Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

March 5, 2008

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 6×12 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. ] 


  • 1.
    Janie said…

    Ali — I appreciate what you wrote about your not being concerned about two-page spreads being connected in three-ring binders. Question: do you ever create a two-page spread where your layout is such that a photo spans the two pages? That is the one instance where the non-post binder trips me up. Just curious as to your thoughts on that. Thanks in advance.

  • 2.
    Tracy Anderson said…

    Wow, Ali….. what a super awesome post….
    I don’t even know what to say because that was just truly cool! Thanks for the great peek into not just your album anatomy, but your day-to-day family life. You really are such an inspiring person. I consider myself lucky to be able to come to your blog and be taught by you every day. Thank you so much for all you do to enrich my hobby :) HUGS, Tracy

  • 3.
    Ali said…

    Janie – I have done layouts like that before where a photo spreads across both pages (and will do again) and just put it in like the rest. I really do think that our eyes connect the two even if there is an inch or so separating the sides.

  • 4.
    Trina said…

    Hey Ali–
    Love to see all your layouts together like that! Nice to see it actually come together and be “okay” with all the variety of pages and sizes. I was actually wondering about the giant clear “5″ on one of your layouts….where did you find that or did you somehow make it yourself?
    Thanks, as always, for sharing and continued inspiration!

  • 5.
    Ali said…

    Trina – I added that on top of the photo gathering in Photoshop (as a new layer) + then printed it out here at home.

  • 6.
    Aggie said…

    WOW, I love this! Be back after I have absorbed everything!

  • 7.
    Trina said…

    Hey Ali–
    Thanks for the quick response! I have another quick question…how do you make your photo gatherings in Photoshop and still keep your photos looking the same. What I mean is…when I follow the instructions you give in the Studio A column from April 06 to resize my photos, they get warped. What do you do to prevent this? Also wondering if you happened to get my email awhile back with the crazy request in regards to iPhoto help? No big deal, just curious!
    Thanks again,

  • 8.
    Carolyne said…

    I am going to have to sit and drool over this post for many hours – thankyou, thankyou for sharing this with us all. this is just what i needed to kick start some pretty heavy organisation with some pages that are piling high on my desk. thankyou!!!

  • 9.
    moon said…

    this is jsut soooo beautiful….
    i really love your ideas!!! :D

  • 10.
    Haylee said…

    Wow what a gorgeous album! I love all the different sizes and shapes of yourlayouts. It really adds so much character & interest. Loving it!!!

  • 11.
    Lisa O said…

    Ali, this must be the yummiest post I have seen in blogland for a while! Thank you for the awesome peek!

  • 12.
    Julie Howard said…

    What an awesome album… and I love those two pictures of Simon helping out! He is such a cutie!
    This album has given me some great ideas for my own albums… I love the idea of using different size page protectors. And I really like the strips of pictures in a couple of them (like the 2007 egg layout)

  • 13.
    lizee said…

    Thanks a gazillion for posting this:)
    I saw your mixed pages album at CKU anaheim last year, and was so blown away by it…that i immediately bought an AC D ring 12×12 album.
    I bought a few 8 1/2 x11 page protectors (by AC), but the holes dont work well with the 12×12 D ring binder. How do you fit non 12×12 page protectors in a D ring album?
    I also noticed you sewed a few of your pg protectors to accomodate your 12×6 layouts…do you have any tips for people who dont have a sewing machine?

  • 14.
    Zarah said…

    NICE! I love the different sizes – it brings such life to your album! :D

  • 15.
    Izzy said…

    Thanks so much for sharing, both the album and Simon. That boy just makes me smile.
    Hope things are well with you, health wise. Have a blessed year.

  • 16.

    wow this is fantastic, I love that you can have different kinds of sizes in one album! What company makes the album..and where to buy? :) Thanks!

  • 17.
    Maria said…

    This is absolutely fabulous!! and i´m going to read it once and again more carefully…i like how you´ve mixed the divided page protector pages with the regular ones. thank you so much for sharing, Ali!!

