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Art Journal Every Day: Tutorial For A Leather Journal

ArtJournalEveryDayLogo-150 One of the first questions that people ask me is what notebook do you use to journal in?  The choice of notebook is super personal to each artist.  Right now I'm art journaling in four notebooks: a super large watercolor Moleskine, a Strathmore wire bound visual journal, a Hand Book watercolor journal, and a coptic bound watercolor journal I bought from Elvie Studio on Etsy.  Why so many?  Well, I've been trying to find my perfect journal for a while and so I bought a bunch of books to try out. 

Have you found your perfect book?

Well, I'm so delighted to have Ilse Hobbelen as our guest today to help us on the quest for that perfect art journal.  She's going to show us how to make our very own leather journal! 

Tutorial for a Leather Journal

Foto journal tutorial
In this tutorial I will show you how to make a leather journal.

  Foto 1
We start with the materials: you need a needle, cutting device, thread, paper, and something to punch a hole, and leather. I use leather because I like the look of it, but any material will do.

Foto 2
The journals I made before I made with watercolor paper, but for this project I used drawing paper.  You can use any paper you like, but use some thick paper.

I made 5 signatures (you can see two in the photo above). "Signature" is the name for the folded and stacked sheets of paper you will sew into your journal.  I used 5 folded sheets of A4 sized paper per signature. 

To create the signature: fold each sheet in half and then stack the sheets together so that the folds line up.  The amount of sheets depends on the thickness of the paper you use.

Foto 3
I cut out a piece of leather for my cover.  Each of the large rectangles is slightly larger than my signatures. I cut the leather a little bit larger than the paper, because I like the paper to be in the cover and not showing outside. For the spine I held the signatures together and I decided how thick it needed to be. I made it 2 cm.  I freehand cut the extra part on the right (the rounded flap), so I can wrap it on top of the journal as a closure. I put some cardstock on the inside so it will give the leather a bit more strength.

Foto 4
Then we take one signature and we are going to make 4 holes in order to do long stitch bookbinding. The holes do not have to be equally spaced.  I made the space between the two middle holes bigger, and the two outer holes less far away.  While you can make the holes anywhere you like them to be, be sure to punch them the same on every signature.  (Either make a template or line the signatures up in order to do this.)

Foto 5
When you punch the holes, put the pages on the cardstock/leather cover. As you can see I drew lines on the cardstock, which are matching with the signature’s holes. I put on the line some points. Every point is going to be a hole in the leather for the thread for when we stitch the book together.  I have 5 signatures so on every line I put 5 points.

Foto 6
Now we are going to punch some holes in the leather, be careful!

Foto 7
Now we start the binding, start with the last hole in the paper of one of the signatures. I took a piece of thread twice the length of the journal. Go with the needle through the hole in the paper, and then through the hole in the leather (the hole most on the most right of the five holes you punched in the cover's spine). 

Foto 8
Keep a tail of thread inside the journal, for making a knot later on. As you can see the thread is through the leather by number 1.

Foto 9
Now we are going back through the leather, back through the paper, back into the journal, but this time through hole 2.

Foto 10
As you can see the thread comes out by number 2 and goes back out through number 3 (through the paper and the leather).

Foto 11
The thread comes out by number 3 and goes back in number 4.

Foto 12
This is how it looks inside. The thread comes in through number 4 and now we are going back to hole 3 (which I've marked in the picture as stitch #5). The thread goes in where you see the number 5, back through the paper and leather to the outside of the book.

Foto 13
The thread comes out by the number 5 and goes back into the journal by number 6 (these are holes 3&2). Make sure to keep your thread tight.

Foto 14
Now we are almost done, the thread comes out by number 6 (hole 2) and make a knot at the end, with the thread tail extending from hole number 1, marked here by the number 7 (7th stitch).

Foto 15
And this is what it looks like when you are finished, with a little knot at the end. I made a regular knot, but when you use a thin thread you can make a double knot.

Foto 16
This is how it looks on the outside of the journal. First signature done. Now you can do the rest of the signatures the same way.

Foto 17
This is how it looks when you are finished, l like it!! We are almost finished

Foto 18
To close the journal I use a crop-a-dile, and some suede lace, beads you can use anything you like.

Foto 19
I put a hole and an eyelet in the middle of the hand cut piece of leather (that curved flap). If you don’t have a crop-a-dile you can cut a slice in the leather and make a knot in the lace, that will do fine too.

Foto 20
As you can see I put a bead on the end of the lace, and put it through the hole.

Foto 21
This is how it looks inside.

Foto 22
This is how it looks like when it’s finished, I hope you liked my tutorial.

Ilse Hobbelen

IlseHeadshot Hi, I’m Ilse from the Netherlands.

I live with my 2 children, who are 11 and 14, in Tilburg. I work at an insurance company 3 days a week.

I started scrapbooking 2.5 years ago, when I had a hard time. It helps me to clear my mind and to focus on creative things and that works great. Little by little I looked further than scrapbooking and I saw an Art Journal, and I was hooked! Ha ha. I like to do a lot of different things, so the Art Journal was my new inspiration. The only problem I have now is “time”  ;-)

My blog: Artist in Training