Making a journal is a wonderful way to “find” a journal that’s all yours. You can keep private thoughts in it or design something for keeping recipes, poetry, or sketches. With so many uses for blank books and journals, learning to make your own will help you personalize your journals and maybe even be cheaper than buying them.
Japanese stab binding is an easy and inexpensive way to bind a journal. It does not require cutting or pasting, which makes it a simple project even for beginners.
- paper. Buy as many sheets of paper as you want pages in your journal. Paper will not be folded, but you can buy large sheets of paper and cut them if you want a journal smaller than the paper you can find.
- covers. We’ll start with paper for the covers. You can choose paper identical to the pages, or you can choose paper that’s stiffer or a different color.
- a drill or hole punch. You will need to make holes through the stack of paper. If you use a drill, you will need to drill through all the pages and keep them in perfect alignment, so you’ll need a set of clamps, too.
- Twine, yarn, or string. Make sure this is strong enough to hold your journal together. You’ll need at least a yard of string.
- Stack the paper. If you plan to use different color pages, now is the time to order them. Add the front and back paper covers.
- Punch holes with the drill or hole punch. If you use a drill, be sure to line up the paper carefully before you clamp the sheets together so the drilled holes will line up perfectly. If you use a hole punch, make sure you punch holes in each batch of pages the same way (since you’ll have to punch them five sheets at a time) so they line up.
- Stack the pages again, and sew the pages together. Thread the yarn or string through the holes, catching each of the pages. Start with a running stitch – in at the bottom hole, out at the next hole up, in at the next hole up, and so forth. Loop around the top of the journal and continue the stitch to the bottom.
- Secure the stitching. Start the running stitch up the binding again, but at each hole run the string around the spine of the journal. Continue up the spine. By the time you finish, the thread on the spine will look like an E, with as many horizontal lines as there are holes punched in the pages.
- Tie off the string.
- You’re done!
Now you can decorate the cover if you wish or just dive right in to writing.
- Try laying a twig or stick of bamboo between the edge and the punched holes. Tie the stick to the book’s cover or to the spine when you’re binding the book (steps 3-5). A stick of bamboo will make your journal look Asian. A twig will make it look outdoorsy. Decide what you want your personal journal to look like.
- Try using different materials for the cover, maybe leather, cloth, or wood with brackets. Experiment with how best to hold the pages together between different materials.
- Try using different types and sizes of paper. Maybe you like the feel of rough, handmade paper. Or maybe you like smooth rice paper. Or maybe you want a heavy-duty journal or sketchpad. Think about the strength, color, and size of the paper you use to make journals.
Most importantly, this journal will be about you, because you will have made it.