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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. katelyn says…

    Great ideas!! I was looking at the photos of your albums before and wondering how exactly they were all put together. I love the work you've done in them (:

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  2. Karen says…

    Dear Ali ~ I had the pleasure of meeting you last year at CKU-Anaheim and have been following you ever since. You are such an inspiration to me.I love reading your blog. I've been using ring albums since I started 10yrs ago, but in today's post you have helped me see that scrapbooking in chronological order, every single picture, double page layout and perfectly embellished pages is not required or necessary. It's taken me quiet a long time to let go and work on pages just because I love the picture or the product I am using. My desire for telling a story has become more important because years from now that's what will matter. Thank you for sharing so much of your creativity and allowing us to open ourselves to more goodness. I can see how much Simon enjoys his albums as do my children and it just validates the reason why I scrapbook. I can't imagine not doing this even when people ask me, why? They just don't understand and that is ok with me.

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  3. jen says…

    Hi Ali,
    I noticed that you do not put backing or another page behind all your pages, why not? It would bother me if I left them like that, what was your thinking?
    Thanks for the inspiration,

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  4. Rebecca says…

    Love love love it! Thanks so much for sharing! I love the differnt sized pages and I am switching to 3 ring. I have never liked post bound...they seem so unneccissarily complicated to add pages and move them around. Thanks again!:)

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  5. Jenn says…

    You are so inspirational!!! thank you so much for sharing that with us!!! I'm off to my scrap area to work away!!!!!!

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  6. shannon j says…

    love the different sizes! off to stitch some tailor made page protectors!

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  7. Tina says…

    Ali, first of all thank you so much for posting on your album! I just recently went out and converted all my layouts to the AC binders and I love it. Thanks for the idea :)I feel alot more organized and I feel these albums will go thru the long question to u is how many pgs (or protectors) do u usually use in your albums?? It's alot easier to add more pgs in this album and I dont want to go overboard and make my albums too big and bulky..thanks soo much!! Tina

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  8. LorI P says…

    Ali, once again, I'm so inspired by your work! I love how the multiple page sizes in the album really make it look like a SCRAPBOOK. Know what I mean? Love it. Thanks, Lori

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  9. Mandi says…

    WOW you put some much into that album! It looks great! I'm been tossing around the idea of using a three ring. Lovin yours!

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  10. Amy says…

    Thanks for the inspiration! I was sad that I couldn't take your class at Portland CKC this year.
    I was going to email you a question, but this post gives me the perfect opportunity. I think I remember you posting that you had read Stacy Julian's new Photo Freedom book, which basically outlines her Library of Memories class. I'm currently taking it on her BPS site (week 2 so just started). Good stuff. I am excited to break free from the pressure to scrap chronologically. (I just finished 2005, so perfect transition time.) Love her idea of storage binders to "see" the photos to scrap and the category drawers to make connections between photos over time. But I noticed that you recently pulled all your completed layouts and were putting them in albums by year and approx date w/in the year. I was thinking of doing the same for the final step of LOM, instead of filing in category albums. Just wondered your thoughts on that. Free to scrap non-chronologically, but add to yearly albums. (whew! sorry that was so long! perhaps I should have emailed!)
    #2--I think I saw a list of what page protectors/brands you use in your AC ring binder album...but if you could review, or was it in the latest CK with the divided pages article? AC 12x12, AC 8 1/2 x 11, and ?
    Thank you so much!
    From another AE.

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  11. Stephanie says…

    Ali~ Just wanted to say that this is truly a work of art. And completely inspiring!! I have never before actually thought of putting different size pages in the same album, and I must say, just the thought of it has given me wings! Thank you so much for sharing the anatomy of one of your albums with all of us.
    A lot of my questions have already been asked, but one more that I have is this...I noticed on some of the pages there are tabs sticking out at the top. I was wondering if these marked months in your album or if they were just design pieces of various layouts?
    Thanks again for being such an inspiration!

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Karla says…

    So crazy how I was wondering this! Girl this helps me a lot. Right now I have all my pages in two huge stacks. Getting droopy and are all out of order. I knew that when I was ready to get to it and put them in albums; I wanted to do it right.
    Thanks so much ^-----^,

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  13. Lisa in Sweden says…

    No question - I just have to write a note and THANK YOU for all the inspiration you've given me! Just love your new book (Life Artist) and have read it over and over again. I have started to create my pages in a new way, seeing other things and thinking other thoughts when I create. Feels soooo good!! :-) Now I just wish I could keep up the work with putting all the pages in my albums too. *ROFL* I have a couple of years to deal with.

