Category Archives: Make it

Posts recording crafts and other such projects.

Journal Making: The Purple and Gold Journal

Hello!  I’m sorry it’s been so long since this blog has been updated, but I wanted to share with you some pictures of some journals I made for my mother to use in her classes.  I used art paper and boards purchased at a local art store images from Graphics Fairy, and some Etsy sellers of digital images.

I am in the process of making my mother three notebooks, each of which will have their own post.  All three are 6 by 9 inch journals.

This journal was made specifically for my mother to use as a sketch book in her mixed media class.  Thus, although I have added images to the pages, the majority of the pages are either blank or have light colored backgrounds that still allow plenty of room to sketch.  She will sketch right on top of the patterned pages.



The clock on the front has movable hands.  This is a coptic stitch bound journal with booktape over the spine to protect it.

Inside Cover

This is the inside of the front cover.  The endpaper is from Graphics 45 Couture Collection.

Inside back cover

This is the inside back cover.  The endpaper is from Graphics 45 Steampunk Spells Collection

The following are some of the interior pages:
















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Favorite Coptic Stitch Binding Tutorial

There are many Coptic stitch binding tutorials out there, but this is my favorite.  Since learning how to do this, I have made numerous notebooks.  I like the versatility of making either a blank notebook or one with special pages.  Click on the title to go the tutorial.

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by | December 2, 2013 · 8:21 pm

Fear Not, the Blank Page

Who among us has not trembled in fear of marring the first beautiful blank pages of brand-new journal?  Whilst unblemished with our own thoughts and scribbles, the page holds infinite possibility.  The instant we touch pen to paper, that possibility becomes irreparably limited.  But, you did not buy or make that journal to stare at the blank pages!  To let it languish in a drawer awaiting the day when that truly inspired thought comes into being!  No.  It is meant to be used, and used it shall be.

Perhaps you fear your handwriting is not good enough to be inked across the page irrevocably.  Or maybe you fear that the thoughts you carry will not make it to the page in the perfect order, and thus must be scratched out and rewritten, thus blemishing the beautiful page with mistakes.  Perhaps you want your first page, or indeed every page, to look like this:


Well guess what.  That document first looked like this:


If you need more reassurance that you’re in good, scratched out company, check out Fuck Yeah, Manuscripts!  Don’t think that your bad handwriting gets you off the hook either.  The only person who needs to be able to read it is you.  Check out Sylvia Plath’s Draft of “Sheep in Fog” or an excerpt from Oscar Wilde’s handwritten manuscript of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

Right, now that we’ve established that your handwriting and mistakes are not really obstacles to worry about, lets look at how to break into that endless void of possibility that is the blank page.

What is the purpose of your journal?

A journal can have many uses including but not limited to:

  • A daily record of how you spend your days
  • Thoughts about your personal life that you feel uncomfortable sharing with others
  • recording errant thoughts that have no categorization
  • recording overheard snipits of conversation
  • writing fiction or poetry
  • doodling
  • note-taking
  • all of the above

Knowing the purpose of your journal can help in breaking it in.  If you’re not sure how to begin, try finishing the phrase “The purpose of this journal is…”

The beauty of a journal without lines is that you are not confined to writing in those lines.

Some ideas might be:

  • Paste (literally – find that glue stick) a newspaper article that you found interesting, terrifying, hilarious, or full of spelling and grammatical errors.  Jot down under it, over it, across it, or on the next page why you felt like pasting it in.
  • If you are artistically inclined, sketch that trumpet player playing on the street, and then jot down what you thought of his playing.
  • Write super-duper big

  • or itty-bitty

Sometimes, I just skip the first page all together, and start on the second page.  Sometimes, I jump right in.  There are some journals for which I’ve made a title page that names that journal and states it’s purpose.  Others have no introduction but the writing itself.

When all else fails, write the date at the top of the page to at least get some ink onto that blank nothingness, and go from there.

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Upgrade Your Tea Tin Lid into a Small Tray or Fridge Frame


Here are two ways to reuse the lids of tea tins.  You may have seen some of the posts around the internet (specifically on Pinterest) about adhering magnets to tea tins to use them to hold pens on a fridge and using them for herb planters.

diy-repurposed-tins-02_2011 apartment therapy

Source: Apartment Therapy (click picture for link)


Source: (click picture for link)

But what about the lids?  Should we abandon them to a life of unloved obscurity, wasting away in a landfill or the junk drawer, pining for a new life?  I say no!  Love your lids:  upgrade them into small trays or fridge frames.

