Gift Idea: Homemade Journals

Easy Homemade Journals (I made all these in an hour!) Click through for step-by-step tutorialYou guys, I made all these journals in, like, an hour! I've made journals before, but this is the simplest way I've found to create a little collection in no time at all. These little guys make great gifts, and I love that it's easy to build up a stash. 

Here's how:Supplies NeededSupplies:
egular 8.5 "x 11" printer paper (you need about 7 sheets per journal)
-Crop-A-Dile punch tool
-string or twine
-paper trimmer
-embellishments for the cover (I used letter stamps and StazOn ink)
-paper, leather, faux leather, or oil cloth for your cover material1Step One: Trim your 8.5" x 11" paper in half. I usually trim about five pieces at a time with my paper trimmer. You are trimming the long side in half so your new pieces are 8.5" x 5.5" inches.  

2Step Two: It's up to you how many pages you put in your book. I usually do about seven pieces, which makes 14 halves, which makes 28 pages. Just fold them in half so you can see how big your pages will be. 

3Step Three: Use the pages to measure how big you want your cover to be. I like to leave about an extra inch so there's half an inch around every edge between the pages and the cover. 

4Step Four: Trim the cover to size.  

5Step Five: You can see here how that extra inch (or so) makes the pages fit more comfortably within the cover. 

6Step Six: Use your Crop-A-Dile to punch two holes through the pages and the spine. The reason I use a Crop-A-Dile and not just a regular hole punch is that it can punch through lots of layers or thicker textiles like leather.7Step Seven: Next, use twine to attach the pages and the cover together. Hide the knot by tying it inside the book rather than on the spine. 

8Step Eight: It's that simple! Once you've made one, you can make 10 really quick. It's super fun! 

9Variations: To spice up your covers, try stamping, try using watercolor paper and paints, try leather or oil cloth, and add personal touches like names, dates, and occasions. 

Easy Homemade Journals (I made all these in an hour!) Click through for step-by-step tutorial Easy Homemade Journals (I made all these in an hour!) Click through for step-by-step tutorial Easy Homemade Journals (I made all these in an hour!) Click through for step-by-step tutorial If you make your own journals, tag me on Instagram or Twitter, or leave a link in the comments here so I can see them. xo! Elsie 

Credits// Author: Elsie Larson, Photography: Sarah Rhodes. Photos edited with Petal from the Fresh Collection.

  • I have made so many of these from your tutorial, such a great diy! There is no limit as to how creative you can get by mixing up the papers, bindings, etc. I like to use these elastic headbands from Threddies to hold my books together – they come in a million colors:

  • These are so cute! And this is the easiest step-by-step I have seen! Hella, this is the best step-by-step I have seen! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Its so easy and simple. I luv them. I want to make a whole stash of them now!

  • What a lovely and easy-to-make idea 🙂 I guess you could also use larger sheets of drawing paper and cut them to size for hand-made sketching books for arty friends or family members 🙂

  • I love this project so much, they are adorable and so easy to make! Perfect for when you need a quick craft fix 🙂

    I made a little recipe book version, check it out on my baby blog!

  • The “step by step” photos are both creative and very helpful! This is a great idea!

  • So sweet! I mdae my own journal this week and stamped it with bicycles.

  • Elise! I had a blast making these mini notebooks this weekend. I’ve tagged you in both instagram and twitter.
    instagram: peacelovenfood
    twitter: @peacelovenfood_

    Thanks again for sharing!!!
    xx Michelle

  • So crafty and simple 🙂 I love it. Definitely gonna make some soon!

  • Hi! First of all, I love your blog and I’m so glad I found it, it’s so full of inspiration. There’s so much ideas that my mind is about to explode because I have no time to do everything. 😀

    I read from your “Frequently asked questions” -post that “You can post one photo of our finished project with a link to our original blog post”. I still felt like asking – just to make sure – that is it okay if I sometimes use your photos in my blog? I thought about doing inspiration collage -posts (a little like this one here -> ) that are like pages from inspiration scrapbook. I’d like to do those every now and then, and because you have so many brilliant ideas here, I’d like to help to share some of them with my blog’s readers too. (My blog is written in Finnish, and it’s mostly about my life, crafts and diy-stuff.) And of course I’d write & link under the collages where the pictures are from.

    I’m really thankful if you have time to answer! There is not much blogs that are full of inspiration, crafts and diy-stuff and also written in Finnish, but fortunately there are blogs like this one. 🙂 Keep up the good work!

