Mini Album with 4″ by 8″ Policy Envelope Style Pages: The Cover and Binding

The photo album is done! Well, I have to finish the journaling, but that can be done later. The cover and binding went together as smoothly as I hoped it would. Love it when projects go that way.

The first thing I did was cut some chipboard for the covers. Each cover is made up of two pieces of chipboard so the covers will bend to allow the album to be opened. The piece on the left side that will contain the binding is cut at 4 1/4″ by 1 7/16″. Since I scored my pages at 1 1/2″, the binding piece is just a hair narrower than 1 1/2″. This will allow the pages to turn freely without being restricted by the chipboard. The main part of the cover is cut at 4 1/4″ by 8 1/2″. I generally like my covers to be 1/4″ taller than my pages and 1/2″ wider. To make both covers, I cut two of each size of chipboard. I used Grafix medium weight chipboard. If you choose to use cereal boxes for your chipboard, I would recommend gluing two layers together for a thicker, sturdier cover.

Chipboard for covers and spacers

Chipboard sizes for cover (left and center) and spacers (right).

I wanted some spacers to go between my pages so that the pages would lay flat and have room for the tags and photos. I made spacers to place between each page and the covers. I cut twelve pieces of chipboard to 4″ by 1 7/16″. I glued two pieces of chipboard together to get the thickness I wanted. I will warn you, I could barely get the spacers into my Crop-A-Dile to punch the holes for the binding. If you wanted to make the spacers thicker, you would need a Big Bite or punches that you hammer to punch the holes.

Wrapping spacers in cardstock

Wrapping the spacers with cardstock.

I wrapped the spacers with cardstock to give them a finished look. I used the same cardstock as I used to make the pages. A piece of cardstock cut to 5 1/4″ by 3 1/2″ covered the spacers nicely. The above picture shows the sequence that I used to wrap the spacers. I did miter the corners of the cardstock to reduce some bulk in the folding of the cardstock. It doesn’t really matter if you fold in the long edge or the short edge first. You could also leave the spacers plain or color them with paint or ink. My spacers turned out to be about 1/8″ thick, which gave me a perfect amount of space between my pages.

I knew I needed to make the hinge on the cover extra sturdy because of all the bending back and forth this type of binding requires to open the album. I lined the cardstock with a piece of fabric. I used muslin because that was what I had in the house. You could also use Tyvek or Kraft-tex. The piece of muslin measures approximately 2 1/2″ by 9″. I glued it to a 9 1/2″ by 4 1/4″ piece of cardstock. I did use a fabric glue to do this. I think a tacky glue would also work as long as the glue remained flexible after it dried.

Muslin glued to cardstock to wrap cover hinge.

Muslin glued to back of cardstock.

I glued my chipboard cover pieces to the cardstock. I left a gap of about 3/16″ between the two pieces of chipboard. I cut off some of the excess cardstock to get a nice finished wrap around the edges. You can see the areas I cut off in the photo below. The size of cardstock I used will fit around the front and back of the cover hinge area. Make sure to make note of the direction of your covers so that the cut edges will be on the inside of the cover. I decided to cover the rest of the cover with patterned paper.

Chipboard glued to cardstock trimmed to wrap around cover.

Chipboard for covers glued to cardstock that has been lined with muslin.

In process of wrapping cardstock around chipboard cover.

Wrapping the cardstock around the chipboard.

Hinges of covers wrapped with cardstock (front and back).

Covers wrapped with cardstock over hinged area (front and back).

I used a piece of patterned paper cut to 6″ by 8 1/2″ to wrap the outside of the covers. I cut a piece of patterned paper to 4″ by 7 3/8″ to line the inside of the covers. At this point, you need to be careful to note which direction your covers are going–which will be the back and which will be the front. The easiest way to keep this straight is to lay one of your covers with the binding edge to the right and the other with the binding edge to the left.

To bind the album, I used 1/4″ wide ribbon. I punched three holes in the cover, spacers and pages. The holes are a little to the right of center on the binding hinge. The middle hole is centered from top to bottom. The top and bottom holes are 1/2″ from the edges of the pages. I used the holes punched into a spacer to get the correct placement of holes for the covers. Remember that the cover is 1/4″ larger than the pages.

I’ll try to explain how I sewed the ribbon through the binding holes. Technical difficulties prevent me from showing you a picture. I went through the center hole from the top, wrapped the ribbon around the outside of the spine and back through the top of the center hole. From the back of the center hole, I went through the back of the bottom hole. I brought the ribbon out the front of the bottom hole, wrapped it around the outside of the cover and went in through the hole from the back. I came through the bottom hole on the front and went back into the center hole. I brought the ribbon through the top hole from the back and wrapped the ribbon around the outside of the spine. Going through the back again brought the ribbon out of the top hole on the front side of the cover. I could then tie the two ends of the ribbon together. Whew! Did you get all that? It’s not really as complicated as it sounds. The idea is to start and end on the front of the cover. The rest is just wrapping the ribbon around the outside of the spine and between the holes. Easy, right? Don’t be intimidated. It really is easier than it sounds.

This is it, the finished album. I made accordion rosettes to decorate the front. I chose the title “Remember This” for my album. Maybe it should have a question mark after the title because, boy, are some of those pictures old.

Finished 4x8 policy envelope album (front).

Finished album.

Unfortunately, my camera batteries died just after taking the picture of the front cover of the album so I don’t have more detailed pictures of the binding. I am planning on writing a summary of the making of this album so you will have all the materials, tools needed and measurements in one place. Maybe I can slip a few pictures of the binding into that post. I might even make a YouTube video showing the album. We’ll see how far I get on that endeavor.

If you have any questions about making this mini album, please leave a comment and I will answer you there. If you are shy, you can email me at


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