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Make a Pocket Album Recipe Book

Updated on June 15, 2013

Instead of a toaster - which I actually found my friend Erica really DID want - I try to give unique gifts for weddings. I love giving gifts that are functional, and what's more functional than a write-it-yourself recipe book?

This summer I made three recipe books for three wedding gifts. They're made from 4x6" clear plastic albums, are filled with blank recipe cards, and are held shut with built-in ribbon ties. I had such a good time I started making more for Christmas gifts and to sell on Etsy. Learn how simple it is to turn a $1 discount store photo album into a beautiful gift that the newly weds will enjoy for years to come!

Finding the "cheapie" albums

While the albums are cheap, they really are a good-quality album to use. I love the idea of using the clear-plastic albums because they protect your cover art, they protect the recipes, and they are easy to clean if they get splatted with sauce or batter.

I recently stocked up on $1 Best Occasion albums at Walmart. I can't find them on Walmart.com to share, so here are some other examples to give you an idea. These examples cost a bit more, but even at $2, they're a very affordable gift!

Scrapbooking supplies you'll need

If you're a scrapbooker, you'll probably have all these handy! If you're picking items to purchase, think food. Picnic patterns, pots and pans, silverware, cake and cookies, etc.

  • Straight and design scissors, decorative punches, paper cutter. I found some really unique ways to use otherwise unrelated punches. A flower punch became part of clouds, hearts can become 4-leaf clovers, zig-zag scissors can create fringe on placemats.
  • Colorful, patterned paper. This is a great way to use scraps from other projects, since your album covers will be quite small.
  • Stickers and embellishments. If you're using flowers, brads, buttons, etc., try to use the smaller, flatter variety. With mini albums I've found that too think of embellishments will poke holes in the thin plastic cover or cause the cover to push out a bit from where it should sit in the pocket. They make super cute thin 3D picnic stickers.
  • Double-sided and single sided tape, glue stick, scrapbooking adhesives. For the ribbon I especially recommend the Terrifficly Tacky tape.
  • Photos and bits of artwork, if you wish!
  • Ribbon for a closure. (Optional.)
  • 4x6" recipe cards or lined notecards.

Collect all your supplies

Click thumbnail to view full-size
For each recipe book you want to make you'll need one 4x6" album. The ones I buy have 18 double-sided pages, so they hold 36 recipe cards.All these prints are papers I had. Since your albums are small, you don't need a lot of paper for each one, and you can use up scraps.  Remember you will be decorating 4 4x6" pieces (inside and outside of front and back), but you can easily get that I picked up a few food related papers to stay within the theme.I found these recipe cards at a local scrapbook and craft store.  They come 6 to a 12x12" sheet, and cut down to a perfect 4x6" fit.I found these recipe cards at a local scrapbook and craft store.  They come 6 to a 12x12" sheet, and cut down to a perfect 4x6" fit.I chose an assortment of gingham and wavy ribbons for decorations.  I ended up using a satin 1/8" ribbon for the ties.Punches and decorative scissors can help you create cute scenes for your cards.  This flower punch helped me create a cloud for one of my albums.
For each recipe book you want to make you'll need one 4x6" album. The ones I buy have 18 double-sided pages, so they hold 36 recipe cards.
For each recipe book you want to make you'll need one 4x6" album. The ones I buy have 18 double-sided pages, so they hold 36 recipe cards.
All these prints are papers I had. Since your albums are small, you don't need a lot of paper for each one, and you can use up scraps.  Remember you will be decorating 4 4x6" pieces (inside and outside of front and back), but you can easily get that
All these prints are papers I had. Since your albums are small, you don't need a lot of paper for each one, and you can use up scraps. Remember you will be decorating 4 4x6" pieces (inside and outside of front and back), but you can easily get that
I picked up a few food related papers to stay within the theme.
I picked up a few food related papers to stay within the theme.
I found these recipe cards at a local scrapbook and craft store.  They come 6 to a 12x12" sheet, and cut down to a perfect 4x6" fit.
I found these recipe cards at a local scrapbook and craft store. They come 6 to a 12x12" sheet, and cut down to a perfect 4x6" fit.
I found these recipe cards at a local scrapbook and craft store.  They come 6 to a 12x12" sheet, and cut down to a perfect 4x6" fit.
I found these recipe cards at a local scrapbook and craft store. They come 6 to a 12x12" sheet, and cut down to a perfect 4x6" fit.
I chose an assortment of gingham and wavy ribbons for decorations.  I ended up using a satin 1/8" ribbon for the ties.
I chose an assortment of gingham and wavy ribbons for decorations. I ended up using a satin 1/8" ribbon for the ties.
Punches and decorative scissors can help you create cute scenes for your cards.  This flower punch helped me create a cloud for one of my albums.
Punches and decorative scissors can help you create cute scenes for your cards. This flower punch helped me create a cloud for one of my albums.

