How to use pocket pages for speedy scrapbooking

How to use pocket pages for speedy scrapbooking main article image
Posted on March 7, 2021 by Lisa-Jane Johnson

Scrapbooking is all about telling a story or conveying a message about an event and there are many ways in which to do this. One style that is gaining in popularity is called pocket scrapbooking, or pocket pages. Instead of having the standard scrapbook page of 12 inches square, which then fits into a 12×12 page protector, pocket pages are pre-made compartments within a 12×12 protector, to guide you on where to put your photos and products. They now come in a wide range of sizes for all kinds of albums and I’m a huge fan of using the 6×8 pages for my Christmas journal. There is also a Fuse tool by We R Memory Keepers that seals new seams in the page protectors and can cut a new opening, so that you can create your own style of pockets or seal things inside for a fun touch. For this discussion though, let’s stick with the 12×12 page protectors.

Evolved from Project Life

Pocket Pages initially came from Becky Higgins’s Project Life idea. She wanted to create a system where people could scrapbook far more quickly and easily than most of the standard 12×12 styles we see today.  Although Project Life was designed to scrapbook your memories week by week, the driving force was removing some of the overwhelm of scrapbooking by providing a template and associated products.  You use the pockets to place your photos, adding a card or two to record some details and then use pretty ‘filler’ cards to complete the page.  You don’t need any special tools, or even glue and scissors, just slip the cards from the themed kits and your photos in the pockets, add your journaling, and it’s job done. This style is very minimalist but it’s great way to start, and it’s a fast way to get a lot of photos into your albums. Many people never stray from this style because it suits them perfectly and some people might choose to add some embellishments for a little creative flair.  For a lot of crafters though, the idea has evolved into a sort of hybrid between the minimalist Project Life style and the standard 12×12 layouts, which results in each little pocket being treated almost like it’s own mini canvas.  The only downside is that the page protectors cause glare when you try and take photos of your layouts – here is my double page inside the pockets.

Good layout for projects with many photos

With more afford and better quality home printers, lots of scrapbookers choose to print their photos as they go along so they can decide what size to print at the time they go to make their layouts. However, lots of people still prefer to send off a batch of images and have a good pile of standard sized photos to choose from when creativity strikes. In the case of a holiday or other large event, this can lead to an overwhelming amount of photos and this is where pocket scrapbooking really comes into it’s own.

Whereas a standard 12×12 layout might look swamped with more than 2 standard photos on, the seams on the split page protectors give that little space in between the pockets and this helps the eye to see them almost as individual elements that don’t compete for attention. The supplies you use then help to bring the whole page together and the end result is still a cohesive layout that doesn’t overwhelm the reader.

This page that I’ve created here as an example, I’ve tried to keep quite minimalist (which is very hard for me!).  I had a ridiculous amount of photos from this one hour bird show at a theme park in Lanzarote and I wanted to try and keep it to one double sided page. Firstly I sorted the photos into landscape and portrait first to help me decide which configuration of page protector to use – there are so many placement to choose from.  I had a few landscape images that I wanted to keep as 6×4 and some that I could trim down to use in the 3×4 pockets.

Clear templates

I use these clear templates from Simple Stories to help me trim my photos down for various projects.  You do need to be a bit careful with the various brands and sizes of page protectors though as each one will be slightly different.  With this one, there are 2 landscape 6×4 pockets top and bottom and then 4 portrait 3×4 pockets across the middle.  The smaller ones have a seam allowance meaning that they are actually just shy of 3×4 and the larger ones have less seams so are just slightly over 6×4.  If the extra space bothers you, you can add a layer of cardstock under your photo to fill the pocket.  I tend to wait until my pocket is complete, then stick the back and front together to make sure none of the reverse sneaks into view, then I add a tiny glue dot to a dark area which just stops it moving around in the pocket.

