How to Make a DIY Handmade Journal: Our Favorite Tutorials

Ever since I started journaling, I’ve had a love affair with handmade journals… or, more specifically, the fancy papers you can use in a handmade journal!

Never content with cheap and flimsy college ruled notebooks, I loved exploring different weights, textures, and colors of paper. Particularly when I created my first bullet journal and started blending artistic elements into my writing, I realized how important the quality of my paper was. I’m a firm believer that the right paper can elevate your journaling from a basic self-care routine to a fun and luxurious experience. And maybe I’m imagining it, but I actually feel more inspired and more creative when I’m using the best paper!

We did an entire post on understanding paper for your journal, planners, and notebooks, so be sure to check that out if you want to dive deep into the world of paper selection. But today, I want to talk about a new hobby that grew out of my impressive paper collection — making my own homemade journals.

Now, I realize that the idea of creating a handmade journal may sound a little intimidating at first, but stay with me here… Journal making is not only a fun and rewarding hobby with a gorgeous and functional finished product, but it’s also a lot easier than you might think!

Unique Methods for Making a Handmade Journal

There are actually quite a few methods for making your own handmade journals, and we’ve provided an overview of some of those below, along with links to our favorite tutorials. If you’re curious about the process, read on and see which method is best for you!

Handmade Binding

If you think making your own journal is difficult and complicated, you need to watch this excellent video that walks you through the process of creating an easy no-sew binding. There are no fancy supplies or expensive materials needed for this one, which makes it a great budget-friendly choice. With nothing more than a stack of plain notebooks, some tape, glue, and an old box, you can create a homemade journal that looks as nice as anything you can buy. If this is your first time making your own journal, give this one a try! It’s a great journal for beginners and a perfect way to get started with the art of journal making.

Fold and Stitch

Fold and stitch method of making a diy handmade journal, with supplies, by Mixed Media Art

This method is similar to the first method in that you’ll be binding several smaller notebooks together to create one larger one. Only in this case, you’ll be creating the smaller booklets from scratch using loose sheets of A3 paper. This post from Mixed Media Art walks you through the process with step-by-step instructions and photos of each step. You’ll be doing a very simple stitch to sew the smaller booklets together with string, so this method is slightly more advanced than the previous one. But the advantage of this method is that you have more control over the paper selection, since you’re starting with loose sheets instead of store-bought notebooks. This means that you’ll have more options for heavier and higher-quality pages.

The Simple Stitching Method

Make a DIY Handmade Journal with simple stitching, grocery boxes by A Few ShortCuts

Another fairly simple method, this handmade journal project from A Few Shortcuts uses loose paper stitched with embroidery floss and a cereal box as the cover. Follow the detailed instructions in this easy guide to create this pretty journal that we love for its versatility. You can try out different sizes and types of paper or use different colors and designs for the decorative cover. And the button and string closure on the front is such a fun touch. You’ll want to make one for yourself plus extras to give as gifts to your family as friends!

The Sewing Machine Method

Handmade journals by mud paper scissors

Did you know that you can sew a journal with a sewing machine? In fact, if you’ve got a machine and the most basic of sewing skills, this might be the easiest method yet — and it’s definitely the quickest. Check out this easy tutorial from Mud Paper Scissors to get the lowdown on this method. Depending on your sewing machine and the thickness of your paper, you’ll probably be able to fit about 10-15 sheets to a booklet, so you’ll be a bit limited on the size of your journals. On the upside, this method is so quick and easy that you can produce a whole stack of them in minutes. And since the only supplies you need (other than the sewing machine) are paper and cardstock, this is another budget-friendly method that’s worth trying.

Spiral Binding

Handmade Journal and hand-made spiral bound journal on table

Skip the sewing with this next method, which uses spiral binding to attach your selected paper sheets to a chip board cover. This method is slightly more advanced than some of the others we’ve discussed, so it’s probably best suited to those with some previous journal-making experience. You’ll also need to invest in a cinch binding tool, which can be a bit pricey, but definitely worth it once you’ve decided that homemade journals are your preferred journal type. The advantage of this method is that it can be made in just about any size and with any type of paper, so the possibilities are endless. Use it for notes and memos, create an artistic sketch book, scrapbook, or bullet journal, or give it as a gift. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll love having the ability to make a truly professional-looking journal right in your own home.

More Handmade Journal Ideas

Pile of colorful handmade journals and books - photo by handmade books and journals

Though it’s not a specific type of journal-making tutorial, we’ve included this informative post on handmade books and journals, because there are more ways to create a journal than we can go into detail about here, and this post gives a great overview of many of them — including leather-wrapped journals, different types of stitching and binding, and even boxes and slipcases. This guide gives you a great idea of all the creative possibilities out there, with photos included. There’s just enough info here to familiarize you with each method, so you can pick the ones the interest you and do some additional research.

All About Bookbinding

Beautiful hand-bound and handmade journal, made and photo taken by The Caroligian Realm

If you’re hooked on the practice of creating your own journals and want to take your binding skills to the next level, check out this detailed tutorial from The Carolingian Realm that gives you all the information you could ever need on the subject. While walking you though the process of creating a homemade journal, it provides tons of helpful tips and a wealth of information. This is definitely a more advanced tutorial, so it’s not the one to choose if you’re looking for something quick and easy. But for those who are prepared to take the time to create a truly impressive finished product, this post is one that you’ll definitely want to check out.

The Semi-Homemade Method (with Zappy Dots Notebooks)

Looking for a journal that you can personalize without the work of creating it from scratch? Try using your favorite journal and customizing it using Cricut vinyl. We’ve got a post here that shows you exactly how to do this. (It’s super quick and easy — and endlessly customizable!) And if you need some need some new journals or notebooks to try out this method, we’ve got a great collection of premade Zappy Dots journals that are perfect for the job. Happy crafting — and, eventually, happy journaling!

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