Covered Journals

Happy May, everyone! I hope all of you have been enjoying the sunny weather as much as I have (if a little sporadically here in Seattle).

HOLY BEAUTIFUL WEATHER, BATMAN!   Taken by Bob A and posted to the    West Seattle Blog

HOLY BEAUTIFUL WEATHER, BATMAN! Taken by Bob A and posted to the West Seattle Blog

Mother's Day is coming up so I have for you a quick, easy and inexpensive handmade gift how-to for the special Moms in your life!


  • Plain journal or notebook, I bought a 3 pack of Molskine journals
  • Cool paper or other collage medium that is at least as large as the journal when opened flat, I am using a handmade paper I found at an art supply store
  • Bristle or foam brush 
  • Adhesive, I use PVA bookbinding glue because it is a great and fairly inexpensive adhesive that works wonders for all sorts of paper projects, modge podge and the like are also great options particularly if you are collaging or doing mixed media for your journal
  • An exacto knife or other fine blade
  • Palette (or a paper plate)
  • Cutting surface
  • Optional: craft awl, bone folder and embroidery supplies

**Before you begin, be sure that your paper will cover both front and back of the journal. If there is enough paper to fold it over the edges about 1/2" to 1", this will make the seam even more invisible. The paper I bought was only just big enough to cover the fronts so I cut it off right at the edge. If you are going to fold over the edges, measure, mark and trim the paper to the size before you begin to ensure it is centered the way you want it. 

First apply glue to the front cover of the journal evenly with the brush. I poured the glue into a palette to make it easier to get an even application.

Press the back side of the paper onto the glue side of the journal smoothing from the center outward with either your hand or a bone folder. I like to allow the glue to dry for a few minutes before continuing to keep the corners from lifting.

Use an exacto knife to cut away the excess paper around the edges but do not pull it away until after you have glued the other cover, unless you are covering the edges. 

**If you are wrapping the paper around the edges, at this point you will want to use your exacto blade to make tiny cuts diagonally from your corners outward on the paper so that they will be easier to turn when the time comes.

Now apply glue to the back cover and the spine and press the paper into the glue evenly around the spine (leaving plenty of ease so your journal can open and close nicely). Smooth the paper onto the cover as before. A bone folder is helpful in keeping the paper smooth over the spine. 

Let it dry for a few minutes and repeat the trimming process for the rest of the journal and pull away excess paper.

**If you are folding over your edges, again make those diagonal cuts from the corner as well as one at the top and bottom of the spine so the paper may fold cleanly inward. 

At this point you should make sure none of your corners have lifted up, if they have apply a little more glue with your brush and press them down firmly. You may even use a clothespin as a clamp if you have a particularly stubborn area. 

**This is also the point at which I recommend gluing the edges down if you are doing so. Apply glue to the inside edge of the cover and fold the paper smoothly using the bone folder and the cuts you have made, like wrapping a present. These edges will be covered in a later step.

If you would like to do a little embroidery or mixed media on the cover, now is the time to do that. I wanted to embroider a little design on mine so I used my craft awl to punch the stitching holes in the shape of my design. I also found that I got a cleaner punch without damaging the inner pages if I put my work surface between the cover and the inside pages.

Then using a large-eyed needle and some embroidery floss I stitched in my designs and tied the thread off on the back side, trimming it close to the knot. Don't forget about the back cover! I decided to do a design only on the front because inside the back cover of the journals I bought was a little pocket and I wanted to maintain that, but feel free to let your imagination go wild! Maybe a design that continues from front to back? There are tons of ready-made embroidery designs out there, or just free hand it.

Now to cover the inside covers. This not only creates a seamless look and maintains the fun paper you have but also hides the back of the stitching and keeps it from getting caught on anything. Using the same techniques as before, apply the glue, press the paper into the back side of the cover and trim away the excess. I lined up the short end of my paper with the binding edge to get a perfectly straight line. Feel free to use a contrast paper or maybe a heartfelt note for this covering to give it an even more personalized touch.

**I recommend actually cutting a rectangle the size you want before gluing here if you have bound the edges, approximately 1/2" narrower and 1" shorter than the inside cover itself. Apply the glue and center this page on the inner cover.

Almost done!! To keep your journal flat and ensure the glue has set completely, I piled a few heavy books on top of mine and left it to dry for a few hours. I know adding the drying time is tedious and adds to the total time for the project, but believe me it is well worth it to be sure the glue won't go anywhere and the pages won't start to curl!

And voile! You have a beautiful handmade journal to give to the special Mom-type person in your life! You could even make it a photo book by using photo safe glue or tape and putting some favorite photos on a few of the pages. This would also make a great Baby's First Year memory book with plenty of space to write little notes and chronicle milestones.

Next up will be a Handmade Citrus Salt Scrub, just in time for those summer pedicures! Also look out for May's Artist of the Month...

As many of you may know already, I have been hired on as the Assistant Wardrobe Manager at the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico for the summer. But never fear, my crafty friends! I will still be posting projects, how-tos and other cool stuff that I find. As always, I love your comments and suggestions so please send them along to my email In addition, I would adore seeing pictures of your crafty projects so feel free to post them to my Facebook page!