Make Your Own Journal Cover

Links to useful places about journals:

Here’s a great video showing how to make a gusseted pocket on the inside cover of your journal.

Want help on writing on that blank first page?

My  other website, Raw-Art-Journals, is for journal keepers who can’t draw.

You can create your own custom-made journals and covers with a little ingenuity and almost no money. If you already enjoy collage, scrapbook, or other paper arts, you have all the materials you need.

3 journal coversIf not, all you need to get started is a pair of scissors, some good glue (I like Golden’s Matte Medium), a 1-inch paint brush (the kind you get at a paint store, not an art store) and some interesting papers–you can use old maps, pages from abandoned books, even cut-outs from magazines.

journal coverWhat makes these journals easy is the Circa rings.  You will need a special punch.  The portable one is about $30; the tabletop one is about $60. Or, simply use a regular hole punch and use the smallest binder rings available.

Warning: Rollabind also makes those disks, but I can’t recommend them after reading the horror stories about non-delivery and non-communication. Even the BBB rates them with an F and has an alert out about them. The Ripoff report has a steady stream of complaints that go back several years and are added too almost weekly.

I first made the journal by cutting a rectangle of light cardboard 1/8-inch larger than the sheet of paper I wanted to use. (In this case, the paper is pre-punched and from Levenger’s. It’s nice paper stock and you can write on it with markers, felt-tips, and fountain pens.)

Before I punched the holes, I covered the covers with papers. On the front cover, I used pages from antique doll-house books I found at a yard sale. Coat the entire cover with matte medium, lay the pages on it, and as you put down each page, paint over with more MM. Once I had them all down, I painted several layers of Matte Medium over the completed piece, allowing it to dry between each coat. Three coats should do it.journal, inside cover

On the inside, I used art paper, marbled with inks. Simply coat the entire inside cover, place a piece of marbled paper over it and trim to fit. Easy-peasy. If you want to finish the edge of the cardboard nicely, use a chisel-end marker and run it over the edge of the paper.

I added an old library due-date-card holder, again, I found it at a yard sale, although you can now purchase new ones at teachers supply stores. I have the real library card in it, and use it as a bookmark, although you can easily store some punched index cards for notetaking.

Don’t have a Rollabind punch? Here is a link for making covers without any punch at all: Mutant Journals are journal covers made from unlikely, but not uncommon item.

Another Mutant Journal is made with wildly inked and resist watercolor paper. I even give you the name of the poem, so you can enjoy that, too!

You can make these covers from a variety of papers to suit your mood. The papers are expensive, so I made a protective coat for my journal. In addition to being waterproof, it protects the journal cover when I toss it in my bag.

Tyvek journal coverTake a used Tyvek envelope (Fed-Ex or Priority Mail envelopes) and place the journal so the edge with the rings lines up with the short, unopened end of the journal.

Mark where you want to cut the envelope, using the journal as a template. While the journal is in place, mark where the rings are, so you can punch them to match the existing journal.

I put a tab on it, so it would fold over the journal if I’m carrying it in the rain or writing outside on just-washed coffee-house tables, or one that has ice-tea rings on it.

Cut out the shape. Cut open the bottom if it was part of the edge of the envelope, but do not cut open the back. Leave it joined and punch the holes. Doing this creates a spine that is more protective than two separate tyvek cover

I sewed a button on the cover side, and cut a slit in the flap. Now the journal shuts and I can toss it in my bag. It’s not beautiful, but I don’t need it to be. I need it to protect the journal cover, and it does a wonderful job.

Want more articles on journaling? Visit this page, you’ll find a list of links.

–Quinn McDonald is an artist, writer and creativity coach. See her work at All images, Quinn McDonald. (c) 2007 All rights reserved.

Follow Quinn on Twitter.

19 thoughts on “Make Your Own Journal Cover

  1. Quinn – “Make Your Own Journal Cover” – 2007 no longer has the pictures. Without the pictures, I’m afraid the text will not be sufficient for me to make the journal cover. Is there anyway the pics can be put back on for this tutorial?
    Love your blog –

  2. Love this site! Thanks so much for generously sharing all this great information. I do watercolor journaling and have been teaching workshops locally. People love it and I have found doing these workshops so rewarding as well! I am about to move into a new studio space and find everything you talk about very inspiring! I lived in Phoenix for over 30 years – then lived in Italy and finally here we are in Milford, Delaware! My journals incorporate drawing, watercolors, writing. I wondered if we had any mutual friends – I was a graphic designer for 20 years there in Phoenix.

  3. Pingback: Keeping a Baby Journal | Furious Shirley

  4. I like what you are doing here with the raw art journaling. I wish you great success. I do art journaling in spirts. Right now, I’m on the downside. I have one that I made out of cereal boxes and hope to start working in that soon.

  5. This is just great, I love all the creative suggestions here. I recently made a great journal cover and transformed my boring composition notebook into a beautiful Victorian style journal!
    Thanks a bunch!

    —–I’d love to see the cover! Can you post it somewhere? It’s always great to know that creativity can be inspired. -Q

  6. Pingback: How to Make Your Own Travel Journal

  7. Thanks, Quinn! The link is to a page with pictures I made using your cool kit and helpful tips. I just LOVE your handmade flower paper! I haven’t need to schlep this album around in the rain, but the Tyvek jacket sounds useful.

  8. well with this design, if you use dye inks that dry waterproof (like Memories or Ancient Page) you can color the tyvek by rubbing it with the inkpad–some fibers of tyvek will take the ink more intensely than others, and you will then end up with ‘mulberry’ looking paper covers that are not only waterproof but beautiful. Tyvek is a wonderful replacement for bookcloth that is very expensive as a general rule. For those who need a baggie in the book to hold more, bind a small tyvek envelope into the book with the opening towards the fore edge and you now have an envelope in the book!

    There is also another binding machine on the market for those who like permanent binding but not running to Kinkos to get it done: the machine is called a Bind-It-All and is available through many stamping and scrapbooking places for under $100. It weighs less than 5lbs, punches through even chipboard (shirt cardboard weight for those who remember that type of cardboard) and uses wires for binding, not that flimsy plastic comb stuff. If you are very careful, you can actually pry the wires open to remove pages if you need to.

    I love journals! I don’t always make them, but I love to bind things I need to keep in one place together. Rollabind is one way, Bind-it-All is another, hand sewing works, too, and Kinkos is a last resort!

  9. I think this is a very neat idea. I usually carry my journal in a ziplock bag so I can add safely store any papers, etc. I come across until I can stick them in

  10. Thank you for this, Quinn! I have been working on the journal you inspired me to start with your journal post awhile back, and now I’m inspired to personalize the cover for it. I think it is wonderful of you to share your knowledge with us in this way. Hugs!

  11. I, too, like the tyvek cover – I am afraid to keep a journal IN my bag – there is so much other stuff, they end up getting a bit beat up. I really like the idea of a hand-made journal with an original cover; I will be trying this.

  12. Arlee–I’ll be fancy-ing mine up, too. I started with a great button. But I wanted to show that it was easy. If I made it too fancy, I thought it might discourage people from trying it on their own. If you make a stitched and painted one, send it to me and I’ll post it!

  13. Great idea with the tyvek rain coat–in winter here, i’m afraid to take my journal out of my bag–this is perfect1 Though i think i’ll be painting and stitching mine :}

  14. Pingback: A Special Cover for Your Journal « Riversleigh Manor House - Lemuria

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