Trendwatch | 6×6 Paper Pads

One of the latest trends to take over the scrapbook world is actually small in size: 6×6 paper pads. These little items are becoming almost essential items for inclusion in any new paper collection release in recent product cycles.

I bought my first one about two years ago, and I’ve accumulated quite a few now (and these were just the ones in my stash that I could find easily). They’ve become one of my favorite ways to buy and use paper.

So what is it about these paper pads that they are suddenly exploding in popularity? Several factors are contributing to the rise in popularity of 6×6 paper pads in the marketplace.

One major driving force in this trend is the rising influence of cards in the papercrafts market. The 6×6 sheets of paper are large enough sheets for the needs of a crafter making small projects such as cards, tags, or artist trading cards. These sorts of small projects have been rising in popularity among papercrafters in recent years, and along with them the demand for 6×6 paper pads has grown.

A change in the style of scrapbooking has also affected the demand for the smaller paper pads as well. Increasingly, the popular style is to use patterned paper in small pieces on layouts – either in decorative strips arranged around a photo, or in blocks. Also, die cuts and punches are now frequently being made from patterned paper.

6×6 paper has several advantages versus 12×12 paper when being used for small sized projects or in small pieces. First, there is less waste – the crafter doesn’t have to sacrifice a whole sheet of 12×12 paper if all they need is a 2″ block for their design. Second, the 6″ paper is affordable relative to purchasing 12″ paper. Most collections can be purchased in 6″ paper pads for $5-$6, whereas it costs $15-$20 to buy the 12″ collection pack of the same collection.

Another convenient thing about 6×6 paper pads is that they are so easy to store. 12×12 paper is unwieldy to store and takes up large amounts of space. Why wrestle with storing it if you don’t have to? The basket pictured below is from a bed & bath store for bathroom storage. It sits on a shelf in a wall cabinet in my kitchen scrap area, and holds over a dozen 6×6 pads of paper that have 24-36 sheets each. Storing a comparable amount of 12×12 paper would require specialized containers and dedicated space.

But perhaps the most compelling, but often overlooked, advantage of the 6×6 paper for smaller projects is scale. Since 6×6 papers are usually created by printing the same design that was on a 12×12 sheet on the smaller 6×6 sheet, the scale of the pattern is much smaller than what it appears on the larger sheet. The smaller scale is much more appropriate to the scale of smaller projects like cards, where the scale of the pattern on a 12×12 sheet might overwhelm the small item or look strange.

How much of a difference does it make? Here’s some side-by-side comparisons that illustrate that it can totally change the look of a pattern to the eye:

Above: Echo Park – Victoria Garden (Botanical Ballad)

Above: Echo Park – Victoria Garden (Botanical Ballad)

Above: BasicGrey – Out of Print (tribune)

Above: BasicGrey – Out of Print (giclee)

Above: Authentique – Uncommon (Gifted)

Above: Authentique – Uncommon (Unique)

 Above: Echo Park – Be Mine (Love Song)

The benefit of the smaller design size really becomes apparent in a comparison of how the designs would look when die cut. I made a template using my Tim Holtz Alterations Tattered Floral die to use to compare what different papers would look like when die cut. (This die is a great example to use because it has such varied sizes of cuts on it.) The kraft-colored template is about 6×6 in size, so it’s easy to tell which is the 12×12 paper and which is the 6×6 in the photos.

Above: Echo Park – Victoria Garden (Botanical Ballad)

The pattern above appears fragmented and leaves large awkward white spaces when the die is cut from the 12×12 paper. Such a small part of the design is captured by the die cut that it is hard to tell what the design is. In contrast, when the 6×6 paper with the smaller design is used, the pattern is much more visible and to scale with the item being cut.

This effect is even more pronounced when the die is used to cut something with an extremely discernable pattern like music paper:

Above: Echo Park – Be Mine (Love Song)

Here’s a few more examples to show how the change in scale improves the look of a die cut:

 Above: Authentique – Uncommon (Unique)

Above: Authentique – Uncommon (Gifted)

The 6×6 paper pad is definitely becoming a market standard. Virtually every major paper line introduced at CHA Summer 2011 seemed to have a 6×6 pad with it. And several companies are moving this trend beyond just producing their lines as 6×6 paper pads. My Mind’s Eye debuted their Six by Six collection at CHA Summer 2011.

This collection includes a dozen paper collections that are being produced only as 6×6 paper pads.

Authentique is moving beyond the paper pad entirely, announcing their new Free Bird collection of thirty-two 6×6 papers that will be sold by the sheet from countertop display spinners.

