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. ] 


  • 51.
    Carey said…

    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?

  • 52.
    Marge said…

    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.

  • 53.
    sue Treiber said…

    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!

  • 54.
    Joan said…

    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?

  • 55.
    beth said…

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

  • 56.
    Houston said…

    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.

  • 57.
    heather said…

    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!!

  • 58.
    Davean said…

    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!

  • 59.
    hiroko said…

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

  • 60.
    Lisa Dickinson said…

    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!

  • 61.
    lillieleigh said…

    You really are amazing!

  • 62.
    Marlene said…

    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

  • 63.
    Maggie said…

    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.

  • 64.
    Shelly Kettell said…

    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!

  • 65.
    Abby said…

    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!

  • 66.
    alexandra said…

    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!!

  • 67.
    Scrapella said…

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

  • 68.
    Charlotte said…

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

  • 69.
    Dawn said…

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

  • 70.
    karoline said…

    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!!

  • 71.
    Betsy Gourley said…

    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

  • 72.
    Shannon said…

    This is how I do my albums too and I just love it. I pretty much just use 12×12 and 8.5×11 but I have added 8×10 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!

  • 73.
    Jenna said…

    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!!! :)

  • 74.
    Annette said…

    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.

  • 75.
    alyssa said…

    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!

  • 76.
    Gigi said…

    I am just starting to organize my layouts and pieces of papers which I have collected during my vacations. I am now INSPIRED!!!
    Thank you very much!

  • 77.
    jamie said…

    oh ali. this is so beautiful. so so so wonderful.

  • 78.
    evelyne said…

    Hi Ali, I really love the album, but I am a disaster at stitching with machines:( so stitching my own sizes page protectors is something I can only dream about.
    My little girl’s into Easter right now and I thougt it would be fun to give her an Eastercalendar: I painted 27 eggs (a mix of gesso and acrylic paint) and filled them with little Playmobiltoys that together become an Easterset she can play with all Easter long (afterwards it goes on the attic ’till next year). Each egg has its number and she really loves it!! Your Christmasboxes gave me the inspiration.
    You can check the result at my blog:

  • 79.
    Ady Abreu said…

    Ali, I am such a fan of your work. It’s funny because as the pages turned I remembered these layouts from magazines or from your blog. I loved seeing it together and it all flows so well together with all the layers and styles. Thank you…

  • 80.
    Molly said…

    This is wonderful to see! Thank you. Currently, my pages are just sitting around in a pile. I don’t own any albums yet and this seems the logical approach. I’m wondering what the Heidi Swap clock is between the pages – is this a layout with photos/content only on the bottom half? I just purchased one of those myself and there are so many ways to use it.

  • 81.
    cori said…

    I scrapbook not only as a creative outlet for myself but for the joy I see in the faces of my children when they see the moments of our life on paper. I would love to hear some of your thoughts of how Simon feels about seeing himself in these marvelous books. Does it do wonders for his self esteem? You have such a fantastic grasp on scrapbooking as art + life and am thinking about that philosophy and how it translates to the ones we love.

  • 82.
    Jessica S said…

    Wow, love looking at the album. I am so far behind and I tend not to scrap in chronological order so I love the AC albums.
    Are you sorting your pictures using Stacy’s 4 categories. I started trying to sort my pictures using the 4 categories and got totally overwhelmed. I still have some pictures from my son’s first year that are not scrapped yet and he is five. Also, I have lots of pictures that need to be scrapped. Do you use the photo albums to store your pictures like in LOM approach? Help, need some of your sage advice. Jess

  • 83.
    young c-m said…

    Ali, thanks for sharing! Glad I got to see this in person at Portland CKC. Am wondering what you do with scraps? Do you have techniques that revolve around using them up or do you usually just toss? I hate wasting the scraps, so am looking for some suggestions. Thanks!

  • 84.
    Margaret said…

    Such a beautiful way to show your loved ones how much you care and document your lives together. I love that.
    So I do have a funny question. I have been loving how you and Becky Higgins have all your albums in the same kind of album. Love that. But my issue is that I would like to convert from a Creative Memories album to a normal 12 by 12. I cannot figure out how to convert…like what year do I start. I wish I could just cut off the tabs and slide them in a sheet protector. But my friends think I am crazy to try that. Hah!
    Also, I have friends who had their albums with normal top-loading sheet protectors who recently converted to side-loading sheet protectors. They didn’t like having all that dust at the top of their albums. Have you found this to be a problem?
    Thanks for your help!

