Making a Journal

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October 4th, 2022


Dear Sophie,


You’re a fictional character, plucked from the pages of a novel, but representative of a dear friend—someone I can write to with honesty, in moments of excitement and in doubt, as I navigate life.


As you probably know, the chill of autumn and the oncoming of winter is always a difficult time for me. I find myself wishing to sleep the days away to overcome the gloominess, hiding under blankets while my creative spirit withers away with the leaves. But not this year! I’m determined to push through the seasons, choosing to welcome them as a time for traditional crafts and the exploration of new interests. Already I’ve taken up needle-felting, clay sculpting, and this evening Mina and I will be putting together “junk journals.”


A junk journal, despite its name, isn’t really junk. It’s a handmade notebook, full of treasured memories, photographs, pretty papers, stamps, stickers, writing, and whatever else your heart desires! More like a scrapbook than anything else, I’m hoping to deconstruct a sketchbook to turn it into something more personal. I intend to cut the thick cover board in half and wrap it in fabric (for I have so much fabric and almost never use it), remove the sketch paper, fold the paper in half, and secure them with a no-sew string technique that will easily allow paper to be added and removed at will. Mina and I bought a cream-colored lace ribbon to fasten it all together.


Do you keep a diary, or a journal of sorts? You seem like someone who would. I’ve always romanticized the idea of it, but I’ve never been consistent enough to actually be able to say I journal. I’d like to change that, even if it’s less day-by-day writing and more-so a physical recreation of thoughts and ideas.


Mina and I both put together a Pinterest board for inspiration (here’s mine, if you’re curious), though I expect our journals will be entirely unique. I don’t know yet what fabric I’ll use for the cover, but probably something soft and pretty… They seem simple to make, on the surface (don’t laugh at my optimism!), but I’ll update you once I’ve finished. If I finish. With my ADHD, you never know what’ll end up getting done.


October 5th, 2022


The journals turned out even better than I had dared hope for! Everything, for once, worked out exactly as I expected it to. I pulled out a pale green sheet of fabric with dainty white florals, and I attached that with a clear glue to the cover and spine, binding them together. The fabric stuck nicely to the boards, and the glue dried within minutes.



I have some sheets of thick colored papers (for when I tried my hand at paper arts a few years ago), and Mina and I lined the journals with that. I chose a pink for the front interior and a gray for the back. Now I didn’t quite cut them properly, so mine are a bit wonky, but I hope to decorate them at some point to distract from the fact. But hey, they do the job of hiding the folded over edges of fabric!


Since the sketchbooks were mutilated for the creation of our journals, naturally the paper would come from them, too. We tore out the remaining pages, folded them into signatures (fancy bookbinding word!), then secured each individually with a thin hemp cord that tied on the outside of the spine. Mina hid her knots with a lace ribbon, I twisted the cords together until they were tight then glued them down with the ribbon that ties the journal shut. As a final touch, I stamped the cover of mine with a custom book stamp (the one with the typewriter that, save for having words, matches my tattoo).


All in all, it took about an hour or two, from getting out the materials, cutting and measuring, then letting things dry before cleaning up. I regret sitting on the floor, as my back is already in terrible condition and ached for a good while after, but the project was a simple one with high reward. I’d love to know if you make your own, or if you already have!


I’ll send along a list of materials shortly, just in case you’re interested. And oh, I’m hoping to try out one of those “spreads” that seem so popular in the journaling community! I’m thinking perhaps one geared towards my novel, The Forgotten Sun, or Sylvie, from Memories of the Midnight Sky. Do you have any suggestions for me?


With love,

Tessa <3


P.S. here’s that list for your own homemade journal!

Amazon Basics Sketchbook, 9”x12”

Cardstock for Scrapbooking

Hemp Cord, Natural Colors

Not an affiliate link, just the glue I use!

As for fabric, I would recommend browsing Etsy or stopping by a thrift store to see if there’s any fun pillow cases or handkerchiefs to use—or, if you’re like me, digging through your fabric bins and seeing what you find!