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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. Jen says…

    THANK YOU for sharing your work. So inspiring!

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Lindsay Palamaruk says…

    Thank you so much Ali for sharing such a private and personal part of your world. I find your stuff so captivating and it is definitly an honor to be allowed a peek into probably one of your most prized possessions. Your son is adorable and he is going to be so forever thankful to you when he is older for the amazing efforts you have invested in capturing and creating his existence. It is so empowering and inspiring!
    Thank you so much for such an amazing treat!
    God Bless!

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. Lydia says…

    I decided to go with the 3-ring binders and I love the freedom of mixing up the page sizes and different page protectors...thanks to you, Ali! Love your your style and love your books.
    Lydia, in Columbus Ohio

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Rebeccca says…

    Oh, my! Mixing 12x12, 8 1/2x11, 6x12...brilliant! I'm having one of those, "duh!" moments...of course you can mix them up. Love your album...thanks so much for the inspiration! Blessings.

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Caryl says…

    I just discovered that my Creative Memories 12x12 albums will strap in all the different size pages!! i'm so excited that i don't have to convert from what i've been using and i can still 'be like Ali'...thank you thank you, Ali this is what has been missing for me!! i was getting bored with scrapbooking and now i'm excited to be free again...this inspired me to create "All Girls" albums with my daughter and her friends(what do you do with those school pics?)and my girlfriends, sisters, mom , nieces...all random times and places of the girls in my life!! whoo-hoo AND i can do a 'All Boys" album with my son, friends,etc...this is exciting....

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Monica says…

    This was so cool to see. Thank you. To read it, it felt like you were showing it to me personally. Thank you for being so generous.

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Bree says…

    I guess I'm just one of many many folks who are thrilled to see inside one of your albums. Thank you so much!

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Karen says…

    i have been using the ac albums for about a year and love them. the only page protector of theirs i have found that doesn't fit is the 11x8 1/2 landscape and I just punched the holes where they needed to be so I could use them. i don't much care about it not being perfect. i have heard that ac is coming out with 6x12 page protectors--have you? i enjoyed seeing simon's album a lot. i am doing a day in the life layout this weekend for my book club meeting on tues. we are using your book this month. i love your work--you are such an inspiration to me.......thanks for sharing your son's album with us.......

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Susan Keuter says…

    Great post Ali - thanks for sharing how everything looks when it's put together!
    But guess what I loved the most? In the 2nd picture of Simon turning the pages for can see on the concrete where you've sprayed scrapbook adhesive on a 3-hole punched something-or-other. LOVE IT. Because I bet most of us could say the same thing about our driveway, patio or sidewalk!
    Ahhhhhh - the ties that bind scrapbookers together!
    thanks again for sharing...for sharing all of it!

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Jess says…

    isn't it just the most satisfying feeling to see all your art in one place?? I've been trying an 8.5x11 album for pictures of my honeymoon and its coming together so well. I switched sizes (usually work with 12x12) to try and focus more on the story and it couldn't have been more inspirational. I have an AC d-ring I've been using as well but haven't been doing much for the insides. I hope to try some different sized layouts to go in there. There's something about all those sizes that make it seem more organic.

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Lisa says…

    Ali ~ You make me feel better about my scrapbooks. I followed your idea of 2 different sizes of pages in the same book and I wasn't totally sure what I thought of it and now that I have seen more of what yours I like, I realize that mine are how they should look too. It's ok and I think it adds to the book to have different sizes. Love the way you've shown us how yours came out. I also am a huge fan of D-ring binders.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Emily says…

    Love this! I use the binder method myself, although I do have a few regular albums. I don't have different sized layouts in my binder (YET), but plan to do so soon. It just seems so much more like the type of scrapbooks I used to make as a child, where you just add a little of everything in there--so much more organic. I love the 8.5 by 11 format because it's really easy to use my printer on the pages, and if I do a digial page, the cost is a lot lower!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Crazy Daisy says…

    This is amazing! It also helped ease my worries about moving away from post bound albums. I have to try this now!

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  14. michell says…

    Ali, I have a son with autism and that was why I started scrapbooking. I attended a lecture by a neurologist who had found that in children who kept a journal of their personal history and read back through it periodically, the neurons in their brains developed better. My son couldn't read and write then so we started keeping a scrapbook together.
    I love your work, the richness of detail and perspective and I was wondering how much Simon enjoys your albums. Is he into the stories? Does he like the pictures? Do you show him pictures of himself in CK? Does he have his own favorite mini albums? I guess in general I was wondering how significant they are to him. It has been a real treat to watch him grow up in your layouts. Thank you for bringing so much awarness to autism by sharing your special little guy, it is making a difference.

