Albums With a Personal Touch : Fabric Covers Can Dress Up Look of Low-Cost Binders

Times Staff Writer

The task of getting good family snapshots has been immeasurably simplified over the years. The combination of point-and-shoot cameras and one-hour photo developing has made the process--if you will excuse the pun--a snap.

Taking the pictures has become the easy part; properly displaying them is what’s difficult.

It seems as if most people just show off their prints from an endless series of photo-finishing envelopes.

What’s missing is the editing process and a logical arrangement of photos by time or subject matter in a proper album.


Generally, photo albums are either too expensive, or don’t hold the correct size photographs or don’t allow you to mix various sizes and shapes of pictures.

Because a book oftentimes is judged by its cover, today’s column is dedicated to those who want photo albums to be proud of, inside and out, but aren’t quite sure how to go about it.

My wife has found that covering an album with fabric can be an attractive way of converting an inexpensive album into an accent to fit the decor of a home.

(In choosing an album, incidentally, pick one that does not use plastic pages made from the chemical PVC (polyvinyl chloride). PVC has been found to deteriorate a photo much faster than normal aging would. It’s even advisable to upgrade pages in your existing album if you’re using older plastic pages.)


Dressing up your album can be as fancy as you see fit, using ribbon, lace trim or perhaps an additional covered frame on top of the album.

Here is my wife’s step-by-step method of covering an album.

You need tacky glue or a hot glue gun, cotton batting or synthetic fiberfill, scissors, fabric, and optionally, ribbon or lace. If you are using the tacky glue, you will also need clothespins. Your local fabric or craft store carries these items.

Remove the pages and lay the album cover-side up and cut the batting the length of the book. (Don’t cut it too tight or you’ll have trouble closing the album.) If you are using a hot glue gun, stream the glue all over the cover. Immediately and carefully, place the batting or fiberfill on top of the glue. If you’re using tacky glue, attach the batting but allow it to set for a few minutes. (Place something heavy on top to help the glue set.)


Cut the fabric so that it overlaps at least one inch on the inside of the album. Then pull the fabric so it is snug over the album. (Don’t put glue on top of the batting, because when it dries, it leaves lumps of hardened glue.)

Turn the album cover-side down and lay a bead of glue along the inside edges of the album, using caution with the hot glue. Take a pencil and press down the edge of the fabric. If you are using tacky glue, this is where you will be needing the clothespins to help clamp the fabric until it sets.

You will need strips of fabric three inches wide to line the edges on either side of the binder rings. It’s best to turn the edges and press them before you glue, to cover any frayed edges.

Next remove two sheets from the album and take off the plastic cover sheet. (Use lightweight cardboard if pages are made entirely of plastic.) Cover a single side of each sheet, one for the inside front cover and the other for the inside back cover. You may want to get a coordinating fabric to compliment the fabric on the outside cover.


Before gluing the sheets in place, consider adding ribbon ties or a lace border as trim. In attaching trim to your album, confine glue to areas that will be covered by the inside cover sheets.

The final step is to apply glue to the two inside cover sheets and align them with the album’s edges.

If you intend on making these albums for gifts, especially for relatives or friends, consider holding back some of the sheets. You can fill them throughout the year with pictures to supplement your letters.