It’s that time again. Time to head back to school! It’s an exciting part of the year when kiddos get to see their friends every day, participate in after-school activities and wake up early (that’s a good thing, right?). Here at Brit + Co, we LOVE to buy school supplies. Lucky for us, they put that stuff out on the shelves way early. Like JULY. Since we’re not quite ready to let go of summer, we have a back-to-school project that will help carry the summertime vibe over into the school year. How, you might ask? With these DIY journals featuring summertime print covers. We are stoked about these and really think you will be too.
We’re not going to lie; this DIY is going to take a little time and patience, but it will be well worth it when you’re showing off all your homemade journals in class or even at work. Everyone will be asking you where you bought them, and they’ll be shocked when you tell them you made them.
– cutting mat
– X-ACTO knife
– snap-off blade knife
– paint brush
– bone folder
– jewelry saw
– two pieces of wood
1. Stack the papers and tear them in half using the edge of the ruler and pulling them a few sheets at a time. Then stack them with the torn sides lining up.
2. Lay the stack of paper on one of the boards with about half an inch of the torn side hanging over the edge. Carefully lay the other board on top, sandwiching the paper in between the boards.
3. Add the c-clamps at the same time to the sides of the boards and tighten.
4. Saw three divots in the paper with the jewelry saw — one in the middle and the other two about a half an inch in from the head and tail.
5. Apply PVA glue, covering the entire torn edge of the spine and making sure the glue seeps into the divots.
6. Cut three short pieces of linen thread and fit them into the divots in the paper. Apply PVA glue over the linen thread and the spine.
7. Cut a piece of tarlatan/fishnet the length of the spine and press it onto the spine. Apply PVA glue over the fishnet and spine.
8. Let it dry for about an hour, then remove the c-clamps and take the book out of the boards.
9. After all is dry, trim the tarlatan and strings until there is no string sticking out over the sides of the book block.
10. Cut down all three sides of the book to make it 4 x 7 1/2 inches using the snap-off blade knife and a ruler.
11. Find the center of the printed book cover and make tick marks.
12. Line up the spine of the book block in the middle of the cover and make tick marks the depth of the spine.
13. Place the ruler up against one of the tick mark lines and use the bone folder to press into the ruler from the outside of the cover to make a crease. Repeat this with the other line.
14. Lay the book block onto the bottom edge of the inside of the cover with the first and last pages laid out flat. Measure and trace the entire book block onto the inside of the cover.
15. Make a tick mark at the head of the spine. From there, measure 4/16 of an inch above, and cut the top piece of the cover off.
16. Flip the cover over to the printed side and make a mark 3/16 of an inch out from the creased part that was made earlier.
17. Lay the ruler on the tick marks, take the bone folder and press into the ruler from the inside of the book cover. Repeat these steps for the other side.
18. Turn the cover back over and, from the length of the book when it was laid out, measure 2/16 of an inch out. Lay the ruler on the line, take the bone folder and push into the ruler from the outside of the book cover. These are your cover flaps.
19. Measure 3/16 of an inch in from the head and tail of the newly folded book flaps and, using an X-ACTO knife, trim a diagonal line from 3/16 of an inch to the top of the fold. Repeat this on all four corners.
20. Cut off 2/16 of an inch on the front and back pages of the book block.
21. Erase all the tick marks on the inside and outside cover.
22. Apply PVA glue to the spine of the book block, and place into the folded book cover. Let dry for at least 30 minutes.
Find the middle of the stack of loose papers, and make a mark.
Stack all of the papers together to make sure the torn papers are going to be even.
Place the ruler in the middle of the stack of papers and hold with a firm hand. Begin tearing 2-3 sheets of paper at a time.
Pro tip: Pull the pages towards you and place the ruler at an angle to ensure a more even edge.
Stack all of the pages together — this is the beginning of your book block!
Stack and make sure all pages are even on the torn side of the book block. Place the book block on one of the boards with about half an inch of the torn side handing over the edge. Sandwich the block together with the other board and apply the clamps, tightening at the same time as best as you can.
