How many grandparents out there don’t get to see their grand babies every day? I know mine don’t, and it makes me sad! We FaceTime often which helps, but it’s not the same. I wanted Weston to see his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins every day, so I started looking for a photo album for him to carry. I found a few, but I didn’t love them. I was pretty particular about what features I wanted in his photo album:
-One that he could drool and chew on
-Something easy for him to hold onto and carry
-Held many photos (at least 8!)
-Had a mirror so that he could look at himself, too!
I searched and searched, but I never found one that met all of my criteria…so I made my own! I’m going to show you how I made it so you can make one, too! I’d like to add that when I first made this, Weston was 18 months old and he loved it! Weston is now over 2 years old. I change out the pictures every now and then, and he looks at his book almost every day!! You’ve gotta make this book; it will be cherished.
Let’s get started on your baby’s first photo album!
Time to make: 10 hours
Difficulty level: Beginner – Intermediate
- Cover fabric – (two) 13” x 18” pieces
- Page fabric – (fourteen) 7.5” x 10” pieces (equivalence of four fat quarters)
- Optional: Iron-on Interfacing – (seven) 7.5” x 10” pieces (to go in between the pages, making them sturdier)
- Felt (different colors)
- Cardboard – (two) 8” x 10” pieces
- Surgical Tubing – 12″
- 5” x 7” Clear photo protectors – one per page, so I used 14
- Adhesive, flexible mirror – (one) 6” x 9”
- 550 cord or thick crochet yarn
- 60” Crochet thread (for binding)
- Optional: Binder clips, just to help hold everything together at the end while binding the book
- Sewing Machine
The Theme: Fabrics and Colors
- Pick out 1 piece of fabric for the front and back cover of the book
- Pick out 1 or more fabrics for the pages. You can do all pages the same or different fabrics for different pages.
- Pick out 4 or more colors of felt for the title to go on the covers. You will need felt for “My Pics”, a camera, and a heart.
Getting all the Felt and Fabrics Cut to Size
- First trace and cut out your letters M Y P I C S, a camera, and a heart on the felt. (Tip: For the letters, I first cut out a 1” x 2” rectangle and then traced the letters to fill the rectangle. This helps keep the letters the same size.)
- Cut the fabric for the photo album cover. You will want two 13” x 18” pieces of fabric.
- Cut the fabric for the pages. You can make as many pages as you’d like! I made 14 pages (7 front and back), and used three different fabrics; therefore, I cut out three 7.5” x 10” pieces of one fabric, four 7.5” x 10” pieces of another fabric, and seven 7.5” x 10” pieces of my other fabric.
- Cut two 8” x 10” pieces of cardboard.
- Optional: Cut seven 7.5” x 10” pieces of interfacing. You can use this between each page to make them sturdier.
- Take one of your 13” x 18” pieces of fabric, and one of your 8” x 10” cardboard. Lay the fabric down, right side facing down. Place the cardboard on the fabric and fold the fabric down over the cardboard, so you have about a 1” margin on the right, a 1” margin on the bottom, and a 3” margin on the left.
- Pin the felt onto the fabric, centered over the cardboard (not centered on the fabric).
- Repeat for the back cover.
- Sew the felt either by hand or with a machine (if using a machine, I used a straight stitch with a 3.5 length). (Sew ALL the felt pieces: “My Pics”, a camera, and a heart. The title and the camera will go on the front of the front cover, and the heart will go on the inside of the back cover.)
- Sew the left edge (which is the binding edge) down, with a 1/2” seam allowance. Do this for both pieces of fabric. (Again, I used a straight stitch with a 3.5 length).
- Wth right sides together, fold the fabric in half, keeping the left hemmed edge together. Sew along the right and bottom edge (the raw edges), with a 1/2” seam allowance. (You need to keep the left hemmed edge open to slide the cardboard into.)
- Turn inside out, stuff with cardboard, and sew the left hemmed edge closed. (Don’t worry about the left edge looking too pretty when you sew it closed, because it will be covered up when we do the binding.)
- Stack your pages in the order you would like them (I’m ordering mine as follows: flowers, solid, dots, solid, flowers, solid, dots, solid, etc.). If you’re using the interfacing in between each page, go ahead and iron this on now. (You don’t want to melt your photo protectors later!)
- Starting with the first page, pin and sew on your photo protector. (Again, I used a straight stitch but this time with a 4 length). Remember to only sew along three edges, not the opening end! Throughout your book, keep the opening of the photo protectors the same direction (facing towards the binding for horizontal pictures, and facing towards the top for vertical pictures. I chose to alternate vertical with horizontal directions). Do the same for the second page.
- Now pin and sew the pages together. Start with pages 1 and 2: pin them wrong sides together, and sew a zig zag stitch all the way around, covering every side (with the zigzag stitch, I used a 2 length and a 5 width).
- When all the pages are sewn (so now you’re left with seven finished pages), align the page corners along the non-binding edge, and pin together. (When we’re ready to bind the book, we want the corners to align on the side we’re going to see, whereas the binding side will be hidden.)
The Handle and Binding
- Cut the surgical tubing 12” long.
- String the 550 cord or crochet yarn through the surgical tubing two times. Let there be 8” of cord/yarn that is not covered by the surgical tubing. Leave a 1” tail from each end of the surgical tubing.
- Sew the cord/yarn onto binding edge of the front side of the back cover. (Again, I used the zigzag stitch with a 2 length and a 5 width).
- Now it’s time to bind our book! Lay down in order the back cover with the handle, the pages, and the front cover.
- If you have binder clips, clip them around the edges to hold your book together while you whip stitch the book closed.
- Cut approximately 5 feet of crochet thread, and thread your needle and tie a double knot on the other end.
- I did a Japanese style of bookbinding, and used this youtube tutorial from Sea Lemon as a guide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-r6c_trSxY
- Add on the adhesive, flexible mirror onto the back of the front cover for the finishing touch!
- Fill up your pages with 4″ x 6″ photos (although the photo protectors are 5″ x 7″, with the zig zag stitching, a smaller photo will fit better).
Whew! That took some time! Don’t you love how it turned out, though?! Weston looooooves his photo album. He chews on the handle, he gives himself kisses in the mirror, and he flips through every page and points to everyone’s face! Even after two years of him tugging on it, it is still in great condition.
I am so happy how much he loves it, and I love that it was homemade! I hope your child is just as happy with your new photo album! I’d love to see how yours turned out, so please post them below in the comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post them on Instagram with the hashtag #bambinodesignsbyj