image of packed scrapbooking tote

How to Pack A Scrapbooking Tote

Packing for a crop? Or maybe you're going to a scrapbook retreat weekend? After 20 years as a scrapbooker, I'm going ot share my best tips for how to pack a scrapbooking tote!

image of packed scrapbooking tote

This post contains affiliate links; if you make a purchase from these links, I may earn a commission at no additional cost to you. 

One of the biggest challenges I see at crops is that people bring way too much stuff. That's because we don't want to forget anything or get stuck on a project because we didn't bring the right supplies. Naturally, we end up trying to bring it ALL! Forgetting papers or an embellishment isn't a big deal but when you forget essential tools like scissors (yes, that happened to me!), you really can't get much done. That's why it's important to keep a tool tote that is always stocked.

Crop, retreat, or just scrapping in front of the TV, you'll be ready to go anytime, with the confidence in knowing you didn't forget the scissors (again). Speaking of scissors, are you traveling on a plane with your scrapbook supplies? Read this first!

On this post, I share links to the totes and products that will make your cropping experience the best ever! Some of these links are affiliate links – when you make a purchase from these links, the sellers kicks back a small commission to us, at no extra charge to you. Yeah, it's pretty cool!

Choosing a Scrapbooking Tote

The type of tote you choose is really a personal choice, however, over the years and after at least 12 different types of totes, I've found that there are some characteristics that make some totes better than others. Here's what to look for:

Comfortable handle or strap

You might need to carry the tool tote a long ways from your car to the actual crop room so make sure it has a handle that is comfortable and easy to hold in your hands. Some totes come with extra shoulder straps that you can use to carry them long distances as well. If your tote has a closed top, use a tool like this to carry it on your shoulder with your other bags so you can make just one trip from the car.

Test your tote when it is fully loaded. Can you comfortably hold the handle in one hand? If not, that tote might not be a good choice.

Choose totes with a wide opening or mouth for easy access

Like I said before, I have tried A LOT of bags. One of the most popular bags about five years after I started scrapbooking was this tall, Tote-ally Cool tote from All My Memories:

All my memories tote discontinued

The company has since gone out of business. The big selling point of this tote with the tall section in the middle where you could put a paper trimmer. But it was so tall and deep and the opening so narrow that it was like a black hole for supplies. It was really hard to find things inside.

top view of contents of scrapbooking tote

On the other side of the spectrum, a wide mouth tote can allow you to see everything in your tote at once. You can easily spot supplies and put things away easily. The drawback is that they usually don't have a way to close the top so if the bag topples over, everything falls out. In the six or so hears I've had my current wide mouth bag, I have only dropped it one time.

Moveable dividers or space to add your own

Many totes come with dividers on the inside. I recommend choosing a tote without dividers or with dividers that you can move. The types of supplies you will use over the years will change. And companies come and go. Move the dividers around in the tote to accommodate your supplies of different shapes and sizes. If you have a tote without dividers, you can use small boxes to divide the tore. I use jewelry boxes tat I got online at ULine when I was selling on etsy. They come in a large quantity from ULine; if you don't need 100 boxes, then I recommend looking for small boxes in the gift wrap section of Target or Walmart.

Other storage features to look for in a tote include:

  • slots for markers or pens
  • a flat pocket for envelopes and packs of adhesive
  • a zipperred or small pockets for thigns like replacement blades
  • slots for scissors
  • easy to clean surface

A friend called me a couple of weeks ago talking about how she wished someone was making easy-to-wipe tool totes for crafting. Many of the totes are fabric but because of the materials inside (cardboard, etc), they are not washable.

You want to find a tote that has an easy to wipe surface, like plastic or oil cloth, or that can be washed. The Amy Butler fabric tote I share in this post can be washed, however, they discontinued it. But you can totally clean this one easily and it's in super cute colors!

