December Daily : Q&A 2009

WELCOME TO THE DECEMBER DAILY 2009 Q&A : Thanks for taking time to leave your questions last week. I am hoping that what you find below will be helpful as you move forward in the process. 



Q : Did you trim the sides of each page so they didn't hang out of the album?? I figured you didn't, since you didn't mention it. But, I don't notice that yours hang out of the album?? Is trimming really necessary?

AE : The canvas pages do hang out on the far edge (maybe 1/2 inch). I am totally fine with it - I guess I feel like it goes along with the "by-hand," textural nature of this album. 

Q : Hi Ali, what are you doing (or what did you do) with the envelopes? Are you putting photos inside? outside? Both? Do you have a plan?

AE : In past years I have included notes to Simon, notes about the day, receipts, etc. I don't go into it with a plan...when that day comes up I find something to go inside :). In the past I have usually not decorated the outside beyond the number. See an envelope example from 2008 here

Q : I have a question about using chipboard pieces for a front cover and back cover. Have you worked with chipboard covers for mini albums much, and if so, where do you buy the chipboard? Do you buy it pre-cut to the size you'll use, or in sheets and cut it down? Can you cut thick chipboard with any kind of trimmer, or do I need to buy a special kind?

AE : I have worked quite a bit with chipboard albums in the past and most of the time the chipboard I used all came as part of an album package (such as from 7gypsies or
Maya Road
). I am sure you can find blank sheets of chipboard online (here's a google search for 'chipboard sheets') and depending on the thickness you should be able to cut them with a paper trimmer or box-cutter/craft knife. Most of the time in the past if I cut chipboard I did it with a craft knife and a metal ruler (going back and forth until it comes apart). 


Q : How do I get my december digital overlays to print in color on cardstock? 

AE : Directions using Elements or Photoshop can be found here

Q : My question is about the numbers on each page. Why do you do that, when you also seem to use a journaling card with the date on it as well? I guess the numbers make it more of a diary/journal. Last year I pasted numbers to 4x6 decorative papers that I put in the album to separate days, but I often put the date on my journaling card, so I'm not sure the numbers served any purpose. Just wanted your take on it.

AE : I really see the numbers as a decorative element. Some days I use a journaling card (example here from 2008) and on other days I don't (example here). I like using a bunch of different styles and having variety from one day to the next. 

Q : Do you use the front and back of each page for each day? So essentially, each days gets a front and back of one page??? That is what it looks like in your pictures but I can't tell for sure???

AE : I have done all kinds of different things in the past. Some days got a front (with the number) and a back (the story). Other days - like this one from 2008 (see full info here): 

December104 December103

include a date page (the front) and then the next two pages (photos on the back of the date & the a second page added in with the text). I change it up as I go along depending on the story I am telling. 

Q : I also used transparencies cut down to size-what adhesive should I use to attach felt/paper to the transparencies that wouldn't show through to the other side? 

AE : Most of the time in this album I have cut another "something" to go on the other side of the transparency to hide the adhesive (I usually just use a tape runner). 

Q : I know you said you were keeping it super simple and would add a few embellishments along the way...are you keeping a choice few in a baggy attached to the cover to add? Curious what those embellishments are. 

AE : I won't be adding anything to the cover. I will be adding embellishments to the inside pages - those will come from my stash. I don't have any idea what I will use at this point...

Q : Are you planning to journal using the computer or handwrite your comments or a combo of the two? If you handwrite will you stick with one color or will you mix it up? 

AE : I generally do a combination of both computer and handwriting. I will likely use just black and white (paint pen from Sharpie). 

Q : I love the look of the canvas pages that came in your album and thought about buying some of the Claudine Hellmuth adhesive canvas sheets and sewing two back to back. Should I remove the backing from the canvas before sewing or leave the backing sheets on to make the pages more sturdy?

AE : I would just peel off the backing and stick them together.

Q : I'm hoping to print my photos at home where I normally only print 4 x 6 or 5 x 7 but would love to be able to include some 8 x 8's or 4 x 8's, is there a simple way to do it other than photoshop as I just can't get on with it.

AE : That's a bit tough to answer without knowing what program you normally print from - that program may give you some other options for sizes.



Q : I am almost finished with putting my DD together and my question is about sewing the Hambly overlays on the canvas pages. Did you use a special needle to sew with? Any tips to make sewing the overlays easier?

AE : I did not use a special needle - it was just the regular one I have on my machine (just checked the size and it is 80/11). You can see in the image above that it is definitely imperfect - sometimes I need to help my machine along a bit by gently pushing the fabric/overlay forward. One of the things that I actually like about using my machine is that it is not perfect (definitely an operator issue rather than the machine). 

