Journal Making Tutorial

Introduction: Journal Making Tutorial

We've compiled four of our favorite journal making techniques. These are fun ways to create your own personalized journals with materials you can find around the house. Get creative by repurposing items you have laying around!

Then, journal or write or draw for a bit of mindfulness practice, using your brand new, custom notebook!

Check out the video and/or the more detailed write-ups!

Stay well and keep making!

Supplies

All methods require:

  • Paper (could be any paper you have laying around. Lined, blank, graph paper, etc. . .)
  • One piece of card stock for cover (or get creative and use an old cereal box or other thin cardboard!)
  • Scissors or Utility Knife
  • Pencil or other marking tool
  • Ruler or other straight edge tool

Field Notebook method:

  • Needle and Thread
  • Hammer and nail (or push pin/thumb tack)

Stapler method:

  • Stapler w/staples
  • paper clip (to keep pages aligned before stapling)

Perfect Binding method:

  • Glue
  • small brush

Saddleback Stitch method:

  • Sewing machine

Step 1: Field Notebook Method

Begin by choosing a piece of card stock for a cover and 5 pieces of paper for the pages.

Next, fold each piece of paper in half widthwise, or “Hamburger style”. Fold each piece individually so there are sharp creases on each fold and they sit inside of each other neatly. Do this with the card stock "cover" as well.

Open up the card stock cover of your notebook. Each piece of paper needs to be placed inside of the notebook, stacking one on top of the other.

Before making holes, we will measure where we want to make our 4 holes. Measure a ruler up to the top edge of your paper and make a mark at 1 and 2 inches down from the top. Flip the ruler and align with the bottom edge of your book and repeat.

Next, use a hammer and nail to punch holes in the spine on each mark. Before hammering, tap the stack of papers together to get them nice and aligned- try not to nudge or shuffle them about when making the holes so that they will line up as neatly as possible.

Select thread for sewing the binding of your book and then coat it in wax by rubbing it against beeswax or a candle, kind of like you’re flossing. Waxing the thread isn’t neccessary but it prevents the thread from getting tangled to the point of no return AND reinforces the thread a little, preventing it from fraying.

Choose a sewing needle with a large enough openingn to get the waxed thread through and thread the needle. At the very end of the thread (the end without a needle on it) tie a small loop by making a slipknot. YouTube tutorial for how to tie this knot included.

Pull the needle through the top hole from the inside of the book. Continue to pull the thread through until the slipknot is all that’s left inside the book.

Push the needle through the second hole from the top from the outside of the book and pull the thread through, making sure the slipknot stays in place and doesn’t get pulled through.

Now that the needle is back inside the book, pull the needle and thread through the loop. Tighten the slipknot until the loop closes onto the thread and line it up with the hole you just came through.

Push needle through the second hole from the bottom (third hole down), from the inside of the book. Then pull the needle back inside the book through the last hole.

Now that you’ve sewn through all the holes, use the extra thread to tie your binding off around the longer stitch in the middle of the spine.

Cut the excess thread and you’re done binding!

Trim up the edges using scissors or a utility knife. If using a utility knife, use a ruler as a guide and a finger guard. Stabilize the ruler with your non-dominant hand and, always cutting away from yourself, use the utility knife to lightly score your pages until you’ve cut through all of them.

Step 2: Stapler Method

Choose a piece of card stock for a cover and 5 pieces of copy or graph paper for the inside pages. The easiest way to make a journal is to use the dimensions of the paper, however, it’s your journal- you can cut the paper down at this point to make it any size you want! We used scrap pieces for ours.

Next, fold each piece of paper in half widthwise, or “Hamburger style”. Fold each piece individually so there are sharp creases on each fold and they sit inside of each other neatly.

Open up the card stock cover of your notebook. Each piece of paper needs to be placed inside of the notebook, stacking one on top of the other.

Paper clip your pages together. This will help prevent pages from moving around when stapling the book.

Finally, staple the spines of your book. Place the book, cover side up on a flat surface- you may want to lay down a piece of cardboard first in order to not damage any surfaces. Learners need to open up the stapler then staple the book cover and pages together along the spine. Two to four staples is typically sufficient.

Remove the paper clips and trim up the edges using scissors or a utility knife. If using a utility knife, use a ruler as a guide and a finger guard.

Enjoy!

Step 3: Perfect Binding

Perfect binding is a fun and easy method of bookbinding that uses glue instead of thread or staples.

Begin by choosing a piece of card stock for a cover and 5 pieces of paper for the pages.

Next, fold each piece of paper in half widthwise, or “Hamburger style”. Fold each piece individually so there are sharp creases on each fold and they sit inside of each other neatly. Do this with the card stock "cover" as well.

Cut each piece of the notebook in half, directly down the creases just made. If using card stock for the cover do the same with the cover as well. If using a piece of cardboard from a cereal box (or similar) measure the size by using one of the pages you've already cut. Then cut the cardboard cover in half. Set aside for later use.

Carefully stack the pages you've cut together, being sure to align the edges.

Place this stack of pages (CAREFULLY) is a stack of textbooks or other heavy objects, with the edge sticking out just a little bit.

Use a small paint brush and glue to coat the exposed edge.

Let dry. Coat with glue again. And repeat this process three more times.

Once fully dry remove the books and the adhered pages.

Cut a 2 inch wide x how ever tall you book is (our was 2" x 8"), strip of paper.

Apply glue to the right hand 1" of that strip of paper and place back cover firmly down in glue. Make sure it is nice affixed before moving on.

Stack the pages on the back cover and align the edges. Place top cover on stack and align edges again.

Apply glue to the left hand 1" of the paper strip and fold it over the entire stack of pages and top cover.

Firmly press down to join to top cover and push against the spine to make sure it is glued to the pages as well. Gently turn and press the book on all edges to make sure the glue up is secure.

And there's your perfect, perfect binding!

Step 4: Saddleback Stitch Method

This is a very simple and fast bookbinding method, but it does require a sewing machine.

Begin by choosing a piece of card stock for a cover and 5 pieces of paper for the pages.


Next, fold each piece of paper in half widthwise, or “Hamburger style”. Fold each piece individually so there are sharp creases on each fold and they sit inside of each other neatly. Do this with the card stock "cover" as well.

Open up the card stock cover of your notebook. Each piece of paper needs to be placed inside of the notebook, stacking one on top of the other.

Paper clip the sides together. Now, you are ready to use a sewing machine to stitch their journals together!

Open up their folded stack of paper to the middle most page and lay the papers flat, inside facing up.

Align the top edge of the crease with the needle of the sewing machine and secure it in place with the machine’s presser foot. Slowly begin to stitch down the spine of the book using the crease as a guide. You could also take the time to mark the crease with a ruler and pencil, to give you a nice guideline for sewing.

Once you have sewn down the entire crease, clip the threads attaching the book to the machine. The journals are now ready to decorate and use!

Troubleshooting-

  • If the sewing machine seems to just be tearing up the paper without sewing them together, try using a longer, looser stitch for the binding.
  • If the pages seem to “break” or tear, this may also be the result of stitches that are too short or tight.
  • If you are experiencing a binding that is coming undone, backstitch over the top and bottom edges of the binding in order to keep the thread from unraveling.

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