Food punches and embellishments

An easy way to create inexpensive gifts is to collect colored paper and use embellishments to fit your theme. Paper is diverse, and can be reclaimed from thousands of sources (think cartoons, magazines, catalogs, junk mail, wrapping paper, etc.). Embellishments that are more geared towards a specific theme are easy to buy, use, and trade out. Plus they're just so fun!

Food related paper prints

Wow, some of these look good enough to eat. If you know a couple with a certain fondness for strawberries or popcorn, these designs will be especially appropriate.

There are three jigs, or templates, you can make to help the book-making process go faster and more smoothly.

Ribbon Placing and Ribbon Threading Jigs

Click thumbnail to view full-size
If you'd like to add a ribbon to your recipe book, creating a ribbon jig will help you place the ribbon without a lot of grunting, groaning, or gnashing of teeth when the plastic book cover tears.1. The first jig you'll make is the slot cutting jig2. Find the center of your jig and determine the width of the ribbon. Since I'm using 1/8" ribbon, I've marked lines 1/16th" on either side of my center mark, to make the slot 1/8" wide.3. The second part of this jig is the ribbon threading jig. It's just a piece of cardstock I've cut with a notch on the end to help thread the ribbon through the front pocket of the album.4. This is the ribbon threading jig up close. It's pointed, to slide through the small cut, and notched to hold the ribbon.5. This shows the ribbon inserted in the ribbon threading jig.6. With the jig threaded, when the time is right, carefully slide the jig through the front pocket of the album.7. Carefully slide the jig through the slot made in the cover of the album.8. A pair of pointed tweezers will help you pull the ribbon through the slot.9. This shows the ribbon pulled through the slot. You'll also learn how to protect your artwork with a sleeve while you slide it into the cover.10. All done!  The cover art was successfully placed in the album cover and the ribbon is pulled all the way through.
If you'd like to add a ribbon to your recipe book, creating a ribbon jig will help you place the ribbon without a lot of grunting, groaning, or gnashing of teeth when the plastic book cover tears.1. The first jig you'll make is the slot cutting jig
If you'd like to add a ribbon to your recipe book, creating a ribbon jig will help you place the ribbon without a lot of grunting, groaning, or gnashing of teeth when the plastic book cover tears. 1. The first jig you'll make is the slot cutting jig
2. Find the center of your jig and determine the width of the ribbon. Since I'm using 1/8" ribbon, I've marked lines 1/16th" on either side of my center mark, to make the slot 1/8" wide.
2. Find the center of your jig and determine the width of the ribbon. Since I'm using 1/8" ribbon, I've marked lines 1/16th" on either side of my center mark, to make the slot 1/8" wide.
3. The second part of this jig is the ribbon threading jig. It's just a piece of cardstock I've cut with a notch on the end to help thread the ribbon through the front pocket of the album.
3. The second part of this jig is the ribbon threading jig. It's just a piece of cardstock I've cut with a notch on the end to help thread the ribbon through the front pocket of the album.
4. This is the ribbon threading jig up close. It's pointed, to slide through the small cut, and notched to hold the ribbon.
4. This is the ribbon threading jig up close. It's pointed, to slide through the small cut, and notched to hold the ribbon.
5. This shows the ribbon inserted in the ribbon threading jig.
5. This shows the ribbon inserted in the ribbon threading jig.
6. With the jig threaded, when the time is right, carefully slide the jig through the front pocket of the album.
6. With the jig threaded, when the time is right, carefully slide the jig through the front pocket of the album.
7. Carefully slide the jig through the slot made in the cover of the album.
7. Carefully slide the jig through the slot made in the cover of the album.
8. A pair of pointed tweezers will help you pull the ribbon through the slot.
8. A pair of pointed tweezers will help you pull the ribbon through the slot.
9. This shows the ribbon pulled through the slot. You'll also learn how to protect your artwork with a sleeve while you slide it into the cover.
9. This shows the ribbon pulled through the slot. You'll also learn how to protect your artwork with a sleeve while you slide it into the cover.
10. All done!  The cover art was successfully placed in the album cover and the ribbon is pulled all the way through.
10. All done! The cover art was successfully placed in the album cover and the ribbon is pulled all the way through.

