Play Date #16 Handmade Journals

For many years I have collected scrapbook paper, stickers, vintage photos and old and new ephemera to create collage greeting cards.

Recently I have read more and more about using these same resources for making journals/planners.


First Six Handmade Journals I Created

Curiosity and desire got the best of me, and I finally invested in a Cinch Book Binding Tool.


New Tool for Book Binding

It took lots of searching at different stores to finally find the Cinch Book Binding Tool by We R Memory Keepers. Armed with a 40% off coupon for Hobby Lobby, my husband found the only one left on the shelf. This black and white model has designer Heidi Swapp’s signature on the tool. It cuts square holes instead of round. I did not realize that until I got it home. If you want to buy one, I suggest you Google Cinch Book Binding Tool for many options of where to buy it, different prices and discounts, and also many tutorials on how to use it.

I was excited to get home and start transforming our great room into my book-making area. It wasn’t long before I took over four table top surfaces and several chairs, but I was so happy to finally start playing and creating.


A Creative Mess

It wasn’t long before I realized I needed another tool. If I was to make books with book rings, then I needed a Crop-A-Dile Eyelet and Snap Punch Tool. Google this tool, too, to learn how and why it is used and also where to purchase it. I found mine at Michael’s and again purchased with a 40% off coupon.



I have since become a customer of for easy access to grommets and binding wires in different colors and sizes. They also have good You Tube tutorials on We R Memory Keepers products.


Binding Wires and Eyelets

Here are other tools I use again and again for making books. You may have them on hand. If not, you can easily purchase them at Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, or Jo Ann’s. They are 1/4″ Easy-Tear tape, rotary cutter, ruler and mat, permanent holding glue stick in large size, wire cutter, small scissors, brayer and Aleene’s Tacky Glue.


Important Tools

You’ll also need chipboard, scrapbook paper, fabric, paper for inside your book, vintage photographs, embellishments, book rings, stickers, or any other ephemera you can gather.

To start, first decide on a theme and size. The chipboard for this little book measures 4 3/4″ X 7″. I got the photo from Pinterest and made the label “My Secrets” from my Smart Label Printer. You can cut quotes from magazines, fortune cookies, print your own, or use a rubber stamp to get words on your cover. You also need sturdy scrapbook paper or wrapping paper to cover the chipboard.


Chipboard, Photo, Theme, Scrapbook Paper

There are many tutorials on You Tube on covering journals, but I’ll quickly show you what works best for me in a few photos.

Directions for covering front and back of journal:

  1. Choose paper for front and back cover. For front cut it 1″ larger than chipboard measurement. I cut my paper  5 3/4″ X 8″. Cut one for the front cover and one for the back cover. They do not need to be the same patterned paper. Cut corners of paper on the diagonal close to corner of chipboard. Put 1/4″ Easy-tear tape on all 4 sides of extended paper. Use handle of scissors to add pressure to make sure tape adheres securely to paper.IMG_3140
  2. Put glue stick on one side of chipboard. Place glue side of chipboard down onto wrong side of prepared paper. Use a brayer to roll paper from front side to get rid of any bubbles or buckling.
  3. Remove tape covering from one short side of paper. Fold paper  up and over to back side of cover. Do the same to the other short side.
  4. Add a tiny dab of glue at 4 corners of chipboard. This will make the corners nice and secure as you fold over edges. Remove tape covering on one long side and fold paper over to back side. Repeat for second long side. Repeat these 4 steps for the back cover of the journal.


    Back side of front cover

Directions for decorating the front and back cover of the journal:

  1. On the front side of front cover and front side of back cover, arrange paper, photos, stickers and ephemera until you are pleased. Use glue stick and tacky glue to adhere each piece in place. Use brayer to smooth edges and remove air bubbles. Bring any strips of paper to wrong side, if necessary to wrap-around. Adhere to back side, too.
  2. Cut paper for inside of covers 1/2″ smaller than chipboard. Place Easy-tear tape on wrong side of  all 4 sides. Remove top layer of tape. Use glue stick to cover chipboard on inside of covers. Note the butterfly theme emerging. I will use it throughout the pages of the journal. Carefully center prepared paper to chipboard. Now your covers are ready for punching holes for binding wires or book rings.

