Things to Do with Paper Scraps
September 10th, 2007 | Link

One of my early bookbinding instructors repeatedly drilled into us the instruction, “Don’t throw away your paper scraps, no matter how small.” She took unwanted scraps from class with her to use for creating collaged covers when she taught bookbinding to children. I am not very good at the “no matter how small” part, but I do save any scraps that seem large enough to be useful for something, someday.

Last weekend, in my drive to use up existing supplies before purchasing new ones, I went through some of my boxes to see what I had around. I found a large pile of decorative paper scraps, and a number of pieces of card stock and watercolor paper that I had apparently precut in anticipation of making ATCs and postcards. I decided to see what I could make out of it all.

I’m not very imaginative when it comes to this kind of thing, so massive collages and multi-media pieces were unlikely. I did, however, come up with some simply decorated items that I might actually use. So, here is my list of things to do with paper scraps.


I had some origami paper that I purchased from Kate’s Paperie during a visit to New York last year. I made a crane from one sheet and hadn’t touched the rest. Each sheet was about the right size to make a small envelope with enough left over to decorate a matching gift card.

Gift cards and matching envelopes

The cards are each 3 1/4″ by 2 1/4″, and the envelopes are 3 3/8″ by 2 3/8″.

Close-up of gift card and envelope

This one is the last of one of my favorite papers…

Close-up of gift card and envelope

Envelope Liners

Speaking of envelopes, Paper Source also sells an envelope liner template kit for cutting liners for all their envelope sizes. Martha Stewart has instructions for making your own templates.

Gift or Note Cards

I often end up with long, narrow strips of decorative paper due to trimming. So I made more gift cards. The nice thing about these is I can match them to the books when I give them away. These cards are also 2 1/4″ by 3 1/4″. I also made a few note cards the same way using A2 flat cards.

Several gift cards with strips of decorative paper glued to the top

Folded Gift Cards

With a scrap at least 3 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ glued to the front of a piece of folded card stock, I made gift cards large enough for a quick note.

Several gift cards with strips of decorative paper glued to the top

Invitations or Announcements

These are some A2 flat cards (4 1/4″ by 5 1/2″) from Paper Source, with a 1 1/2″ by 3 3/4″ piece of decorative paper glued a quarter-inch from the top, bottom and left-hand sides.

Invitation cards in several different papers

I think the bunny ones would be cute as birth announcements or invitations for a baby shower.

Invitation cards in bunny paper


If I have strips of paper at least 1 1/2″ wide and 7″ long, I’ll make bookmarks by gluing paper to the front and back of a piece of card stock, and then rounding or angling the corners at the top.

Pillow Boxes

I used this pillow box tutorial from Craftster, but used a piece of card stock covered with Chiyogami paper instead of a card.

Pillow box covered with dragon paper

In the end I had a mostly mindless, somewhat therapeutic few hours of playing with PVA and my corner rounder, and I made a few things that I actually liked and a few things that had potential for future projects. Best of all, I used up most of my small scraps.


  • jane says:

    I can’t believe that the phrase “I’m not very imaginative when it comes to this kind of thing” even exists in this post! This stuff is great!

  • Shannon says:

    I guess when I think “imaginative” I think of the kind of things my younger sister does: she’s the artist, I’m the engineer. Funny how we fall into these roles as kids and never outgrow them.
    Jane, can you tell me how to take decent photographs of white paper? I’m using tungsten lights on either side of a light tent for diffusing, and setting the balance properly in the camera, but I can’t seem to get rid of the color cast and they seem dark. (I shot these with a Canon Elph, but I’ve tried shooting with the Canon Digital Rebel where I have more control over the shutter speed and aperture and I have the same problems.)

  • dana Rogers says:

    thanks for your share. what a great way to recycle paper. very inspiring. okay. i do need a little help. what’s a pva? how do i get myself a corner rounder, i love the look. is a punch?

  • Shannon says:

    PVA is polyvinyl acetate, an adhesive commonly used in bookbinding. You could use any white glue, or even a glue stick for most of these.
    My corner rounder is a Lassco CR 20 with a 1/4″ die. It’s a desktop punch that will do a couple dozen sheets or even book board. I bought it from eBay from FineGrafics; I also bought my Kutrimmer paper cutter from them a couple years ago and have been very satisfied with their service.
    The Lassco corner rounders are pricey for the casual user, but some scrapbooking suppliers also sell hand-held tools that will do one sheet of paper at a time. Here’s one by Creative Memories. I haven’t tried one, but it’s much less of a commitment if you decide you’re never going to use it.

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My name is Shannon Hale. This blog is on indefinite hiatus, but it contains archives of the last 10 years of posts about bookbinding, knitting, sewing. and other random things in my life.


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