Craft Time!

The boys love to explore new projects and experiments so when the craft idea for their writing camp didn’t quite fit the theme, we came up with our own. DIY Journals! They enjoyed it so much they wanted to share it with you and invite you to make one of your own. If you do, please send a picture of your finished project to and we will give you a shout out in our next post. πŸ™‚ If you are seeing this some time down the road, don’t worry! It is never too late to submit a picture to be shared here. We will share it in the next post we make. ^_^

For a picture tutorial that takes you step by step, be sure to take a look at our picture slideshow at the end of this post. For now, we will highlight the main steps.

First, gather supplies:

hole punch
black marker (not shown)
exacto knife (optional)

Your cardboard source can be anything from purchased pieces, scraps, old packing boxes, or even cereal boxes. Look around and see what you might already have that can be used. In our case, we had some backing left over from a cheap bookshelf that broke so we used that. Your hole punch can be a single if you want smaller journals, the 3 hole punch though helped keep everything aligned for our bigger ones. The exacto knife is for making the holes in the cardboard if it doesn’t work with your hole punch (ours didn’t… lol). The cloth can be gathered from large scraps if you have them, or you can have fun and pick out something new at the store for your project. πŸ™‚

Once your supplies are gathered you are going to want to measure and cut your book covers first (front and back). Whether you are using a full sized paper or smaller, you want to make sure you measure your cover to be slightly bigger so it can extend past the paper enough to help protect your work. We found the easiest way to measure this was to leave some room on the bottom and top and double room on the side and trace along the edge of our paper. That way, once the paper is centered again on the piece, it will have a protected border all the way around. You can also use a ruler though if you prefer.

Once you have one piece measured and cut, you can use it to trace the next piece exactly so your front and back covers will match. Once you have both pieces cut and ready, set them aside and gather your paper and hole punch for the next step.

*To see a better picture of Daniel’s creative costume choice that he named “Cyborg Teenager”, check out the picture step by step tutorial at the end of this post. ^_^

Next you are going to gather your paper. Decide how many pages you want your journal to have and gather accordingly. If your journal is not full size, you can gather less paper as folding it in half or fourths and then cutting along the folds will provide more pages.

Once your pages are ready, grab your hole punch and enter holes near one edge. Jonathan is holding his backward in this photo, but you get the idea. πŸ˜‰ You will want to place the holes in the same place on each page as these will be how you will bind your book together. Once you have your holes in your pages done, you can use them to help line up the holes on your covers. Simply place one of your pages in place and use your pencil to color in dots on your covers through the holes of the paper. Then remove your page and use either your hole punch or an exacto knife to cut out the dots to make matching holes for your covers.

Next you need to measure out your yarn for the binding. This doesn’t need to be exact, you just want to make sure you have enough length to tie off on all three holes. I had the boys wind a piece of yarn back and forth three times from the top of their page to the second hole then had them cut the looped ends to create their binding strings.

Once your strings are ready, stack your pages on your back cover and line up the holes, then thread your strings through each section leaving plenty of space on both ends. Once this is done, you can add the cover by carefully threading it into place on top of your book.

Once all the strings are in place, tie them securely in knots, being sure to leave a little room so your book can open freely and lay flat. Feel free to trim excess string off at this point, but be sure to leave enough that your knots will stay secure.

After you are done with this step, you can decide to stop and enjoy your journal as is, color a picture to glue onto your cover, or move onto the next step to learn how to add a cloth cover to your journal. πŸ™‚

If you are wanting to add a cloth cover, lay out your piece of cloth with the side you want to see facing the floor. Lay your bound book on top and use your black marker to carefully trace out a piece large enough to leave space on all edges so that you have enough fabric to fold over the cardboard to help secure it in place. Once measured and traced, proceed to cut the fabric and remove any excess material as Jonathan demonstrates here.

To make sure your book is lined up so that it will have enough space on both covers to be tucked in well, you can close your book, carefully fold the cloth over it, and then lift your cover back up with the cloth held against it.

(Remember, step by step photo tutorial is included at the end of this post if you need help.)

Once your are satisfied with the alignment of your book, carefully cut the corners (two options shown in the detailed photo instructions below) and fold the edges over the cardboard and press the seams so they will stay. Next you are going to deal with the middle section that currently blocks the pages from being able to turn inside by cutting out a small rectangle of space for them on both the top and bottom as shown here. Once that is done you are ready to start gluing your fabric in place. πŸ™‚

To glue the edges, move all your pages to one side, unfold your cloth, and add a line of glue as shown. Be careful not to take the glue all the way to the center where your binding is as it can cause more problems than it solves if it squishes out into that area. πŸ˜‰ Once your glue line is in place, carefully but quickly fold the cloth back into place, starting with the edge of the book and following with the top and bottom, and press down into the glue to help it form a grip. Don’t forget the corners by adding some glue to help hold down any folded over excess cloth that might be there. When your first side is done, check for any escaped glue that needs wiped up, then carefully transfer your pages on top so you can repeat the process with the other side.

When both covers are done, and you have carefully wiped up any escaped glue from the cardboard, you can close your journal and set it in a safe place to dry over night. Some journals might take 2 nights, depending on how much glue was used. If desired, go back and trim up any excess cloth sticking out past your journal edges that you don’t like. Just be careful to not cut any seems! Now your journal is complete and it is time to enjoy! ^_^ What would you like to fill your pages with? Drawings? A diary? A new story? The only limit is your imagination! πŸ™‚

Remember, if you would like to share your finished project we would love to see it! Simply send us a picture to and tell us what name you would like us to use for crediting you (you can have fun with this by choosing a code name or you can choose to use your first name). If you want, you can also include where you are from. General locations only though, like the name of your state or country. πŸ™‚ When we receive your submission, we will feature it in the next post we write. We can’t wait to hear from you! Happy crafting! ^_^

For a more detailed step by step, check out our picture tutorial slideshow below. πŸ™‚

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