Q : Did you, once the overlay was sewn on, put an eyelet in the hole on the overlay?

AE : No. I stitched the overlay on top of the grommet that was already on the canvas page and then used a small craft knife to cut out the inside. 


Q : My DD core pages are completed and without any additional embellishments or photos, it is too large already for my 2" 8x8 binder. I couldn't find 2.5" binder rings at our Office Depot, so got 3" instead. They seem a little large. Does anyone have anything creative for me to try. I don't mind making my own covers at all, it looks like I'll need to do that. Are there even 2.5" or 3" 8x8 binders out there?

AE : There is no doubt that these albums get big - each year I am amazed at how full of life they are by the end of the 25 days. You definitely (as you can tell already) want to have rings you can grow into over the course of the month. I remember feeling like mine seemed big last year in the beginning but by the end they were just right. There were quite a few good responses to your question in the comments as well. One of the ones I resonated with addressed the idea that one reason many people go with rings and separate covers is because the albums get bulky. A lot of that depends on what sort of pages you end up including (texture, thickness, etc). 

Q : Where did you get your album rings? I tried a 2.5" ring and all the pages stuck out by over an inch! I tried a small album ring, but everything is getting really tight in my album already and I haven't even added pictures yet.

AE : I am not sure where I got them - they were here in my stash of stuff. I did read in the comments that someone had found them in the embroidery section at Micheals. 

Q : Ali, my question is also about rings. I purchased a 5 ring, 8x8 album from 7 gypsies this year and with my core pages complete it is tight already. What size rings should I upgrade to?

AE : I am not sure what the ring size is to begin with on that album but you might consider going up at least half an really do want to have room for the pages to expand. 

Q : I have the MM Mistletoe 8 x 8 felt album that I'd like to use and am debating whether to replace the d-ring inner with rings to give me more depth for my pages. Do you think I'll gain that much more space or do I ruin the risk of ruining my album?

AE : To be honest, I am really not sure. I think if you do it you have to be prepared for it to not work (meaning have a back-up plan in mind). 



Q : Where did you find replacement grommets to fit and how did you set them? I didn't realize they were so large!

AE : I found the grommets used on the outside in the sewing section at Joann Fabrics. I went back and looked and the ones I got were the 1/4 inch Dritz Large Eyelet Kit (includes a little setting tool that I used along with my Making Memories hammer). These were just used on the cover. 


Q : Eyelets
Question: What size is the best? With the rings I wanted to make sure they had freedom of movement. Is there a brand & size that you use for eyelets you could recommend?

I tried using the LARGE eyelets (1/4"), which look like yours, but now my album can't close (far from) b/c it's too thick/deep. The medium ones (5/8") fit on my binder and allow my pages to turn, but just barely. I am using an American Crafts Modern 8x8 Album.

AE : I used large eyelets for the cover of the album (see above). For the interior pages I used ones that were quite a bit smaller (I would call them "regular sized" - not mini and not large). In the past when I have done ring albums I did not use any eyelets on my interior pages. I ended up doing it this year because I wanted to match the look of the canvas pages & the page protectors that were already set with very large eyelets/grommets. 

Q : Ali, I bought most of the supplies you are using this year and I wanted to tell you that the canvas album is AWESOME! I am going to just embellish it instead of covering it and replace the ribbon with rings like yours. But, I cannot tell if you used grommets for every page or not - was it just some pages?

AE : I will be using the smaller eyelets (shown above) on all the pages this year (the page protectors & the canvas pages that came with the album do have the larger size). Some of them I left blank because I will be covering them with a photo (and will then do the eyelets at the time of completing the page). 

Q : I am using an acrylic album as a base and adding in a lot of different kinds of pages (rather like your December Daily 2008). Some of my pages are just cardstock, and I'm wondering if I should use eyelets where the holes for the rings are or just leave them as is.

AE : I would just leave them as is - I did not have problems not using eyelets in the past (have not before this year and am only doing it this time to match the canvas pages and try something different). 

Q : Did you attach them with the cropadile or big bite II?

AE : Cropadile

Q : I have purchased the same album you are using for your December Daily and I've picked out fabric and I'm to the point where I need to take my grommets out. I have purchased other ones but my question is HOW you are using the crop a dile to set these. I've purchased grommets that are the same size as the ones on the outside of the album. I've noticed that you have put grommets on each page which I think is brilliant yet I need a little more instruction before I jump into that process. I don't want to ruin the album before I ever get started! Thanks for any direction you may have! I'm excited to get this part finished up before the holidays are upon us! Thanks so much for the Holiday fun!

