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Anatomy of an Album


Here's a look into Simon's 2007 album. It's a good example of what all the mixed-up page sizes look like when they are together in the album. I have also created a new photo album over on the side bar so you can see all the photos in a group.

The album interior you see here is not in date order for the year yet. I grabbed my 2007 pile and put them in randomly before heading to the Portland CKC Convention last weekend. Planning to move them around within the album so that they are as close to chronological as possible (taking into account single page layouts vs. spreads vs. different sizes).

I like chronology in the anatomy of my albums, but am not concerned with it in terms of story telling + creating.

I am using the cloth 3-ring binder albums from American Crafts - you can find them online here and here or check at your local store.

[ Many of the pages below are featured, with supplies listed, in my book Life Artist © 2007 or in my column in Creating Keepsakes © 2007 ]


This layout, created in 2007, shows a variety of different photos over the last few years. Makes a nice opening page.

For more information on divided page protectors check out this post.


The back of this divided page protector (and others you will see below) are currently empty. My plan is to create pages/content to fill in those spaces or just add in photos.


Another back that can be filled in with either a complete story or five different ones (each on their own individual canvas).


One of the big hurdles for people to move away from post bound albums seems to be a fear that 2-page spreads won't translate with the ringed-gap in the middle. I have no issue with 2-page spreads that don't "touch." I find that my eyes automatically connect the two together based on their shared colors, photos, embellishments, and design.



Another common question I receive is what to do about single page layouts. I have been doing a combination of single and double pages since I started scrapbooking. I like having variety. I just stick the single page layouts right into the album (in date order when I am paying close attention). Your children and your family will not even notice that there are single page vs. double page spreads. They are going to be interested in the photos and the stories. Some stories need two or more pages; others need just one. 

And again, one of my favorite things about these sorts of albums is that it is easy to insert new pages and move things around to accommodate new stories you are telling.


This is the back of a divided page protector with two, 6 inch x 12 inch pockets. I am thinking that I will do two individual pages that are each 6x12 for these spaces.


In addition to the purchased divided page protectors, I also have quite a few page protectors that I have simply cut and stitched to fit my page size. The ""today you" page here is one that I ran right through the sewing machine to create the 6 inch x 12 inch pocket.








Such a great helper in turning the pages for me.




Here's an example of a layout where I stitched two page protectors together (which creates a seam that brings the double page layout together). I did this mainly because it was actually a three page layout and I wanted to literally communicate that within the album. Close up:



One of my all time favorites. Words + photos.










Thanks buddy!



Questions? Leave a comment and I will answer them in an upcoming post.

[ Follow up post with Q & A can be found here. ] 

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180 thoughts

  1. Carey says…

    Ali, This looks so cool! I just picked up the new D ring album yesterday and I'm thinking of converting mine over to this system. I also just picked up your new book and I'm completely inspired by it. I need to do more everyday layouts. I have albums full of holiday events.
    My only question is since you like some chronological order in your albums how will you then fill in your empty spots? Perhaps with pictures from last year that didn't get into a LO or new current ones?

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Marge says…

    Oh, Ali! I don't really have a question, but just want to say what a wonderful influence you are. I'm fairly new to scrapbooking, and a semi-new grandmom of twins (boy and girl). You're ideas have so inspired me! And, I can't believe how big Simon is getting!
    Thanks for putting things like this in your blog. I so look forward to reading it every day and trying some of your ideas.

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  3. sue Treiber says…

    I think the best part about this album is that it does look like a 'real' scrapbook. One of many reasons why we adore you!

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  4. Joan says…

    Right now my head is spinning with ideas. What a great way to start the day! Thank you so much for this inspirational post. I was wondering where you found the page protector that has two 6 x 12 compartments?

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  5. beth says…

    this looks great, ali. simon is a lucky little boy and you are so lucky to have a good helper.

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Houston says…

    Thanks for sharing the inside of one of your albums, I have always wondered what they looked like all put together. I really like the mixed sizes all supported within one book. I feel very inspired to get my completed pages into an album for 2007, no matter what size they are:) I do have a question for you, on the pages that are oddly sized I can see that you have them in page protectors that are close to their dimensions but I wondered if you adhere them in some way to keep them from shifting around.

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  7. heather says…

    Thank you so much Ali!!! I think this is one of my very favorite posts! Now I can see how it all looks together in an album. Love this!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Davean says…

    Thanks so much for sharing your album! I recognize many of those pages. I am glad binder albums are becoming popular. That is what I used when I first starting scrapbooking. (I HATED those strap-bound albums). But then recently I have bought several post and they are just so much harder to add pages to and get in the right order. I think I'll go back to binders...
    Thanks again for all your inspiration!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. hiroko says…

    Ali thanks for sharing your album.
    thanks, thanks, thanks.