Photo layout

Once I had trimmed my photos, I laid them out across the 2 pages (front and back) to see where I had gaps to fill.  I knew I wanted to leave the front top left open for a title which meant I filled the rest of the 6×4 slots with photos. I spread the 3×4 photos out so that I had 2 gaps on the reverse for a filler and a journaling card, and only one gap on the front, which provided balance because I already had a non photo slot for the title. You’ll see from the finished page compared to the pattern above that I shifted them around to accommodate the green filler card. Because it has an arrow on it, I wanted to make sure this was pointing in towards the page which is better for the eye, rather than off into the distance.  With pocket pages, you can get extra mileage from your cards if you are able to use both sides. This green card was perfect because it had a journaling spot on the other side. The rainbow filler card had a design I didn’t like on the back so I didn’t mind losing that one.

Add embellishment

The Hello on the title card was already printed on it so I just added some tiny letter stickers to provide more relevance.  Because there is a lot of colour in the photos, I wanted to keep the title card light. I embellished a couple of little areas on some of my photos because this suits my style but you can absolutely leave them as they are and not all photos have “white space” for you to use.  I added an arrow to the photo next to the green card because I was highlighting the bird in flight which is quite difficult to spot! I also added a little tab to the neighbouring photo – a judiciously placed embellishment can often hide things you don’t want in your pictures! I like to have 3 clusters of similar embellishments on my layouts where possible and I find that this is key in pocket layouts too because it helps to draw the eye around the layout making it cohesive.  I love using enamel dots in my clusters and it reinforces the power of 3 design element which utilises the brain’s preference for identifying things in threes.

Trim your photos for exact match

When I’m doing a back to back page like this, I keep checking that the 2 sides align together because sometimes they might need to be trimmed a little for an exact match. It’s important to make sure you consider this as you are designing, for example, I had a dark stripe on my first photo that I wanted to disguise in some way so I added a strip of ribbon as a “shelf” to perch some embellishments on.  I hid the ends behind the photo, which I couldn’t do for example, on a card I was using both sides of, or if I had already adhered the 2 photos together.

Another thing to consider with the pockets is that chunkier embellishments can distort the pocket slightly and can affect how they lay, particularly on smaller pockets.  For this reason, I often adhere the thicker wood veneer pieces and the lovely Bramble Fox Perspextives, like this camera piece, to the outside of the pocket instead.  Before I add it to my album I will mark where the camera goes so that I can write my journaling around it.

Consistency throughout the album

I have kept to 2-3 similar collections across this entire album (which is actually 2 albums so far…) so that the whole ‘Lanzarote story’ feels continuous.  I have also used similar embellishments throughout and chosen to keep the corners squared off.  Many of the actual kits that are available specifically for pocket pages have their corners rounded off, such as those in this next example which is from an older Christmas album. The rounded corners help to keep the pockets even more distinct from each other and give a nice soft look but the downside is that you need a corner rounder punch for your photos and there is always a difficulty with deciding which corners to round when you add layers and smaller photos!  This page is the same size as the previous example but only has one photo on it and uses a different configuration of pockets. Each year I take part in Shimelle’s Journal Your Christmas and one of the days is dedicated to documenting your present wrapping.  Using the pockets as mini canvasses means that I can include pieces of my wrapping paper each year without it clashing with my chosen supplies.  It also means I can complete a pocket in a short period of time without being overwhelmed by a full on 12×12 page.

Here’s another configuration of pockets. Here I’ve split a photo in half to make it fit this particular layout. It adds interest and it doesn’t spoil the photo because I have about eleventy billion of them from this photo shoot I did of my niece and my great nephew.  I couldn’t bear to throw any of the photos away and I couldn’t chose which ones to use, so I scrapbooked them all!  There is a title and some journaling on the first page in the series but the rest of the pages are just showing off the lovely photos so once I’d placed my images, the rest was decorating filler cards. I could pop in and out of my craft room embellishing one card at a time in between other jobs.

If you are new to scrapbooking, or just feel like you have too many pictures and don’t know where to begin, you could give pocket pages a try and make a serious dent in your photo pile.  If you’ve been inspired to give them a go, I’d love you to share your makes with me. You can find me on Instagram or Facebook as @Prettymypage

Have fun!

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Nice and creative idea! Thanks for sharing :)

Lisa-Jane Johnson's profile picture
Lisa-Jane Johnson

March 9, 2021


Thanks so much!

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