DIY photo album in vintage colors: brown, beige and light purple, with embellishments

Before we roll our sleeves and create a DIY photo album, let me ask you this:

Have you ever lost your most precious photos and you started ranting and raving like a crazy chicken in my grandpa’s garden?

Of course you have. In this digital age, we take a gazillion photos, only to lose them when our memory disk decides to quit the job. Or when our phone just feels like deleting photos without even asking. Oh, that’s rude.

And while you’re figuring out what’s just happened, your eyes wide in disbelief, your photos have long been gone. Not even Harry Potter can undo this terrible, terrible crime.

So, what to do then?

Maybe you can pay a super smart technology wizard guy with big glasses to recover your dear memories, and in certain cases, he’ll deliver. However, I wouldn’t bother the guy. Why? Because it’s more fun and safer to just print out your photos.

Remember those times? I still print all my favorite photos and put them in frames or in albums. Even better, I put them in photo albums I make myself. A DIY addict I am.

The scenario of your album disappearing the way your digital photos do is really not that common, you know. There must be fairies or burglars wanting your albums badly. I doubt the possibility of both.

So, I want to show you how to create a photo album for yourself or as a gift. I’m making this album for a friend. She’ll put her engagement and wedding photos in it.

Supplies you’ll need are basic and I’m sure you already have most of them. You can decorate the covers the way you want, to make it more personal. My friend gave me some ephemera from her wedding day so I could use them on the cover.

Create a DIY photo album: step by step

Supplies you’ll need:

  • 2 cardboard covers
  • Inside pages (chose heavier paper)
  • Twine for binding
  • Gesso (if you’re not familiar with gesso, check this post on art supplies)
  • Glue
  • Acrylic paint
  • A stencil and relief paste (optional, it’s just a matter of taste)
  • Ephemera of your choice

I love albums that are easy to handle, so I decided the size would be 20×20 cm, around 8 in. I collected a heavier black paper for the pages and two cardboard covers.

The black paper is awesome for photo background, the photos stand out more. You can also use a white gel pen to write on it, I promise you it looks so pretty and simple at the same time.

I always prepare the covers with gesso. Then I can paint them with acrylics and the cardboard won’t soak watery paints.

After the gesso is dry, I play with paint. This is the fun part! Here, I added light pink and then toned it down with white acrylic. I like the washed out look.

The cover of the DIY photo album

It still turned out too pinkish for my purpose, so I covered it with vintage purple, and wiped the excess paint with a baby towel. I love how the texture turned out.

The cover of the DIY photo album covered in purple

Before putting on embellishments, I wanted to personalize the cover more, so I used a clock stencil with relief paste. Here’s the result.

A stencil for the cover of DIY photo album
The cover of the DIY photo album covered purple and relief paste
a part of a diy album cover

Having in mind that this is a present for my friend, and the style and colors she likes, I put another layer of paint. This time, vintage brown distress paste. Now, just to put the embellies on and we’re done.

Distress paste
The cover of a DIY photo album, painted with distress brown paste
the cover of a photo album

Decorate the covers

When decorating with ephemera, be mindful of composition. You don’t want all the little details to be scattered on the cover. Our eyes don’t like that. Our mind wants to see balance. So indulge your eyes and your mind. Imagine the cover as a grid of thirds, and place your decorations at one of the thirds.

You can glue the details with a glue gun or with F-6000 glue which is super strong. And if you get stuck on this step, and change your mind every two seconds on where to put the ephemera, just remember to keep it simple. Simple is always good advice. Can’t go wrong with that.


For the binding, I used twine that speaks handmade. It’s thin so I can easily pull it through the punched holes on the covers and the pages. With this type of binding you can always change the binding twine, replace it with newer or a different one.

Binding with thread on a DIY photo album

The finished DIY photo album!

Here’s the finished album. Its simplicity is adorable. When I finish a project like this, sometimes I tend to just look at it for a while and admire it. Go ahead, consider me foolish, but I am deeply in love with beautiful handmade things.

I’m so impatient to see my friend’s face when she unwraps the gift but also a bit jealous that I won’t put the photos in the album. I’ll let her enjoy the process. I want her to admire her part of work, too.

a handmade photo album
 photo album cover
a handmade photo album


If you’re anything like me, you will go through your albums over and over again. You’ll feel every photo with your fingers, read what you wrote next to it, maybe giggle like a teenager while gossiping with her bestie, or laugh your head off at the next photo.

We never go through our digital photos this way. There are too many. The perfect ones, the good ones and the shitty ones. We scroll and scroll and touch the folders on the touch screen. Oh, I’m tired just by saying these tech words.

I have tons of perfect and shitty photos in my albums. I pick my favorites. Do you know what’s my favorite scenario? I have a few close friends who live abroad. When they come here, we hang together and one of the things we do is go through my albums.

I can’t tell you how hard we laugh when we look at our vacation photos (you know, what-happens-in-Vegas-stays-in-Vegas kind of photos). We never do this on a computer or a mobile.

So, don’t bother the tech wizard guy or call Harry Potter (or even worse, pretend to be one) but create a DIY photo album, and keep your memories safe and sound.

Or, be a good friend like me and make an album for your bestie. You know, the one you gossip and giggle with. (Yes, the one next to you on your vacation photos that look much like those from the Hangover movie.)

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diy photo album step-by-step tutorial
handmade photo album tutorial

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