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For these projects, I am using Tazo Tea Tin lids.  I swear, I don’t work for Tazo, I just drink a lot of their tea.

Tea Tin Tray


  • Tea Tin Lid
  • Washi Tape
  • Scissors


Start your tea tray tin by wrapping the outside ledge with washi tape.  Your washi tape will probably be wider than the lid of your tea tin lid.  That’s okay!  We’ll fix that later.  Overlap the ends for a continuous look.

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Your lid will probably look something like this now:


We are going to press that extra washi tape around to what is now the underside of your tray.  The underside of your tray is the top of your tea tin lid.  So, first press down on the tape all around to make sure that it adheres to the metal.  It should look like this:


Next, you need to make three cuts around each corner of the un-adhered washi tape.  One on either side of the corner, and one in the middle of the new corner flap to create two flaps at each corner.  Like so:

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Now, press down your two corner flaps one at a time.  Do this for each corner.  Doing this will allow the washi tape to lay flatter, and as this will be on the bottom of your tray – flatter is better.

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After all the corner flaps are pressed down, it will look similar to this:


Alright, now finish the sides of the tray by pressing the remaining washi tape down.  I used my thumb nail to make sure that it got into the crevice too.

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Now, cover the inside bottom of your tray with the washi tape of your choice.  I used the same pattern to keep the design simple.

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Cutting a tiny triangle off the corner edge of your washi tape will make it the rectangular washi tape fit better into rounded corners.


Tea Tin Fridge Frame


  • Tea Tin Lid
  • Washi Tape
  • Scissors
  • Picture (one you don’t mind taping into this frame)
  • Measuring tape
  • Magnets
  • Super glue


First, super glue the magnets to the top side of the tea tin lid (this will become the back of your frame).  I used Gorilla super glue, and discovered that a little goes a very long way.  All the extra glue you see seeping out around the magnets took hours to dry.  The glue between the magnet and the metal – dried in thirty seconds.

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Next, you’ll need to measure the interior of your tea tin lid.  Whatever picture you plan to use needs to fit with about 1/2 inch of space all around.  If you plan to print out your picture for this project, as I did, you’ll probably want to use the Wallet size on your default printing options.

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Begin to cover the inside surface of the tea tin lid with washi tape.  Don’t get discouraged if it takes a few tries before it is lined up inside the lid the way you want it.  If you find yourself getting frustrated, set it aside for a bit.  Have a cup of tea, watch an episode of Mad Men or whatever; then resume your project.  Work on a small project like this while flustered and angry rarely makes the job easier.  Be patient, and work slowly.

Again, to make the rectangular tape fit into the corners more easily, cut a tiny corner off.  You can see the small triangle of the corner on my index finger in the picture below.

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Here is the finished background of washi tape:


Alright, time to get at picture our!  I covered the edges of my picture with washi tape to give the printed image a more finished look.  This will help disguise any imperfections in the cut edges.

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I used Scotch brand double sided tape to adhere the picture to the tea tin lid.  If you can get the the double stick tape as flush as possible to the edges of the picture.

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Stick in the picture, and hang it on the fridge!


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Making Paperback Journals


I use my little paperback journals as light-weight journals I can carry with me.  Glue or draw a calendar into the first page.  Jot down appointments or events you’d like to keep track of, tape your favorite picture of your pet or significant other onto a page and use the facing page to write about why you like that picture so much.  Use it as a space to put those annoying thoughts that float through your brain when you’re trying to concentrate (when doing this excercise, don’t even look at the page.  Concentrate on what you’re trying to accomplish and let your writing act as a filter for errant thoughts – giving them a place to go that’s not the back of your brain).


You will need the following items:

Slide 3

  1. A Thimble
  2. Strong thick thread.  Waxed thread is best.
  3. A needle (here shown skewered through an empty half tea bag)
  4. Craft knife
  5. Scissors
  6. A small cutting matt is helpful
  7. Ruler (not pictured)

Of course, you will also need paper for the inside and cover of your journal:

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I started making these little journals as a way to reuse paper I had cut out of my large Art Journal.  I find it necessary to cut several pages out of my Art Journal every so often to make room for all the stuff glued in and stuffed into pockets.  You may use standard printing paper if you choose, but I encourage you to get creative!  If you use printer paper, use that stack of paper you accidentally printed out that only has the web address at the bottom, but nothing on the page.  Even if you what you printed out looks like random code – that’s cool too!  Paint over, glue stuff over it, and use the blank back side for writing.