  • 18.
    Lusi said…

    Hi Ali!
    I LOVE the different sizes of your layouts combined together :)
    I was wondering if you could maybe share the layout of simon on the railroad tracks. I would love to read the story attached to that one. He reminds me of my son and it just got me curious!
    Anyway, love these shares and thank you for continuing to inspire me!
    Australia :)

  • 19.
    evelien Schulenburg said…

    Hi Ali
    Thanks for the inspiration! However, I am doing already what you are doing and it is so much fun. I am here with a small group of scrappers ( I am a Dutchie in Austria and in Austria scrapbooking hardly exists!!)and I am the only one that is going ‘wild’ and not sticking to the ‘rules’ (what rules???!! as far as I am concerned there are no rules and it is just me, my creativity, the picture and above all the story) Anyway, thanks, thanks, thanks.

  • 20.
    Sarah van Wijck said…

    Awesome!! Glad I’m not the only one that has albums of different sized pages. I just wish i had as many pages completed as you do!! Thank you for sharing something so personal.

  • 21.
    Liesbeth said…

    All I can say is… WOW. That looks sooooo good. And the photo of Simon is a hoot! You gotta love them when they are like this! Thanks for sharing Ali – you’re a big inspiration (as always).

  • 22.

    Hi Ali,
    Any suggestions for how I can create a digital scrapbook for my students’ school year? (I have 20 fourth graders.) I don’t mind putting in some time, but since I have so many photos of them all, this “yearbook” project might take too much time to do by hand.

  • 23.
    mary walmer said…

    Oh wow-what a great post…so awesome to see your vision as a whole. I bought a 3 ring album last year and have been buying different size page protectors and now I just need to sit down and get some layouts done! Your method gives me the ability to scrap out of order with out the hassle of taking apart a post bound album to fit layouts in where they belong-what FREEDOM!!

  • 24.
    Elizabeth said…

    Gosh! that was some serious eye candy!! thanks for always being so inspiring. (
    and for taking the time out to INSPIRE all of US).
    Love it.
    I changed over to this about 8 months ago and have found a Freedom in my scrapbooking I was looking for. Highly recommend it.

  • 25.
    mandydake said…

    This is great! Thanks for sharing!

  • 26.
    Sue B said…

    Do you try to do the pages as you take the photos or do you wait until you have time to do several pages? My husband and I are taking my grandson on a 2,000 mile driving trip this summer and I plan to take my computer, printer and scrapbook supplies to do a scrapbook, for him to have, along the way (we’ll be in a motorhome). I thought I’d have my grandson do the journaling. I’m going to try to do most of it digitally. I have PE. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us. Sue Berker. Illinois

  • 27.
    Suzanne said…

    Ali thanks for sharing your album. I am glad to see that you do mix your pages up a bit. While I love chronological (sp) order I also like to scrapbook photos on my mind so ring binder albums are perfect for this. It is always so good to see what other people do with their albums and their take on it. Thanks again for sharing really do appreciate it and the time it would take for you to share it with us.

  • 28.
    Samantha VanArnhem said…

    Just beautiful!
    Wondering what, if anything, you put in the window on the front of the album? I use these same albums and have yet to come up with anything I really like.
    Thanks for sharing – and great helping Simon!!

  • 29.
    Rachel Greig said…

    Every single page of yours is so inspiring. Thanks for sharing. You truly are an inspiration!!

  • 30.
    stephenie said…

    I am in awe… you never cease to amaze me. I have never thought of taking pages of different sizes and putting them together in an album. I have also never tried the binder album. You might have gotten my brain rolling here! Thanks for all of the inspiration!