  • 85.
    Anna Aspnes said…

    Ali, I totally have an issue with the binder space between 2 pages but LOVe your idea of stitching pages together. Definitely something to consider!

  • 86.
    Ann said…

    This post couldn’t have come at a better time! Within the past few days I was catching up on some of your older blog entries and was completely inspired by your album reorganization project. I want to do this with my layouts, but I had a few questions about the specifics of how you had addressed the issue of different sized layouts/page protectors…and your blog today answered all of my questions. Thank you! You’re always an inspiration!!

  • 87.
    Anna Aspnes said…

    Oh…and I do have a question. What are your thoughts on longevity of canvas albums over leather? I started with canvas albums back in 2002 and had to switch them out later…granted they were in the humidity of Japan where we had no A/C which would certainly do it. Just throwing the question out there…

  • 88.
    Emily Barklage said…

    In the vain of Jack Nicholson …
    You make me want to be a better scrapbooker.

  • 89.
    iowajewel said…

    i just want to thank you for all the time you put into posting all those pages and the notes about them! i just gobbled them up! its like you fed my creative soul Ali and i can’t get enough of your pages, thank you for the wonderful peak inside Simon’s album! know that i will probably never be able to attend one of your classes in person so i can not begin to tell you how much your daily posts mean to me.
    love to you, julie

  • 90.
    Tina J. said…

    I’m even more excited to make my album with you, at CKU Provo this year! I love the look of all those different sized pages in one book! Can’t wait to get started!!!
    Tina J.

  • 91.
    lisa said…

    Ali, Your generosity is inspiring. Thanks so much for taking the time to take those pictures, compile them in this post, and share your tips – as well as your family.

  • 92.
    Kari said…

    I would reiterate what everyone said above: thanks for this post. Not only is it inspiring, but also so aritistic, in the fact that we are shown the “complete” work of an album, and asked to look at it as a whole, too. I love what you’ve done with the different sizes, and will be referring to it in the future as I start to rethink my own albums.
    As, quite possibly, the only scrapper in Ecuador, I also very much appreciated that you show how a 3-ring binder album can work. Here in Ecuador there is virtually no way to get albums, so I use big ugly office binders, but after seeing this post I realize that it’s OK. I don’t need the fancy albums to get the message(and story) across. With that said, your album cover is much nicer on the eyes than mine: what brand of album is it?
    Quito, Ecuador

  • 93.
    mrstjshelby said…

    It’s just so cool!
    It’s inspiring, and wonderful. Thank you so much for sharing. I could look at your art all day.

  • 94.
    Chana said…

    Beautiful album!
    QUESTION: Do you have any pages with interactive parts? I.E. flaps or pockets? Do you cut your page protectors to leave space for those parts? How do you deal with this?

  • 95.
    Raquel Daroda said…

    Your scrap is perfect!! wow!! The colors, details…I love it!! I admire your work and I don´t have words to say how much beautiful it is!! Kisses ;)

  • 96.
    Valerie said…

    Wow. Thanks for sharing! I’m always amazed at how you so openly share yourself with all the readers out there. It’s really inspiring. I do have a question, too- what kind of printer do you use for all of your photos? I’m shopping for one and would love some recommendations. Thanks again!

  • 97.
    Kara said…

    Love this post Ali! I’ve been trying to organize my pages in albums (chronologically) for awhile now, but always get frustrated because I hate to use just one size paper for the entire year (8 1/2 by 11, 12 by 12). Absolutely love the idea of using 12 by 12 and putting all different size pages in!! Plus this looks so much easier to add or move around rather than the post-bound! I can’t wait to go to my LSS this weekend and stock up on these American Crafts books and get them organized to share! Thanks so much for the inspiration Ali, I love your blog!

  • 98.
    Nicky Anderson said…

    Love it – so great to see all Simon’s layouts and love the mix in page sixes, etc.

  • 99.
    Debbie said…

    As always THANKS for sharing!! I was wondering if you included your 81/2 x 11 pages in with the 12×12 pages. Looks great!!

  • 100.
    cindy b said…

    OH MY GOD!!!!! That looks so yummy and filled with such goodness! And the pic of Simon helping is just too cute! My question is this: I also use AC 3 ring albums but have tons of trouble finding refills. Either online stores are sold out OR I just can’t find them!! Are there other brands of protectors you use without seeing a big difference in the size? Thanks Ali for always inspiring all of us and most of all – sharing!! .. peace and blessings..

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