DIY Customized Book Journal




About: Hey, I'm Muhaimina! A Craftaholic person (or Witch if you may say!). Obsessed with swirls and polka dots... and Instructables is pretty much my second home! Follow my IG Blog

I love book journals and notebooks. I have tons of'em but I've never made any. I use journals and notebooks mostly for writing down my daily schedules and craft related stuffs. I always bought journals and notebooks, never intended to make one because I thought it would be difficult. But I was surprised when I actually gave it a try!

Yes, it takes a while but I'm telling you, it's worth it. If you love writing you should definitely have your own handmade book journal or notebook. After making the first book journal I was so excited that I made another one. The uneven ends of the pages didn't really bother me because it gave an old rustic look. I burnt the sides of the text block for the second book journal.

I'm addicted to making books now, I have tons of ideas and can't wait to make more!

Anyways, check out the ible and enjoy!

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Step 1: Materials Needed

To make your own customized book journals you will need:

  1. Stationary papers
  2. Cutting mat
  3. Pencil and ruler
  4. X-acto knife and scissor
  5. Craft glue
  6. Hard cover
  7. Large needle and thick thread
  8. Awl
  9. Cover fabric - I used vinyl fabric
  10. Ribbon - 1 cm wide (for bookmark)
  11. Craft foam

Step 2: Preparing the Pages

Determine a size (width and length) for the book. Cut out a piece of paper of the required length and 2 times the width. Similarly cut 3 more pieces.

Hold all the pieces together and fold them into half neatly. Similarly group 4 pages and fold them into half. Make as many signatures as you need.

Step 3: Marking and Punching Holes

Place all the signatures together with their closed ends facing on one side. Use a ruler to mark the stitching points along the closed end of the signature on the top. I marked 5 stitching points in the middle keeping 1 inch gap between each points.

Hold the ruler vertically along the closed end of the papers. Use pencil to mark the stitching points on the all the other papers at once. Make sure to mark the points as appropriately as possible.

Now take and open each fold to punch a hole on the marked points for stitching. Use an awl to punch the holes. Fold them into half like before after punching the holes align all the papers accordingly again.

Step 4: Stitching 1st Signature

Prepare a long piece of thread with a large needle. Tie a knot at the end. Take the first group of papers (signature). Draw the needle through any one holes on the sides, from outside.

Draw the thread all the way to inside the papers. The knot will keep the thread stuck in the hole and from drawing out. Simply do running stitch through the punched holes. After reaching the fifth holes stitch backwards, to the first hole. Tie a knot with the first stitch and draw the needle outside through the first hole.

Step 5: Attaching the 2nd Signature

Take another signature and place it on the top of the first stitched signature. Draw your needle through the first hole of the 2nd signature. Open the folds and draw the needle through the 2nd hole from the inside of the 2nd signature.

Notice the 2nd collage picture of this step. Draw your needle through the stitch below (2nd stitch of the 1st signature). Draw it back up through the previous stitch (1st stitch of the 1st signature). Draw the needle through the current hole of the 2nd signature again. Which means that each time you draw the needle outside you'll have to drag it through the previous signatures 2 stitches below. Similarly stitch the other holes of the 2nd signature.

Step 6: Attaching More Signatures

Done attaching the 2nd signature? Take another signature and place it on top of the 2nd signature.

As the needle is at the 5th hole of the 2nd signature draw it in through the 5th hole of the 3rd signature. Open the folds of the 3rd signature and draw the needle outside through the next hole. Now draw the needle through the previous signatures stitch right below it. Each time you bring the needle outside a signature from the inside draw it through the previous signatures stitch right below it and then insert the needle back into the current hole.

Similarly attach all the other signatures. After attaching all the signatures create a knot, draw the needle out and cut off extra thread.

Step 7: Attaching End Pages

Use thick papers for the the end pages. I used cardstock paper.

Cut out 2 pieces of cardstock papers of the required length and 2 times the width. Fold then into half width-wise.

.Take your text block. Apply a thin layer of glue along the closed end of the top signature of text block. Take any one of the cardstocks and place its closed end along the glued area. Press the cardstock's closed end along the glued part to make sure it is glued neatly. Similarly Add the end pages on the other side of the text block.

Step 8: Making Hard Cover

You will need to cut out 3 pieces from thick or hard board for the cover of the book.

Measure the text block's width and length size and cut out 2 pieces from the hard board by adding 1 cm extra on both width and length. Measure the text block's thickness and cut out another piece from the hard board (1 cm + text block's length X text block's thickness). This will be the back strap of the book.

