art & design

How To Make A Notebook

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I love the A5 fabric journals from Paperchase and this month I decided to try and make my own. This is not going to be a tutorial as I used the videos on Sea Lemon‘s channel, but instead I am going to share what changes I made. I used the DIY Tom Riddle’s Diary tutorial but you should also check out the How to Make a Text Block tutorial if you want to try making your own diary.


In the video Sea Lemon uses leather, I decided to use cotton, or at least I thought I was going to be using cotton. I wanted to use Liberty of London fabric and instead of paying the full price I bought an off cut from ebay. I saved a huge amount of money, I paid around £3 instead of over £20. But the fabric ended up being silk not cotton. This meant it was very thin and as I later found out so thin that the PVA glue soaked through the fabric.

Sea Lemon recommends that you double up on the thread. In my first attempt I doubled up the regular thread I had in my sewing kit but I felt that it still wasn’t thick enough. I bought thicker thread from Hobbycraft but I found when this was doubled up it was too thick. Really the best thing to do is play about with thread and find what works best for you.

I found the website Paper Mill Direct where I planned on buying paper. I was able to order 10 paper samples for £1 but I ended up deciding that buying 80 sheets of paper from them was too expensive. Instead I used regular printer paper.

I didn’t take that many photos while making the text block but be assured that it is really quite simple. Sewing the signatures together can be a little tricky at first, I would recommend watching the How to Make a Text Block tutorial a few times till you get the hang of it. This part is also quite time consuming so I would recommend you have an audiobook or podcast ready.

Sea Lemon has a tutorial on How to Make a Book Press where she shows you how to make a book press to keep the text block in while the glue is drying. I didn’t make one of these as I didn’t want to spend any more money than I had to. Instead I used a giant pile of art books with two hand weights on top for some extra weight. This worked fine.

I really enjoyed this make but I’m not quite happy with it. As you can probably see the edges are quite uneven. Take time and measure out the fabric instead of just tracing around the text block like Sea Lemon does. The ribbon isn’t quite long enough either, next time I would make it too long then cut it to size. I also forgot to trim the text block before gluing on the cover so I ended up with deckled edges.

I also found that the paper I used was quite thin and though I tested pens on it, I found that the ink bleeds through the paper. However buying better quality paper makes the journal more expensive than something you could buy in Paperchase. So unless you really want to use a specific fabric its easier to just buy a journal.

Thanks for reading.
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