Make Your Own Journal
I have always resisted bookmaking. For one thing, I tend to impulse buy blank books, so I never have a shortage of notebooks to choose from when it's time to start a new journal. However, the main reason why I never tried to make a book before is because the task always seemed so overwhelming. The instructions always seemed to be so complicated - there were never any pictures to illustrate the steps - and they always called for special materials that I didn't have on hand and had no inclination to buy. In short, making a book didn't seem to fit into the LazyGirlTM way of life.
A few months back, I picked up a vintage copy of Crafts 'N Things magazine that featured an article on how to publish and bind your own book. I thought the idea was interesting, and I filed the article away for "someday" when I had the time. Well, it occured to me that I could probably use those instructions as a guideline for making my own blank journal. So, I set out to try it and see what happened. The instructions below are the result. This is a fairly simple, streamlined method of making a small, hardcover book. The best part about these intructions is that you can use materials that you probably already have around the house. To my thinking, the only thing better than making stuff is making stuff with recycled, scavanged, or "found" materials. If it works, you have something beautiful that you made for little or nothing; if it doesn't, you can more easily write it off as a learning experience because you haven't broken the bank. It's a win-win situation!
And so, without further ado, let's make a journal!
What you'll need:
Cardboard or Chipboard, about 1/32" to 3/32" thick
18 sheets of 8½" x 11" paper
One 7" x 10½" piece of paper for the cover
One 5¾" x 9½" piece of paper for the cover facing sheet
Carpet, button, or upholstery thread
A sewing needle
An old paintbrush or foam brush
An X-acto knife or other sharp knife
You may also want to use a bone folder or burnisher if you have one, as well as some binder clips or wooden clothes pins.
What To Do:
Step 1: Fold each sheet of paper in half. You now have an 8½" by 5½" piece of folded paper.
[Alternate Method]: Use a paper trimmer to cut the pages into 8½" by 5½" pieces of paper. (You will have 36 halves of paper.) Cutting the paper now will actually save you some time later. It will also make for cleaner edges for your book, if you don't like the torn look.
Step 2: Place the papers in six groups of 3 folded sheets each.
[Alternate Method]: If you cut your paper in Step 1, you will now place the papers into six groups of 6 pieces of paper.
Step 3: Fold each group of 3 (or 6) in half again (the finished size will be 4¼" by 5½"). These are your signatures. (This is where you may want to use your bone folder or burnisher to make clean, crisp folds. It helps a lot.)
Step 4: Stack your signatures so that the back folds are facing you. Using a pencil and a ruler, draw a line across the folds about ½" in from each end. You can use your clothespins or binder clips to hold the signatures together while you do this.
Step 5: Draw 2 more lines across the folds, about 2" in from each end.
Step 6: Now, you're going to punch holes in each signature so that they will be easier to sew. Open each signature and lay it flat with the back fold facing up. Punch a needle hole (making sure to go through all of the sheets) at each pencil mark. The easiest way to do this is to lay the signature so that the folds are over a crack in a table or a crack between two tables pushed together. You can probably use two heavy books to simulate this. Be sure to use your thimble so that you do not stab yourself with the needle.
Another way to punch the holes would be to place the paper on a cushioned surface like an old phone book and then use a big push pin to make the holes.
Step 7: Re-fold and re-stack the signatures, again with the back fold facing you.
Step 8: Thread the needle with about 2 yards of thread. Knot the thread about 1" from the tail.
Now, you're getting to the most difficult part of the bookmaking process - sewing your signatures together. It's really not difficult at all, once you get the hang of it. Until then, just take a deep breath, work slowly, and follow the directions carefully. If you get frustrated easily, you might want to take a minute at this point to fix yourself something cool to drink. I myself had to knock back a couple of Sprites before it was all over with. Once you're ready to begin, click here.
© 2002 Dawn R. Vinson. All Rights Reserved.