The Cover Slide Jig

Click thumbnail to view full-size
When you're sliding layered artwork into a sleeve, a slide jig will help you keep the fine details and embellishments from getting caught, ripped, and ruined.  Really, all this jig consists of is some scrap paper folded over your artwork.  You'll sliFold your artwork into the slide jig so the slide jig completely covers it.In coordination with your ribbon jigs (if you're using them), slide the entire piece into the album cover.Once your ribbon is in place, pull out the slide jig.This will keep your embellishments flat and snag-free!
When you're sliding layered artwork into a sleeve, a slide jig will help you keep the fine details and embellishments from getting caught, ripped, and ruined.  Really, all this jig consists of is some scrap paper folded over your artwork.  You'll sli
When you're sliding layered artwork into a sleeve, a slide jig will help you keep the fine details and embellishments from getting caught, ripped, and ruined. Really, all this jig consists of is some scrap paper folded over your artwork. You'll sli
Fold your artwork into the slide jig so the slide jig completely covers it.
Fold your artwork into the slide jig so the slide jig completely covers it.
In coordination with your ribbon jigs (if you're using them), slide the entire piece into the album cover.
In coordination with your ribbon jigs (if you're using them), slide the entire piece into the album cover.
Once your ribbon is in place, pull out the slide jig.
Once your ribbon is in place, pull out the slide jig.
This will keep your embellishments flat and snag-free!
This will keep your embellishments flat and snag-free!

Whew! All that work for ribbons? Now you're ready to decorate.

Building your albums

First, cut the cardstock about 1/4" smaller than the front pocket can fit. This will give you a little wiggle room.

Now comes the fun part. Besides accounting for the spot where you'll tape down the ribbon (which you can do before you start decorating, just see the photo gallery below), you have free range to decorate the front and back of each cover as you please! Do a dry fit to make sure the album covers and ribbon will all line up properly when you finally place the covers in the albums, otherwise you might end up with upside down pages.

Below are a few examples of what I've done for covers. They're still tricky for me to design. Sometimes less is more, and two simple patterns divided by a line in the middle can be a very classy way to go.

Lining up your ribbon

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Before you put your front and back cover artwork together, think about where and how you'll attach the ribbon. I want mine to stick out about 5" from the cover, so I cut it about 8" long.With the ribbon held horizontal, I mark a vertical line about 5 1/8" from one end.  Then I draw a horizontal line between the line and the short side of the ribbon.  This reminds me which end of the ribbon to HIDE when I'm ready to tape the ribbon doUsing the same ribbon jig from above, place your jig and cover base side-by-side. Use it to place your double-sided tape about 1/4" from the edge and level with where the ribbon slot will end up.  For all my ribbon taping I use Terifficly Tacky tape This shows the "short end" of the ribbon lined up to be taped down and hidden under the cover artwork.This shows the short end of the ribbon lined up to be taped down and hidden under the cover artwork.  The marks help remind me how to place it so I don't make frustrating mistakes.Simply peel off the tape adhesive......and place the ribbon.Once you decorate the cover you won't see the ribbon tail.  Here's the finished cover from the front side.Here's the back of the same cover.  Ribbon attached, hidden, done!
Before you put your front and back cover artwork together, think about where and how you'll attach the ribbon. I want mine to stick out about 5" from the cover, so I cut it about 8" long.
Before you put your front and back cover artwork together, think about where and how you'll attach the ribbon. I want mine to stick out about 5" from the cover, so I cut it about 8" long.
With the ribbon held horizontal, I mark a vertical line about 5 1/8" from one end.  Then I draw a horizontal line between the line and the short side of the ribbon.  This reminds me which end of the ribbon to HIDE when I'm ready to tape the ribbon do
With the ribbon held horizontal, I mark a vertical line about 5 1/8" from one end. Then I draw a horizontal line between the line and the short side of the ribbon. This reminds me which end of the ribbon to HIDE when I'm ready to tape the ribbon do
Using the same ribbon jig from above, place your jig and cover base side-by-side. Use it to place your double-sided tape about 1/4" from the edge and level with where the ribbon slot will end up.  For all my ribbon taping I use Terifficly Tacky tape
Using the same ribbon jig from above, place your jig and cover base side-by-side. Use it to place your double-sided tape about 1/4" from the edge and level with where the ribbon slot will end up. For all my ribbon taping I use Terifficly Tacky tape
This shows the "short end" of the ribbon lined up to be taped down and hidden under the cover artwork.
This shows the "short end" of the ribbon lined up to be taped down and hidden under the cover artwork.
This shows the short end of the ribbon lined up to be taped down and hidden under the cover artwork.  The marks help remind me how to place it so I don't make frustrating mistakes.
This shows the short end of the ribbon lined up to be taped down and hidden under the cover artwork. The marks help remind me how to place it so I don't make frustrating mistakes.
Simply peel off the tape adhesive...
Simply peel off the tape adhesive...
...and place the ribbon.
...and place the ribbon.
Once you decorate the cover you won't see the ribbon tail.  Here's the finished cover from the front side.
Once you decorate the cover you won't see the ribbon tail. Here's the finished cover from the front side.
Here's the back of the same cover.  Ribbon attached, hidden, done!
Here's the back of the same cover. Ribbon attached, hidden, done!