    Inside front and back covers


    Outside Front and Back Covers

    My original plan on this book was to use the Cinch tool and punch holes on the left side of the cover for binding wires. Unfortunately, this chipboard was slightly thicker than most. So, when I inserted the left side into the tool, it did not go all the way to the back. The holes it made were too close to the edge and would have pulled out with much use.

    I never throw anything away. Instead, I glued two layers of paper over the hole punches and folded and glued paper to the back side. More sticker trim was added to the edges of the front and back correction. I couldn’t punch holes again over that weakened area. Instead, the book will be held together with book rings. I used the Crop-A-Dile tool to punch the two top holes and add the eyelets to the holes. You will find good videos on how to use this tool on the internet.

The Cinch tool has a difficult time punching holes through fabric. I learned that on the first journal I made that is pictured below. Cinch tool did not cut all the way through fabric. I had to finish cutting each hole individually. This journal is spiral bound.


 After that first attempt, I  figured out a way to make the cover with fabric and still punch holes with the Cinch tool or Crop-A-Dile.

  1. Stitch your collage to light weight batting such as Warm and Natural. Batting should fit the chipboard on three sides. The side where holes will be punched should be 1″ free of collage. 


2. Cover chipboard with paper as shown in the earlier directions.

3. Glue fabric collage to paper with tacky glue. Stay clear of punched holes. Use Washi tape to hold edge of collage next to punched holes. Use a marking pen to draw quilting stitches.

The next sample is from a kit I bought on clearance from Michael’s. The cover is a spongy material that was meant for painting. I machine stitched a collage on the right side of the front and back covers adding a quarter inch to turn and to glue onto the inside of the covers.  I had to clip the fabric over the grommets, turn it under and glue. Cover stitching with scrapbook paper on inside covers of journal.



Front Cover


Back Cover

This journal was made the same as the Travel journal, but finished with wire binding on the side of the book instead of book rings.

strip pieced

Strip Pieced onto batting and glued to journal front paper.

Once I got started making these journals, the next idea came to mind before I could finish the one I was creating. I used half of a page from a vintage photo album for the front cover of this journal. I colored the album page with inks, then added colored string with charms, washi tape and rub-on stickers.



Inside Cover

When your front and back covers are complete, it is time to cut and punch papers for the contents of your book. Use a variety of papers such as cardstock, heavy magazine pages, discarded book pages, water color paper, and ledger paper. The fun part is adding surprises to the pages such as quotes, tags, pockets, journaling cards, embellished paper clips, fold-out journal page and tab dividers.


Pockets with Surprises


Small File Folder with Note Paper and Envelope


Pocket on Back Cover


Pages Ready for Journal

Hope this gives you the inspiration to create your own journal or planner. If not, and you would like one I have created, visit my etsy shop to see more. You may find one you would like to purchase. I love making them and would be thrilled for you to have one.

Our older son’s wife, Julie, has requested I make one for her to record family memories. Her birthday is next month so this will be so fun to create for her.  I’ve started gathering family quotes, stickers, and papers for this special journal.  I’m thinking the cover photo will be a recent photo of the four of them. I’ll use a feature in Picasa to make the photo look vintage. I need to spend more time at home so I can start on Julie’s Journal.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I am at MD Anderson for blood work and usually a transfusion. I was there today, a Sunday, because they found a platelets match for me. Thanks to the perseverance of Jill, my favorite PA, for the first time for more than a year of platelets transfusions I had an HLA platelets transfusion. I’ll be back at MDA tomorrow for blood work and to see my MDS oncologist. It will be interesting to see if today’s transfusion made any difference than a random one from the blood bank. My hopes are high, my confidence in Dr. Garcia-Manero is strong, the love of my family and friends, and my faith sustain me.  The passion I have of loving to create keeps my mind, hands and heart happy. Thank you, God, for this gift. And thank you to all you kind and loving friends. You are so appreciated. Judy



