Friday, September 4, 2009

Cute, Quick Baby Album

I love making scrapbooks as gifts when someone I know has a new baby, but a full-blown scrapbook can be incredibly time-consuming. Often, I need to come up with a gift in a short time frame, like over a weekend. So, I've developed a method of making small baby albums like the one pictured, which are cute, but are also so simple that they can easily be put together over a weekend.

I use the printed 6x6 American Crafts albums. These come in lots of different prints, including seasonal ones, and they have 10 page protectors already bound into the album. The binding is permanent, so you can't add additional pages to these, but frankly, the fact that you're limited to 10 page protectors is one of the reasons these albums are so quick to put together. I got a mixed set of twelve or so of the American Crafts albums from QVC for around $20, but you can also buy them individually. Of course, any 6x6 album would also work. I like to decorate the cover of the album with a painted wooden embellishment in an appropriate shape. For the album above, I picked a moon and stars. I added some stick-on rhinestones to the stars to bling them up a little bit, and I used rub-ons to add Preston's name to the cover. You can buy the wooden embellishments already painted at places like Michael's and Hobby Lobby for around 50 cents each, and they have tons of cute shapes.

To keep the album simple, I choose just a few different colors to work with, and some simple embellishments. For the baby album pictured, I found a set of K & Co. baby embellishments at WalMart for around $4.00. The set included flat, glittered stickers (ABC theme), word stickers, and some really cute 3-D embellishments. The set was more than enough to complete the whole album. Although I sometimes used patterned papers for these kinds of albums, I chose cardstock this time, limiting myself to just a few solid pastel colors that went well with the embellishments I'd picked -- green, lilac, yellow, and a couple of shades of blue. One reason I like to use the 6x6 albums is that I can get four 6x6 pages from one 12x12 sheet of cardstock, which is very economical. I generally make all of the layouts for the album using the same template, just varying the colors and embellishments used. I like to put a baby-related quote on the lefthand side of each layout (do a Google search for "baby quotes"), and the righthand page is left mostly blank for the recipient to add a 4x6 photo. That's another reason I love the 6x6 album size -- a 4x6 photo fits perfectly on the page with no cropping. It's very user-friendly even if the album recipient has never scrapbooked. You can see a couple of representative layouts in the photo above, but below is a close-up of one layout from the album. (You can enlarge the image by clicking on it, if you really want to see the details.)

I started with two 6x6 squares of cardstock in the same color, then I added the fat pieces along each side by simply tearing a contrasting piece of cardstock into strips about 2" wide. Sometimes I ink or chalk the edges of the border pieces, but for this album, I didn't. I used a stamp to make the narrow word border along each edge; the stamp I used varied with each layout. I adhered my quote (printed out on my computer in a cute font) to the lefthand page, then added a few of the ABC and word stickers in a pleasing arrangment. On the righthand page, I added a journaling block using a stamp from one of the Autumn Leaves collections, then I added a couple more word stickers. The only requirement with respect to the journaling stamp was that it had to be less than about 1-1/2" high, so there would still be enough room for a photo. For other albums, I've attached small, plain tags to the page for journaling, or you could use a plain or lined rectangle of cardstock, as well.

For the inside cover page of the album, I used large die cut letters to spell out the baby's name. I stamped a border, added a couple of cute, 3-D embellishments, and it was done. I like to include a little note to the new mom explaining that the album is designed to hold one 4x6 photo on each layout. If you wanted to, you could also add a journaling pen and some acid-free adhesive squares for a complete gift.

I'm sure it's obvious from the photos and from my description that there are a million different ways you could make an album like this. If I have more time, or the album is for a close friend, I may spend more time on the layouts, making them more elaborate and adding more embellishments. If you have pictures of the new baby, you could go ahead and adhere them to the pages, so that the album is ready to be enjoyed the minute the gift is opened. And, if you choose an expandable album rather than one of the American Crafts ones, you can add pages and make a much bigger album, say, for photos of baby's first year. The point is, a personalized, handmade gift doesn't always have to be expensive or hugely time-consuming. It can be fun and very rewarding to keep things simple and throw together a cute gift album in just a few hours.

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