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Lisa Dickinson says…

    Ali - thanks for taking the time to share this with us! It's so good to see all your wonderful pages in their place.
    I am considering making the switch to the AC 3-ring albums and was wondering - do you like the way they stand on the shelf? They seem like would be sturdy and not want to tip to one side, which my current albums do.
    Thanks Ali!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. lillieleigh says…

    You really are amazing!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Marlene says…

    What a wonderful album!
    You are the bet inspiration a "scrapper" can have!
    After seeing this I just have to sit down and scrap tonight!§
    Thank you!
    Marlene, Norway

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Maggie says…

    Wow. i literally teared up thinking about the work you put into your work and posting this. it's been a very emotional day and i just needed the inspirational distraction over a bowl of frosted shredded mini wheats more than i can tell you. i can't think of when i've enjoyed a post more. just wanted to say a hearty thank you. i really needed to see how that worked to believe it. I'm just starting my school days becky higgins albums and they are three-ring, a new thing for me. So, on the sewing, you are just stitching with no thread? you may have said that, but i read quickly. what do you set the stitch length to? the 3 page was very clever.
    there are not many albums where i say, "that's what I want my whole albums to look like" , but you hit it.
    I think one reason your non-matching singles go together is that you focus on the pictures. often, my bold patterns and colors would not go with a facing page that didn't match. well done! you've given me a new vision for my work altogether and i'm very excited.

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Shelly Kettell says…

    Ali, Thanks for sharing! You have been an inspiration for the last 6 months since I "found" you. You do awesome work!
    My question for you...does it bother you (obiously not) that your page protectors are of different weight or texture? Do you put everything into a page protector? Does it limit your embelishment process? I like depth. THANKS!

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Abby says…

    I love this post and the time that you took to write about the photo album anatomy. I'm inspired to move to this new style of album! I appreciate your artistic talents to NO END!

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. alexandra says…

    Just can't say enough good things about this post...
    love the album, the fabulous layouts, the way you explain it all AND your cool little helper!! Just so so good!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Scrapella says…

    I am having trouble finding your supply list online, and wondered what brand of album you used for this scrapbook?

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Charlotte says…

    No question, just wanted to say your album looks fabulous and is really inspiring, thank you so much for sharing x

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Dawn says…

    WOW Always so inspring to see your work. Really, I never get's ALWAYS inspirational. Thank you. I'm wondering who makes the transparent large number 6. It is awesome. Again thanks for sharing...

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. karoline says…

    Super Awesome! Especially cause I'm rolling around to the how to put the album together phase. Couple questions, specifically about using the sewing machine. What kind of thread do you use? any special needle? or any specific sewing directions, like dropping the feed dogs, or tension adjustment? I've been wondering for use on page protectors, but also on paper. Any hints would be appreciated! Thanks so much!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Betsy Gourley says…

    Hi Ali
    2 questions:
    1. When you decided to take out and organize all of your layouts, are you putting them all into brand new albums (3 ring) or are you reusing some of your older albums?
    2. Did you have to buy all new page protectors for the 3 ring albums or are you using all of the old protectors from the post bound albums?
    Liberty MO

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Shannon says…

    This is how I do my albums too and I just love it. I pretty much just use 12x12 and 8.5x11 but I have added 8x10 pictures as well. I think it is the best way to do your scrapbooks if you do multiple sizes. Thanks for sharing your pages.
    Also, every time I look at your blog and my kids happen to see it, they think Simon is my oldest son, Brayden. I do think they look quite a bit alike and are the same age.
    Have a good day!

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  23. Jenna says…

    i really love your 3 ring albums. you've released a huge weight off my shoulder and reminded me that the albums don't have to be perfect, i don't have to use the same size layouts, i can SEW on the page protectors and its all about telling my story! you are so inspiring ali! thank you!!! :)

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  24. Annette says…

    Ali, you are amazing. thank you! Even after your column in CK and post I am still confused about the page protectors. I'm having a mental block and don't feel like I know enough to ask an intellegent question. Can you tell us more about them ... how you've altered the sizes? made pockets or bought them with pockets? where are you finding them? will any page protectors fit into the American Crafts albums? just any additional info would be great. Thank you for all you do to inspire us.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. alyssa says…

    What a post! Love the combination of page sizes. Real and refreshing. And inspiring, as always. Thanks for all you share of your work and yourself. It's wonderful!

    Reply 0 Replies

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