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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. Marie says…

    Love this! Any ideas for the view hole on the outside of the album?

    Reply 0 Replies
  2. Ginny says…

    Thanks for sharing this. When I first started back in 1997, I received 2 kits for scrapping my new daughter. One was a 12 x 12 kit with a 3 ring binder & the other was an 8.5 x 11. I originally started mixing both sizes. Then I started seeing such beautiful stuff online & thought how silly of me. I'm excited to go back to doing this, should have listened to my own instincts, LOL. Love your album :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  3. megan says…

    Love all of your work! Thanks for sharing!
    How do you decide on your photo sizes for your LO? Do you plan a LO then Order the sizes you want or order pics first then make them work on the page??
    I'm having a hard time figuring out a good system for my self. I see layouts that I would like to try, with say a 12x6 photo, but I never have that size on hand.
    Thanks for your time!

    Reply 0 Replies
  4. Giulia says…

    Thanks so much for sharing.
    You give me a lot of ispirations!

    Reply 0 Replies
  5. Catherine says…

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I love seeing all of those layouts in one album!

    Reply 0 Replies
  6. Kate says…

    Thanks for sharing this! I always LOVE seeing how people put together their albums!

    Reply 0 Replies
  7. Sharmaine says…

    Hi Ali, Just popped over to say thank you!!
    Have read your Life Artist book, love LOVE it. I love the 'pocket' file pages and after a recent purchase at the craft store I created a page that you can see here I also scraplifted one of your gorgeous pages. This was a challenge for me as I stuggle with scraplifting but I just wanted to say THANKYOU for inspiring so many to create and be creative in their everyday.

    Reply 0 Replies
  8. Julie in Houston says…

    Thanks for this post Ali. I always have a hard time putting my pages into an album. You are such an inspiration! Simon did a great job!

    Reply 0 Replies
  9. Ann Marie says…

    first of all--I always love to see your pages, and some of those I haven't seen before, so thank you for sharing!
    second of all--my question is not deep, nor philosophical, and I even know you've answered it before, but I can't remember/find it--where did you get that great stamp (flourish/swirl thingy) on the top of the last page?
    Ann marie

    Reply 0 Replies
  10. Candace says…

    You know what I love?
    Your album's main thing is the pictures - not an overly intricate (and expensive!) design.
    And for me - that is inspiring!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  11. Melissa says…

    Thank you so much for giving us a glimps into your every day life. This section alone answers a lot of my questions about combining page sizes and 1 and two page LOs. I really like how it looks. After seeing it in action I'm not so scared to try it myself.

    Reply 0 Replies
  12. Mariana Perri says…

    You simply never cease to amaze me! This is the most beautiful album I have seen in a LONG time!

    Reply 0 Replies
  13. Lindsay says…

    I was thinking as I looked at your album--I just don't know what I'd do without your inspiration and influence!!! I mean it--I get so inspired to go and create just by looking at your ideas and albums!
    THANK YOU!!!!

    Reply 0 Replies
  14. Laura Buckingham says…

    Ditto what everyone else said! This is a fabby album.
    I scrap the same way, D ring albums and I use all different sized PP, 12x12, 8.5x11, 8x8, 6x12, 12x6 etc etc.
    I just wanted to add a tip that I learnt at a class, I hope I am not stepping on your toes. When you wanted to pull two of the pages together you stiched them, which I think probably looks really neat, but a tip for peeps without a sewing machine, it that you can staple the two PP together, to create the same effect (though maybe not quite as seamless, and neat)
    also, Bazzill make 6x12 and 12x6 PP, which you can buy instead of making your own!
    Great blog
    Laura (London, UK)

    Reply 0 Replies
  15. Giulia says…

    I have also written a post in my blog
    Hoping it will be useful for you.

    Reply 0 Replies
  16. ToneF says…

    Thank you again! Just wanted to tell you taht having been inspired by you, I got myself a D-ring binder album and pockes in different shapes today!
    I am sooo happy about it :D

    Reply 0 Replies
  17. Kristi Kortman says…

    LOL--I see some overspray on your cement. I also have this at my house, but I do it in the street to keep my driveway looking pretty ;-)
    It's so fun to take crafting outside, isn't it?

    Reply 0 Replies
  18. Kristi Kortman says…

    LOL--I see some overspray on your cement. I also have this at my house, but I do it in the street to keep my driveway looking pretty ;-)
    It's so fun to take crafting outside, isn't it?

    Reply 0 Replies
  19. Susan Wilson says…

    Did you include in this yearly album all the small theme books you might have made for Simon during 2007? Does it include travel you took with him?
    Thanks Ali. You're doing a great job with this blog. I come here often.
    Susan Wilson

    Reply 0 Replies
  20. HeatherC says…

    Wow -- I just do not know where to start to tell you how cool this is -- all your work actually. Your style is very different from mine and I find it so refreshing free (mine may be a little rigid!) I am curious to know how much preplanning you do when you create an album or a page --- do you sketch it out, define your materials, or just grab some photos and go with the flow? How long does it take you to typically creat a page? How much time per day do you spend creating?

    Reply 0 Replies
  21. Sue says…

    Ali, I feel like I have been given a gift, freedom, or permission to combine different size layouts in one book. My scrapbooking has been so constricted...I never knew what size album to use and a lot of time was wasted on that decision when I could have been creating. Thanks.

    Reply 0 Replies
  22. Donna says…

    ali - of all the artists/designers that i have had the opportunity to experience through the 11 years i have been scrapbooking, i can without a doubt say that you are the absolute best. no matter what i see of yours either in magazines, on-line or through your newsletter, i am so inspired! you have such a gift...thank you
    for sharing it!

    Reply 0 Replies
  23. Emilie says…

    Wow, I really like how you explained all of this. BTW, I have that album! :)

    Reply 0 Replies
  24. Amy says…

    Hi Ali,
    I just signed up for your AE newsletter, and am looking forward to all the new inspiration that I know i am going to get from it.
    I just love your layouts! They seem so fun and easy. I am totally inspired to redo some of my old scrapbooks in your style and format. I have learned from you that journaling is so much more important than just decorate pages full of photos. I forget to tell the story behind the photos.

    Reply 0 Replies
  25. Julie says…

    That is so interesting the way you've put the different page types together - love that! I've got an 3-ring album that I've had forever not knowing quite what to do with it. I'm inspired! Thanks!

    Reply 0 Replies

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