Simple Homemade Gifts: Fabric Covered Photo Album
Thanks to Claire, a LHL Reader, for this great tutorial!
About 15 years ago, my aunt, a creative elementary school teacher, taught me how to make these fabric covered photo albums. I don’t know if she thought of the idea herself or if someone else showed her how, but once she showed me how to make them, I’ve been making them ever since! An easy, quick, and inexpensive craft that anyone can do, I’ve made these for everyone from my high school group of girlfriends to, more recently, a good friend having her second baby. With a few simple embellishments and some creativity, the design ideas are endless. Try adding ribbons, buttons, 3D stickers, and other scrapbooking supplies to come up with your perfect design!
What You Need:
- plain photo album- any size, but the one I use here fits 4×6 photos
- fabric- enough to cover your album with about an inch excess on all sides (I get mine from Fabric.com)
- iron/ironing board
- Tacky Glue- or other fabric-friendly glue
- small paint brush
- card stock paper or something similar like 4×6 index cards, optional
- embellishments, optional
Time required: About 30 minutes.
Cost: $5-$10 depending on the fabric and embellishments that you choose.
Step one: Lay your photo album flat on top of the fabric to measure out how much you’ll need. The small fabric swatches that places like Hobby Lobby sell in bundles are the perfect size for this project. Cut your fabric so that it has about an inch of extra material all the way around the album. Iron your fabric smooth to get out any wrinkles.
Step two: Return the album to the face-down fabric and make sure that it is neatly squared up, especially if your fabric has a pattern that needs to be straight. Use your scissors to make four small snips at the spine of the album, as shown in this photo.
Step three: Starting at the spine then moving to the front and back covers, you can now begin to glue your fabric to the album. You may want to do this step on a paper bag or something similar if you are working with kids because the glue can soak through the fabric and get on your counter top or table. *Note: Make sure you don’t glue it on so tightly that the album won’t close. I find it’s best to glue the spine and one side on a flat surface then close the album to glue the final side down.
Step four: Now you’re going to “wrap” the front and back of the album with the rest of the fabric, just like you would the ends of a box you were wrapping with paper. I like to glue the end first, then the top and bottom, being careful to make sure that the corners look nice. You may want to iron each fold before gluing to have cleaner lines and less bulky material.
Step five: This step can be a little tricky, so you may need to help your kids with it if they are young. To finish the spine, you’re going to fold the fabric on itself and then glue it to the album, just like in step four, but this can be more difficult because the surface you’re gluing it to is much smaller. You may have to clip off some of the fabric before you start folding if you find there is too much. Hold this part in place for a minute to help the glue stick and prevent it from coming loose. I have found that the fabric on the front and back can be pulled fairly tight without problems but the fabric here works better if it is a little looser.
Step six: You can stop at step five if you want a plain album, or you can add your embellishments now. I like to tie a simple ribbon around the front of my albums. Another thing that I like to do to help give it a more “finished” feel is to glue a rectangle of card stock or an index card inside the front and back to cover up where I glued down the fabric. This is completely optional, but I like the way that it looks.
And you’re done! In a few easy steps, you’ve made a fun craft to keep for yourself or to give away. Who would you like to make one of these for?