Mini Journal making: A DIY project for all levels of crafter

Above are a some pocket journals I made for my husband a couple of years ago using fabric. More details at the bottom of the post.


While preparing for the Surtex show last May, I started looked for ways to display my surface pattern designs. So I made a bunch of journals. I used heavy weight paper for some of the covers and for some I used fabric . I printed the paper ones with an ink jet printer, and used iron on t-shirt transfers to adhere my prints to the fabric ones (like the ones you see above and this one). Regardless of your crafting abilities, this project is a great way to make a gift, use recycled materials, show off your own designs, or designs you like.

I’m going to tell you how to make mini journals according to your ability, or ehemm…comfort with a stapler versus burning hot glue!


Ribbon is a great binding tool and decorative embellishment. I love using origami paper for the inside covers too.

mini journal making

You can even make one without glue, needle and thread, or staples. For the ones above all I used was a hole punch and ribbon to bind.

Ok so, here’s how to do it yourself!!:
Advanced: (hot glue, cardboard or heavy card-stock, fabric, ribbon (optional), paper, scissors

  1. Start by cutting your card stock/board into one long sheet and then fold in half for front and back cover (like a card)
  2. Cut fabric, about 1/2 inch larger than card stock/board
  3. Hot glue around edges of cardboard/stock and center fabric on top, fold to make sure you did not do it too tightly.
  4. Once dry, cut diagonal slices on edges of the fabric that stick out so that you can fold them in, on the inside of the book.
  5. Once you’ve done the cutting and have practiced folding the edges in, hot glue a thin line around the whole card stock, and proceed folding the fabric inward. You may need to add little drops of glue where the fabric is overlapping. (here’s where you add ribbon around the edges if you want).
  6. Add origami paper, or another piece of fabric over the card stock to cover inside. I always try to cover the little fabric folding imperfections with the inside fabric/paper.
  7. Cut paper for inside of journal(I recommend using recycled printer paper, vellum, watercolor paper etc.), Then fold in half (like a card).
  8. Hot glue a line down the center of card stock/board and place the edge of your folded paper pile on top, hold till try…..and voila, fabric journal.

Mini-journal making for those (I’ll call us Intermediate) who like sewing or hole punching and tying

For this you’ll need: Heavy printer paper (I love photo supreme matte) to print your design on, or photo, or someone else’s design (get permission unless it’s copyright free), a hole-punch, thread and needle or ribbon.

  1. Fold your heavy paper with design on it in half like a card.
  2. Hole punch two or three holes on the fold if you are using ribbon.
  3. If you are sewing, cut and fold your inside papers and sew through them and the heavy paper (this is hard to do, you may need to sew little bits at a time. I prefer the hole punching and ribbon tying method but to each their own.
  4. For hole punching, add your hole punched papers (it does not matter if they’re exactly lined up with outside holes but try to get it close).
  5. Then weave ribbon through from the inside out. So the ribbon should look like a staple on the inside at the center. Then I like to take one tip of ribbon on the outside and bring it back around the inside and reconnect it with the other tip at the bottom on the outside so that a bow is visible (see the picture above). I feel there are no tying rules. It’s fun to experiment and come up with a way you like. I always change it up. That’s the fun of a handmade object. There’s no such thing as a “right way” to make it.

The Easy breezy way: Printed design on heavy paper, inside sheets, and stapler

  1. Just prepare your design paper (heavy weight) and inside pages.
  2. Line them up and staple them, and voila a journal.
  3. To spiffy it up, add a “lock” by taking a thin strip of paper and stapling it to the center edge of the cover horizontally. Then wrap it around the back and add another little u shaped loop to slide it into (vertical). Make sure the horizontal strip is longer but not wider than the vertical strip.

I’m a bit of a messy worker, see:
mini journal making mess...

YAY….this project just got featured on Craft!

18 Responses to Mini Journal making: A DIY project for all levels of crafter

  1. Rachel August 29, 2008 at 4:50 pm #

    This is fabulous! I’ll be linking to this today in the Daily DIY!

  2. Samantha Hahn August 29, 2008 at 4:56 pm #

    Thanks so much Rachel. Love your blog. It’s fantastic. Thanks so much for the comment and link love. I’m going to add you to my blogroll under “craft”!

  3. Koningskind August 29, 2008 at 6:04 pm #

    What a beautiful idea!

  4. Samantha Hahn August 29, 2008 at 10:29 pm #

    Thank you so much. I just think they’re so fun to make so I had to share.

  5. Angela Moore August 30, 2008 at 9:28 am #

    Awesome stuff. And I am a very messy crafter as well! Will be adding you to my blog roll for sure!

  6. Stormy August 30, 2008 at 9:41 am #

    Love the illustration of the multiple techniques for the creation of notebooks. You put an awful lot of work into sharing and it is appreciated.

  7. Samantha Hahn August 30, 2008 at 10:02 am #

    Thanks so much Angela! Glad to know there are other messy folk out there! Glad you like Maquette.

  8. Samantha Hahn August 30, 2008 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks so much Stormy. I love sharing what I know and do. I’m also an art teacher. I feel that art and craft are meant to be shared. Glad you liked the ho-to. hope you make your own journal!
    send me a picture if you do!

  9. Jolie September 2, 2008 at 12:13 pm #

    Can I come over for a craft project date and we’ll make these? I have some supplies but you have more.

    Come on, it’ll be like in studio or in sculpture where I start a project but because of my artistic limitations, you have to finish it for me. Then I’ll hand it in to Ms. Jaffe and she’ll spit all over us and yell at us for no apparent reason.

  10. Samantha Hahn September 2, 2008 at 3:15 pm #

    Those days are memorable. Once she accused me of stealing her keys. Her class was the lowest grade in art I’ve ever received. I would be honored to do a mini journal making project with you. I would love to use some of your designs or Greg’s why don’t you take some of his drawings bring them over and we can scan them and turn them into journal covers? How fun!!

  11. Oceaclexubbat May 20, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    Good internet site, hope to definitely come back soon…

  12. michelle ronnestrand October 21, 2009 at 2:03 pm #

    Thank you for illustrating a simple yet creative way to make a journal. This site will def. go into my favorites.



  13. Samantha Hahn October 21, 2009 at 3:28 pm #

    thank you michelle. It makes me so happy to think that you and other readers out there are going to go get crafty! Enjoy!!!!

  14. Chris October 22, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    I would love to see what spin your crafter types could make on a journal to document home projects, DIY projects, etc. I have a journal I use, but it certainly could be prettier! Feedback encouraged! thanks

  15. claudette January 27, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    i like it it is so artistic… great job……………

  16. Christina P August 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm #

    Hi Nice job with all the info! This was really helpful to me today to read about the process because I wanted to make my own!

    I’ve also linked your project to my blog as an inspiration! Thanks 🙂

  17. Samantha Hahn August 25, 2011 at 6:58 pm #

    so glad you liked the tutorial and were able to try it out! xo

  18. olivia October 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    hey love this i found something like this for my website but i make books but i love it any ways you are so crafty it is amazing

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