How To: Make a Journal!

Over Thanksgiving break, my brothers girlfriend, NOW FIANCE :) taught my sister and I how to make journals from scratch! It was so much fun to learn from her and have some fun girl time together!

I decided to make my journal for one of my dearest friends Helen Crane (soon Lane!). I decided to document the process of making the journal so I am going to teach you how to make your own journal for someone special this Christmas with 10 easy steps!

PS you can scroll past the directions to see pictures of the final journal product if you want to get a taste of what your's could look like. Total the journal will take around 3 hours to make but the nice part is that you can do the steps at different times and spread it out between a few days!


If you are not a crafty person DON'T WORRY! This is very easy to do and only takes a few (non-expensive) materials. To make this amazing journal you will need:

- 1/2 a yard of material (this will be the cover of your journal, on mine this is the black fabric)

- a piece of chipboard

- thick thread (to sew the pages together, not as complicated as it sounds!)

- a needle

- a thumb tack

- a piece of cheesecloth (for the binding)

- bookbinding glue

- a pen

- scissors

- drawing paper (any size will work, its better to buy drawing paper in a pad that doesn't have rings so it is easier to rip out)

- specialty paper (they sell these in squares at Michaels-this is for the inside front and back cover-in my journal these pages are teal)

- colored paper (if you want to put these pages between your white drawing pages to put verses or quotes on-in my journal these pages are light brown)

- ribbon or any other decoration you want to put on the front/inside of the book

- Craft pens to write on the front of the journal

All of these supplies can be bought at craft stores such as Michaels, Jo-Ann Fabrics or other local craft stores. Get excited! It is really fun to make and is such a meaningful gift. I gave my journal to Helen a little before Christmas because I was so excited to give it to her :).


This step sounds silly, but it is important! The journal I made was 60 pages (one drawing pad worth of paper). You need to rip each page out of the journal and fold it in half. As you are folding, separate the pages in stacks of 5 so that you will end up with 6 stacks of 5 folded pieces of paper=60 pages to journal on.

You are also going to want to fold the colored pages for the inside of the journal as a part of the stack. You should also fold the specialty paper for the front and back cover of your book to prepare for step 6. You may have to cut the pages down to be the same size as the drawing paper. 


I took these pictures of the process with my iPhone so it goes along with the crafty feel of the work in progress! This step is very easy, just take a maker, hold the stacks of pages tightly and draw 4 lines evenly between the pages. Draw one more line on the top of one of the ends (this will be the top of your journal). These holes are where you will thread the needle through in the next step.

Use a thumb tack and poke a hole through every dot that you made on the pages. The easiest way to do this is to open up the pages and poke the hole through where you made the dot.


This is the most important step because it is the glue that holds the book together. In order to get the amount of thread you need, measure the thread up and down each end of the pages plus enough for one extra. This means you will measure the thread 7 times down the fold of paper. Thread your needle with the thick thread so that most of the thread hangs on one side and around 4 inches hangs on the other side. Tie around 6 knots on top of each other to make a thick knot making sure the pages won't fall apart.

The first part in sewing the book is to hold the first two pages together so that the two dots are next to each other. Put your needle DOWN the first hole you poked with a tack (the one second closest to the top) so that the big knot will be sticking out of the first dot you made. You will also have extra thread hanging from the knot that you will use to tie to the second set of pages. From here you go up the second hole, across the paper and down the third hole and finally up the last hole on that page set.

Once you get through sewing the first set of pages, you line up the second set of pages so your double dots are lined up and go DOWN the last hole with your thread and needle. Then you go up the next, down the next and up the final hole towards the top. The next step is VERY important to hold your journal together.

Side note: make sure while you are sewing the pages together you are pulling the thread tight so that the whole journal is tightly bound.

You need to bind your pages together. Take your needle and tie a knot with the extra thread hanging off the first set of journal pages WITH the thread you just pulled up through the first hole on your second set of journal pages

After this step you repeat and go down the third set of pages, up the next hole, down the next and up the last hole. 

When you come up through the last hole on the third set of pages, you loop your needle through the thread connecting the second and third set of pages. You then take your needle and go down your fourth set of pages then up and down and up. You then repeat the above step and loop your needle through the thread connecting the third and fourth set of pages.

Repeat these steps of going down the hole with your thread and back up and down and up and then looping around the last thread connecting the previous pages.

Tie a fat knot when you get to the end of your sewing.

At the end of this process, your book should look like this:

Cut the thread and then you are done with this part! 


The next step is super easy, cut a piece of cheesecloth that has about 2 inches on each side and use the book binding glue to glue it over top of your thread. You will want to let this dry for 20 minutes (I let mine dry between two books so that it stood up straight and didn't get glue on anything else).


Take your chipboard (after your cheesecloth and paper sewn together is dry) and draw a line on the chipboard down each side of the spine so that your chipboard looks like this:

Measure with a ruler how wide your journal of the pages is from end to end and add 1 inch on each side. Then measure how wide your spine is. Take the total number of inches of each side of the book + the spine + 1 inch extra on each side = the lenghth/width of your journal. For the height measure the height of your pages and add 1 inch to each side. The 1 inch will allow you to have extra room on the chipboard so your pages are protected :).

The easiest way to know the size your fabric should be is to cut out the chipboard and then measure 1 inch around the entire chipboard piece so that you will have room to fold your fabric over.


Fold your specialty pages in half and make sure they are trimmed to be the same height as the drawing paper. Glue ONE SIDE of the specialty paper (in my case the teal paper) to the first page of your journal. Do this to both the front and back of your journal. Wait about 20 minutes for this to try


Take the bookbinding glue and use your finger to glue the edges of your fabric overtop of your chipboard. You do not need to glue the other side of your fabric to the chipboard because it will be secured by the glue on the inside. Wait about 20 mintues for this to dry. 


Now it is time to glue your journal to its cover! Spread book binding glue with your finger on the chipboard and glue the other side of your specialty paper to the chipboard. Book binding glue dry's clear so don't worry if you get some beyond the specialty pages.

Your journal should now look like this:


Now it is time to let it dry. The best way to do this is to stack books on both the front and back cover so that the pages stick up in between. You will want to let this dry overnight to be safe.


You can do anything you want to spice up the cover and interior of your journal. For the journal I made for Helen, I used a ribbon to cover up the extra space of chipboard that was visible and wrapped it around the cover.

I used craft pens to write on the cover, back and spine of the journal (going over it several times to make sure it showed up) to make it really personal. I also wrote verses on the inside of the colored pages so that when Helen was journaling she could be encouraged by Jesus's words of truth :).

HAVE FUN WITH THIS PROJECT and give the journal you make to someone special and maybe make two so you can keep one for yourself! Hope you found this post helpful and enjoy being crafty this Christmas season! 

Here are some pictures of Helen and the journal after I gave it to her. The best part of this gift is that you can make it super personal to the person you are giving it to by writing their name on it and using colors they love. She loved it by the way! :) 

ALSO if you have any questions PLEASE comment on the blog and I will try my best to help you! And leave a comment on the blog if you make on, I would love to know how yours turns out! Enjoy!