Cutting the ribbon slot

If you missed this step, go back to the first ribbon jig photo for directions.

Last but not least...fill the album!

I filled my gift recipe albums with blank recipe cards so the couple could start their own book of favorite recipes. Lined 4x6" notecards will work just as well, and if you want, you can even sneak a few of your own favorite recipes in there!

Case closed

Case closed
Case closed

Finished albums

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The front cover of Ben and Erica's recipe book.An inside cover of Ben and Erica's recipe book.The back cover of Ben and Erica's recipe book.The front cover of Scott and Gwen's recipe book.An inside cover of Scott and Gwen's recipe book.The back cover of Scott and Gwen's recipe book.
The front cover of Ben and Erica's recipe book.
The front cover of Ben and Erica's recipe book.
An inside cover of Ben and Erica's recipe book.
An inside cover of Ben and Erica's recipe book.
The back cover of Ben and Erica's recipe book.
The back cover of Ben and Erica's recipe book.
The front cover of Scott and Gwen's recipe book.
The front cover of Scott and Gwen's recipe book.
An inside cover of Scott and Gwen's recipe book.
An inside cover of Scott and Gwen's recipe book.
The back cover of Scott and Gwen's recipe book.
The back cover of Scott and Gwen's recipe book.

Love this pattern? Have other tips?

Tell me what you think!

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    • profile image

      resabi 4 years ago

      Great lens. Beautifully presented and so clearly explained. This is a terrific idea.

    • iijuan12 profile image

      iijuan12 5 years ago from Florida

      What a great idea! I may try this with my kids.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens with great ideas.

    • profile image

      misterjake 5 years ago

      Hello, that is something I should let my student to try huh? Great job. Speak of students, if you or you know someone wants to do well in school then please check out my lens. Thanks.

    • maplesyrup59 profile image

      maplesyrup59 5 years ago

      I love anything handmade. They look beautiful! Do you know if there are any 4 x 6 recipe card templates where you can just fill in the blank with the ingredients?

    • profile image

      youprintcoupons 5 years ago

      Great Lens, I like it:)

      Happy New Year:)

    • BuddyBink profile image

      BuddyBink 5 years ago

      What an excellent, inexpensive way to create an awesome gift. Thanks.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      That's so cute! I wanna make one now.

    • bjslapidary profile image

      bjslapidary 5 years ago

      Very cool idea. Thanks for sharing.

    • MayaBella LM profile image

      MayaBella LM 5 years ago

      Very cute! I would love to make this for gifts.

    • profile image

      BestBuys4Baby 5 years ago

      Good lense, these books would make really lovely gifts!

    • PTurner56 profile image

      PTurner56 5 years ago

      Absolutely adorable! The simple ideas are usually the best!

    • profile image

      fullofshoes 5 years ago

      This is a great idea. I know just the person I can do this for :) Thanks for the info.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great idea. Fun lens. Thank you.

    • psiloveyou1 profile image

      psiloveyou1 5 years ago

      I like making mini books, and this is a great idea! Great lens. I look forward to visiting your other lenses soon :)

    • ViJuvenate profile image

      ViJuvenate 5 years ago

      I have GOT to try this! Thank you for sharing this adorable idea. :o)

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Wonderful gift idea and I want one for myself!