Today I thought it would be nice to share how I made myself a leather bullet journal to start my year out on the right foot. I’ve always made myself art journals, since learning how to bind books and since I have access to lot of leather scraps, it seems only natural for me to make my own bullet journal instead of buying on.
I actually tried to print specific page layouts and grids, but found that I didn’t really like them that much. So I decided to go with plain white paper and just go with the flow. I can sometimes get frozen into perfectionist tendencies, so I’m trying to break that bad habit! We will all have to live with our mistakes and nothing can be perfect, right?
If you’ve visited my blog before, you’ll know that I have posted tutorials for coptic stitch bookbinding and longstitch bookbinding. I personally go with the simple longstitch binding method most of the time as it suits my needs and is much easier as well. So for my new bullet journal, I created it with much of the same exact process as my previous art journals.
First I found a piece of scrap leather that I wanted to use – in this case it’s black leather with a floral print on it. Then I measured out a piece of heaving painting paper to the size I wanted for my journal – A5, so I cut my paper to make the A5 spread plus spine height of 1.5cm. Then I added 1cm to top and side to give the half centimeter space all around to protect the pages. In this case, I also left more leather on the right hand side so that it could wraparound and close my journal – although this was an afterthought, so there’s no paper in that section. I will have to fix that at some point!
The sturdy journal cover is created by gluing and sewing the heavy painting paper to my leather scrap. If you are using very thick leather, you probably don’t even need a paper backing. Next, I fold all my paper pages to make the signatures that will be sewn into my journal. I’m not very precise when it comes to measuring to the millimeter, but I do use a ruler to make sure things are good enough to look neat to the naked eye.
I pre-punch holes in the cover and signatures with my awl and with everything prepped, it’s pretty easy to go ahead and sew everything together with a big needle. Easy peasy!
In the end, I have a handmade leather journal to use as my bullet journal for 2017, although it might not last the whole year – but I can just make another one. You can do this with any kind of material, it doesn’t have to be leather. You can use cloth or felt or upcycle and old pleather jacket – hah! Just give it some structure/sturdiness by mounting your material on heavy cardstock if you need it.
As I mentioned before, I left more leather on the right hand side, so that it could wrap around the journal to act as a cover. I sewed a piece of elastic in that part for the purpose of closure, but without the paper backing, it’s not very sturdy in this section. Not sure if I want to add just another strip of leather to something else. I’m going to wait and see how I feel as I use the journal.
I’m quite happy with the results, even if the wraparound closure is a bit clunky. Hope you are inspired to make yourself a bullet journal or any kind of art journal, because it’s pretty easy to do!
If you don’t like blank pages, try binding up a bunch of mixed media papers and you’ve got yourself a very pretty art junk journal. I’m pretty sure the process is easy enough even for kids to do. Just punch the holes for them and use blunt needles! You can find me on instagram if you want to follow my bullet journaling and creative adventures. Thanks for checking out my handmade leather bullet journal process!