Book binding

How to make a handmade hardcover journal with a traditional look

Bookbinding is one of those hobbies where you can experiment with a lot of different looks, once you get the hang of what goes into making the core structural elements of a book. In this post, I’ll outline how you can go about making a journal that has a lovely traditional look. I recently made one myself and I think it has turned out beautiful! 🙂

Why you might want to try making a journal with a traditional look

If you’re the kind of person who likes putting pen to paper, even if occasionally, a journal is likely something that you use often. In this case, a journal is not just another product, but in many ways, the kind of journal you use speaks to who you are and what you value in life. A journal that looks unique, is high quality, and has a bit of a personality, speaks volumes of how you value the little things in life. Writing in a journal that is well crafted and look different and beautiful, will be a joy for you to write in.

A journal with a traditional look is going to look very different from the typical journal that you find in stores. If you like this look, it’ll be a joy to pull out the journal every single time! 🙂 Small pleasures like this can make your day to day much more fun!

Steps for making a hard cover journal with a traditional look

Step 1: The first step is to make the structural elements of a DIY hard cover journal. I’ve outlined the steps here in this post on how to make a DIY hard cover journal using case book binding method. Follow the steps until you’ve made your text block, glued end pages, attached mull, and cut out the boards for your hard cover.

Step 2: The key thing here is that you want a cover that looks traditional. To do this, you have to find something that looks traditional! In the case of the journal above, I picked up a traditional jacket on my recent trip to Rann of Kutch in India. Side note – Travel is a great way to find inspiration!

The jacket that provided the source material for the cover

But, you might be wondering how to get something traditional if you’re not traveling? Etsy is great for this purpose! For eg: Here are a bunch of traditional jackets on Etsy. Jackets are a good garment to re-purpose as book covers as there’s enough cloth for you to use. You could also look for bags and shawls as alternatives.

You can also sew your own cover if you like!

Step 3: Before applying this cloth to your book board, make sure that it has an inner lining. This way, when you glue the cloth, the glue will not seep through to the other side. If you don’t take care of this, your book cover will look splotchy!

If the cloth you’ve found does not have an inner lining, you can follow this video for how to make your own book cloth.

Step 4: Now you just have to glue the cloth to your book! Follow the steps in this video from minute 4:17 onwards till the end.

Leave the book out to dry overnight, underneath a large, heavy book.

And you’re done!! You’re now the proud owner of a lovely, traditional looking journal that’s sure to stand out. Enjoy! 🙂

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