DIY Accordion Photo Album In Pocket Watch Shell

by Destri on June 13, 2011

Pocket Watch Photo Album Tutorial

I have had this idea rolling around in my head for about a year now, thinking it would make the best gift idea for Grandparents.  Sure they have the digital ones, but no one really ends up using those – at least ours didn’t :).  They still carry a few tattered pictures in their wallet and purse, but I think this gift just might grab for Grandpa.

DIY Pocket Watch Photo Album

He can carry it on his key ring, and when a moment presents itself, whip it out and let loose an accordion of photos from a vintage pocket watch.  Carries a bit of charm, no?

Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Hanukkah, Birthday’s, Just Didn’t Want You To Forget What We Looked Like Day…perfect handmade gift!  There are a bunch of different ways you could do this, and I’ll show you how I made mine after the jump!

How To Make A Photo Album With A Pocket Watch


  • pocket watch, shell of pocket watch, or something similar
  • photos printed to wallet size
  • Gorilla glue, or E6000
  • Mod Podge and brush
  • lightweight fusible lining (you could make do without this)
  • scissors
  • photo protectant spray (I used matte)

I did make one with a sewing machine, but for the sake of Make It Monday, I thought I would make a version that didn’t require a machine.  I will let you know where I did things different with the one I sewed.


Let’s start with the shell.  On this one I literally took a hammer to the front, then took out the insides.  Save the face for a cutting guide.  I used an old Avon powder case before, and all I had to do was take out the powder.

Every case might be different, but on this one the prong that released the latch was connected to the guts.  So I placed a little glue, just on the ridged part that you would use to wind, and held it place for a minute.  I did not have to do this on the make-up case.  Just look at yours, figure out which parts need to still move and which you can glue.

For the photos, you will want pictures where the head shot doesn’t take up the whole photo.  Have have them printed to into wallet size.  I just did mine through Walmart.

Now using the watch face as a template, trace around the part of the photo you want to keep.  Cut them out just on the inside of the line you drew, so the circles are slightly smaller than the hole. Cut one extra blank for gluing in the bottom.  If you are lucky enough to have a circle punch that would work, by all means :)

Now you should have your pictures all cut out, plus the extra blank.

Lay them all down in a row, with just a little space in between, on a piece of scrap fabric.  Make sure they are all facing the same direction, and put the blank at one end.

Take a strip of the fusible lining that is cut to length, and carefully place over the photos.  Press with an iron set on medium.  I only left my iron on for 7 seconds, no steam.

You could possibly skip this step and just mod podge the photos to fabric, but this was nice to stabilize the photos.  Let me know if you try it that way and how it works.

If you want to use a sewing machine, after this step I sewed around each circle, then cut around them.  Again, you could do this many ways, just use what you have!

Next put a light coat of mod podge on the back, just enough to soak through the fabric and let dry.  For the one that I had sewn, I skipped this step.

Once dry, carefully cut around each photo, leaving fabric in between to hold them together.

Spray on the protectant per the instructions.  You might want to spray a little on a tester first, just to practice :).  Let them dry fully.

Now, put a good layer of glue in the bottom of the watch shell and press the blank that you put at the end onto it.  Hold for a minute, and then let dry.

You’re finished!

Just fold them up…

They should all fit nestled in the shell…

And you have a pocket watch photo album perfect for giving!  Isn’t it nifty?  Would fit in a purse or on a key chain quite nicely I think.

You can find the old pocket watches everywhere.  Vintage stores, thrift stores, etsy (under vintage or supplies), and even old Avon make-up cases look like pocket watches.  Anything that acts as a casing for the pictures would work.

If you make one, please let me know, always makes my day :)

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will answer them there!

Happy Monday everyone, hope it is a great one!


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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica at Me Sew Crazy June 13, 2011 at 5:48 am

this is incredible Destri!!! What a great idea for Grandparents! I love it, truly unique!


Randi June 13, 2011 at 6:47 am

Very pretty. Love the old pocket watch. I did something really similar for my mom last year: She loves it!


Amy @ The Savvy Kitchen June 13, 2011 at 6:57 am

Super cute idea!!