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. robyn charles says…

    hey there. so i'm searching everywhere for the pages you used as your "opening page". i've found tons of other great divided page protectors, but not that one! can you help me out and point me directly to it?!?!?

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Tina says…

    love, Love, LOVE that you shared this album. This is how I have decided to scrapbook and I feel like so much pressure to conform to one size or to a bunch of different albums has been lifted! Thanks for sharing so much and so often! I love reading your blog! I am a teacher with Students with Autism mainstreamed into my classroom... your little Simon is a doll and I'm so thrilled at the progress is making. Thanks for being such a great leader in the scrapbooking field! You are your family are truly an inspiration! I'd give you a big hug if you were here! :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Michelle says…

    Can I just say "DITTO" to your insight?!
    I too, have single and double page layouts in my albums, and when it's a 2 page LO, the mind makes the connections - even if there is a picture that spans the two.
    Also, thank you for giving chronology its' due. I am now free from having to create in that fashion, but for organizing my layouts in the album and also for leftover pictures, it's what works for me.
    Ladies, if you've been thinking about it TRY THE 3-RING BINDERS. They have given me so much freedom in my albums. I cannot say enough how much I love them.
    Thanks for all your inspiration. Blessings to you and your family.

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. melanie says…

    Wow, your albums are true works of art- so cool to see them this way, and feel like I'm there looking through them. Thanks for this great post! Absolutely gorgeous pages. I use ring binders as well, and could care less if anything matches!
    I saw you a few feet from me at CHA, and thought about coming over to talk to you, but didn't have the nerve. Now I wish I would have been braver, lol! Next time. :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. DonnaC says…

    Thanks so much Ali for sharing this album!
    I have seen a lot of these pages before in your book and CK, but was still blown away to see them all together. Somehow the sum is even greater than the parts! (and we know how great each of those pages are) It really reinforced for me one of the whys of why I scrapbook.
    p.s. it looks like Simon is very proud of this album too!

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. tchrtiff says…

    Ali, Thanks for the peak into Simon's album (what a cutie he is)! I never would have thought of putting different size layouts in the same album--how great it is to see! I think it adds character to the album. Also, I agree w/you about double layouts and how your eye just knows they belong together.
    You said the album is 'Simon's 2007 album'. Do you make him an annual album based on the year 2007 or his birth year? For example, my daughter's bday is in March and her annual albums are from March to February. Are the page protectors you use from the same manufacturer? Who makes them? Do the different sizes fit in the 12x12 album (I worry that an 8 1/2x 11 wouldn't fit so well)?
    Thanks again for sharing! I'm very visual so it's great to see photos of what you're talking about and it's so inspirational to see your work!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. jen downer says…

    wow! what a fantastic post!
    ali, i love all of the variety within the album. it makes for such a fun way to "read" the story!!!
    xo, j

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. dr berry says…

    Thanks for sharing. I too have used a ring bound album before but it was a gift for my MIL. I didn't think about the gap between a 2 page spread until I was talking with a friend about using them and she mentioned it.
    So I was wondering if it would bother me- now I know it doesn't.
    I do have a question- how many pages fit in this album?

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Heather V says…

    All I can say about this post, is that it is the most inspiring post to date! I read it before I went to work this morning and I didn't want to tear myself away from the computer to leave the house...I just wanted to stay here and read it again!
    I love the idea of sewing the two page protectors together for three page layouts! That is a must try for me and I love that there area areas on the reverse side of the divided page protectors to do something with. Soooo cool!!
    Thank you for sharing this and inspiring us all the way you do. Can't wait to see your next post regarding the questions!

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Tracey says…

    Been wondering and wondering how
    your albums are put together.
    Love your simple solution to the
    post-bound problems.
    It's all so FLEXIBLE and FREE
    the way to you it! Allows more
    time to focus on the art and the
    story rather than the storage.
    Again, THANK YOU!!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Cristina says…

    Hi Ali-
    Love how you are showing how to display these 12 x 12 albums so they can be seen and touched.
    Question: where do you keep all the mini/smaller sized albums you make? Are they out on display also?

    Reply 0 Replies

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