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. ] 


  • 101.
    Jen said…

    THANK YOU for sharing your work. So inspiring!

  • 102.
    Lindsay Palamaruk said…

    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!

  • 103.
    Lydia said…

    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 work…love your style and love your books.
    Lydia, in Columbus Ohio

  • 104.
    Rebeccca said…

    Oh, my! Mixing 12×12, 8 1/2×11, 6×12…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.

  • 105.
    Caryl said…

    I just discovered that my Creative Memories 12×12 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….

  • 106.
    Monica said…

    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.

  • 107.
    Bree said…

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

  • 108.
    Karen said…

    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 11×8 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 6×12 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…….

  • 109.
    Susan Keuter said…

    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 you…you 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!

  • 110.
    Jess said…

    isn’t it just the most satisfying feeling to see all your art in one place?? I’ve been trying an 8.5×11 album for pictures of my honeymoon and its coming together so well. I switched sizes (usually work with 12×12) 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.

  • 111.
    Lisa said…

    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.

  • 112.
    Emily said…

    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!

  • 113.
    Crazy Daisy said…

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

  • 114.
    michell said…

    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.

  • 115.
    robyn charles said…

    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?!?!?

  • 116.
    Tina said…

    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! :)

  • 117.
    Michelle said…

    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.

  • 118.
    melanie said…

    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. :)

  • 119.
    DonnaC said…

    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!

  • 120.
    tchrtiff said…

    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 12×12 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!!

  • 121.
    jen downer said…

    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

  • 122.
    dr berry said…

    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?

  • 123.
    Heather V said…

    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!

  • 124.
    Tracey said…

    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!!!!!

  • 125.
    Cristina said…

    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?

  • 126.
    katelyn said…

    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 (:

  • 127.
    Karen said…

    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.

  • 128.
    jen said…

    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,

  • 129.
    Rebecca said…

    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!:)

  • 130.
    Jenn said…

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

  • 131.
    shannon j said…

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

  • 132.
    Tina said…

    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 haul….my 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

  • 133.
    LorI P said…

    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

  • 134.
    Mandi said…

    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!

  • 135.
    Amy said…

    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 12×12, AC 8 1/2 x 11, and ?
    Thank you so much!
    From another AE.

  • 136.
    Stephanie said…

    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!

  • 137.
    Karla said…

    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 ^—–^,

  • 138.
    Lisa in Sweden said…

    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.

  • 139.
    Maica said…

    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.

  • 140.
    junebug said…

    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 6×12 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.

  • 141.
    Emily Hoadley said…

    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 6×12 and 9×12. since my sewing machine is out of order I just take a 12×12 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.

  • 142.
    Nicole said…

    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

  • 143.
    Tamara said…

    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.

  • 144.
    ToneT said…

    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!

  • 145.
    Artful yogi said…

    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! :)

  • 146.
    Sue said…

    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!

  • 147.
    Molly said…

    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!

  • 148.
    jenwcom said…

    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.

  • 149.
    Jo said…

    I was a 12×12 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.

  • 150.
    Tiffani said…

    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.

Post a comment