  • 31.
    bonnierose said…

    Ali, wonderful post. I am currently working on making my LIBRARY OF MEMORIES system work for me.. this week, I am working on putting together a cabinet in my dining room and my 12 AC ALBUMS on it, along with album labels , storage binders and category drawers for my photos.. I want it all within easy reach all in one place! Next week.. on my TO DO LIST.. is organizing all my finished layouts and putting them in the appropriate albums.. loved looking into Simon’s! question for you – how many page protectors are in Simon’s album? are they all AC brand besides the divided ones? how many layouts do you think are in that album, do these albums hold, depending on layout thickness, use of embellishments? would love to hear your answers! HUGS thks for sharing all you did.. you never fail to inspire. I’d love to just hang out with you for a whole week, and let some of that inspiring goodness rub off on me.. hugs

  • 32.
    bonnierose said…

    Ali, wonderful post. I am currently working on making my LIBRARY OF MEMORIES system work for me.. this week, I am working on putting together a cabinet in my dining room and my 12 AC ALBUMS on it, along with album labels , storage binders and category drawers for my photos.. I want it all within easy reach all in one place! Next week.. on my TO DO LIST.. is organizing all my finished layouts and putting them in the appropriate albums.. loved looking into Simon’s! question for you – how many page protectors are in Simon’s album? are they all AC brand besides the divided ones? how many layouts do you think are in that album, do these albums hold, depending on layout thickness, use of embellishments? would love to hear your answers! HUGS thks for sharing all you did.. you never fail to inspire. I’d love to just hang out with you for a whole week, and let some of that inspiring goodness rub off on me.. hugs

  • 33.

    Thanks for sharing your inspiration once again. You Rock! I LOVE the photo of Simon peeking up at you in between turning the pages for you. You should put THAT one in a scrapbook for sure!

  • 34.
    MistyD said…

    SO awesome! Thanks for sharing!! Don’t you just love to look back over your albums?

  • 35.
    Cyndi S said…

    WOW! I can’t thank you enough. I have read all of you books and probably most of your articles, but it was so helpful to see it all together like that. YOU ROCK! Thanks so much

  • 36.
    Linda said…

    Where do you find all these different sizes of page protectors?

  • 37.
    Hannah said…

    Ali….Thank you Thank you Thank you….I just LOVE your album…it’s fun to see it all together…I love looking at my own scrapbook pages, but when they are all together, in an album…it just seems so much more “finished”, and it’s fun to see all of these layouts that we’ve been seeing here and there, compiled together!
    I had the same question as Bonnie Rose (just above me in the comments)
    It looks like you have about 26 pages (52 layouts) in your album…which is awesome…but, I just purchased a WeR 12×12 D ring album (the linen ones, which I just LOVE) and I can only fit about half that many pages in my album….totally bummed about that one, do you find that your albums are stressed at all? I feel like if I add more pages that they won’t stay in the rings…? My pages are not all that bulky, a couple of them may be, but mostly just paper…
    I work at our LSS, and I have been comparing the AC albums that you use, and the WeR album that I purchase for a while now (before purchasing my albums) and I decided to go with WeR, mostly for the color and texture of the album, I truly felt as though they would hold the same about of pages, that is the only thing I’m disappointed with. I only have 12×12 pages in my album right now, and I have plans to add some other sizes, do you think that is what gives you so much more room? The different sized pages?
    Thank you so much for your daily inspiration…I look forward to reading your blog everyday!
    Hannah May

  • 38.
    Tna said…

    hello ali. :) thank you for sharing this with us (especially me who don’t have an idea on how i will arrange my layouts – by date/occasion). right now, my layouts are arranged by date of accomplishment.
    anyway, i want to ask if you are using acrylic sheets in your first few layouts in the album since i can see the back of the pictures?
    if these are acrylic sheets, isn’t it hard bringing your layout together? and what materials work best with these sheets?
    thanks so much. :)

  • 39.
    Shelly said…

    Wow Ali! You’re the best! Thank you for taking the time to post this great album. It is always inspiring to see your work. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  • 40.
    Melanie aka ScrapMel said…

    I have to say that THIS is a real true scrapbook. What I mean to say, I remember going thru my grandma’s books – just stuff in there – all sorts of treasure to be found – and your book has recaptured that look. So often as scrappers I think we tend to forget about those who will actually be looking at the books in generations to come. How cool for them to find tidbits here and there – little mementos – NOT some very prettily embellished, tied with a bow package that so many layouts are today (yes, including mine even!). Thanks for showing this to us – it is just simply spectacularly wonderful.

