Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Mini Album Tutorial by Alison Bomber - Toilet Roll Album

Hi, Alison here, delighted to be sharing some mid-month inspiration with a tutorial and, yes, it's a toilet roll tutorial!

Some time very early in my crafting journey I saw a mini album made from leftover toilet rolls, and since then I've made a number of them in various styles.  It always makes me happy as I see something so mundane being transformed into a fabulous little book.

This one uses papers from one of our sponsors, Graphic 45, and is ready for photos, notes and memorabilia to be added to its pages and inserts, so let me take you through the basic steps of how I made it.

I've given a few measurements in places, just so you have a general idea, but it will vary according to the size of your toilet rolls - believe it or not, they're not all the same - so none of this is set in stone.  And I'm always more of a "by eye" crafter than a millimetre-perfect one.  The imperfections are part of the fun for me.

So you start by saving up your toilet rolls - five or so is a good number - and simply press them flat.

I then usually paint the ends and edges and just inside the "pockets" so that there won't be any grey cardboard showing later on.  It's just easier to do this now than later.

Once they're dry, it's a good idea to give them another pressing with a weight of some kind.

For the covers, I use a piece of greyboard.  If I'm lucky, there'll be a reinforced envelope knocking around so I can use the card from that.  If not, the back of a pad of paper is another good option.  For this, I raided my bought stash of greyboard.

Again, I generally do this by eye.  You want covers which are a little bigger than the "pages" top-to-bottom and quite a bit bigger than the width.  This allows for the inserts later.

If I've only got a small piece of card, I'll cut separate front and back covers and work something out for the spine later on.  With this A4 size piece, I decided to make my covers and spine all in one go.  As you can see, that gives me a nice wide spine in the centre to play with.

Some gentle scoring allows me to make the folds and voila - we have the structure.  Now we can start to decorate it.

The papers I'm using are from the Graphic 45 Botanicabella set.  I started by covering the covers front and back (interior and exterior really).

At first I was planning to stick with the crackle design for the front cover and embellish it somehow...

... but then I decided to jazz it up a bit with this fabulous panel cut from one of the papers.

And then I covered my toilet roll "pocket pages".  If you want the same paper design going across a double spread, this is when you have to start paying attention a bit to make sure you get the right papers the right way up, front and back, on the right sequence of rolls.

If you don't mind having different papers facing each other, you can relax for a bit longer.  I've made albums both ways, but for this one I'm going for the double page spread, so I need to keep my pages in the right order from here on.

Next up, it's time for some more leftover cardboard.  I cut pieces to fit as the inserts for my toilet roll pages.

Once you have one cut to size, you can use it as a template for the rest.

Then more decorating.  Again, I'm keeping my pages in the intended sequence at this point, paying attention to front and back to make sure I get nice contrasting designs sliding in and out.

I think it's nice to have the inserts showing a little way outside the pockets - that's why I made the exterior covers that bit wider.  But you can also choose to have them tucked a bit further away, and use metal tabs to get hold of them.

Alternatively, you can use a punch to chomp a semi-circle out of the edge of your pocket so you can just grab hold of the internal tab and pull it out.  It's entirely up to you really - I'll link to some of my older toilet roll albums at the end of the post so you can see what I mean.

Time to work on the "binding".  Again, there are various options - if you check out my very first toilet roll album, I used a hole punch and a book ring to bind my pages, simple but effective.  Two holes and two book rings will mean a more stable book, obviously.

But most often, I've used concertina'd cardstock to create my binding.  I find a fold of about a 1cm depth works well for these size pages, and then I just keep folding until I have enough slots.

You need one strip each end to glue to the cover wall, so don't forget to leave enough for that.  That means for my five pages I need seven slots in total.  So if you've got four pages, you'll need six slots; or you'll need eight slots for six pages etc.

Add glue to each end strip and plenty in the spine of the cover and press the concertina into place.  You can adjust a bit to make sure the slots are evenly spaced and then apply pressure while the glue dries.

I sanded all the edges - pages, covers and inserts - and at this point I would usually ink everything up.  But I decided I rather liked the white edging...

... so much so, in fact, that I decided to go for more white-washed look overall.

So then everything got a wash of white acrylic for a more shabby-chic effect.  I really like how this just softens the look quite subtly.

Once everything's dry, and the concertina is firmly stuck down, you can glue in your pages.

You just want a stripe of glue right in the bottom of each fold - like a river running through a valley (sorry - I don't seem to have taken a photo at this point).

Then glue the ends of the pages in place, and hold them until you can feel they are firmly attached.

And there you have it - all your pages ready for adding photos, memorabilia, quotes, notes, even some stamping if you want.

