How to Make a Woven Scrap Journal

comments (17) September 16th, 2015     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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These blank books are made from leftover cardboard, yarn, fabric, and paper. How green is that?
The covers are woven from yarn and torn fabric strips, which create a pretty texture.
Just for fun, I mixed some old catalog pages in with the blank pages.
These blank books are made from leftover cardboard, yarn, fabric, and paper. How green is that?

These blank books are made from leftover cardboard, yarn, fabric, and paper. How green is that?

Photo: Diane Gilleland
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I am usually in some danger of drowning in empty shipping boxes and mailers, so I devised this cool blank book project to help use up some excess cardboard. Depending on the size and shape of your book, you can use it in lots of ways, too-for capturing notes, for using as the basis of a photo album or art journal, for recipes, or for kids to fill with drawings.

For this project, you'll want to be familiar with my Cardboard Loom tutorial, since it's the basis of the journal cover. And please feel free to experiment with your materials here-you can weave with yarn, strips of paper, ribbons-raid your stash and see what sparks your imagination.

What you'll need:

  • Sheet of scrap cardboard
  • Pencil and ruler
  • Bone folder
  • Scissors
  • Worsted-weight yarn, about 3 yards
  • Woven cotton fabric, about 1/4 yard
  • Plastic seaming needle
  • Sheet of decorative paper
  • Glue stick
  • Craft glue
  • Bias tape (optional)
  • Paper clips
  • Paper for pages
  • Stapler
  • E6000 (one-part epoxy)

Cut a cardboard base to the shape and size you like. Score a 3/4-inch spine.

Begin by cutting out a cardboard base. I've made this project with a piece of corrugated and also with a heavy chipboard mailer. Both work well. Decide on a size for your journal-you might want to base this on the size of paper you have available for the inside pages. Once you've determined the size, cut a piece of cardboard that accommodates both covers and a 3/4-inch spine. Score the spine with a bone folder.

Next, you'll turn this book cover into a loom. Refer to the Cardboard Loom tutorial to measure, mark, and cut the edges of the cardboard, then use some yarn to string the warp.

Turn the cover into a cardboard loom.

Here's how your loom/cover should look when it's all strung with warp yarn. (Incidentally, if your cardboard has old mailing labels or marks on it, no worries-we're going to cover it completely with weaving!)

While we're here, I'll point out that I used a variegated yarn as the warp for the brown journal at the top of the post. It adds a nice range of color to the weaving.

Weave on the loom with fabric strips.

Now, we'll weave right on this book cover/loom. I'm using strips of cotton fabric here, which I've torn for extra texture. I like to use strips that are long enough for me to weave once across the cover. That makes it very easy to change colors often. My strips are about 1/2 inch wide, and yours can be any width you like.

Thread the end of a fabric strip onto a plastic seaming needle. (You may need to fold the fabric strip to do this.) Then, begin weaving in and out of the warp yarns. Make sure the fabric doesn't twist as you're weaving. You'll be weaving right over the spine of the cover-and don't worry about this because the fabric will stretch as needed when the spine is folded.

Feel free to refer back to that Cardboard Loom tutorial for some weaving basics.

As you weave back and forth, leave a generous tail of fabric at the edge of the weaving, as shown. You'll trim these off later, so make sure there's plenty of fabric for trimming.

Glue a paper lining to the inside covers.

When you've woven the entire cover, then it's time to do some finishing. Turn the cover over and use a glue stick to apply some decorative paper to the inside, as shown. (This can be scrapbook paper, magazine pages, or wrapping paper-whatever you like.) The paper should be about 1/8 inch smaller than the cover and should not cover the spine.

Trim the ends of the fabric strips to match the edge of the cover.

Then, it's time to put an edging on the cover. The first step in this process is to trim all the ends of the woven strips so they're flush with the edges of the cardboard.

Apply glue to the edge of the cover. Place half the binding strip on top of the glue.

I'm using bias tape that I made with a 1-inch bias tape maker. You can also buy packaged bias tape, or simply cut some strips of felt or heavy paper. I like to have my strips of binding material join at the spine of the book. I'm using two long strips of bias tape here. I've placed them so they're centered on the front edges of the covers and can meet at the spine.

Put a generous line of craft glue along the edge of the cover. Press half of the binding tape over the glue.

Wrap the binding around to the other side of the cover and glue.

Wrap the rest of the tape to the inside of the cover, and glue it down to the paper lining. Place paper clips along the strip to hold it in place while it dries.

Bind the edges in sections, allowing dry time in between.

I like to work on the binding in sections, starting with the two front edges of the cover, as shown here. Let this dry for about 20 minutes before proceeding to the next section.

Mitering the corners: step 1.

Miter the corners of your binding: Glue all the way up to one side of the corner and fold the binding strip as shown...

Mitering the corners: step 2.

...and then wrap the next side over the top, as shown. Place a dot of glue under the corner fold to hold it in place.

Hide the tails of warp yarn under the binding strips.

Incidentally, your cardboard loom will have a tail of warp yarn at two corners. These tails are tucked and glued under the binding strip.

Fold the ends of the binding strip where they join.