The best craft totes and scrapbooking bags

Here are some great totes that meet most of these qualifications I outlined above:

collage of craft tote types

Click the links to see current pricing and colors (from left to right, starting with top row):

  • Totally Tiffany Tote – the dividers are awesome but it is a little deep for smaller items
  • Everything Mary Catch-All – this tote is great for tall items like trimmer but I also like it's short profile for sitting on a table top or on top of your rolling tote. And the color and pattern are right on trend!
  • Plain Garden Tote – while this tote isn't cute, the price and the design are perfect! (less than$10 last I checked but click the link to see if they lowered it!). You can dye this tote or use fabric on it to customize the design.
  • Trend Lab Caddy – this tote is alot like the one that I am using except that it includes additional dividers on the inside.
  • Bucket Boss Tool Tote – this tote isn't cute but it has a great wide mouth and lots of storage for tools around the outside. Don't overfill- this one can get heavy!
  • Under $12 Tote – this tote fits the bill … click the link to make sure it's still under $12!
  • Pink Large Tote – this tote has rugged construction like the Bucket Boss but it's pink and has a shoulder strap for easy carrying.
    Everything Mary Tote – this tote is the most like the one that I use and the colors re event cuter! I love the pocket on the side that can close.
  • Hard side tool tote – this tote is easy to clean but doesn't have slots for scissors and markers. This is a good choice if you are using messing media and have another way to carry your scissors and markers.

Make using your tool tote a habit

By using your scrapbooking tote when you're at home, you'll be used to using it when away from home too. You'll be able to focus on creating if you can keep as much of your system intact as possible when you're crafting on the go.

How to get used to using your scrapbooking tote

I use my tool tote every day. Not only is this tote for travel, it is the place where my supplies live permanently. I do have more adhesive, ink-pads,  scissors, and needles than what is in my tool tote but I go to the tote first when I need to use something. This keeps me in the habit of using the tote so it isn't a weird adjustment to use it when I go to crops.

Need more ideas for organizing your craft space? I share the best organizing ideas in this post about Ikea Craft Rooms and here!

Using your scrapbooking tote helps keep your supplies fresh

By using my scrapbooking tote and home and on the go, I  know which supplies I am running low on. Have you ever been away at an event and discovered a knife is dull, an eraser is missing, or your black ink is DRY? Yes, I've been there too!

If you use your tool tote while you're at home and when you're crafting on the go, you'll know when you need to buy a new black pen before it runs completely dry.

Essential Scrapbooking Tools: What to Pack for a Crop

I made a handy dandy video to share with you how I pack my tool tote.

Watch this video on YouTube – CLICK HERE

Here are the essentials for any scrapbooking tool tote:

  • Craft Knives – my favorites are these medical grade safety knives that are CRAZY sharp!
  • Craft Mat for the Craft Knives – I like this tool-bag-friendly version best
  • Stamp Scrubber –  this one has lasted me 10 years!
  • Adhesive Tape Runners
  • Foam Dots and Squares – these are truly my all-time favorite foam dots
  • Adhesive Dots
  • Journaling Pens – these Black Sakura pens are great as are Copic Fine Tip and Zig Markers
  • Sharpie Markers + Pencils
  • Adhesive Eraser – I use this one
  • ColorBox Wicked Black Inkpad – this is the best ink pad ever
  • ColorBox Cat's Eye Inkpads with this applicator
  • Cardboard Jewelry Boxes – these make great dividers for a bag
  • Needle Nest Case – keeps needles and pins from poking you – get this one!
  • Purse Hook – great for hanging your bag (and purse) from a table for easy access. Floors are dirty!
  • Compact Cell Phone Charger
  • White Acrylic Paint and a foam paint brush
  • Liquid Adhesive – you might think glue is glue but this one has been my favorite for over 12 years now
  • Luggage Tag or charms with your name on them

How do you bring your tools to crops and classes?

Do you have a tried and true method for organizing that you use? Please share in the comments.

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what to pack in a craft tote - graphic

About the Author

Author Profile

Jennifer Priest is a 20+ year designer in the arts & crafts industry and home DIYer with a passion for creativity. An Army veteran raised on a ranch, from her experience, she shares smart DIY projects that save money and fun craft ideas that anyone can make. Besides blogging, Jennifer is a Master Practitioner and Trainer of NLP, Hypnosis, and MER, and coaches other online entrepreneurs on money mindset, business, and living an intentional life. When not blogging, Jennifer is having adventures in the wilderness, on road trips, playing with her cats, and making paleo food.

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  1. I’ve been scrapbooking for many years. I’ve had ALL kinds of tool kits. My favorite is one I bought in Harbor Freight. It’s canvass (washable) lightweight and a center pocket as well as outside slots. Works for home or on the go scrapbooking. Also bought a second one for card making tools.

    1. That sounds awesome! I’ve been thinking about getting a new one … will have to go to Harbor Freight now! Did you customize it in any way?

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