19 Responses to “Play Date #16 Handmade Journals”

  1. Nancy Penry Says:

    Glad to see you having fun and creating while sharing with all of us!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Annette Zondagh Says:

    Yes creating, no matter what, feeds the soul and keeps one’s mind occupied. Thinking of you and will keep your name on my prayer list. Best wishes from South Africa

    Liked by 1 person

    • judymurrah Says:

      Hello, Annette, in South Africa. Thank you for your response and prayers and wishes. Yes, creating is part of our life line, isn’t it. Hope to hear from you again. Have a great day. Judy


  3. bbquiltmaker Says:

    These are SO amazing–Thanks for sharing the process–that is why I will buy one. I’ll be watching your ETSY store for just the right one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • judymurrah Says:

      Isn’t it interesting how we each enjoy a creative process, but so different from the other? I love working with bits and pieces scattered on my work table. I never know quite where it will lead me. You on the other hand work with tiny fabric pieces all cut uniformly and you know exactly where each piece goes and it better be accurate. That’s why you create beautiful, intricate quilts and I don’t. To each his own passion. I hope I will create just the journal that speaks to you. See you soon, Judy


  4. Mary Nyberg Says:

    I was so happy to find your blog this morning–here you are helping all of us out here on the internet with a project which you want to share with everyone. Once again, even with the medical challenges you face you unselfishly find time to care for us with your teaching. So we in turn thank God for you being here for us. I also pray that the platelets match shows improvement for you. It sounds like you have a team of docs working very hard to give you good health.

    Hugs, dear cousin.

    Liked by 1 person

    • judymurrah Says:

      Dear Mary Jane, sharing with you and others is my pleasure. That’s why I loved teaching quilting and other crafts for 30 years. It’s fun to watch someone find pleasure in learning something new. I think of you so often and you are in my prayers. Have you made plans to be at Houston Quilt Festival? We would love to be with you. Hugs, Judy


  5. elizabethharrison Says:

    Hello Judy Thank you for another terrific way to make one’s day the best it can be. Remembering you in my prayers , take care see you soon. Liz Harrison

    Sent from my iPad


    Liked by 1 person

    • judymurrah Says:

      Yes, we are looking forward to your arrival here in the office. We know it’s fall show time when we hear your English accent. Such a delight to have you with us again. Thanks for the prayers. See you soon. Judy


  6. David Sims Says:

    I’m exhausted after reading this entry! Where do you get the energy? Go lady!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Kay Swartzkopf Smith Says:

    I am so happy to see your new Cinch Book creations! You are amazing! So creative and capable and inspiring! I also enjoy scrapbooking! And, that was my retirement goal 12 years ago! However, I had no idea how much Kleenex I would need to review all the many wonderful pictures I have of my family through the years! So, my scrapbooking is slow!! I have however been able to make personalized special event cards for my family and I really enjoy making each card! Your Journals are lovely and agree with what you wrote back to David…it is calming to create!! And, it must be working as your medical updates are a blessing to us all! I pray your health reports will continue to be as positive as you are~you are a blessing of encouragement! Take care and keep creating!

    Liked by 1 person

    • judymurrah Says:

      Hello Kay, sorry I didn’t respond to you back in August. I was reading this blog today and reminiscing about making journals when I get home from my 28 day hospital stay. I have a special order from a friend for a journal for her childhood friend. I’m anxious to get to it when I’m home again. I think it will be so special. Hope you are able to spend time with your scrapbooking. It’s all so much fun. Love to you, Judy


  8. Lori dejarnatt Says:

    What a wonderful way to create!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Miranda of Violet's Veg*n e-Comics Says:

    These are all so beautiful!! I love them! 😀 I really like “Girlfriends” and “Designs and Inspiration” but they are all really lovely 🙂 I like all the photos and pattern papers too 😀


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