This project was born when I found this small, unused, 2008 Arabic datebook in a used bookstore. The pages, I thought, would be nice reworked into a new handmade journal. They are about 4x4 inches and made of heavy kraft paper. What I found most interesting is that each page is half lined and half illustrated. I figured I can fill up the lined half with journaling and use the illustrated half to create fun mini collages. So I bought the datebook for a dollar and took it home with me.
That was 2 years ago.
This is a classic example of how I find and collect things with various projects in mind but never getting around to actually using them. This year though, I vowed to move all these things I’ve been hoarding – either use them or get rid of them. And it is with this mindset that I tackled this project. I thought this project was the perfect way to use up a lot of the paper and fabric in my scrap bin.
Creating the Signatures
I started the project by tearing all the pages from the datebook, folding them in half, and sewing along the center in groups of 3’s to create the signatures. So now each half of the original page becomes one full page.
I decided to make several mini journals with each journal containing 3 signatures. Doing this, the pages in the datebook will yield 20 journals and each journal will have 36 pages.
Creating the Mini Collages
I thought filling up the illustrated pages with mini collages would make the journals fun and interesting. And this is where I hoped to use a lot of my small paper scraps, especially those tiny bits and pieces which I still can’t get myself to throw away.
I wanted a focal point for each collage, and when I was thinking about it, one thing came to mind…
I like buying used manga books so I can cut out the images and use them in my personal journals. I find this a fun way to add visual context to some of my journals that are otherwise simple diary entries. I keep a handful of these manga images in a tin container. These are tiny cutouts, and so I thought they would be perfect for my mini collages. The manga images I ended up using in this project are from Hidamari Sketch by Aoki Ume. Her characters are super adorable and the plot of the manga is interesting as well. It’s about the everyday life of a group of students who go to an art school and live in the same apartment building.
And so I went to town creating the mini collages. When I was done, I realized I had made 360 unique pieces to fill up all 20 journals!
Creating the Journal Covers
Similar to the mini collages, the goal for the journal covers was to reduce my stash of fabric scraps. And that’s how I decided to make quilt art and patchwork covers for my journals.
Looking for more reasons to use my fabric scraps, I decided to make signature wraps for the journals. And I’m glad I did because they add another level of interest to the journals.
Binding the Journals
I knew I wanted to do an exposed cross stitch binding on each journal. The problem was I had an odd number of signatures. My solution was to do a long stitch binding on the middle signature and then do the cross stitch binding on top of that to secure the first and last signatures to the journal.
I’m very happy with how the journals turned out! They are super adorable and the manga images gave them a lot of whimsy! I love how each journal is both an inspiration piece and an actual usable journal where you can write things down!
Below is a video flip through of one of the journals. I’ll show more of the finished journals in future posts.