Select a fabric for the cover. I used vinyl, it's great for making book covers.

Place the vinyl fabric on a flat surface with its wrong side facing up. Take any one of the hard cover pieces (not the back strap). Apply glue on the whole piece evenly (any one side of it) and place it on the vinyl fabric by keeping an inch extra on the sides. Keep 0.5 cm gap on the vinyl fabric and then glue the back strap. finally glue the other hard cover piece, again keep 0.5 cm gap with the back strap. Press the hard board pieces against the vinyl to make sure that they are glued nicely. Keep 1 inch extra on all sides and cut the vinyl.

See the 3rd collage picture of this step. Cut out corners of the vinyl cover as shown in the picture. Apply glue on the extra part of the vinyl on the sides, fold it in and join it with the hard cover. I used a clothes pin to make sure that it is glued perfectly. Press the glued area until the vinyl is attached with the hard cover. Remember to glue the top side first, the the bottom side and then the sides. Similarly glue the other sides.

Step 9: Attaching Hard Cover and Text Block

Take your text block. Place it on the hard cover's wrong side, beside the back strap. Apply a relatively thick layer of glue along the text blocks spine and hard covers back strap. Press the text blocks spine against the glued back strap.

Apply glue on the end page and join it with the hard cover. Press the glued end page to make sure that it is glued evenly with the hard cover. Similarly glue the end page of the other side.

Step 10: If You Wan to Add a Ribbon Bookmark

In case you want to add a ribbon bookmark you'll have to add it before joining the hard cover.

Measure and cut out a piece of ribbon (2.5 inches + text blocks length). Glue an inch of the of the ribbon from any one side with the spine of the text block. Glue it from the top edge.

Step 11: Making the Book Pocket

This is optional but I love book pockets, they're really useful for keeping small important notes.

Use cardstock paper for making the book pocket.

Draw a pattern on the cardstock as shown in the 1st picture of this step. In this picture the big square is the pocket and the rest are extra parts for folding and making the pocket. The big squares' width should be same as the text blocks width but the height would depend on your choice. The extra parts' width should be 1-2 cm but not more than that. Follow the picture instructions and cut out the pattern. Make accordion folds on the sides.

Apply glue on the side and bottom strips. Carefully glue the pocket at the back side of the journal, with the hard cover. You can keep a few small notes in the pocket through its open end.

Step 12: Designing the Cover

Designing the journal was the fun part! I wanted a Victorian border style design on the front cover but I'm not good at designing symmetrical designs so I came up with this idea.

You will need a hard board and a piece of craft foam to make your own cover designing stamp.

Take a piece of craft foam according to your book size. Draw vertical and horizontal lines on it to divide the foam into 4 equal pieces. Draw a border design on the any one section. The design should be easy to cut and repetitive. After done designing cut out the design with one cut. Do not ruin or tear the pieces as we'll use it for tracing design on the 3 other sections. Simply rotate and trace design on the other sections. Cut the designs neatly.

Now simply glue the designed foam on a piece of hard board. You can make any design you want as it is a very easy technique. I used golden fabric paint to stamp the design on the front cover of the journal. Allow the paint to dry.

Ahhh... finally the journal is ready! I hope you liked the ible and please let me know if you have any question or suggestion.


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    14 Discussions

    Fuzzy Monkey

    3 years ago

    Wow this is great! I've been making my own journal so this will be a great help! Thanks!


    3 years ago

    Does this work with heavier papers? Like 300g/m² (140lb) I would like to open and stay open very easy. Its for use with watercolor painr.

    1 reply
    Muhaiminah Faizdmoonen

    Reply 3 years ago

    It should work with heavier papers as well, but in htat case keep fewer papers for the signature.


    3 years ago

    Great tutorial! Can't wait to try it! I am using repurposed antique hardcover books saved from the pulp mills!

    TsanabeMuhaiminah Faiz

    Reply 3 years ago

    Once I get my woodcut finished I want to make a print that can be one of the pages in the first signature to make a custom illustration in the book I would like to make. Thanks for the inspiring idea.


    3 years ago

    I like the look of this journal and I agree the uneven pages adds interest and character. Thanks for sharing~


    1 reply

    3 years ago

    Book project are awesome.good one .cheers


    3 years ago

    wow that is great i love creating stuff and you make it look so easy so I'll give it a try