5 as one size they offer.


And finally, I pulled out a 6×12 page protector – this one from American Crafts. They actually leave almost an inch for the hole punch area when most manufacturers usually leave about 1/2 inch. This, though, solves the problem for them that the Simple Stories one doesn’t of that slight bit of extra space.

With this one, I sliced it off at 8.5″ and then Realized that it won’t actually fit a 6×8.5″ sheet – a tiny bit hangs over because of the tiny bit that is used at the bottom to seal it off. It also fits snugly along the edge of the binder. Just something I’ll need to know when choosing this option.


So with all of these smaller options coming out, is this the wave of scrapbooking future? Or just a passing fad? Not sure myself, but I love having these options and don’t mind at all making things work for this lighter and smaller size of scrapbook. It makes it feel like it’s fully my own.

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  • Janet Kemper
    Sep 03, 2013., 09:38 •

    I love this. I, too, jumped in on the 12x12 size, that I have never been a fan of. though it worked for me last year, this year, not so much. I debated over going smaller, but already had the product, so I stuck with it. It feels like a chore this year. I am switching to a smaller size for sure.

    • Janet
      Sep 03, 2013., 10:03 •

      Glad to hear I'm not alone in going smaller and lighter with the scrapbooks. I love the pocketed page protectors as well as a shake up in sizes, and finally just sat down and figured out how to make things work. I'm also signed up for Project Life Lessons over at Big Picture Classes - - my hope is that the class will help me develop this into a fully workable solution that will make my heart sing.

      • Janet Kemper
        Sep 04, 2013., 07:14 •

        I have been thinking of signing up for this class....

        • Janet
          Sep 04, 2013., 09:01 •

          The pre-class content actually lit a fire under me to get this slicing and dicing of the plastics done. My main goal for the class is to define all that I enjoy (smaller size, page protectors, etc) and blend them together, so by the end of this year I'll have a more solid approach to all the documenting of life.

  • Margie
    Sep 03, 2013., 12:59 •

    Smaller is better. When we were looking at wedding photo albums, I chose smaller as the large ones do not fit on a normal bookcase shelf! The photographer was not happy but I was!

  • Christine
    Oct 16, 2013., 05:42 •

    I have arthritis in my hands so those large album were not practical for me and to be honest they also scared me, I have a few, empty because I'm afraid to start. It's only my husband and me plus our pets and I see fully filled albums of people with small kids. I'm afraid I can only fill half of it and have the feeling my life is boring. I figured smaller size albums would be non-kids-project-lifers friendly and would not stare me in the face all the time begging to be filled. I love writing stories, so for me it's the journaling and than the photos. Okay I'm going to take the plunge and the risk of sounding dumb. :-) I'm a wannabe American living in Oregon and come from Europe were we all have only standard sizes even for hole punchers. Which made me wonder, since your album/binder is unique how do you know where to punch the holes? Do you have a punchers that punches exactly on those spots where the rings are or do you have to measure and draw markers and punch a hole one by one? This is something that I have been wondering about. In my doom scenario, which I'm very good at, I see pocket protectors with criss cross holes totally out of whack because I can't even draw a straight line. My One Little Word for this year is embrace imperfection but I'm afraid having out of whack page protectors will be too much for me. I hate it that every binder comes with it's own proprietary plastic protectors that won't fit anywhere else. I've looked at Studio Calico, but those can not be use anywhere else, so you're stuck paying whatever it is they want you to pay. Same goes for Simple Stories, October Afternoon, Bo Bunny, Doodlebugs. You just can not buy a cheaper generic 8x6 protectors and use the in whatever album you choose to work on. Plus, while I'm on my sospbox I might as well get it all out, the not divided 8x6, the regular blank ones are always out of stock. I'm totally convinced that the only way to get away from those companies that hold me hostage in a page protector situation is to cut up and slice your own. Thanks so much for writing it all down! I guess it will be a trial and error for me because I also don't get the point where you write that you had half an inch extra so you could make new hole. I was like, erhm ... ? Really? So I will have to practice. If you can give me some pointers wrt to the holes and the puncher I'll be well on my way!

    • Janet
      Oct 16, 2013., 05:55 •

      Hi Christine, The holes on the Field Journaling binder are standard for a half sheet of standard letter sized paper - a standard size and hole spacing here in the US. I have two hole punches that work for letter size (8.5x11) and on the back, there's a place to adjust them to other standard sizes. I just shift the outer ones to the 5.5 location and it works. I also have two antique 'two hole' punches that are also standard sizes, so it fits for just two of the rings on the FJ binders. It is completely frustrating to have all the various proprietary holes for the various brands.

      • Christine
        Oct 16, 2013., 18:04 •

        Thanks so much Janet that info is very useful. I'll have a look on Amazon for the standard and adjustable 8.5x11 punchers. I'm house bound so Amazon is my friend. ;-) And will hop over to your Etsy store to get the binders. Thanks so much for taking the time to answer.

  • Christine
    Oct 16, 2013., 05:49 •

    PS: I just looked at some Basic Grey album system that looks promising, named Capture, but again a different size 7x9. Which makes you think simple stories protectors 6x8 should fit, but I'm not holding my breath. The thing that attracted me to Basic a Grey is something they thought up and it's called 'attach me'. They have a video online where they show it. It's basically a sticker with 2 holes in it that you fold and attach to a paper or photo and than you can place it directly in your album. Brilliant! Only problem is that it isn't out yet. :-) but I'm keeping a close eye on it.

    • Janet
      Oct 16, 2013., 05:58 •

      I looked at the Basic Grey albums the other day and theirs won't work well in the Field Journaling Binders as they'll hang out the top by an inch or so. The 'attach me' idea is a good one, but I'm hoping they won't be as long as the rest of the Basic Grey smaller scrapbooking size - or if they are that they can be cut down. They're also maybe an inch thick - really thin binders that won't hold a whole lot. Nice quality, but really something I'd only look at for a mini album, not something for the long haul.

      • Christine
        Oct 16, 2013., 18:07 •

        I see that they have the 'attach me' stickers in stock now so I ordered a few to see how it works. Will report back with a review. Thanks for letting me know about the thin binders, will maybe work for a December Daily album but you're right certainly not for a year long PL album.

  • Julie
    Mar 08, 2014., 01:30 •

    Hi, Great tips:) I'm in the UK & we mainly use A4 which is like 8 1/2 x 11. 12 x 12 (A3 here) would be far too much for me. If possible please could you show a picture on this: "To punch new holes in plastic, first fold over a sheet of paper and insert the plastic. The paper on both sides gives the punch enough ‘purchase’ to grab hold and cut cleanly." I can't really do things without pictures. Thank you.

    • Julie
      Aug 11, 2014., 16:21 •

      Hi again, I was thinking of punching holes in washi tape as you've suggested. Thank you for these great tips:)