AE : I did not use the Cropadile to set the grommets for the exterior of the album. I used a little setter/tool that was included with the large eyelets and a hammer (followed the directions on the back). For my interior pages I used smaller eyelets (see the photo above) and did use the Cropadile for those pages. If you need help with the Cropadile I found this video with a google search. 


Q : I was wondering what adhesive you would recommend for adhering fabric, paper and embellies to the cover and canvas inserts? 

AE : There are really lots of different things you can use to adhere different elements to canvas. In the past I have used Golden Matte Medium or Claudine Hellmuth's Studio Medium. Claudine has some how-to videos here. Many people online also suggest Tacky Glue (dries clear). I adhered my fabric on the cover using WonderUnder (essentially an iron-on). I also just got some ThermOWeb HeatNBond to try out as well. I am also a fan of staples. 

Q : Looking for a good strong adhesive to attach felt to paper and felt to felt. 

AE : I continue to be a fan of staples. Other than that I think this Peel N Stick fabric fuse from works well for fabric to fabric. 


Q : I have a question regarding sewing, either on the page protectors or paper; I tried it once and my thread kept balling up at the back of the page protector. Is this just a matter of not having the tension right? Anyone know? I really like the look of stitching on pages and suppose I could do it by hand, but with my machine would be oh so much faster.

Answer from Terri : This is in answer to the sewing thread issue. My machine is fairly sensitive to the bobbin thread coming up from the hole. Several things I have to watch are: I have to use good thread most of the time so I try different threads (but tonight, I used cheap gold metallic thread and it worked); I have to hold the ends of the top and bottom threads a little bit tightly with my thumb and forefinger when I take the first stitch and hold them back behind the needle so they don't go inside the needle's hole and get jammed; I have to go very slowly right at the beginning of sewing the paper or protector. I don't know why this is. I have had five machines since ancient times (the 60's) and this one just has its moods. I also try out needles of different sizes, occasionally changing sizes depending on the thickness of the paper/board/fabric/plastic just like you would with any fabric. I hope that helped.

Q : Finally, I don't sew and I don't know how to, but I'd love to experiment... is there any small handheld little crafting sewing machine that you recommend to get me started?

AE : I don't really know much about machines on the market today. Maybe someone will have a suggestion and can leave it in the comments below. You might want to consider getting a refurbished machine from a local sewing machine shop. I have loved having an older machine. 


Q : My other question is about the embellishment you sewed onto page protector for days 8. did you sew through both the front and the back of the plastic or just the top layer? thanks. 

AE : It is sewed right through the front and the back. Whatever goes inside will be cut to fit the area that is left (to the left). 


Q : Is there a flickr group for december daily?

AE : Yes, you can find it here

Q : I think you mentioned you're taking Jessica Sprague's Holidays in Hand class. I was curious if you're incorporating that into your December Daily book or if you're going to keep those two concepts separate.

AE : I am not incorporating it in a specific way but I am reading & following along and it's likely I will be inspired by many of the things that Jessica shares. 


Q : During the month of December, realistically how long would you spend on each day adding pic and documenting? Have you found it is easier to work on it daily in December or do several days in one setting?

AE : I spend a bit more time on it only because the time I spend includes photographing & setting up my blog post (that can often take more time than the creation of the page). Some days the actual work on the page is super quick - especially when I am just writing down a memory (not all my pages include photos). I don't always wait until the end of the day - sometimes I will see something, snap a photo, come to my office & print the photo & punch the holes and call it good. This does not have to be does not have to be super-crafty, nor does it have to take a ton of time & decoration. 

Q : Does the number on each page correspond to date? For example, the page with the 1 is for what you did on December 1st and the page with the number 2 on it is for what you did on December 2nd? Or are the numbers just counting the different activities/events you did during December? What if you did something Christmas/holiday related at the end of November and want to include it in your book? Where do you put it? What if you do two great things on, say, December 12th. Do you put both on the number 12 page or does each activity get its own page?

AE : Yes, the numbers are for the date (as in December 1). I do this album as a daily documentation of what we do around here from December 1 through December 25. Not everything has to do with the holidays. Some years we put up our tree before December. In that case I would likely begin my album with a story of getting the tree on December 1. Don't make it more complicated than it needs to be. If we do two great things on December 12 then I would likely include more than one page for that day - if you take a look at my album from 2008 you can see where I have included multiple pages for one day (see an example here). 

