Yesterday, I posted a tutorial for a box for your loose-leaf journal pages. Today, your journal is going to be made from a paper handle bag–the kind that better stores use. This tutorial will use two different bag, but the style is the same.
Start by looking at the size of the bag. There are two ways to approach the bag journal. First, you can measure and cut all of our pages ahead of time. I did that with this one. Second, you can use this method to bind a variety of page sizes as long as two sheets (four pages) are the full size of the journal.
The first step is to fold the bag flat, so the bottom portion is flat against the sides of the bag.
Next, crease the bottom of the bag, along the center of the bottom. This will become the spine of the book. If the bag has paper handles, trim them off carefully. If the bag has ribbon handles, detach them.
This is the time to measure the bag for page size. Measuring before this stage allows too much stage for error (at least for me). Wait until the bag is fully cut, trimmed and the cover is complete. The mountain fold allows you to place a signature on each side. It also allows for pages with a lot of inclusions and attachments, if you like that style.
Fold the pages so that like-size pages all are folded down the middle. Pages that aren’t the same size can be folded with a stub (one side shorter) or down the middle. In either case, line up all the creases, and nest the pages together in the order you like.
Open up the signature (group of nested pages) you plan on stitching into the back of the journal (right side of mountain fold). This will be a 5-stitch pamphlet. Mark five dots in the crease: one in the center (top to bottom) of the page. This is #3. The ones above and below the center mark (#2 and #4) should be the same distance from the center. Marks #1 and #5 (the top and bottom of page) should be the same distance from the mark nearest to them.
Use an awl to make holes in the pages and cover at the same time. Measure a length of 4-ply waxed linen twice the height of the book. The above diagram is taken from Design Sponge, which has an excellent 5-hole pamphlet stitch tutorial.
In the first signature, I put the knot on the inside of the pages.
I love making different journals with different bags. Some bags have colorful lining already in them. Others have cut-out handles, and some elegant black bags can be changed with bright ribbons. You can also paint or stencil the bags, but I like using bags with writing or logos on them and leaving them recognizable as recycled shopping bags.
—Quinn McDonald is an art journaler and creativity coach. She is teaching journal-making classes at the Minneapolis Center for Book Arts (April, 2014) and at Madeline Island School of the Arts (June, 2014).