Hand-bound photo albums

Last Christmas, I decided I’d try for a little more personalization with my gifts to relatives, and went materials-hunting and planning for a hand-bound album. The whole set is on Flickr.

I wish I took closer note of the materials I used, the thickness of the paper and whatnot, but it didn’t really cross my mind at the time. For each album, I prepared five signatures of four A3 size black sheets (relatively heavy paper), folded in half to have A4-size pages for the albums. I covered illustration boards with this pretty wrapping paper I’d been keeping in store (er, kind of hoarding, lol), and used silver thread for the actual binding. I had been planning to wax the thread as usual, but I was worried the thread would lose its shine, so I didn’t this time around.

I had also prepared a good number of self-adhesive photo corners, but in the end, I didn’t stick them ino the albums, just included it in the gift package itself. After all, who am I to dictate how they wanted to arrange photos, or what size photos could they use in the album? Additionally, the covers also have a thin sleeve on the inside for various thin…things.

Each album took me around three hours to do, from preparing the materials to the actual stitching. It should probably have gone faster, but I was quite careful, especially with the first binding when I wasn’t used to the rhythm and the thread yet. It’s quite a soothing experience, sewing the signatures together and piecing the book slowly together; and I really like Coptic binding since the book can lay flat on its covers without destroying the spine.

I finished each album with each family’s name in glittery letters on the front, but alas, no pictures of those.


  • Flick said:

    I agree with the previous comment – the photos look gorgeous! I’ve been wanting to do a proper fanbook for a band and never thought about hand-binding it all together. I doubt I could do something as beautiful as your presents though.

    I think normal paper is 80gsm (or so the HP pack of paper tells me) – what qualifies as heavy paper?

    • Yup, the usual is 80gsm. The higher the gsm, the heavier the paper. The ones I bought did not have a label, but I’m assuming they’re at least 150gsm.

      Hand-binding just takes a bit of practice, but if you’re into handicrafts and all that I’m certain you’ll take to it easily. I’m personally not very good with crafts (that’s always been the domain of my older sister) but this was pretty fun. :)

  • They look beautiful, and what wonderful gifts to give and receive! I’m not sure I would dare to actually fill them with photos though, in fear of messing up, hehe ;)

    • Haha! My younger sister has a bad case of that. She wouldn’t use pens and stuff like that for fear it would all run out and then what would happen? Lol!

      (To be honest? I have this pretty pretty quasi-notebook I bound before I did these, and I have YET to use it. Lol!)