Join the ends of the binding strip at the spine of the journal. Fold the raw edges under and glue them in place.

Incidentally, once the glue has dried and you remove the paper clips that were holding things together, you may find that the clips have made crease marks in the binding strip. Not to worry-just run a hot iron lightly over the binding a few times, and those creases should vanish.

Fold and staple stacks of paper together to make "signatures" of pages.

Now, cut some paper to make pages for your journal. The pieces should be about 1/2 inch smaller than the cover on all sides and wide enough for two pages. I added some extra pages cut out of an old catalog, just for fun and visuals. You could also use old magazines or wrapping paper-anything pretty. We're going to combine these pieces of paper into something called "signatures."

To make a signature, stack six to eight pieces of paper together, and fold them in half as a group. Flatten the stack back out and place it with the fold facing down. Staple twice along this fold. (Or, if you prefer, you can sew instead of staple.)

Repeat this process to make four to six signatures (depending on how thick your paper is and how many pages you want your book to have). I recommend making enough signatures to fill the spine of your book. I use four 8-page signatures for a 3/4-inch spine.

Apply E6000 glue to the inside spine of the book.

To bind the pages into the cover, lay the cover open flat, with the woven side down. Apply a generous strip of E6000 between the spine folds.

Place the folded edges of the signatures into the glue.

Place the signatures side by side with their spines in the E6000, as shown. Make sure each signature is in contact with the glue.

Place the finished journal under a heavy book while the E6000 dries.

Then, fold the cover up around the pages, making sure the signatures stay in place. Place the journal on a flat surface, with a heavy book on top. Allow the E6000 to dry for a full 24 hours, and you can start using your journal!

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posted in: fabric, paper, keepsake, yarn, scrapbook, weaving, journal

Comments (17)

feminineeffects writes: another perfectly concise tutorial! you're amazing!!
Posted: 12:15 am on April 18th
Pipster writes: Fab idea, your tutorials are really clear and easy to follow Diane. Just found this website and already love it!
Posted: 8:20 am on March 23rd
Yggdrasil writes: This is absolutely fabulous!
Posted: 10:38 am on November 22nd
NancyWard writes: Hi!

Today I posted an entry on my blog with a link to this tutorial.

I'd appreciate your letting me know if that's OK.


Nancy Ward
Posted: 10:21 am on October 30th
LyndaJ writes: Love this idea for making a book. My family laughs and will say to throw that box away before Lynda sees it. Now, something else to do with them. Thank you!
Posted: 1:03 am on September 28th
Floralshowers_Crafts writes: I absolutely love this. I took your idea and made a very similar looking journal, only I used a .50 cent mead turned out amazing!

Check it out here:

Thanks for the fabulous idea and instructions!
Posted: 12:59 pm on August 20th
Tally writes: Thanks for this exact tutorial. I wish I would have time right now to go for it.
Posted: 4:23 pm on January 18th
Nil writes: Can't wait to try this with my Wednesday night class of Girls & Boys! Looks Fantastic!
Posted: 11:38 pm on January 17th
Nil writes: Can't wait to try this with my Wednesday night Class of Girls & Boys! This looks fantastic!~
Posted: 11:37 pm on January 17th
Carriecan writes: Completely fabulous!
Posted: 2:58 pm on January 17th
Sister_Diane writes: eveh, you should be able to find those seaming needles in the knitting section of Michael's or Jo-Ann. Or, try your local yarn stores. If you can't find them, a metal tapestry needle with a blunt tip would also work well.
Posted: 12:47 pm on January 17th
JenniferStern writes: Diane, This is the perfect gift idea I was looking for...thanks for a great project and, your instructions are excellent:)
Posted: 9:56 am on January 17th
adina60 writes: I love your idea for a journal, I have been making note book holders but this is even better i shall make one and if it works out alright for me i shall post it. Wonderful idea for scraps!
Posted: 6:02 am on January 17th
SewDanish writes: What a wonderful idea! I will have a go at that using some of the million scraps from previous quilt projects :-)
Scandinavian Textile Art, Unique Handmade Supplies
Posted: 3:01 am on January 17th
eveh writes: I have always wanted to make a journal. I have everything I need but the needle. Do they sell that at Michaels? Yours turned out so pretty and I love the torn edges of the fabric and yarn together.
Posted: 5:22 pm on January 16th
MichaelaMurphy writes: Wow Diane, wow. Over Christmas I was teaching most of my family members how to knit (!) and my five-year-old niece wanted to try but it was too difficult for her to grasp the idea or the needles. That's when I thought of your cardboard loom post. The amazing thing was that because it was Christmas we had all of the things we needed right in the room (empty boxes, scissors, and the yarn from my knitting bag) within minutes we had a loom and Maeve was weaving right along with us. It was delightful to watch her first craft endeavor and she was thrilled to be able to make stuff with the grown-ups. This project will blow her mind--she can make herself a book! Thanks!
Posted: 1:58 pm on January 16th
LindaPermann writes: this is amazing!! i love the woven texture, and the reusing. nice job diane!
Posted: 12:56 pm on January 16th
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