Creating a book encompassing an entire year of life, especially one loaded with milestones, can seem overwhelming. When that “baby” is 3 years old?! Forgettaboudit! Throw in nearly a year of pregnancy, and it’s a major bun to have in the creative oven. But it can be done. And it can be FUN! You just need a little prep and planning to keep things organized and bite-sized. I’m going to share a look at my full-term album (baby puns stop here, promise!), as well as tips for embarking on such a project.
Of course a darling paper collection helps, too. To create Lulu’s First Year book, I used Echo Park Paper Co.’s Hello Baby Girl line. (They also have Hello Baby Boy. A few of my pieces come from it as well.) You’ll notice a few other brands woven in as well. They’re older items I had in my stash from Simple Stories and Hambley Screenprints (RIP). Oh, and the pretty album is from Close to My Heart. It’s so soft!
PLANNING & PREP
Before I begin a project of this size, I like to jot down a plan. Take a look and see if there’s anything that would help you in your preparations.
1. Determine Your Photo & Album Sizes—chicken or egg?
Do you decide on your album first and print photos to fit, or is it the other way around? The way I see it, it depends on two things:
Do you already have photos printed and ready? If so, find a book to fit or cut your images down to fit.
Do you already have a book you love? Then it’s easy to create unique photo sizes to fit the configuration. (More on that in a bit.)
Here are a few common album approaches I like for this kind of project:
2. Make a Map
A literal sketch/blueprint? Sure, if you’re visual and this would help. Otherwise, an outline/list will help guide the way. The point is to outline the chapters you would include in your album. “Chapters” may seem a heavy word. If it’s intimidating, simply think of it as sections. Here’s a look at some of my pre-determined sections.
With chapters in mind, you can now make a rough sketch of what a page or section would look like. This will help you gather your materials. Ex. If you look at my sketch, you’ll see a page could call for two 2x3 photos, a title of some sort, and some written words. If I were to take this approach, I’d know how I’d have to narrow down my photos for that chapter/section. Which brings us to…
3. Make a List
This is where the hardest work lies, at least in my opnion. You have to take all of those amazing pics of your wee one and narrow them down to a select few. Ack! Impossible! The best way I could do this was to start with a list of must-include moments (mine included: preg milestones, birth, meeting fam, first bath, coming home, nursery, story of her name, and monthly milestones). I then went through my camera roll and marked images as favorites that fit this list. It helped weed and make sure I didn’t miss any important moments I wanted in.
4. Print + Make Pic Piles
With a sketch in mind, an album pages determined, and moments identified, you can decide how to print your pics to fit. This can be basic 4x6 images, or you can take things smaller to fit more in. To do this, I turn to photo collage apps, such as PicStitch and Project Life.
With your pics printed, make piles by chapters. This will keep things from getting chaotic as you start to assemble. (You don’t want to lose or forget a pic.)
NOTE: Small sandwich bags would work if you’re stretching this project out over a lengthy period of time. Or, if printing at home, you can also print as you go, but this increases your risk of forgetting something, so make sure you reference your list.
5. GATHER KEEPSAKES
Do you have any mementos you want to work in? Now’s the time to grab and file by book chapter. For me, this included a hospital bracelet and an ultrasound photo. I also want to find my girl’s first bitty hair bow, but that has yet to happen. Sonofa!
6. GATHER SUPPLIES
Time to sort your supplies. I find it’s far easier to pull out the specific pieces you think you’ll use instead of digging through a package of products over and over each time you are accenting a page. So, I dump a pack out, find what fits my themes/stories, put those in a dish of some sort, and put the rest away. From there, you can then sort the accents into chapter piles also (or put them in with the photo sandwich bags) or you can simply leave them in the dish. Depends, again, on how lengthy you see this project being (a day or two or longer).
TIME TO MAKE
Now that your important prep is done, you can actually create your book. I’d call this the fun part, but the planning is also quite fun. It’s so sentimental to sort through the photos and recall the stories. It can be a trap, actually. And that’s okay. If you get lost reminiscing for a while, enjoy it. It’s a magical time and it’s SO QUICK. No wonder we love to look back and relive from time to time. Especially now that we can look back with more sleep and a rear-view mirror perspective. LOL
To see the specifics of my book, I invite you to check out the Echo Park Paper blog post I wrote. It goes into more details on making many of the pages. For now, here are a few close-ups.
MAKE A FOLD OUT
To create these fold-out pages, I cut strips of 12x4 sheets of cardstock. I then scored them into thirds and added the details. To attach them to the book. I attached a second pieces of cardstock, which I punched with hole punch. I created one fold-out per month of highlights.
QUESTIONS? Let me know in an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or leave a comment here.
NO RIGHT OR WRONG—You do you!
I’m going to conclude by echoing my words on Echo—there’s no right or wrong way to document. If you simply place photos in a photo album, that’s awesome. Maybe you make a digital book and have it printed. Awesome! The key is getting the images into our hot little hands. That’s where they’re safest and where they can be handed down. Don’t let them get lost in your devices or those invisible cloudy skies. ;) For more about getting your projects off of apps and devices and into your hands in the form of projects, you can check out my App to Archive: Social Media Scrapbooking course on CreativeLIVE.