Q : In other forums (namely Holidays in Hand, where I am participating this year), several people have commented that they don't have time to do "holiday stuff" due the obligations of school, work, cooking, and cleaning. As though these activities are somehow less-than because they don't look like the carefree Christmases in movies. I was hoping you speak a bit about the daily aspect of December Daily and perhaps whether or not we should consider capturing and documenting these days, even when nothing "holiday" happens. What are some moments/images/objects we may want to consider documenting on those days when "nothing happens"?

AE : I see this album as an opportunity to focus on the spirit of the season - to document the special little things that seem to go along with this time of year. That said it is a daily album - we do not do something holiday-ish everyday but I find something to celebrate each day. I went through my 2008 album and here were the topics/themes: 

1. getting our tree (link)
2. working on a felt garland (link)
3. Playmobile nativity set (link : multiple page example)
4. Simon's photo with Santa in a felt pocket (link)
5. photos around the house (link)
6. Simon playing with holiday nesting dolls (link)
7. letter from me to Simon (link)
8. photo of my big pregnant belly in front of the tree (link)
9. Chris helping Simon with his homework (
10. photo & words about a little snowman gift my parents left here for Simon (link)
11. a photo of what was on my work table (link)
12. Simon writing his letter to Santa (link)
13. our countdown calendar (link)
14. Simon waving at Santa (had already visited him) (link)
15. snow - always a big story when it happens around here (link)
16. wrapping a present (link)
17. Polar Express (link)
18. Polar Express, cont (link - good example of an entry that is a couple pages)
19. photo of our house in the snow (link)
20. not sure what this one is & the album is packed in my holiday boxes
21. photos around the house (link)
22. grocery shopping (included list) & hanging out at home (link)
23. baking cookies (link: photos)
24. hanging out at Chris' parents for Christmas eve (link : one photo & words)
25. photos from the day (link)

Q : Last year I got an album together, but just couldn't keep up with the daily photos, writing, etc. This year I have my own photo printer, which I think will help, but even when trying to simplify and not be a perfectionist, I'm not sure I can get it all done. Do you have any tips for making the December Daily in the midst of a very busy and full time? Also, any suggestions for using the book and pages I put together last year (including some finished/half finished pages)? Not sure if I should just go for it, or if it will be another abandoned project?

AE : I think there is a certain level of commitment that goes along with this project but it does not have to be overwhelming or complicated. I go into December knowing that I plan to devote a little time each day to celebrating something good with photos & words. What if you decide to skip all the decoration and just focus on taking a photo and jotting down something you noticed that was special each day during December? As for your book from last year, my first thought is to see if you can make it work (either by working right on top of what you created or removing the pages you worked on and creating new ones for just those days). I think it would depend on how much you had already done...

One other thought - do you have a blog? You could always use your blog to post a photo and write a couple sentences and then work on the album when you have bigger chunks of time. 

Q : Do you have any suggestions for people who will be traveling in December? Last year my December Daily didn't get finished because we spent a week in PA/DC and a week and a half in Germany. I wanted to enjoy my trip and not worry about scrapbooking each day, but I took notes and kept things to include. When I got home I was so overwhelmed with all the photos and memorabilia that I just didn't finish it and made a whole separate scrapbook for that whole trip. I'm still stressed when I look at it and think I can only include a few photos or thoughts per day. Any suggestions for those of us traveling in December? 

AE : First of all I highly recommend you let go of the stress you are feeling related to the album - you don't need that at all! That is not what this is about in the least. If you are going to be gone for two weeks in December maybe you just decide to do it for the time you are at home? It sounds like you had more fun documenting the trip & focusing on that part of your adventures which is awesome. I would highly suggest making the project work for you rather than feeling like there is a specific way to approach it.  

Q : I am going to be gone the first weekend in December. I am not sure how to include my weekend away plus what my husband and son did. I am not too sure my husband gets the idea behind the album and am worried about his photo selections!
I love this idea and can't wait to see my final product as well as yours!

AE : Again, as above, this should not be stressful or complicated. My album is not a play by play of what we all do everyday in December. Maybe since you are the storyteller in your family you write about your adventures that weekend and not worry about what they did. Or you could print out two columns of text - one that talks about what you did and one that talks about what they did (but to me that is getting complicated). 

Q : This is probably a dumb question, but does anyone just take the photos in December with a very short note about what happened each day, then actually put the album together in January?

AE : I am sure they do! There are no rules, no grades, no specific ways this has to come together. 


This post is part of a series on creating a December Daily for 2009. You can read find posts included in the series here

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