Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Paper Bag Scrapbooks

For anyone who scrapbooks regularly you're probably already familiar with the term "paper bag scrapbook."  For those who aren't, let me me show you what it's all about.

Sometimes I find that I want to put together a small scrapbook that focuses on a single event, person, place, etc. I want it to be aesthetically pleasing but don't necessarily want to go to a lot of expense or time putting it together. Several years ago several unique and fun solutions made the rounds of the scrapbook community. Crafters began making scrapbooks out of common objects found in their homes such as envelopes, cd's, tags, and paper bags. I've done them all and today would like to share with you one of my paper bag scrapbooks.

It started with a stack of photographs from a 1998 trip to Fernandina Beach, Florida. 

I went through my stash of paper bags and chose brown lunch bags for this project. (Just a side note here, if at all possible I recommend using unused bags whenever possible. Somehow I don't think a scrapbook that smells like tuna fish sandwich is necessarily something you want to show your friends).

I decided that it was the perfect opportunity to use this stash of small shells

I also raided my offices supplies - labels, staples, brads, all make excellent embellishments.

Next I pulled out my tote of paper scraps. Yes, I have a FULL 64 quart plastic tote full of scraps of paper. For the record, I NEVER throw paper out.

It was time to get started. First step was to cut the bottoms off two bags. I removed the bottoms because I wanted all open ends for creating pockets .... you can leave them intact if you want to.

Next I stacked the bags and folded them in half, making sure to press down on the fold.

I opened the bags back up and using my sewing machine (one used just for sewing on paper) stitched along the fold mark. If you don't have a machine to dedicate to paper you can always use a sharp tool and pierce along the fold mark and then go back and hand stitch your pages together.

If you find your edges uneven and that sort of thing bothers you, use your paper trimmer to even them up. I personally like the unevenness and usually leave it as is.

Now comes the fun part, creating a scrapbook using photos, paper, and embellishments. Before you know it, you'll come up with something like this

This side view shows the pockets that were created with the bags. Notice inside each pocket are several removable miniature pages.

Opened the scrapbook to the center you can see the stitching that keeps the book together.  You will also notice punched holes which in this case are purely decorative touches. However, if you don't want to sew your scrapbooks together, you can use the punched holes along with ribbon or string to hold the pages together.

On the flip side, the ribbons are tied

For this scrapbook, I chose to use background paper on each page, however that's a personal preference. Many people adhere their photos and embellishments directly to the brown paper. I think it depends on the "look" you're going for, and remember, there are no set rules!

Here you will see a separate "page" that really looks like a giant tag. The ribbon on the end is not only decorative but also makes it easier to pull the tag from its pocket.

Both sides of tags are treated as scrapbook pages and easily slide

in and out of the pockets.

Sometimes when scrapbooking you will find pictures that aren't necessarily good photographs. Don't throw them out! If you look close enough I'm sure you'll find something in them that can help tell your story

Here is an example.  In the original photo all the people were making less than photogenic faces. I chose to focus on their tired but happy little feet!

Another example can be seen on the front cover. All of the photos used here are small background pieces cut from photographs. As background they seem small and insignificant, but here they provide a collage of scenes that depict the theme of my scrapbook - Sunset at the Marina

Another technique utilized, one that will make some scrapbookers gasp, was
 cutting people out of the photograph and mounting them directly to the page. I'm going for a fun and playful look and this technique plays right into it.

Last but not least, the back cover - nothing special, just a mix of all the patterned papers used. I should have included a label with the date and place but never got around to it....maybe I should add it now?!

Paper bag scrapbooks are fun and easy to pull together. Lunch bags are not the only options out there. I love to use wine bags and these white ones which come from iHop 
I collect bags wherever I go .... much to the amused embarrassment of my family.


  1. This is SO cute! You have inspired me to scrapbook. But when?

  2. For a moment I thought that said the wine bags came from IHOP, and I was thinking wow, IHOP and booze, I never knew!