Jen June 13, 2011 at 8:49 am

I love this idea! I have been toying with making something similar with a small jewelry gift box. The pocket watch would be much more fun to carry around :)


tai June 13, 2011 at 4:23 pm

I cant even tell you how much I truly adore this project. I just think it is beautiful! I am pinning this right now. Also, We are vacationing in Tennessee next week and you can bet I am hitting up every single antique store in sevierville to find the perfect watch(es) THANKS FOR THIS!


Destri June 15, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Oh, I am jealous! Have fun, I have seen them everywhere!


Kim June 14, 2011 at 5:26 am

What a great idea. I live the idea of using fabric. It turned out really well!


vonnie June 14, 2011 at 5:49 am

I just want to know where mine is?
Love ya,


Lauren June 14, 2011 at 7:45 am

This is such a great alternative to a photo album. I know that my mom loves to carry around her brag book, but would love something smaller for her purse. Wonderful idea and tutorial.



Destri June 15, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Thanks Lauren, and your right, perfect for the purse :)


Suzanne June 15, 2011 at 5:20 pm

This is adorable Destri, I would love to make one of these!


Jennifer Cox June 18, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Did you use double photos for a front and back to each photo? Or just in case?


Lisa June 27, 2011 at 12:09 pm

What a neat idea! This would definitely be a great gift, and a nice way to bring pocket watches back.


Laura August 3, 2011 at 9:14 am

This can also be done with a decorative pill case.


Brittany December 24, 2011 at 6:03 am

I just made one for my best friend! So cute and easy!!


Karen hornsten January 27, 2012 at 5:31 am

Another fantastic idea and, once again, right on the money with an easy to follow tutorial. Thanks for all you do. Karen


Destri January 29, 2012 at 8:51 pm

Thanks so much Karen, I think I might have to keep you! Your sweet compliments made my night :)


MissMandie May 10, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Thank you! I have been racking my brain (and google’s) for an original idea for mother’s day gifts that aren’t just more junk to take up space! Both of the Gramma’s will LOVE having this to pull out and show off our little angel! :) I will be using this though instead of the watch


Kelly Spence May 11, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Oh, how lovely! This would make a great Mother’s Day gift too if you made it into a necklace pendant. It reminds me a little of this glass photo pendant tutorial:

Thanks so much for the great idea!

Kelly Spence


Kim August 9, 2012 at 5:40 pm

My 8 year old niece is always wanting me to give her “something else crafty to make”. She loves my scrapbook room so when she is here, that’s where she spends most of her time. I have been trying to come up with something she could make her dad for his birthday this month. Our father has a collection of pocket watches and I think using one would be ideal. Our father passed away over 20 years ago and I know he would have loved having one of these. Just awesome!


Destri August 12, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Oh see, that is just the thing I always thought this project would be perfect for. Please let me know how it goes!


Pat Norris August 21, 2012 at 4:01 pm

I made this a while back, but I use an old compack, much easer than the watch.


Claudia August 30, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Wow! How clever! I absolutely love this idea. I’ll be utilizing it for gifts for sure!! Thanks for the great tutorial!


Betty Winslow January 20, 2013 at 3:28 pm

My dad has recently had to downsize since my mom died and he moved into assisted living. One of the things he gave me was an old pocket watch. I had no idea what to do with it. Now I do! Thanks!!


Medina Wick March 30, 2013 at 8:32 am

Thank you so much for this! I have been working for on/off for months trying to get the same idea to work with no luck. Didn’t think about the fusible fabric. A punch used in scrapbooking makes perfect shapes.


Jessica May 28, 2013 at 8:04 pm

I made one for my boyfriend for a graduation present with pictures of me and him. It was a unique and creative idea! I’m really glad I stumbled upon this :) I completely mod podge it and it worked great!


Tina | PostalPix June 6, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Wonderful DIY! We’d love to share this up on our Father’s Day round-up blog post for this week. Thanks! :)


Meghan June 8, 2014 at 6:53 pm

LOVE this idea. In the midst of trying to make this for my dad. Having some trouble tho — if I’m going to just mod podge photos and not use the liner, do I MP on the back of the fabric or MP on the front of photos?
Silly question I know but I’m new to all this. Hoping you can help asap!


admin June 10, 2014 at 12:54 pm

Hi Meghan,

You would need to adhere the photo’s to the fabric in some way, and then yes, you can MP on the front!


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