Introduction: Custom Prompt Journal

Many times, beginning artists rely on prompts to guide their practice. This instructable details how to make a small custom journal to house these prompts. This makes a good gift to an artist, or just a quick gift to yourself. Take this small journal with you everywhere, so you can sketch prompts on the go.

Step 1: Step One: Make a Plan

Decide how you would like your prompt journal to look like. This journal will have 38 pages. Look online at stores such as Talas for book cloth colors you like before you order them.

This journal is a fairly small hand sized book, so keep in mind you won't need too many supplies.

At this stage you should decide on thread colors and book cloth colors.

Step 2: Step Two: Generate Prompts

During this step you should consider what type of prompts you want to write or draw to. Go to websites such as or websites such as Tumblr to browse for prompts. These can be anything from a single word to a phrase of dialogue. Googling phrases such as “writing prompts” can be helpful as well. Think about what kind of prompt inspires you.

Generate 38 prompts. This corresponds to one prompt per page of your journal. Write them down on a separate sheet of paper and put it aside.

Step 3: Step Three: Gather Supplies

In this step you will gather the supplies you need for the journal. For all journals you will need:

  • a sharp edge (such as a box cutter)
  • a ruler
  • acid free book board or cardboard cut into:
    • two rectangles of 4.25 by 5.75 inches
    • one rectangle .25 by 5.75 inches
  • book cloth (at least 8 by 10 inches)
  • 20, 8.5 by 5.5 inch sheets of unlined paper (can be created by cutting regular 8.5 by 11 inch sheets of paper in half)
  • PVA glue (elmers will do in a pinch, do not use glues with acid, such as rubber cement as they will eventually eat through your book)
  • a needle
  • thread (at least six-stringed, such as embroidery thread)
  • an awl
  • a pencil
  • heavy weights for pressing down your journal (such as books)

Gather all your supplies before starting to make the journal. You will also need a clear space for your project to dry undisturbed.

Step 4: Step Four: Make, Mark, and Hole Booklets

Take your paper sheets and fold them in half one by one. Fit these folded sheets together into mini booklets. You should have four sheets to a booklet. You should have five booklets total.

Take your ruler, a pencil, and one booklet and make a series of seven evenly spaced marks on the folded edge. These marks should be roughly three quarters of an inch apart from each other. It doesn’t matter if they are entirely even.

Now line your booklets up as if they were ready to be bound and, using your ruler, draw straight up and down each point you made on the original booklet, making sure to mark all the booklets. All of your booklets should have the same spaced markings on their spine. This will prevent warping.

Now take your awl and punch through the markings you have made. You will want to lay your booklets spread flat as you do this. Make sure your needle goes straight down through the pages. If you punch through crooked, your binding will warp. Do this for all booklets.

Step 5: Step Five: Bind Booklets

  1. Thread your needle with your thread. Your thread should be approximately three feet in length.
  2. Make a knot at the end of your thread.
  3. Imagine your holes are number one to seven (see above image). Thread your needle through hole one.
  4. Thread your needle back through hole two. Then back through hole three. Continue on until you have reached hole seven. Then weave back around.
  5. Continue this until your thread is poking out of hole two.
  6. Take your second booklet and poke your needle through its hole two. Then thread back through the second booklet's hole one. Then thread through your first booklet's hole one. Then thread through your first booklet's hole two.
  7. Then loop your need around the back of the stitch connecting booklet one’s first hole to booklet two’s first hole, and thread your needle through booklet two’s first hole.
  8. Thread your needle back through booklet two’s second hole and loop around the bottom stitch of the first booklet. Pull your needle through the second booklet’s second hole. This creates a small loop that ties the two booklets together. This stitch will be the basis for connecting the rest of your booklets together.
  9. Then thread your needle through the second booklet’s third hole and repeat.
  10. Continue this stitch down your second booklet until it is secured to the first. Then add the rest of your booklets the same way. Continue until you run out of booklets.
  11. Thread your remaining length of thread through the back of the booklet and tie it off with a simple square knot. Cut off the excess thread.
  12. The finished product you have made is called a textblock.
  13. Cover the spine of your textblock in glue and leave it to dry beneath the weights you have prepared. You can glue down the ties of your thread to the spine of your textblock while you do this.

Step 6: Step Six: Cut, Cover, and Glue Cover

While your textblock dries, make your cover.

  1. Cut your book cloth. Your cloth should be 10 inches by 8 inches. You can use scissors for this step if you prefer.
  2. Glue your smallest rectangle of bookboard facing up and down in the direct middle of your book cloth. Then, leaving a quarter inch of space in-between them, glue your larger rectangles down to either side of it.
  3. Leave them to dry, with weights on them to prevent warping.
  4. Cut the corners off of your book cloth, leaving a small amount of fabric between the corner of the book board and the cloth. If you cut the cloth too closely, the book board will show.
  5. Fold over the corners of your book cloth and glue them down.
  6. Leave them to dry, with weights on them to prevent warping.
  7. Take your textblock and glue your first page to one flap of the cover, leaving a small border of an eight to a quarter inch on each side of the page. Then do the same with the other side of the textblock.
  8. Leave them to dry, with weights on them to prevent warping. Place pieces of scrap paper in between your sheets glued to the cover and the rest of the textblock so the excess moisture does not warp the textblock itself.

(Note: the pictures here show a ribbon. This is completely optional, but if you wish to include it, cut a length of ribbon approximately 7-8 inches long, and glue it to the spine before step 7. You should glue down at least an inch of ribbon to ensure it will not slip. The remaining ribbon should be long enough that it can poke out of the bottom of the journal.)

Step 7: Step Seven: Write in Prompts

On every sheet of paper, write in the prompts you have prepared in your best handwriting.

Congratulations, you’re finished! Take your journal wherever you'd like. You can customize this journal by adding more booklets to it, and therefore more prompts. Just make sure to measure your spine width when you do this, as the measurement of .25 inches will no longer be accurate for the spine bookboard.