The key here is to make sure that all of the pages are even toward the rough edge so that the book doesn’t come out slanted. Don’t worry about the three other sides, because those will be trimmed off once all is dry.
Saw a divot in the middle of the book block with the jewelry saw. Make sure the divots are deep enough to fit the linen thread.
Saw half an inch in from the head and tail on the book block and once again make sure that it is deep enough for a piece of linen thread.
Apply PVA onto the spine, making sure to soak the glue into the divots.
Cut short pieces of linen thread and push them into the divots.
Paint the PVA onto the spine, covering the strings and the spine.
Cut off a piece of tarlatan (we used fishnet) the length of the spine and place it on the spine. The tarlatan is used to make sure that the book block stays together and that there are no lose pages. Since we didn’t have tarlatan at the time, we used fishnet, and it worked just as well.
PVA time again! Paint the glue over the tarlatan or netting and allow it to dry for an hour. At this point, go outside and enjoy the last few moments of summer before school starts back up.
After the book feels dry, remove the c-clamps and set aside the boards and clamps.
Trim the excess string and netting so that there is barely any sticking out over the sides.
Cut off the top and bottom edges of the book block with the snap-off blade knife to make it even. Because our book cover is 8 1/2 x 11 inches, we made our book block 4 x 7 1/2 inches to give us plenty of room for the book flaps. We measured half an inch from the tail in and half an inch from the head in to give us 7 1/2 inches in length.
Cut off the long side with the knife to make the width of the book four inches.
Flip the book cover over to the non-decorative side and find the middle point of the cover. Make a tick mark.
Place the spine of the book block onto the center of the cover and measure and trace the depth of the spine of the inside of the cover. Take the ruler and re-draw the depth lines to make them even and easy to follow.
Place the ruler on the line and push the bone folder up against the ruler from the outside of the book cover. This is going to make a rounded crease that will help make up the gutter of your book. Repeat this step on the other side.
Lay the book block on the inside of the cover with the first and last pages laid flat. Measure and trace the book.
Mark the head of the spine, and then make a second mark that is 4/16 of an inch above the head of the spine. Cut off the top portion of the book cover.
You’re almost done making your very own journal! Awesome, right?
Flip the book cover over so that the decorative side is facing up, and measure and mark 3/16 of an inch out from the folded lines. Remember the ruler and bone folder fold from a few steps ago? We are using it here again. Place the ruler along the new marks and firmly press down while using the bone folder to press into the ruler from the inside of the cover.
Turn the book cover over with the inside facing up. Find the line where we measured out the full length of the book, and from there measure out 2/16 of an inch on each side. Once again, take the ruler and firmly press on the new line. Press into the ruler from the outside of the cover with the bone folder. These are the flaps of the book.
On each corner of the book flaps, measure in 3/16 of an inch and cut a diagonal line from the top of the crease to the 3/16-of-an-inch mark.
Measure and cut 2/16 of an inch on the first and last pages of your book block. These are the pages that are going to fit inside the newly folded book flaps.
Paint the PVA to the gutter of the cover and the spine for extra strength, and push the spine into the gutter of the book. Allow the book to dry for at least 30 minutes or until it feels dry.
You made a book! This DIY is a great idea for carrying all your summer dreams into the fall.
Follow the tutorial to make the other two summer printed books and start a party in your backpack.
Summer can now live year ’round.
Get the Supplies
Words to live by and to *rule* the school. Get all of these in our Brit + Co shop plus tons of other back-to-school goodies. Basically this ruler defines you and it’s only $7. Feeling down in the dumps? This pen ($14) set is sure to brighten your day on those pop quiz days.
DIY Production + Styling: Brittany Griffin
Photography: Chris Andre
Design: Rosee Canfield
What are your favorite summer prints? Do you think you’ll make these DIY journals? Take pictures and post them using the hashtag #iamcreative.