Sewing a Custom Journal Signature

Yesterday, I blogged about my new (to me) sewing machine. Today I put it to use. Caught between the need to take a journal with me and the need to work on a flat piece of paper, I decided to make several journal signatures. They are small and flat enough to be portable. Once several of them are complete, I can stack them and sew them together to

Signature cover made of Tyvek, sewn with machine and white thread.

form a book.

The advantage is that I can combine any kind of paper I want. The signature covers become interesting pages in the book all on their own. My first attempt was a Tyvek cover, a Strathmore marker paper, a Strathmore drawing paper (80-lb.) and Arches Text Wove. Tyvek is the non-tear material that Fedex envelopes are made of.

I cut the pages all to the same size, cut the Tyvek cover a bit larger, and then, just for decorative reasons, stitched a random pattern on the cover. White on white was lovely, but hard to show, so I held the cover up to a light and photographed it. You can see the holes quite nicely. Tyvek takes color well, so I colored it with alcohol markers.

The inside pages give me just what I need. Alcohol markers (Copic, for example) bleed through most papers. Marker paper (like Strathmore and Canson) allow the color to show through, but not bleed through. A design that blotches the back of the paper in a journal needs a solution, but a design done on marker paper looks good from both sides. In the drawing below, right, you can see the front of the marker-page. Below, left, is the reverse side of the same page. The image on the reverse is muted, but no less attractive.

Strathmore marker paper with Copic markers (alcohol markers).

Ink markers, like Pitt pens, don’t bleed through the paper. They don’t show from the other side at all, making them a bit more versatile to use with a bigger variety of papers. On the other hand, ink markers don’t blend or layer as beautifully as alcohol markers.

The reverse of the page is muted, but still attractive.

The mix of papers allow me to use the paper and medium I need. I can use the marker paper for inks, the stiffer drawing paper for watercolor pencils or inks, and the Arches Text Wove for writing, drawing, wet- or dry pencils. It’s a great combination.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer, artist and raw-art-journaler. She teaches business writing and communications and runs workshops on journaling.