Recently, I saw the cutest idea on Design Mom – pom pom bookmarks! It’s a simple idea, but so darn adorable… so I had to try it out. I always have this longing for crafting with practicality and bookmarks are always useful in my book – LOL!
I started making a few pom poms from a bunch of yarn I had lying around (it was actually a huge mess because my Westie pup, Vash, got into it!) I quickly realized that the more yarn you use the puffier and tighter your pom poms will ends up. Not to mention you have to trim them nicely to get a symmetrical shape in the end.
Then with some other basic materials I decided to upgrade the whole idea. I’ve never liked “string” type bookmarks, not enough foundation for me. I decided to add a solid paper portion that slips into the book instead. With a bit of glue and cardstock I made myself a sturdy base with the pom pom hanging at the top.
I think of it as a 2.0 version of the pom pom bookmark. I also decided to collage over the cardstock with old bookpaper and ink the edges with copper paint. I suppose it doesn’t exactly match with the blue… a bit eclectic!
The point is that the idea can be taken further depending on how you like your bookmarks – thinner material or thicker? Different decorations? How about using leather instead of yarn for the pom pom? What else can you add instead of a pom pom? Hmm. For now, I’m pretty content with my lovely little up-cycled yarn pom pom bookmark 2.0. Craft happiness for the week! Enjoy!
Following my previous posts about my bookbinding tools/materials, preparing my journal cover and folding paper for your journal – this week I would like to finish things up! It’s time to stitch up my handmade journal and put it to use. The first thing to decide is how I will sew everything together. That will determine how I should punch the holes in my paper and journal cover.
I decided to just do some simple longstitch binding, but with a continuous string… a bit out of laziness perhaps! Instead of sewing each individual signature and knotting it up, I would just continue weaving in and out all signatures and then backwards, so there’s only one knot in the end. With that decided, I punched holes in all my signatures of papers with an awl and ruler. You can also create a guide for your holes with thick cardstock and use it as a template to punch all your holes. That can help to ensure that the holes are all exactly in the same spot per signature. However, I just measure and eyeball it…
Once all my paper signatures have been punched, I do the same for my cover. However, instead of punching for each hole and each signature of the journal, I’ve decided to just slit my journal cover. It’s less time consuming and I actually like the rustic look of it in the end.
With all my materials ready to go, I thread my needle and start sewing the paper signatures to the journal cover. I’m using a rusty orange colored string that is fairly thick, so I have to make sure and tighten properly as I weave in and out while sewing.
Although it might seem complicated to understand… you can actually make up your own sewing patterns and create different looks in the bindings of your journals. Try drawing out a diagram and using your pen as the needle to see what would work out. It’s a great way to discover your own method of stitching up your books!
For my journal, it was really important that I kept everything tightened up properly because there are slits in the binding and my thread is so thick and stretchy. BTW, there’s no need to use a curved needle for this project, I just grabbed whatever was handy. In this case it would have been better to use a straight needle! Sometimes when I use really thick string, I might need to use pliers to help push and string the needle through everything…. just depends how skillful you are with your fingers and hands, I suppose!
As I mentioned earlier, doing the longstitch with one long piece of string will result in these criss cross parts on the edge of the binding. I sort of think they are cool, but if you don’t like that you’d better plan up a different stitching pattern for your journal. There are so many different binding methods and patterns possible – the sky is the limit!
Another detail I added to my journal was some velcro closure. I simple glued the velcro bits to my cover, leaving room for a bit of bulk as I might add bits and pieces to my journal papers. Although some find the velcro noise annoying, I like how practical it is! You can also try using a buckle, buttons or ribbon/string wraparound closure as well. It’s all up to your imagination.
With just a little effort, I’ve made myself a lovely leather journal for doodling and experimenting in… how cool is that, huh?
You can see that it looks a bit imperfect and the string is quite thick creating a sort of staggered effect in the binding. I really like the rustic feel of it – I think it matches the coloring of my journal and raw edges of the leather. Just my preference! The cool thing about having a soft leather cover is that the journal opens up flat and it’s very comfortable to write and draw. Of course, I had to pop in a doodle on the first page to welcome my crisp and clean new journal. No surprise that it’s my default girl drawing!
Have you made your own journal before? Hope you will be inspired to make yourself a handy little creative idea keeper – share your thoughts below!