  • 41.
    Kimberly said…

    I LOVE the variety of the pages! I feel that it gives the album a unique depth.
    I recently switched to 3 ring albums myself, because they hold so many more photos! …And being obsessive, like I am, I wanted all my albums to match.
    I just LOVE the variety!!! I can’t wait to incorporate some of you great ideas in my family albums.
    Thanks you, keeping inspiring!

  • 42.
    Jennie said…

    totally unrelated, but had this story on my home page this morning:

  • 43.
    Lynette said…

    WOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is just so amazing! Ali (and all the bloggers) today I got my cup of coffee, had the twins working on some preschool “homework” and looked at this blog….love it!!! I just have had the best morning. Reading and absorbing all of this is just a perfect way to start a day!!! Even if it is icy, cold, snowy here in ohio!
    So here is my question for you Ali. I have been learning from you for some time. Over the years, so much product has evolved. What lines of product do you prefer? Where do you order from? As I look through this blog I love how your photos “pop” and your paper is subtle, yet crafty, creative and eye catching…not too bold. Can you point us in the direction of where you find the “right” paper? It easy to walk into a scrap store and just be overwhelmed by the many creative sheets, but I really want to keep it “toned down” a bit and yet add the right SPLASH of color!
    Again, thank you so much for sharing. I just love what you do ali…you are an inspiration and such a sharer!!!
    Medina Ohio

  • 44.

    wow. i love the look of the multi-sizes in your album. i am an 8.5×11 scrapper and i have recently been cutting my page protectors different sizes so i could get a look like this. [of course, this act was totally inspired by you!]
    thank you for such an awesome post and taking the time to inspire creative people everywhere!

  • 45.
    Susan said…

    Ali you are truely amazing. So much inspiration that you continually give to me. Such a wonderful gift in sharing Simon’s album. Thank you so much! I will scrap something tonight and just play & have fun with it.

  • 46.
    Karen G said…

    When you first told us about putting different sizes in one album, that totally clicked for me. I love doing it. Thanks for showing us your album for Simon. I absolutely love the feel. It so reminds me of the scrapbooks of old that maybe our Moms used to create. Yes, they weren’t acid free, but there were no rules. Whatever they wanted was put in their albums, it didn’t matter size or if they pages coordinated. No rules. The stories were told and it just felt, well, their books felt “real”. That is what yours feels like. It is a compliation of Simon’s life and it feels real. It is beautiful and artistic but it doesn’t feel planned or artificial. I love it. Thanks so much for inspiring me again.
    Karen G

  • 47.
    Debbie Poe said…

    Thank you for your inspiration!
    I LOVE the variety of single/double and the different size pages.
    I was having difficulty scrapping my own stuff (married, no children) I wasn’t making it a priority and had no idea where to start.
    Then I read something you had said about just doing it.
    To not worry about order and page sizes. Just create and put it in a book.
    That was the best advice and it got me going and now I just make what I want and don’t worry about it!!!

  • 48.
    erica said…

    ali, you are just super awesome. thanks for being such a positive influence. you rock!

  • 49.
    Kim Bolyard said…

    I just love what you did…I ordered me some of those divided page protectors…can’t wait to work with those.
    This what a “real” scrabook looks like. I LOVE IT!!!!

  • 50.
    jenn shurkus said…

    love it ali… the girls and i ( from the store ) have been doing this and i am sooooooooo much more inspired to scrap.. knowing i can do ANYTHING i’m not trapped into one size ;) p.s. love simons bed head ;) hahaha :)

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