For the outside cover of my journal, I used double-sided 12″x12″ craft paper.  Single-sided craft paper works just as well too, and gives you one more blank space to write upon.  I used single-sided craft paper for the yellow journal at the top of the post.  You do not necessarily have to use craft paper, if you have something else you’d like to use in mind.  Just remember that it should be a heavier weight paper, and that you’ll need enough to cover your inside pages plus a little bit.


If you have decided to use paper out of an already existing book, you’ll need to cut it out.

It’s usually a good idea to put a small cutting mat under the pages you wish to cut out, so you don’t inadvertently cut out more than you intended.  I like to use about 7-10 sheets of paper per journal (that’s 14-20 physical pages, 28-40 surfaces to write upon).


Place your ruler along the spine edge  of the pages, and use it to cut a straight line.


You may notice that at least one corner of my pages did not cut off cleanly.  That’s okay!  Consider it a design detail – a mark of a handmade object.  Or, cut it off if it really bothers you.  Or use it as an inspiration to cut funky edges for your journal pages.

Fold your pages in half to create a signature.


When I created this journal, I folded my pages as one.  Since then, however, I have learned that it is more effective to fold each page in half individually.  It is easier to ensure a prominent and visible crease this way, and much easier on the hands.  I highly recommend that, whichever method you choose to fold, you use some kind of object other than your hands to press the fold.  Many crafts people use a bone folder.  Alternatives are:  a metal ruler, the bottom of a heavy glass, a smooth rock, one of Hagrid‘s rock cakes, etc…

Measure, fold, and if necessary, cut your cover paper.

Some quick arithmetic:

We have a 12 inch by 12 inch piece of paper.  We fold it in half to get a cover that is 6 inches wide, and 12 inches tall.  If you are using paper for the inside pages that is about 8.5 by 11, you’ll probably be folding them short side to short side (aka hamburger, not hotdog).  Therefore you’ll have pages that are 5.5 wide, and 8.5 tall.  Now, pages that are 5.5 wide will rest nicely inside a cover that is 6 inches wide.  The pages won’t stick out, and you’ll have a nice little border of the cover around your pages when the journal is open (see the picture of the open journal at the top).  However, you’ll probably want to adjust the height of that cover.


You can either trim off the extra, or fold it up and turn it into a pocket like I did.


Measure and mark the place where you want your journal to end on both sides of the paper.  Do this while the paper is lying flat with the inside surface facing up.  I measured my excess at a little less then three inches.  You do what looks right to you.


Connect the dots with your ruler and grab your craft knife.  Moment of truth:  pocket or no pocket?

To create a pocket, lightly run your craft knife along the ruler edge.  Important:  do not cut all the way through the paper.  You are merely scoring the paper to create a nice straight fold for your pocket.  Fold along the scored line so that the excess paper is inside the journal.  Again, use what you have to press the fold into a nice crease.


No pocket?  press hard enough with the craft knife to cut all the way through the paper.

Sewing the Pages to the Cover

IMPORTANT NOTE:  While making this journal and photographing the process, I accidentally started out the stitch upside-down.  Thus the first few images will show the process with the running stitch on the inside rather than the outside.  I am using a running stitch to sew the pages to the cover.  If you already know how to do the running stitch, then you may proceed without referring to the images.

Secure your interior pages to your cover.  I used binder clips and paper clips.  I highly suggest using just binder clips.  It is very important, VERY IMPORTANT, that the creases in your interior pages and cover paper line up, lest your finished journal be off kilter.


Cut a length of thread about the length of your arm plus some.  I hold the skein of thread right in front of my sternum with one hand and use the other hand to hold the end while I stretch my end hand out to the side to measure.  Tie a double knot on one end and thread the other through the eye of your needle.


You will need to use your thimble to push the needle through the pages.


The running stitch:

Going down

Going down

Notice we're coming up at the halfway point

Coming Up

Remember, that you'll really want to be doing this on the other side of your pages (on the exterior, not the interior)

Going Down

Continue this stitch along the crease until you reach 1/4 of an inch from the edge of the interior pages, and tie off the thread.

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Come up on the last stitch, but do not pull the thread all the way through.  Leave a loop, as in the picture.  Take your thread around the loop and through it.

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Pull it tight to create a knot.  You may need to use your fingers to ensure that your knot meets the paper and does not hang on the remaining thread like a sad little hand grasping for a rope.  If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.  Use your needle to tease the knot apart and do it over.

