Scrapping with a Limited Stash – Theresa Sondjo

Scrapbooking with a limited stash.

Today’s post about scrapbooking using only a limited amount of supplies in your stash is from Awesome Ladies Creative Team member Theresa

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I spend a lot of time on the road and a lot of time between homes, without the comfort and ease of my large stash to scrapbook with. It’s taken a few years, but I’ve finally got my “moving” stash down. And I like the minimalism so much, I’m moving towards a limited stash as my new scrapbooking normal.

I build my travel kit with a few guiding principles:

1. Everything but my paper cutter has to fit into one Iris large 12×12 case, and six small 6×4 case.
2. I need to be able to scrapbook, do project life, and make thank you cards with whatever I bring.
3. I can supplement on the road, but I need enough of the basics to get me though about three months.

I start by gathering my tools:


Paper cutter, scissors, tiny attacher, adhesive (with lots of extras), and my WRMK hole punch.


Clear acrylic for stamping, more adhesive, and my favorite washi (including one black and white neutral for non-scrapbooking use in my planner when needed).

Once I’ve gathered my tools, I start pulling my favorite pretty things:


Paper: I like bright tone on tone backgrounds. I like wood grain. And my preference is for more color rather than less. I pull a few more than a dozen 12x12s, then add some neutral 12x12s to balance out the collection.  Then I pull 2-3 6×6 albums.

Lately, I’m digging Basic Grey, so I pulled two of those. I don’t worry too much about matching because I have a pretty clearly defined style, and I know I’ll be able to pull what I need from either the 12x12s or the 6x6s.  I also pull white card stock (not pictured) for back grounds, cut outs, and cards.


Die cuts: I use a lot of large die cuts in my backgrounds, either cut out of white cardstock or vellum.  I take a day to cut several in advance, then slide them into a regular 12×12 page protector with a piece of kraft paper or cardboard to keep them safe.  These go into the 12×12 Iris with my 12×12 patterned paper.


Embellishments:  because I’m using a 12×12 Iris container, I can put a few (but not many) Thickers and 6×12 sticker sheets. I usually pull three of my current favorite Thickers, and whatever sticker collections I just can’t get enough of in a given moment.  I set anything 6×4 or smaller aside for the next stage.


Wood veneer and thicker embellishments, like flair. I picked up a small divided container at JoAnn Fabrics, and just dropped my favorite pieces into it.  I use a fair amount of twine on cards, so pulled my favorite colors to take with me in another small container.


Stamps and ink: part of moving is meeting neighbors and going to welcome dinners and making new friends.  I need stamps for Project Life, and I need stamps for thank you cards, birthday cards, and any other events that I may need cards stuff while stash-less. I don’t, however, need a lot of different inks. Just black Versafine, and a few prima chalk inks that match my favorite washi.


Envelopes and cards:  I find it’s easier just to use precut cards and envelopes, than try and make my own, especially when working from a limited stash.  The alphabet stamps cover any cards I don’t have a pre-made sentiment for.


And finally, page protectors in a variety of sizes to keep and protect the work that I do.  I bring 12x12s for regular scrapping, as well as several different sizes for pocket scrapbooking.

In to the 6x4s:


Journaling cards and scraps. All of my journaling cards have to fit in one 6×4 Iris. I mix all of my collections together, and just fill up the Iris case with my favorites.  I don’t bother bringing cards I don’t like or that don’t match my style.


Pens. Sigma Microns. Gold. Silver. White. Winks of Stella. Pens get their own container because I’m pretty finicky about them.


Alphas, small embellishments, and pens: again, everything needs to fit in a 6×4 container. I had to trip the SN@P alphas by about 1/4” on each side, but it was worth it to make them fit. After the alphas, I pulled some of my favorite stickers and enamel dot colors.


And finally, photos for project life, organized by week, and white card stock, cut into 6×4 cards. Actually, I just buy American Crafts 6×4 card stock. It’s relatively inexpensive, and saves me the effort of having to cut it down myself.

I also carry a 5×7 Iris container full of larger photos in my carry-on, just in case.

Lessons learned for the next time: I didn’t need nearly as many alphas or enamel dots as I thought I did.  I should have packed more die cuts, flat embellishments, and fibers.  And I should have packed a few more neutral 12×12 papers because even when supplementing with a kit subscription, I occasionally found myself wishing for less bright backgrounds to scrap against.

I pack everything into suitcases with my clothes.  As I mentioned above, I’ve supplemented a bit with my Citrus Twist subscription, as well as an order from the rukristin shop, but in general, I’ve found that scrapping with a very small stash has really helped me creatively.  So often, scrapbooking becomes about stuff and acquiring more stuff.  I really like that limited supplies have forced me to focus much more clearly on taking pictures and telling stories.

How do you scrap when you travel?  Anything I didn’t include that you can’t live without?

Theresa Sondjo is a paper crafter, a writer, a cook, a militant feminist, a blogger, a mother, a nerd, a reader, and a love of books and coffee. Her goal in life is to leave the world a better place than she found it. In pursuit of that goal, she’s traveled the world as a Peace Corps Volunteer, a tech entrepreneur in West Africa, and now works for her government abroad. She’s convinced her family to share in her adventures, and is pursuing the documentation of the memories her family makes together with the same passion that she has about creating them.

  • Jo

    If I’m going to a crop, I do a similar thing packing my key tools and then I get out the photos I’m taking with me and plan my LOs around them. I choose my papers and cardstock in a similar way but often choose one of my Studio Calico kits and limit myself to that.
    If I’m going on a weekend away then as a group we plan what extra tools we have and share those for example a Cricut and stamps etc and then I pack my bag with more items in. i usually plan a minibook for the weekends so I’ll take more cardstock
    Jo xxx

    • So smart. That’s one of the reasons I love kits, you can just pull them and leave the house with a few basic supplies.

      • Jo

        Exactly :) xxx

    • I pre-kit my layouts for crops too. Makes it SO MUCH EASIER.

  • Kelly Jean

    I really need to do more minimal scrapping. I get easily overwhelmed by my options and spend lots of time looking for “the perfect thing.” Thank you for sharing how you minimize your supplies. I think I will give this a shot again!

    • I’m the exact same way. I always spend way too much of my crafting time getting decision fatigue and then not actually making any meaningful progress.

      • Decision fatigue is exactly the right word for it. I’m not ready to abandon my stash entirely, but I’m a big fan of minimalism, now that I’ve had to do it for several months.

  • Laura

    Thanks! This is really good timing as I recently decided to go on a weekend scrap retreat to which I’ll be flying, when I usually drive to those. A major re-think of what I “need” to bring is in order, and this really helps!

    • Are you going to be checking your luggage or only doing carry-on? I’ve packed scrap kits for both.

      • Laura

        I’ll be checking my bag. This whole thing is causing me anxiety already!

    • I’m glad it could help! For retreats and crops, I also pre-kit photos … pull the photos I want to scrap, then put together kits w/ paper, alphas, and embellishments in big ziplock bags. It really cuts down on how much of my stash I have to drag alone.

  • I don’t know whether I’m more impressed by your scrapbooking tips or by your career path!

    • Isn’t Theresa just the most extraordinary!

  • lynn

    We are downsizing to full time rv living. This gives me hope that I will still be able to find room for scrapping. Thanks for the ideas.

    • You can! I’ve found that it’s much easier to be creative when I have a limited stash. I waste so much time trying to put together pretty kits and packages for a layout. This takes out a lot of the challenging decision making and helps me focus on creating.