Handmade Leather Journals
Learn how to make a journal with this Handmade Leather Journals tutorial. This DIY gift idea employs easy-to-follow book binding techniques in order to create a truly one-of-a-kind gift. Learn both how to put the individual pages together and how to secure a real leather cover to the completed pages.
When the journal is assembled, you can even decorate the leather covers and personalize them for your loved ones using stamps or other embellishments. This is a gift you will certainly love to give (or keep for yourself).
Estimated CostUnder $10
Time to CompleteIn an evening
Primary TechniqueMixed Media
- Leather offcuts
- Printer paper
- Needle and thread
- Bone folder
- Piercing tool
- Heavy duty detail knife
- Stamps (optional)
When folding your pages in half, use a bone folder to flatten the folds. Work each sheet of paper individually in order to create the sharpest fold possible, and then put the folded sheets together in piles of 10, to create your signatures of 20 pages each.
Next, you need to pierce holes through the folded center of each signature. I made a folded template from cardstock and evenly marked 4 holes with a pencil. It also helps to mark the TOP of the template and be sure to keep all the pages up the same way. I used the piercing tool in my sew taxi to pierce the holes through all the pages in each signature at once.
Check that all the holes in each signature are aligned and measure the thickness of the spine. Mine was about 3/4".
Next, cut slits into the center of the leather the length of the spine you just measured. So, I cut 4 slits through the center, each measuring 3/4". I used my Heavy duty detail knife, which sliced through the leather easily.
Now, place the first signature into the cover and align the holes with the slots on the cover. Take a needle and thread (I used Perle cotton size 10, but you could also use something thicker like twine).
Tie a knot at the end of the thread, leaving a tail of about 4" and insert the needle into the bottom hole of the first signature and out through the bottom slit in the cover.
The knot will stop against the hole in the paper.
Taking the needle up through to the second slit in the cover, insert it through the leather and through the second hole in the signature and pull tight.
Repeat the process, weaving in and out through the paper and the leather cover until your reach the top hole. Then sew back through to the bottom, essentially covering the gaps that were left when you worked your way up the spine.
You will eventually meet your starting point. Remove the needle and tightly tie the end of the thread to the 4" tail you left and trim the tails.
Repeat this process for each bundle of signatures. Each time you sew up and down the spine, you will have pretty lines of thread weaving in and out of the slits in the leather cover.
To finish my journals, I stamped some simple words on the cover using my Fiskars alpha stamps and permanent ink, but you could decorate the covers in a variety of different ways and designs.