It’s been a long time since the industry has had a standard size in patterned paper that could truly compete with the dominance of 12×12. Could 6×6 be it? Only time will tell!

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35 Responses to Trendwatch | 6×6 Paper Pads

  1. Jean September 13, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    I particularly appreciate that you have illustrated the difference in scale. I’m totally sold on using 6×6 paper pads for cardmaking!

  2. Jennifer September 13, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    I actually found the 6×6 pad I ordered (Crate Paper I believe) disappointed, because the papers were single sided and the pack only contained half the patterns in the line. I do like the scaled down patterns, but not being double sided makes them less useful for mini books.

    • Nancy Nally September 13, 2011 at 8:35 pm #

      A few companies do double sided like their paper lines….I know Echo Park is one of them. Maybe more manufacturers will start doing it if they hear comments like yours!

  3. Debra September 13, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    Great article – really liked it. I blog too, so I know how much work is in this sort of stuff. I’m not sure about the countertop display spinner idea – they’re usually messy. Wonder how they’ll sell?
    Hey Nancy, I really liked the card you made with Tim’s on the edge die – the file folder one for the stationery blog hop, but I’ve not been able to see it again since the crash. I’ve since bought the die and had a bit of a go myself. I cranked it through the machine, looked at the fab card base that I got, thought of you and said, “Genius, it’s just genius.” Thanks to you!!

    • Nancy Nally September 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

      Thanks for the compliment on the file folder card! I’m working on getting The Nally Notes back up and running…hopefully in the next week or so. 🙂

  4. Chris September 13, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    I hadn’t recognized the issue of scale until you mentioned it. Thanks for the photos showing how this affects punching die cuts.

  5. KathyinMN September 13, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Wow-honestly didn’t see the benefit of 6×6 until now. Will keep my eye out for these the next scrapbook store run.

  6. LeeAnn Sinclair September 14, 2011 at 7:14 am #

    Awesome explanation and visual demo. Thanks ! I was one who wondered WHY and now it makes perfect sense. I have a feeling I’ll be purchasing some 6 x 6 paper now that I’ve seen this article.

  7. Cindy deRosier September 14, 2011 at 8:40 am #

    Excellent article! I love the smaller scale, even for 12×12 layouts. It just fits my style better. I do buy 6×6 for that reason, but there is nothing more frustrating than needing a 7″ piece for a layout and having the perfect paper… but only in 6×6. I wish the smaller scale was available in a 12×12 size.

    • Nancy Nally September 14, 2011 at 10:46 am #

      I totally agree with you on wishing that the smaller scale was available in a larger size sheet! It usually suits my taste and style better too!

  8. JillT September 14, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    Just one more trend I’ve been sucked into 🙂 Agree that a lot of it is scale. When you are only using small bits on your page, the scale is better.

  9. Teri September 14, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    I have always been a huge fan of the 6×6 format and have just about every Basic Grey pad they’ve ever produced. I have even restocked some pads 2-3 times! I like the smaller prints and I don’t feel guilty about cutting up a 6×6 sheet versus a 12×12 (which I always sweat cutting up a sheet that’s a buck or more).

  10. Cynthia September 14, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    GREAT article. I had no idea the scale of the pattern was different between the 12×12 and 6×6. This was very useful, and I will have to consider getting some 6×6 pads since I really do love making cards with the patterned papers. Thank you!

  11. Julie September 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    As an avid card maker that does not really scrapbook at all (maybe mini scrapbooks), I’ve been addicted to 6×6″ pads ever since they first came out with them–cannot seem to stop collecting them! And, they are SO easy to work with when it comes to card-making! Fun to see them get a little love here on Scrapbook Update! 🙂

  12. S September 14, 2011 at 2:04 pm #

    I’ve just started to fall in love with 6 x 6. And I might even try an 8 x 8 after hearing this week’s Roundtable. Thanks for this great post and a lively discussion over there.

  13. Lisa T September 14, 2011 at 3:16 pm #

    It is very hard to find 6X6 patterned paper in my stores. Hobby Lobby only has a few and Michaels has even less. I am resorting to have to buy it online. A Cherry On Top seems to have a good selection. I agree – the scale of the paper is the biggest selling point. 12X12 is often too big for cards. It just doesn’t look right.

  14. Sarah September 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm #

    I much prefer the 6×6 pads to mat stacks, both for scrapbooking and card making.

  15. Pamela September 14, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    I have had a love affair with 6×6 pads for a while! I have a nice stash and love using them for card making.

  16. Gab September 14, 2011 at 5:57 pm #

    I have yet to buy a 6×6 pad but you just sold me with the die comparison!