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  14. Maica says…

    Dear Ali,
    I'm always thinking that to put scrapbooking pages inside a plastic bag is very cold. For your experience, is it possible to file them without plastic ? or it's risked ?. Have you ever tried it ?
    Many thanks for everything and best regards for you and your family.

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  15. junebug says…

    Hi Ali.
    Thanks for taking the time to put this post together. I've always loved your work and often refer to your articles and books when I'm in need of inspiration. And I just know those AC albums are going to be sold out everywhere, just because everyone is going to go get them :)
    I read lizee's question above about making page protectors for 6x12 layouts if you don't have a sewing machine. She can probably use brads, staples, or punch holes and put ribbon all the way through. I think that would look great.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. Emily Hoadley says…

    I love these binders, I love that I don't need a ton of different books for the variety of sizes I scrap in! I have made a few pages from leftover cardstock in 6x12 and 9x12. since my sewing machine is out of order I just take a 12x12 protector, place my LO in the bottom corner, trim and punch holes on the side with my cropadile. I find this works just as well as sewing and takes less time.

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  17. Nicole says…

    I am really enjoying your creative enthusiasm.
    A question, but not really related to this post. How did you add the trim marks (using Photoshop) to the pages for your Valentines Book?
    Thanks in advance

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  18. Tamara says…

    Hi Ali!
    Great album. I love the different size layouts especially the stitched page protectors to give the variety. My question for you is: With the 3 ring album, do your page protectors ever tear at the ring holes from being turned so much? Do you use any kind of reinforcements?
    Thanks so much for the inspiration and have a great day.

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. ToneT says…

    This is so great! Love that album and I love the mix of formats! I am sooo ready for doing this myself now. Have to find the abum now ;)
    And thank you again for a wonderful and inspiring blog Ali! You make me understand again and again he reason to scrapbook :D
    I hope you'll have a wonerful week-end!

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  20. Artful yogi says…

    The number of layouts that you create is so impressive. I love the way you inspire us to just keep making stuff! In addition to all these pages you created wall art, small albums and gifts albums. So inspiring. It nudges me to set aside time--even an hour and realy devote it to making stuff. I sometimes can spend that hour looking at this and other creative websites, or organizing my stuff. At the end of the hour i've not created a thing. Now, log off and makke more gorgeous art! :)

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  21. Sue says…

    I love Simon's album with all the different sized pages. He is a lucky young man. Also loved the photo of him! Too cute!

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  22. Molly says…

    I'm back for another comment. The more i look at your album (in it's entirety) I'm reminded again not to focus on the tiny details of each page, but rather the important thing is getting those stories recorded. Though indiviudally your pages are stunning, that message really resonates for me when I see what a gift getting to the point of making an album can be. I can see doing a number of simple pages on grid paper (as you've done with the "go simon go" page that would be less complicated design-wise and inserting them throughout the binder, providing a repeted design element. As a page by itself, those might not "impress" as much, but can bring everything together visually and provide real value in terms of the story. The lessons and ideas just keep coming the more I spend time in this post!

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  23. jenwcom says…

    can i just say how overwhelmed this post made me? i took every picture in my house down and laid them all out on the dining room table. as you did, i'm going to take all my pages out of the albums and rearrange them. such an overwhelming task to me. but so worth it to see a finished album.
    you are such an inspiration. you rock.

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  24. Jo says…

    I was a 12x12 page scrapbooker, but I found it restrictive. I swapped after reading about your mixed albums a while back and I'm loving it.
    My question... what are your favourite products / lines right now? and do you listen to music whilst you work?
    Thanks for the Weekend Creative prompts and for kindly leaving a comment on one of mine in flickr.

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  25. Tiffani says…

    I was going to say pretty much what the very first commenter said - liked your mention of the ring vs. post albums. I've always preferred the ring bound albums, since I don't always work chronologically it is so much easier to go back and add the newly-minted pages in those than it is in to move all the layouts or get out the screwdriver and take the whole thing apart, etc. Plus, it seems to me like their can be a little more "room to breathe" for the pages in the ring-bound albums - especially those with any dimensional elements.

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