Each month of 2013, I’ve committed myself to making one handmade gift so that by the time Christmas rolls around again, I have a selection of unique, heartfelt gifts to present to others. For my February project, I thought I’d like to try my hand at making some little bound journals with leather covers.
DIY Leather Journal
By Emma Jeffery
- Ideal for all your card making needs
- SureCut™ wire cut-line makes it easy to see where blade will cut for unmatched accuracy
- Patented TripleTrack™ System interlocks blade and rail for cuts that are straight and steady, never curved or wobbly
- Wide 5 1/2" base is perfectly sized for cutting 11" paper for cards
- Lightweight, compact design with built-in three-ring binder holes makes portability easy
- Permanent scale and grid cutting mat is printed from underneath to last
- 1/16" gridlines provide an additional guide for precise measuring
- Expanded cut rail with integrated smudge guard holds paper or photos in place without fingerprints
- High-profile blade carriage is easier to grip than other trimmers
- Rubberized feet provide stability
- Cuts multiple sheets of paper at once
- Works with with either High Profile or Low Profile TripleTrack™ blades, style I
- 9" cut length
- Lifetime warranty
- SureCut™ Card Making Paper Trimmer (9")
- Ideal for precisely cutting a wide variety of materials, including paper, cardstock, thin plastic, photos, canvas and more
- Die-cast handle offers rugged durability
- Softgrip® touchpoint enhances comfort and control
- Included safety cap protects blade during storage
- Includes one #11 blade
- Compatible with standard blades, including #10, #11, #16, #17
- Five-pack of replacement #11 blades available (item 196010)
- Full lifetime warranty
- Softgrip® Detail Knife
- Ideal for adding distinctive stamped embellishments to handmade cards, scrapbook pages or other paper craft projects
- Innovative clear design lets you see where you’re stamping for perfectly placed embellishments without any wasted crafting materials
- Can be arranged and rearranged on stamp blocks in virtually limitless creative combinations
- Lasting stickiness means you can apply them and remove them from stamp blocks again and again
- Durable stamps provide crisply stamped images every time and won’t yellow with age
- Stamps lay flat on their storage sheet to help save space
- For best results, use with our Stamp Block Set or Easy Stamp Press
- Alpha Basic Clear Stamps (8"x8")
Craft perfect cards on the go with a compact, portable trimmer.
A sturdy, die-cast handle features a Softgrip® touchpoint for added comfort and control.
Capture any sentiment with Clear Stamps that make adding mistake-free embellishments easy.
Leather off cuts
Needle and thread
I’ve used a longstitch technique to bind my books, which is a perfect and easy way for novice bookbinders (like me!) to get started.
The size of your journals will largely depend on the amount of leather you have available; you can typically buy leather off-cuts from local or online stores. They are inexpensive but you do need to check the size and quality, so if you’re ordering online, be sure to read the product description thoroughly.
I cut my leather scraps 6” x 11”; the width needs to be longer than the height so that you can fold the leather in half to create the front and back cover.
I used 40 sheets of regular white printer paper for my pages. If you examine any bound book carefully, you’ll notice that the pages are divided into sections, called signatures, which are bound to the cover as individual packets. I have 4 signatures in my books, and each of my signatures contain 10 sheets, cut 5 ¾” x 10 ½” (slightly smaller than the cover’s dimensions), and folded in half they create 20 pages.
When folding your pages in half, use a bone folder to flatten the folds. Work each sheet of paper individually in order to create the sharpest fold possible, and then put the folded sheets together in piles of 10, to create your signatures of 20 pages each.
Next, you need to pierce holes through the folded center of each signature. I made a folded template from cardstock and evenly marked 4 holes with a pencil. It also helps to mark the TOP of the template and be sure to keep all the pages up the same way. I used the piercing tool in my sew taxi to pierce the holes through all the pages in each signature at once.
Check that all the holes in each signature are aligned and measure the thickness of the spine. Mine was about ¾”.
Next, cut slits into the center of the leather the length of the spine you just measured. So, I cut 4 slits through the center, each measuring ¾”. I used my Heavy duty detail knife, which sliced through the leather easily.
Now, place the first signature into the cover and align the holes with the slots on the cover. Take a needle and thread (I used perle cotton size 10, but you could also use something thicker like twine).
Tie a knot at the end of the thread, leaving a tail of about 4” and insert the needle into the bottom hole of the first signature and out through the bottom slit in the cover.
The knot will stop against the hole in the paper.
Taking the needle up through to the second slit in the cover, insert it through the leather and through the second hole in the signature and pull tight.
Repeat the process, weaving in and out through the paper and the leather cover until your reach the top hole. Then sew back through to the bottom, essentially covering the gaps that were left when you worked your way up the spine.
You will eventually meet your starting point. Remove the needle and tightly tie the end of the thread to the 4” tail you left and trim the tails.
Repeat this process for each bundle of signatures. Each time you sew up and down the spine, you will have pretty lines of thread weaving in and out of the slits in the leather cover.
To finish my journals, I stamped some simple words on the cover using my Fiskars alpha stamps and permanent ink, but you could decorate the covers in a variety of different ways and designs.