DIY Journal Ideas

*** As I compile these tutorials I will add them, but for now, I’ll simply explain what’s to come! Ooooo, even just writing about making these precious tombs is making me want to rush out to the scrapbooking store for new paper and glue! ***

If you’re like me and can’t spend a fortune on a bookshelf full of leather-bound beauties, you can always make your own!

When I lose focus on what to write, it can help me to create a new journal to write in. So many times I have chosen a simple design for fun, or I might have gone with a trickier, more elaborate creation if I had an inspiration for its use, or just really wanted to see if I could do it!

It’s also been a great way to make gifts for those people I just don’t know what to get. Usually the fact that it’s hand-made and unique wins out over what it actually is, but I ignore that; not everyone can be as ecstatic to receive a diary as I am.

So what journals do you want to make? I’m going to build and create these journals as I go, so I may start with the simple ones at first…

Knot Binding – This is where you would choose your paper type, say a cold cream colored hand-made stationery. Then you would choose the size of the pages, and cut the paper to accommodate two pages side by side. Then using a ruler and scoring tool, the center of the binding would be scored and the paper folded. The number of pages together could be determined by the thickness of the paper, or to taste. Depending on the relative height of the book, you would punch holes in the center, along the scoring line of each page and then place them inside of one another. You can use any kind of paper for the external cover of the Journal, also, and decorate it to your taste! Then you would use twine, ribbon, embroidery thread or some other type of cord to run in one hole, back out the next, and tie knots at the ends securely. Do this to fasten the entire binding. NOTE: You can always decide to weave one longer cord in and out of the holes to have one knot at the bottom, or end at the top and end with a ribbon which can then be used as a place-holder! Creativity might also induce you to attach strings on the inside flaps of the cover for tying, or again, having them woven into the binding and reaching all the way around the middle of the book!

Thread Binding – (I teach a class on this type of binding on right here!) A bit more involved than just tying knots, this style usually requires some heavy lifting. Think of it like this: Instead of just having a few pages folded over and tied, you might have six or more sections of folded pages. With so many sections laying on top of one another, you would need a larger (and possibly stronger) cover to hold them to. So, there’s a bit of measuring there, depending on how thick your chosen paper is. Your sections would have smaller punched holes in them, so that you could pass a thinner cord through them (usually using a leather needle, for strength and thickness). The cover then, would have several lines worth of holes punched, to fasten in each section of pages. You would then need to sew them in with your needle, being mindful of where you would like most to end and knot the cord. NOTE: Remember, the use of any creative ideas here is key, because depending on the size and number of sections you have, your threading may be best attaching each section individually or having a long enough piece of thread to catch them all as you go back and forth along the binding. There is also the option of off-setting the holes in both the cover and page sections to give them more room to move and for you to work. Like this:

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Taped – Nothing beats who we did it when we were young… except perhaps everything else. Even still, there are plenty of ways to scotch tape together a simple diary that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve failed every craft you’ve ever done. The first thing you have to do is avoid using blank white paper. I know, it can be tempting to do, but please, stop that thought right there. It’s best to use something colorful, maybe with a design on it somewhere, so that you can keep your place, it looks more like something cool, and to avoid feeling like you’re just taping paper to waste office supplies. NOTE: This does use a bit of tape if you let it, so be mindful and use only what is really needed to hold in a single piece of paper at a time. Also: Wash your hands well several times as you go through this project, as your fingers might pick up dust and then trap that dust against the page in the stickiness of the scotch!

Computer Printed – Trust me, this is a good one. You can put standard size pages of even hand-made paper through most quality printers and get nice lines and even graphics in the corners like a store-bought journal. Not to mention custom planner possibilities, Inspirational quotes, or ‘To Do:’ sections. Maybe a little picture frame here and there you could print a photo into or paste one in… Seriously, you can do a lot in a journal that doesn’t have to revolve around writing. Try it! You can use a number of different binding options based on what you are envisioning, too.

Glued – There are many ways to do a glue binding, so I stuck with the easiest one I know. It involves having a strong edge that all individual pages come to meet against a cover and are scored say, at a ½ inch and then those small lips are neatly glued on to each other, in a big glue sandwhich! The cover is then glued to the outer edge of the sandwich and to the top and bottom and presto! I had a diary made like this as a kid, which somehow got lost in the shifting of life… Wish I could re-read those pages again.

Fabric – This is for my fabric-loving enthusiasts! There are plenty of marker and pens on the market that can write on fabric pages, although you might want to write those pages first and then bind them for posterity… but for this project, I’m thinking super simple. I’m thinking picking up one of those Composition notebooks everyone has laying around and re-covering the thing to look like something pretty. You heard me, we’re cheating here, but I think you’ll like the polished outcome…

Skewers – You know those things you go to the store and se hanging in the middle of the baking isle and use to make cobobs? You can use them to make a pretty sturdy binding, too. It’s a tad complex, but with a little fore thought and re-reading the directions again as you go, you can really create something fun. I did this one last Christmas for my mom! J It gives you the option of placing some pretty papers throughout for interest, and if you want to mix in the printing option, you can put in anything you want!

Decoupage – For the artsy journaler. Use pictures from magazines, newspapers, your photo drawer, fun paper, designs, frames, stickers, little jewels or gemstones and slather everyone’s favorite glue all over it! You can use this to create your covers for other journals, or to re-cover a diary you have but don’t quite like the look of.

Re-covering – We’ve talked about fabric overlays and decoupaging a cover, but what about when the thing is just ruined, awful or you want to switch from hard-to-soft (or visa versa)? Well, inspect your book first and see if the entire cover can be removed without doing structural damage to the page binding. If you can remove the whole thing and keep the integrity of the binding, then let’s apply a new outer shell to a book you love!

Scratch-Paper File – This is more of an organizational tool for those who write little notes on tiny pieces of paper… and then lose them everywhere. All it takes is collecting those little pads, gluing them in place inside a three ring binder, punching and inserting your favorite color heavy cardstock pages and making tabs to keep notes in the proper categories! Simple, easy and lifesaving, not to mention you can slide in a different decorated cover for the binder whenever you feel in the mood;)

Stapled – Honestly, this takes me back to being seven, but I don’t care. Five blank white sheets and one pretty outer shell, printable and fully functional in under a minute… it’s hard to beat and it makes an unbeatable gift for so many kids and extended family-members. I did a little one in this tutorial, just for fun.

Scrapbook – Ok, this is a little in-depth and there are lots of kits you can purchase to have the templates to do it anytime! I recommend this kind of diary building because it is totally customizable, you can use them as diaries and as scrapbooks, and once you make one… you want to make more.

Art Journal – My love introduced me to this kind of journal, and to be honest: it’s one of my favorites. Because it’s the kind of journal you can keep if you’re not a writer! It can house a feeling, take a time in life and immortalize it in images and color and without any effort… it can create a still shot of memories you will always want to come back to. If you have feeling inside that you just can’t find words to pin down, use this method. It’s kinda crazy and a little messy, but it’s definitely worth it!