Now, weave the excess thread through the spine, always coming through the spine from the same direction.  You’re basically wrapping the excess thread around the running stitch.  In the unlikely event of the knot coming undone, you want some leeway thread to work with to fix the disaster.


You’re almost finished!  It should look something like this:


Now we’re going to cover up your pretty stitch work with some contrasting paper.  Find or cut a two inch (or so – do what you think looks best for you) wide strip of paper that is long enough to cover the length of your journal spine.  It is better for the strip of paper to be longer than your spine so you can trim it after gluing it down.

Fold it in half lengthwise (or hotdog)

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Test out how it looks, adjust if necessary, and glue it down over the spine.


Trim off the extra, and marvel at what you’ve accomplished!


WAIT!  One more thing!  Remember the pockets we created?  You’ll want to use some tape (I prefer packing tape – it’s clear and extra sticky) to close the edges.  If you would prefer to use some other more decorative tape (I’m thinking washi tape here), that’s awesome too!  I just didn’t want another pattern interfering with what I’ve already got going on.


I hope you enjoy making these little journals as much as I enjoyed sharing them with you.

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Washi Tape Mini Storage Bins

Waste not, want not.

Here is a great washi tape project I came up with using old tea boxes while I was creating my mini office in a footstool.  These little bins are great for organizing small items in drawers, on shelves, window sills, or wherever.  They are also great if you need some just temporary organization during a craft or other project (holding selected buttons, thread, pins, anything you don’t want rolling around while you’re working).  I use them to corral my ear buds, loose change, and other such things.  I also like to keep one next to my bed for when I forget to take bobby pins or hair-ties out before going to sleep.




You will need an empty cardboard tea box (not a tea tin), some washi tape, and scissors.


You will be using washi tape to line the inside of the box, and some on the outside to give it a clean look.  As you can see in example pictures above, the outside tape can be a contrasting tape, the same tape as the inside, and can cover the entire outside, or just some of it.

Washi tape is a decorative tape that originated in Japan.  It’s sort of like a very slightly waxed strip of paper with adhesive.  Some good places to find it are:

  • I found a small selection at my local Target store (the two tapes in my instructions were purchased at Target)

Of course, there are many many more places to find washi tape!  If you find a really good place to buy either online or in a brick and mortar store that you’d like to share, please leave it in the comments, I love to drool over more washi tape options.


First, you’ll need to cut the box in half to make two smaller boxes.

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Next, you’ll need to begin lining your box with washi tape.  

It is best to use the first piece to hold the gap you can see in the picture above together.  Like so:


Make sure you leave a enough (but not too much!) tape at the top of the box to fold over the edge.  This will give your box a more finished look.

It is tricky to get the edge of the tape lined up along corners of the sides and bottom.  Patience and determination are greatly beneficial in this endeavor.  The trick is to line it up along the side first, and press it into the crease between the wall and the floor.  Then slowly roll the tape along the floor, as if there was a tiny man in there with a paint roller.  It make take a few tries to get this down, and don’t be afraid to mess up.  As long as the washi tape hasn’t stuck to the cardboard for long, you should be able to pull it up several times to start over before either losing the adhesive or pulling up a layer of cardboard.

Continue lining the box with washi tape.

Make sure you over lap the strips of tape to ensure even coverage.

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I used a wider washi tape to line the box, so when I had a small gap between my pieces of tape, I cut some tape in half lengthwise to create two thinner strips.  I’d rather not use more tape than I have to.  The good thing about a busy pattern like this is that the strips of tape sort of blend together.  Sure, if you look closely, you’ll see where the individual tape strips are, but that doesn’t bother me.

Use washi tape around the outside edge to clean up the look.

After you have finished lining the inside of the box, the outside will probably look something like this:

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I used a black and white tape that wouldn’t compete too much with the colorful interior pattern.

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Line it up as close as possible to the top edge of the box.  I like to start by wrapping it around the corner that was secured by that first piece of tape for the lining, just to make sure that the box is not going to come apart.

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I always overlap the end of the tape over the beginning by at least 1/2 inch.

You can continue to add tape to the outside of the box or leave it as is.  It’s up to you!

For this box, I added another row of the black and white tape to the bottom:


I wrapped a rose patterned tape around this one four times, and tried to line up some of the roses:


And yet another one, I only used washi tape on the outside at the top edge:


I hope you have fun making these little boxes!


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