DIY simple fabric-covered photo album

Closed photo album, photo

Confession: All my photos are still in photo boxes or on my hard drive. Excuse #1: Scrapbooking isn’t for me. It’s too time consuming. Plus, I want my photos to take center stage, not some pretty paper cutouts. Excuse #2: I’ve never liked the idea of a collection of mismatched photo albums, which is what happens when you buy new albums over time. Solution: I made my own albums out of 3-ring binders. (This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something, I may earn a small commission. You can read my full disclosure here.)

10 reasons I love these:

  1. I can make more with matching or coordinating fabric.
  2. All my albums will be the same size.
  3. Minimal sewing is required.
  4. The cover is washable.
  5. They hold up to 200 pages (100 front and back).
  6. They accommodate regular photos or digital printouts.
  7. They’re expandable and editable.
  8. The sleeves protect photos from fingerprints.
  9. They’ll last forever because I’ve used all archival-quality materials.
  10. I can make and fill five of these in the time it takes to fill one scrapbook.

These easy fabric-covered albums make great recipe books and gifts too. The only drawback: They’re heavy.

My first DIY projects appeared in Sunset magazine’s now defunct blog, Home By Sunset. This post is an updated version of “Making a simple photo album,” originally published November 1, 2007.

How to make a simple fabric-covered photo album

  • white “Gelly Roll” pen

  • black fountain pen

  • sewing machine

  • tape measure

  • straight pins

Cut the fabric to size, photo

1. The cover is basically made the same way we folded paper-bag book covers in school when I was a kid. I started by cutting a piece of fabric that was 14 x 49 inches.

Pin and sew the cover, photo

2. I folded the two short sides ⅝ inch, pressed, and sewed them. Next I folded and pressed the top and bottom edges 1 inch each. Then I folded over each side 11 inches, pinned, and sewed all the way across the top and bottom of the cover about ¼ inch from the edge.

Slide the binder into the cover, photo

3. I slid the binder into the cover by turning the binder inside out.

Binder inside the cover, photo

Tip: For a smooth, professional finish, the binder should fit snugly inside. Not too loose or so tight that you can’t slide it in. Adjust your size according to your binder, and test one side before sewing the other.

Photo album full of photos, photo

4. Here are two ways to fill the pages: 1) You can tape your photos onto sheets of black card stock and slide them into the sheet protectors, or 2) use a graphics program to print your digital photos onto a sheet of photo paper and slide that into the sheet protectors. I did both. I also left space to label each photo by hand (white pen on black paper, black pen on white paper).

Crafty Nest simple fabric-covered photo album Pinterest image

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Made this project? Email your photo(s) to monica (at) craftynest (dot) com, and I’ll share your version here!