Breaking the Chains: Making a Template Work for You

I scrap almost exclusively with templates.

I feel like I say that over and over again, but the truth of the matter is, I don’t scrap without a template any longer.  Could I?  Sure… Why don’t I then?  Mainly, I don’t want to spend the time trying to figure out what looks “just right.”  When I have time for scrapping, I just want to get a few pages done.  Templates allow me to do that.  Especially when they are good templates (Want some ideas for good template designers?  Check this post).

Sometimes, though, even the best templates can limit your scrapping. You sit there, looking at the template, thinking “this template is great, except for XYZ.  That’s not working for me.”  My gut reaction when this happens, is to always go back and look for another template. What I’ve learned is that when I do this, when I go back and look for a different template, I am missing out on a huge opportunity.  This is the perfect oppotunity to take this layout and make it my own.

I ran into this problem over the weekend while I was scrapping.  I had picked a photo, a kit, and a great template by Cindy Schneider from her Half Pack Number 3.  Here’s the template I started with:

Great, right?  That’s what I thought!  It was perfect, too, because I wanted to scrap one photo, and this template only had one photo.  I thought I was golden.

Cut to me starting to put the background papers on.  It was a nightmare.  Looking at this, there is one background paper, two scalloped edges, and then the middle strip and the mat for the middle strip.  I was working with the new kit Adorableness by Traci Reed and there were plenty of great papers to use.  I couldn’t get them to work together on the background though.  I tried all kinds of combinations, and almost all of the papers in the kit.  I was just about to trash the layout and go look for a new template, when I stopped.  What if I took all those background layers off?  What if it was only one paper?  I took the solid white from the kit, put it on top of the background layers.  It wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough to get my layout going.

As I started layering the elements on the page, I started liking the white background more and more.  I was even able to use these super cool paint splotches that are in the kit.  As I neared finishing the clustering and layering, I was pretty sure that I would keep the white background…but it was missing something.  I started thinking about what I could add.  I didn’t really want to do a doodled border, so what I tried was layering a blue solid under the white, and shrinking the white to show the blue just a little bit.  Then, for a final touch I went a took a set of stitches from Traci’s Bad Sewing Machine: Don’t be A Square and used the white ones to add just a little more, without adding another color.

This is my finished layout.  You can see the basic elements of the original template, but you can also see where I made changes to fit what I was working with.

The lesson to be learned: templates are great to use, but you have to be willing to make changes to the template when you need to. If you aren’t, you’re cheating yourself of the opportunity to add your own flair to the template.

What do you think?  Do you use templates?  How do you make them work for you?  Let us know in the comments below.

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10 Responses to Breaking the Chains: Making a Template Work for You

  1. HappyLilGrahamCracker says:

    I definitely agree! When I first started using templates, I would follow every exact detail… now, as I’ve grown as a scrapper, I change the background, I rotate, I add more photos where there weren’t photos before, I shrink clusters, I add to clusters, I throw more stuff on there, I delete stuff I don’t want.

    I love the starting point a template gives me… but I also love the freedom of it becoming my OWN design. Thank your for the great reminder about how great templates can be!

  2. Tamara (Tsmspt) says:

    I love what you did with the layout. I also use an action by Wendyzine at scrapbookgraphics that clips your papers elements and photos–ACTION: Template Clipper. That is how I make templates work super duper fast for me!

  3. Debbie Hodge says:

    awesome looking page — and great blow-by-blow!

  4. Carrie S. says:

    I love how the layout turned out! And it’s closer to the template than you made it sound. I love that you took the template idea and Put your own spin on it. I’m going to a weekend crop, and I have an album laid out with all my templates picked out. I will remember your advice when a template isn’t working for me and just go with the flow.

  5. Deanna says:

    I use templates a lot Aaron. But like you, I usually find a way to tweek it to make it my own, or to make it work with the kit I’m working with. I love to start with a basic template, though, and then let the juices roll! You explained the process very well!

  6. Pingback: Essential Tips for Using Digital Scrapbooking Templates | SirScrapalot

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