make your own notebook

My aunt and I were catching up the other day when she mentioned that my cousin is going to be traveling to Guatemala on a mission trip this summer. I’ve had a few opportunities to travel to Central and South America before I started my full-time job, and I wanted to give her something to encourage her for her trip. I thought about buying a notebook for her to use as a journal and then I remembered some travel journal/notebook projects from A Beautiful Mess. I ended up using this tutorial from Jen and Jake and expanding on it to put my book together.

To start, I used a bunch of 12×12 scrapbook paper from my stash.

I cut the pieces in half to make 6×12 strips and folded them in half again. The backs of all the prints were white, so there’s space to write and draw or add things from the trip. Make sure to get a good crease in the middle of your pieces before you move to the next step.

Punch holes for your thread along the crease. I used a thumbtack to poke the holes 1/2″ apart and a rubberband to keep the pages in place since I didn’t have binder clips. If you do have binder clips I’d recommend using them as the rubber band was kind of shifty. I stuck a piece of cardboard between the book on the table to protect it.


Next you will sew a seam up and down the binding. I used a regular needle and clear nylon thread someone had given me along with a bunch of older sewing notions.

No idea how old this stuff is, but it’s very durable. I’ve been using it to string bracelets.

After you’ve sewn your book down the center, you’re done! You might want to trim the edges of your paper, but I went for the uneven look. I wasn’t satisfied with a plain book, so I took a few more steps to turn it into a travel-worthy travel journal.

I’m not a huge stamper, but I’ve inherited some of my mom’s castoffs. (She is a serious stamper.) Generally, I feel the mess potential is too great with ink, but I had some travel stamps that were perfect for this project.

Jackson was guarding my stamps.

Besides the stamp on the front, I added a “travel log” and calendar stamp to the inside.

The square at the left is extra paper I added to give a solid foundation to the button I sewed onto the front. I used a button with a shank and more clear nylon thread to attach it. The shank allowed the twine loop to fit comfortably around the button.

I added another stamp on the back, and wrote her a little note inside the back cover. Why buy what you can make better?

I hope my cousin has as much fun traveling as I have!

Next time I go on a trip I’ll definitely have to make myself one to keep notes in.


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