Saturday, December 26, 2009

Upcycled Journal Tutorial

My first tutorial. How exicting! I am a big fan of recycling, and this is one of my latest creations. I made these for Christmas gifts for a few people and they were big hits. The best part about them is that they lay flat so it's easy to write in them. Here'a tutorial so you can make your own. I also have a few available in my etsy shop.


- boards for the covers (here I used an old Scrabble board, you could also use cardbard packaging, like a cereal box)

- paper for the pages (I used printer paper, scrapbooking paper, graph paper, yellow legal paper, lined paper, grocery bags, construction paper...etc.)

- waxed string (found with jewelry-making supplies) or embroidery floss (rub it along an old candle to get it a little waxy.)

- an awl, or a pushpin and a nail

- Something to cut paper and the boards with, ex. a scrapbooking paper cutter, or I used a quilting ruler and rotary cutter. A rotary cutter or razor knife will go through a game board, you just have to go over it many times rather than try to make one deep cut

- A bone folder or metal ruler for creasing paper

- embellishments for the front cover (and glue for them, if needed).

First, cut out your covers. You can do any size, but I cut one Scrabble board into six equal pieces to get 3 journals from just one board.

Next, cut your paper. Put your covers next to each other (touching) and measure both sides. Then subtract 1/8 inch from both sides, and that is the measurement for your paper. The paper will be folded in half in your book.

How much paper you want is up to you, and how thick your book will be depends on the paper you choose. I did about 60 sheets assorted papers. When it lays naturally, it was about 3/8 in thick.

Divide your paper into 6 piles.

Fold each pile in half, and use a bone folder to make creases.

Each group of papers is called a signature. Here are my 6 signatures, ready to go.

Now we have to mark where the string is going to go. Find the center of the spine, and mark the covers and signatures by drawing a line down them. Make sure they all get marked!

Then mark 1/2 from either end, and half way between the end marks and the center marks. That's a total of 5 lines.

The hole in the covers will be 1/2 inch from the edge. Mark them with a pencil, and use your awl to make the holes. If you don't have an awl, use a pushpin to go through, and then a nail to make the hold wider.

I find it easiest to do this on a carpet or soft surface, so the awl goes right through.

After both covers are done, you will make holes in the signatures where your marks are. Lay the signature out flat to do this.

After you stack the signatures back up, the holes should line up (or be close). Here they are, ready to be sewn.

Measure and cut the string. It should be 9 times the length of your book.

Time to sew! You will build your book from the bottom up. Start with one signature on top of the back cover. Tie a knot in your sting, thread your needle, and insert your needle from the inside of the signature.

When your needle comes out the first hole, you will then go up through the bottom of the back cover...

...and then back in the hole you came out of.

Pull it snug! This is where waxed string helps you. It stays snug rather than lossening every time you let go. Here's the inside of the signature. Insert your needle into the next hole.

You will then continue the same way. Out the hole, through the cover from the bottom, the. back through the hole, and on to the next hole.

When you do the last hole, do not go back into it! Instead, you will stack a second signature on top, and go in its first hole.
If your signatures are in the way of your needle going through the cover, tilt them up as needed.

After you go in the first hole of the second signature, you will go to the next hole and work your way back the other way. When you come out each hole, loop your string through the loop from the previous signature (see pictures) .

Then go back in the same hole.

At the last hole, connect the third signature the same way you connected the second one. Continue this until you have one signature and the front cover remaining. Do not attach the last signature! The last signature and the front cover will be attached together!
(note: my last signature is white and is not visiable in this slid back) When you come out the last hole of the second last signature (blue), loop the string through the previous signature (like always), and then loop it under itself as shown in the picture.

At this point, you would normally add a signature and go into it, however in this case you will go through the top of the cover.

Next loop the string through the last loop...

...and then go in the last signature

Pull it tight! There are a lot of stitches involved, so you might have to tighten a little at a time.
Whew! Hardest part done!
Go to the next hole and continue this pattern. Out the hole, through the cover from the top, loop through the last already sewn loop, and back in the hole. Continue to the end. When you go in the last hole, tie a knot close to the hole and cut your string! Sewing done!

If your book cover doesn't lay flat at this point, that's ok, it will. The string and paper just need a little time to strecth and settle into its new position. Put it on a bookshelf between some books for awhile.
Time to embellish! I used tile adhesive to attach the letters because it's super strong. Rubber cement would probably be a good choice too.

All done! Now go make yourself some tea and start writing in your new journal!


Lisa said...

Great tutorial! And I love that you used a Scrabble board. :)

Cris said...

Thank your for sharing this project. It's so beautiful!!! You make me a great idea!

Sarah Ford said...

Thank you, Kelly! You are so kind for sharing 😍

mom said...

I have been wanting to do this for many years and I have been too chicken to try. You make it look so easy thank you

Elizabeth said...

Thank you! I’m confused about the sewing. First signature then bottom of cover and back through the same hole??? Lost - sorry

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