    With love,

  • Lovely photos. Nice post 🙂

    ℓα ℒιcσrηe – ℒa vie est ℓa petite ℓicorne.
    * Giveaway *

  • This is a great idea. They look so cute.I’ll make tons of these. I can even sell ’em. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • I was JUST dreaming up journal, notebook and mini book projects yesterday. This isn’t the approach I was thinking of, but it looks a lot easier! I’ll have to try it out 🙂

  • I did a graphic design course last year and bookbinding was by far my favourite part! Thanks for reminding me to get back to it, haha.

  • Elsie, I totally agree homemade/handmade journals are fantastic and sure do make gift giving just that more special! I’ve made several and what I love most is that I can recycle the untouched sheets of paper in my old note pads from school (admittedly long ago) that I haven’t used in x years. Thanks for sharing yours. You can check out a couple that I made here: *Coco*

  • These look gorgeous, I will have to give them a go!

  • What a great way to use up some of my amazing and pretty scrapbook paper! I always need more journals!

  • What a good idea – they look super cute and decorative! 🙂


  • What an interesting and personal idea! I always love a homemade gift- it feels extra special!

    xo, Kinsey

  • Ladies!! I am so impressed and madly in love with these affordable diys! I really appreciate y’all’s aesthetic and that you are incorporating projects for the budget minded! ????

  • I’m enamored with the project! I’m not so crafty but this looks like something I could actually do. I’ll make some for me first:)

  • So simple and so great. I bet I could inspire some creativity with these. Maybe a mini scrap book.

  • I made simmilar booklets a little while ago, I used vinyl record sleeves for the covers. I love yours too, cute litlle project.
    Here you can find mine:

  • I made something similar one year and used it as a Christmas card. I just used fabric for the cover, but stiffened it with spray starch. On the inside pages, instead of making it a journal, I typed and pasted some Christmas poems and Bible verses for the Christmas season. It was also a way to recycle pictures from previous cards (this was before the time of my Microsoft Word program where I could type, cut and paste, add pictures, texts, etc.!) My mom had saved her card and I recently found it when cleaning out things at my parent’s home.
    I definitely like the little journal idea!

  • how simple & cute! I think it could also be fun to use a thin ribbon or colorful twine and then have a bow on the outside rather than tying a knot on the inside. Just another fun way to mix things up!

  • Such a great idea, definitely gonna try it out 🙂

  • What an awesome idea! This would be great to keep a stash for last-minute gifts.


  • This looks fun to make! I can make some of these and give them away once I release my first book. Thanks for the inspiration! ^_^

    xo Trisha

  • You’ve made it look so effortless and easy to make:-) They are beautiful…and what a fun handmade gift idea. Gotta get myself a Crop-a-dile.

  • I am really interested in knowing what type of “paper trimmer” that you used here. Could you share with us the brand?


  • Such a great idea. So simple too. Love it.

  • This is super cool! I’m going to make some journals for myself and who knows, maybe as a little gifts for some up coming B-days in my family. Thanks for sharing this post and beautiful pictures. Love your blog! x

  • Instead of a crop-a-dile you can also just use an awl (a more traditional bookbinding tool that looks like a big needle-I have this one: You would need a cutting mat or cutting board underneath, but I think it makes everything easier to line up and punch through.

  • These are great and really beautiful. I think I will do some as a journal for inspirations, ideas and some other stuff like this. It is so easy to make them 🙂

  • Where do you get the leather/faux leather for many of your crafts? I’ve checked many local craft stores and even some fabric stores with no luck.

  • So cute! Maybe I’ll make one as a planner.

  • What a great idea! They’d make such cute presents if you’re a bit skint, but I think I’d be tempted to keep them for myself!

  • … so cute! I already have so many people in my mind who would enjoy this project… thank you Elsie! xxx from Greece

  • Such a great DIY! I really want to make a travel journal as I cannot find the perfect one for me!


  • These are gorgeous and look much simpler than the homemade journals I normally make. Thanks for sharing!

  • I agree that journals make great gifts – we always need to jot something down! I like that these are quick and easy journals… and if you want to spend just a tad bit more time, you can bind them differently to create something even more long-lasting. It doesn’t really take too much work! I also like to mix it up and use other materials like leather and cloth 🙂

  • Do you crease the cover in any special way so it doesn’t tear or bend funny?

  • I love these ones and my friends and family too!!
    I made a lot of them last year and it was quite hard to give them away 😀

  • I can’t wait to try these. I have been looking for fun projects to do with my daughter over the Easter holidays. These are perfect.

  • Every year, I make my own journal/planner. 🙂 This is the one I made for 2014:

  • So creative! I’m lovin’ all the prints used in the journal. 🙂

  • Love this!
    I use to have a lot of notebooks around, in my bag, my bedside table, desk…. Now i need one of those!