I've added some sari ribbon to make a simple closure.  (You might recognise it - I used the same ribbon for my Love This Life inspiration album for the Mini Album Makers challenge this month.)

For now it's not glued on, as I might want to add some more embellishing but, when I do, I'll glue it at the spine but not across the front cover.

That way, when you undo it you will still see the full glory of the papers.

Let me show you quickly what I mean by the "double page spread" in case I wasn't clear...

The opening page is single-sided, facing the inner cover.

Each page spread has the same papers on facing sides.

And each tab contrasts with its page, but matches the tab opposite.

It's only the front and back covers where you have different papers on each side.

But that shows how it looks if you choose to vary papers on every side.

You can add journalling panels and cards to the pockets too, there's plenty of room.\

And of course the inserts give you even more space for adding pictures, journalling and/or extra ephemera.

But I think this tutorial is plenty long enough already, so I'm going to leave it at this stage...

... ready for all the internal decorating to happen in your imaginations.

I hope you're inspired to make a toilet roll album of your own.  It's really very satisfying turning trash to treasure like this.

If you want to check out a few more of my examples, take a look at the links below, but you'll also find them all over YouTube and on many craft blogs.

Thanks so much for joining me today, and we hope you'll come and play along in our November challenge.  Any handmade book goes, and you could win a fabulous prize from this month's sponsor Lindy's Stamp Gang.

We hope to see you soon!

Alison x
Words and Pictures


  1. Alison, this is such a clever little album, who would have thought that discarded toilet rolls could look so beautiful! The construction looks fantastic, I love those gorgeous papers and your finished album is stunning! Excellent tutorial too! Anne xx

  2. This is stunning Alison! Never thought that toilet rolls could look this good! The construction looks very sturdy and your step by step instructions are very clear and easy to follow. The papers are gorgeous and I love that you gave them a white wash .. looks wonderful! Gorgeous and so very clever! x

  3. A wonderful tutorial and booklet Alison! GORGEOUS!!!♥

  4. Oh Alison, what a lovely album- and made out of, what we all have in our homes, a wonderful idea ,really.
    I love the concertina binding, and the beautiful papers, you softened by whitewashing !!
    Hugs, Dorthe

  5. A beautiful album. Who would have thought toilet rolls?
    Love it
    Amanda x

  6. Stunning use of toilet rolls!!

  7. Wow I never knew toilet rolls could be so useful....I’ll go and grab a load out of the recycling sack!!
    Donna xx

  8. Gorgeous, - great use of those wonderful G45 papers and a super tutorial!

  9. Great recycling on your amazing project. Great tutorial and love your project. So creative x

  10. Truly wonderful Alison! I made my daughter a vertical paper bag album which is similar to your toilet paper album. So much fun and I know they are really appreciated by the recipient. I love the paper you used. You can't beat Graphic 45 to set the tone.
    I am taking a break for a while but I still look!
    Sandy xx

  11. Many thanks for this great tutorial, it's a wonderful inspiration, I have to try that out! Kerstin xx

  12. This is super inspiring! Thanks for the detailed tutorial!

  13. What a gorgeous project Alison and amazing upcycle. I love your lightly gessoed patterned paper and enjoyed the links to your previous similar designs. Thanks for this inspiration, sweet one. Hugs, Autumn

  14. A fabulous tutorial using a resource that used to be a staple within my preschool classes. Those delicious papers have helped sculpt those pocket pages. I have seen so many books with this concertina spine you may just have inspired me to take the plunge and try this Alison. Thank you for the inspiration delightful as always..
    Hugs & Creative Wishes Tracey xx

  15. Awesome ! Fab tutorial thank you x

  16. Such a fun tutorial! I have never, in all my years done this! I have made a mini from coffee cup sleeves, but never empty tp rolls. It reminds of the old days of scrapbooking when we all had to make do as there were limited products in the stores...like way back in the 1990's. hee hee Love your tutorial.

  17. An absolutely fabulous album Alison and so good to see the recycling going on too. The tutorial is so informative and makes me want to have a go as you've made it look so easy.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Fliss xx

  18. This is so clever and creative Alison - and the papers you used are just lovely - the lowly toilet paper roll takes on a lofty purpose! Thanks for sharing the 'how to'! Julia xx

  19. What a gorgeous mini book, the Graphic 45 papers are so beautiful! remember seeing them a long time ago too, but I never tried. I now have no excuse with Alison's clear instructions...

  20. I love your toilet roll books and the colours on this one are just beautiful! Hugs, Chrisx

  21. Now where are all those toilet rolls that I kept hiding? Great tutorial Alison.

    Sally xx