  17. Dolly Foote September 14, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Nancy, great article and great Round Table topic! I think that Making Memories was one, if not the first to do 6×6 pads (yes, I even have a couple left!) and then Basic Grey. I love the scale…great for cards, dies and I really love them for projects using my Cricut. Keep up the great work!

    • Nancy Nally September 14, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

      I think I have one of those Making Memories pads from a couple years ago hiding around here somewhere! Or at least the remnants of it…I’ve used it up pretty well!

  18. Ona September 14, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    I certainly have bought my fair share of 6×6 pads – they make having an entire collection so affordable, but for mid-sized albums, much prefer the 8×8 and 8.5×8.5 size put out by DCWV, K&CO and sei to name a few of the dwindling remnant of companies to do so.

  19. Vicki J September 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm #

    Add me to the list of 6×6 lovers! I find it to be a great deal especially for collections that I know are really not my style or in a “theme” (halloween) that I probably won’t use much of but need for a special project. Much less waste and as you mentioned it takes up much less room.

    I too love the 8×8 size!

  20. Alyssa September 15, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    I don’t do anything except 12 x 12 pages, so the 6 x 6 pads aren’t too useful for me. I do prefer the way the smaller paper looks as die cuts, but not enough to start buying 6 x 6 pads.

  21. amy vittori September 16, 2011 at 10:29 am #

    Great article Nancy and great PCR discussion too. I didn’t see this mentioned anywhere so I will add a little more. I just bought a 12 X 12 piece from Bella Blvd Christmas Wishes line that was just fabulous. I think Noelle needs to get a piece of this in her hands and maybe she will change her mind! It’s a 12 X12 design on one side and the other side is 4 6 X 6 quadrants of design. It’s the best of both worlds. You don’t have to invest in a whole pad and you get 4 smaller sheets of a design that totally coordinates with the design on the other page.

    Here is a link to that paper. I think a few other lines have caught on to this idea as well. For a card maker this is fantastic and I find when I do buy a 12 X12 sheet I almost always cut it down to 6 X 6 right away. It’s a great idea for someone who doesn’t want to jump into the 6 x 6 idea to just get there feet wet a tiny bit. Thanks for all you do Nancy.

    • Nancy Nally September 16, 2011 at 10:59 am #

      ooh, good point Amy! A few companies are doing that…I started using the 6×6 a lot more when Tim Holtz did the 6×6 quadrants in his paper pads.

  22. Ursula September 16, 2011 at 2:21 pm #

    I’ve been converted for the reasons mentioned above! Great stuff.

  23. Jersey Girl Anne September 17, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    I have loved 6×6 paper pads since both Making Memories and Basic Grey came out with them a few years back. Since I make mostly 8×8 scrapbooks, I love the smaller scale and less waste of paper also. I just started buying My Minds Eye 6×6 pads . They are beautiful papers. Thanks for the great article, Nancy!

  24. Kati e Scott September 26, 2011 at 11:06 pm #

    Just seeing this post now but was already convinced from your Roundtable discussions – love these!

  25. carol in seattle :) October 6, 2011 at 5:18 pm #

    I know this is an “old” topic, but I wanted to add my two cents. My favorite thing about 6×6 pads is that I can buy the two or three papers I like best from a line and then have the 6×6 to use other parts of the line to complement my project.

    Loved this topic both here and at PRT. Also love that the manufacturers are giving us more 6×6!

  26. Kim October 18, 2011 at 10:27 am #

    Nancy, I never even considered the benefit of the difference in scale until you brought it pu – thank you! I was gifted some 6 x 6 papers and didn’t know what to do with them. Now I do and I see other possibilities. Great article!

    • Nancy Nally October 18, 2011 at 10:48 am #

      So glad that my piece helped you! Thanks for reading!

  27. Eileen November 19, 2011 at 8:54 am #

    Is there a master list somewhere of companies/lines that offer the paper this way? How about a company that puts it together with other types of paper or items that can be mixed in like specialty papers or lace or transparencies along with solid card stock that all coordinate?

    • Nancy Nally November 21, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

      As far as I know Eileen there is not…but it sounds like a fabulous idea for a kit club!

  28. Crista December 10, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    Hi Nancy-catching up on some Paperclipping episodes and heard about your post-what a great one, I LOVE this article! You were the one who brought me over to the 6×6 side originaly when you explained in an older Paperclipping episode one of the benefits of the 6×6 paper is the scaling of it. That and the removal of the emotional distress of cutting a 12×12 sheet for one small bit of paper. But seeing it, especially with your die cut examples REALLY seals the deal. Thanks!!!

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