  • Such a great idea Elsie! I think I’m gonna do it but for me!!! I love it!

  • Oooooo love these! Definitely going to make some for myself to take on my travels x

  • Super cute and looks pretty simple too, I may have to do this today 🙂

  • Je suis une vrai dingue de carnet .. Je ne sais même pas l’ expliquer ! Wouhhhh j’adore cette idée <3

  • These look wonderful, and are such an amazing gift idea! They don’t seem too difficult either, which is always a bonus! x

  • This are gorgeous! What a simple, creative way to use up all the scrap materials I have laying around. Thanks for another great DIY inspiration! 🙂

  • These are really cute. A great DIY product the next time it snows!

  • love all the journals, now I have more ideas on the design of my next journal and scratch pads

  • So, I make journals, just not exactly the same way (although these are ADORABLE!). 🙂 You can check them out here if you would like!

  • Brilliant gift idea. I also recently made some journals and gave them away as gifts. I love the ones that you have made! Thanks for sharing?

    Krystal |

  • Love this idea! Where did you get the letter stamps on the light pink journal?

  • So stinking cute! Going to have to make!

  • This is such a great idea! I’m hand making all my gifts this year and this is such a good idea! Great post 🙂

  • Such cute patterns! I’m definitely doing this, they have some nice papers in Papyrus, I think I’ll get some there and do tons of these!

  • These journals are so cute and look pretty simple to make! I made one right away after reading this post! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • These are so adorable!!! I have a “small” obsession with note books, as I like to jot down everything! But at the same time i’m a bit of a notebook snob…I only like to write in cute ones lol! Thank you so much for sharing this, i’m definitely giving it a try 🙂

  • Ive been wanting a notepad!! I will definitely try this!!
    Elizabeth x

  • These are so cute! And they’re perfect as a short craft if you have a busy schedule!

    This is THE solution for me 🙂 Now I can stop going out to look for one or sitting with laptop for a long time!
    Thank you so much for sharing this great idea! I can’t wait to make one 🙂

  • Hi Regina,
    It’s from Studio Calico!

    :)) Elsie

  • These are really cute and simple! I make my own journals links are at the top to my etsy shop and Instagram.

  • Oh, this is lovely! I actually only do handmade journals so this is perfect and smart. I think it lends something sweet and personal to it 🙂

    Love and Luck,
    Laurali Star

  • These are so cute! Perfect size to just throw in your purse and go! Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Hi Kyleigh,
    It’s because it has a leather cover, so it doesn’t really hold the fold as easily! Same pages, though!
    xx- Elsie

  • Hi Jeanine,
    Hooray- I’m so pleased to hear that!
    xx- Elsie

  • Hi Eilidh,
    Crop-a-diles are carried at Hobby Lobby and Michael’s and Amazon. 😀


  • I love this idea, thanks Elsie! I have tons of little notebooks floating around my house and how cute is it to add a couple of my own little books to the collection. x Eveline from

  • These are cute, I will be trying these out soon! X

  • So cute Elsie! I noticed that hot pink (maybe red?) one is a little bigger than the rest. How many pages did you put in it, or how many would you say is possible before it’s too many and you need to resort to traditional book binding?

    Thanks for the tutorial! Can’t wait to try with my Rangers group 🙂

    Kyleigh x

  • Ahhh this is so perfect!! My best friend’s bday is coming and i am sending her a little package and i’ve been trying to make a few DIY things for her and this is perfect!!! Thanks <3

  • These are great journals! My husband and I make traditional leather hand-bound leather blank books! Our main business is restoration and conservation of rare books, but a great way to practice technique and keep up tooling skills is to bound books. Our website is

  • Lovely idea Elsie, and they look rather easy to make especially for us non-diy’ers who find everything hard! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • How lovely! I just want to make lots of these for myself, aaand maybe a couple for gifts 😉 I love that it’s almost like book binding, just a whole lot easier! Yay! Thanks so much for sharing, Elsie; this is a truly beautiful project 🙂


  • I love these! I am constantly making lists in my journals 🙂 What kind of paper is the blue one? So Cute!

  • These are soooo cute!!!! I am super excited to make these 🙂 Thanks for the awesome idea, Elsie!!

  • This is such a lovely idea – I’d have never thought of using them as gifts but that’s actually a really nice idea! Might just need to try it. Where is the best place to get a Crop-A-Dile?
    Thank you for sharing this idea!

  • Journals are always so much fun to make and it’s always so interesting to see different ways people make them!
    Lauren | OhHay Blogs!

  • Love all the different papers you used for covers! Would be cute to do with kids.

  • OH wow! These would make SUCH great gifts! I want to make lots of them for Easter!

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