Making a Small Travel Journal

Making a Small Travel Journal

By the time you read this post, I will be in New York City. My mom and dad kindly let us use their timeshare condo in downtown Manhattan. My sister and her husband are joining us there and we’ll be there for a week. In preparation for our trip, I thought it would be fun to make a small travel journal to keep memories of the trip in. Since I was making one for me, I thought I’d make one for each of us. I thought it would be interesting to see what each person chose to remember in their book. I’ve made a mini-tutorial of how I put the books together.

The covers were made with some hand-made paper that I made about a month ago with my local surface design group. I didn’t really have plans for the paper when I made it but it was the perfect size for a small book cover. It’s about half the size of an 8 1/2″ x 11” sheet of paper. You could use a piece of hand-made felt, a couple of layers of heavier cotton fused together or a piece of cotton canvas to use as a cover. It needs to have a little weight to it but not be completely stiff.

I then painted some paper with a light wash of acrylic paint and cut the sheets in half. This paper is slightly heavier than computer paper but not by much. I painted some in green, blue and orange. You can choose any color scheme to match your cover.

I painted enough sheets so that I would have 12 half pages per book. I then took three sheets and folded them in half, one inside the other to make the signatures for the book. That’s just a fancy word for the sheets of paper that go together in a group to be sewn into the book. Oops, I forgot one step. Before I folded the signature, I made a fancy center page of the New York City sky line.

Here is the pattern that I drew. I found a photo of the NYC sky line and sketched it out. I then used a ruler to make the lines a little straighter and then used a felt tip marker to make the lines a little darker.

I then traced the pattern on to a piece of freezer paper and ironed the freezer paper to one of the blue pages to use as a stencil. I then sprayed the paper with black spray paint. This is the stencil after it’s been used several times. It worked to use the same stencil four times. The last use didn’t give as clear an edge so if you want a really clear edge each time, make a new freezer paper stencil each time. But I was being lazy and it really didn’t make that much difference in the end result.

Here’s the painted sky line. I did draw in the pointy part of the top of the Empire State Building later with a black Sharpie. Looks more like a castle to me but I guess it looks somewhat like a city skyline.

I just got this new Pfaff sewing machine. My old machine was a cheap Brother machine and it just wasn’t working like I needed for machine embroidery. This machine is really fancy but I really like how it sews so far. I used it to sew my little books.

Previously, I had searched online for maps and photos to use in the books. I thought it would be good to get everyone started and give the books a feeling of being in New York City. I used Google maps for the front covers.

I used a piece of double stick tape to apply the map to the front cover to hold it in place while I was stitching. When you stitch through paper with a sewing machine, you should increase your stitch length. If you put your stitches too close together it tends to tear the paper. I used orange thread and stitched around the outside of the map. This book is put together with all straight seams so you only need basic sewing machine skills. Remember to put the map in the correct position so that when the book is closed, that the map ends up on the front of your book and right side up.

This is the trickiest part. Open one of your signatures and place it on the inside of your book cover. You can see the seam where you stitched the map on the front. Line up the fold with that inside seam about 1/2″ to the right of it. Carefully stitch along the folded line. You can tie the ends of the thread either on the inside or outside. You could leave them long to tie beads or other decorative fibers on the outside if so desired. I tied mine on the inside and cut them short. Keep lining up your signatures alongside the previous one about 1/4″ apart and stitching them into place.

This photo shows the outside cover of the book after two signatures had been sewn. I tried to take a photo of the spine of the book after all the signatures had been sewn but couldn’t get a photo in focus. Sorry.

Here are the four books after having all four signatures sewn in place. I really had fun with these books. I’m not sure if it was because I like making books or if it was finishing a project. I’ve been making so many samples for my class that I never feel like I’ve really made a project. It was nice to have a finished piece.

I then found some painted paper that kind of matched and glued it into the front cover to hide the stitching from the map on the front. I also glued in some of the photos I had found online. This is graffiti on the right hand page.

I also sewed two pieces of paper together to make a pocket. I then glued it into the back cover. We can put tickets or other memorabilia in the pocket.

This photo shows the hosts of The Chew. It’s a cooking show that’s filmed in NYC. My sister got us tickets to be in the studio audience. I’ve never even seen the show but I like cooking shows so it should be fun. I’ll let you know if we’ll be on TV!

A friend of ours got us tickets to go to a Mets baseball game while we’re there. My husband is excited about this. So now we’ll all have a little book that we can journal in, draw sketches, paste photos, tickets and other ephemera about our trip. I’ll post some photos of the completed journal when I get back.

Do you use a journal? Have you made a travel journal before? I’d love to see yours if you have any samples.

8 thoughts on “Making a Small Travel Journal

  1. They are beautiful and in years to come will be read with fondness. I hope you have a great holiday.

    My mum always kept a diary of our family holidays – just a spiral bound exercise book – and she made an entry at the end of every day. If she’d picked up a nice serviette or brochure, then she’d stick that in too.
    Many years later they brought back happy memories.

    1. Thanks Lyn! Everyone seemed happy with them. I can hardly remember what we did 3 days ago so they will help with the memories.

  2. They’re a great idea, Ruth and look really nice πŸ™‚
    I used to keep a ‘Days out’ journal, with lists of train prices, where the toilets were and the best places to eat. I’ve still got all my train tickets too, but they need a whole box πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks Zed! That would be a great idea if you lived here. We are a bit challenged by the Metro system here but we are doing better. We are off to a Mets baseball game today.

  3. What a great idea, lovely journals, hope you have a fantastic time.
    And what a fancy new sewing machine, that will be fun to learn all sorts of new things on.
    Green with envy on both counts!

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