Following my previous posts about my bookbinding tools/materials and preparing my journal cover, this week I want to share some information regarding choosing and preparing the paper that will go in your handmade journals. It’s it certainly a personal choice, regarding what type of paper or papers you choose to include in your journal. After all, if you’re making something custom, why not experiment? You can include found papers, printer paper, thicker cardstock, watercolor paper and a variety of other artist papers on the market.
PAPER FOR YOUR JOURNAL
Know that you will need to cut your paper to size, so that when folded in half they make up the size of your journal. A couple of sheets folded and stacked together make a signature and you would usually include several signatures, depending how many pages you want in the final journal. What is important to consider is the thickness of your paper as that will more or less decide how many sheets go in each signature. If you are using regular printer paper, you want to go for at least 6 or even 8 sheets in a signature. That will ensure that the signature is sturdy and can hold up to however you stitch the signatures into your journal cover. If you only had a sheet or two of thin paper, your thread would surely rip through!
On the other hand, if you are using a very thick cardstock, you want to use less sheets per signature. In fact, as you stack them together, you’ll notice that the open edges look a bit diagonal. I don’t mind the inconsistencies, but many folks prefer to stack up their signatures and then trim off the excess so that they have an even edge. It’s up to you!
THE GRAIN OF PAPER
Once you have decided on your paper and cut them to size, you’ll have to fold them in half and stack up your signatures. When it comes to folding paper, there is technically a right way to do it! Paper has a grain to it and you’ll be able to tell especially with thicker papers when you start folding. When your fold paper parallel to the direction of the grain, it will fold nice and crisply. If you fold perpendicular to the grain, you might notice more resistance and a crackly, ragged edged fold. This is because the fibers of the paper are giving you resistance.
However, if you are using regular printer paper, you might not be able to tell much of difference at all. Paper with less fiber and less thickness simply doesn’t resist as much. I usually only run into a problem with really thick 300 or 400 lb painting paper. Normally, I don’t even check for the grain of the paper! Being in the more practical and economical boat, I usually buy white cardstock printer paper in A4 size and just fold in half to make my journals. However, I do use a bone folder to smooth over edges… makes it easy on my fingers. If you don’t have a bone folder, use a spoon! It’s totally works!
CHECK YOUR JOURNAL
Once you have your paper decided upon, cut them size and folded them into signatures you are ready for the actual construction of your journal. Before moving on it’s really important to put your journal together and take a look to make sure everything checks out. Do you have enough signatures to fill up the journal as you envisioned? Do you need to take away a signature or add more?
If your journal cover wraps around, you’ll definitely have to check to make sure enough room is allowed… you don’t know how many times I’ve simply forgotten about the spine taking up space and thought that my journal could have been much thicker! Here’s a look at my mock-up journal, not yet sewn… but looks good to me so far. Join me next week for the final step of putting it all together!
Why kind of papers do you prefer to put in your handmade journals? I know that junk papers are especially popular for those who will cover up the pages with paint and ink… get creative! Feel free to share in the comments below…
Many art journalers don’t decorate the cover of their journals until the very end. It’s sort of a sweeping measure to finish up a long record of artful adventures. However, I personally like to decorate – at least in part – my journal covers immediately.
I want my journal to be inspiring, inviting me in, even if I see it on the shelf or from across the room. An easy way to give yourself an instant journal cover is to use a piece of existing artwork. For this journal, I used Create Fearlessly and you can see the many motivational prints I have in the shop. You can definitely use a copy of your own artwork or even magazine cutouts of imagery that inspires you.
Don’t hesitate to alter and decorate the art to make it your own. Think about collaging different elements together, adding 3D embellishments, and little details with pens and paints. I’ve added a paper-mache glossy heart, with some tulle to embellish the cover and binding area.
Existing imagery can give you a jumpstart, so you can dive into your journal today. How would you decorate your journal covers?
How can you spice up a favorite image and incorporate art into your daily life? I say, make that piece of art a badge that decorates your journal, hangs from your door, or sits on a shelf to inspire every day. That’s what I did with Be Strong - printing it out at a smaller size and dressing it up to be a proud badge of art.
You can do the same using any image that inspires you. Check out my shop for a variety of inspirational prints or use a magazine cut-out or postcard.
Think about adding your personal touch with decoration - just dive into your craft supplies! I covered my entire image with several layers of sparkly embossing powder. Then I sewed a border around it, attached some girly ruffle to the bottom, and framed the whole piece with a thick cardstock paper. Think of what you have around to use. Enjoy!