Making My Upcycled Journals Part 2

journals making processes videos


This week part 2 of my 'How To Make An Upcycled Journal' video is out on YouTube. 

So I'm going to write the process here, but if you'd like to watch the video just click the photo below.

Step 9

So now we are ready to collect the papers we will use in the journal. Here I have a selection of scrapbook papers, vintage music paper, vintage book pages, vintage ledger paper, recycled paper and I also use the pages out of the original book. 

Once I've gathered the papers together I'm ready to fold and cut them to size.

I use a ruler and tear the vintage papers to size. I find it is more in keeping with the look of these papers and gives a nice softer edge. The scrapbook and recycled papers I normally cut with a guillotine. This is just my personal preference and of course you can cut your papers however you like. I don't cut down all the longer papers, some I leave and fold them into the middle to make a fold out or to turn into a pocket later.

Step 10

When all the pages are folded and the right size I'm then ready to start building the signatures.

You can see below in the finished journal I have 3 signatures. They are the group of pages bound together into the journal. You can have as many or as few as you like and you can have any number of pages in each signature that you like. I find an odd number of signatures easier to space out when binding and I vary the number of signatures depending on the width of the spine. Wider spines I would do 5 or 7 but slime spines I have done just 1 or 2 signatures.

I make piles of each of the different papers and then I always start with a scrapbook paper as the front cover for my signature and then I randomly add in one or two of the other papers. I do try to not put 2 busy papers together, so I put a plain page in-between two book pages and don't put two lined pages together.

Step 11

The next step is to add any pockets. So the longer papers that I folded into the middle I either leave as a fold out page or i just sew along the bottom to make it into a pocket. You can also sew off cuts of paper along the bottom, top or sides to make a pocket. If you don't sew a stapler would work or even gluing or use washi tape.

I use these sewing clips to show me where the pockets are that I need to sew.

Next I add some of the matching fabric. I use pinking shears to cut some strips.

Some bigger pieces I fold over the page to make tabs. Each of these are then clipped onto the pages and we are ready to sew.

Step 12

I work my way through each signature and sew on each piece of fabric and each pocket.


Step 13

When all the sewing is done I go through each signature and make sure all the pages are level and the right way up, the right size and ready for binding. I use these big paper clips to hold the pages together.

Step 14

Now I'm going to make the holes in the spine to bind the signatures through. I do this on a piece of foam so I don't damage the table underneath. I make 3 sets of 3 holes. One about 4 cm from the top of the spine, one set about 4 cm from the bottom and one set of 3 in the middle of the spine. 

Because I have an odd number of signatures I start with a hole in the middle then do a hole the same distance either side. I repeat this at the top, middle and bottom of the spine, making sure they are all in line.

Step 15

Then I need to make the holes in the same places in the signatures. I do this by eye but you might want to measure each one, but remember to add a bit as the signatures might not be the same height as the journal cover. I make sure I use the correct signature for each set of holes. The back signature in the last set the middle in the middle and the first signature in the first set of holes. 

If you are getting stuck here I really advise you to go and watch my video it's a lot easier to understand when you can see me doing it. 

Step 16

Then I'm ready to thread my needle. I have chosen a matching coloured waxed thread and I use a darning needle, but you can get binding needles easily online from places like Amazon. 

I have made up a little diagram of how I bind. You can see it below. 

I hope it makes sense. You can see the 3 holes, so you go from the middle of the signatures out of the middle hole, down and back through the bottom hole, then all the way up and out of the top hole and back through the middle hole again. Pull the thread tight but not too tight and then I tie the thread in the middle of the signature. Repeat for all 3 signatures.

You can see the finished binding on the spine below.

And that's it, all finished and your journal is ready to fill with memories.

I hope you've enjoyed seeing how I make my upcycled journals. i would love it if you went and watched my videos. The steps might be easier to understand if you can watch me doing them while I explain. 

I am planning to do a process video for my fabric cover journals too, so if you don't want to miss that please subscribe to my YouTube channel HERE.

I have made a list below of all the materials and tools I use in this video and any alternatives I can think of.

  • Vintage book pages, ledger papers, music sheets - I get most of these off eBay, you can also find old books in charity shops/thrift stores etc
  • Handmade paper - again I buy this in bulk on eBay.
  • Scrapbook paper - I get these from various craft shops, eBay and Amazon.

All these papers above are my choices, you can use whatever papers you like. If you are wanting to make the journal for sketching or watercolours etc, use the papers for that.

  • Waxed thread - Amazon
  • Awl - Amazon
  • Needle - I use a darning needle but you can find binding needles on Amazon
  • Sewing clips - mine are Clover but they have lots on Amazon
  • Pinking shears - Amazon
  • Bone folder - Amazon * Guillotine - Amazon
  • Big paper clips - I got these a few years ago from TKmaxx, I do have some the same size for sale in my shop
  • Ruler 
  • Craft cutting mat
  • Piece of foam - you could also use a few old magazines, just something so when the awl goes through it won't damage the table underneath.

Thank you so much for stopping by today. Let me know if you have a go at making your own journal and if you have any questions please ask in the comments and I will do my best too answer them.

Enjoy the rest of your week and I hope you find some time to be creative.

Take care. Erica x

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