Handmade Bullet Journal

So I’m coming super close to the end of my giant, well-loved bullet journal that I’ve been using for over a year.

And I’ve been searching for the past few weeks for a great replacement.

Requirement 1:

It had to be dot paper or graphing paper. You can technically make a bullet journal work in any notebook, but I don’t care.

Requirement 2:

I didn’t want to spend a lot on it.  Sure, it’s an investment, and I was going to use it every day for the next year or whatever, but I also didn’t want to feel depressed if (more like WHEN) it got destroyed by my children… Like my current bullet journal…

Requirement 3:

It needed to be sturdy.  Again, kids.

Requirement 4:

It needed to be kinda cute?  Not as important, but I wanted to like it a lot.

Requirement 5: 

It needed to be THICK.  I know some people prefer tiny little portable bullet journals, but I just don’t want to replace mine every 2 weeks, and I don’t want to ever really worry about running out of space and paper.

Also I’ve fallen in love with my giant journal.

And after wasted time online pricing out fancy Leuchtturms and dot journals, and one half-hearted, disappointing attempt at Dollar General, the lazy side of me decided to stop looking for journals, and just make my own.

So I did.

I started by roughly calculating how much paper I’d need to make the journal as thick as my current book.  That came to about 75 sheets of paper, which, 75×4 is 300 pages.

So I used this light dot paper template that my amazing sister sent me a long time ago, and I printed um, a lot of sheets…

I kind of accidentally printed 90 sheets of paper, soooo now I get 360 pages in my book. Whatever.  It’s cool.  Still perfect.

Then I folded all of them in half.


And I creased the edges a ton, with a wooden bone folder creaser thing.

Cause seriously, there’s nothing worse than making a notebook out of poorly creased pages.

Isn’t it beautiful?

Then I tucked the folded pages inside of each other, in groups of 5.

Which ended up looking something like this.

Then I marked where I wanted my sewing to go.

For this one, it ended up being every 1/2 inch, which was a little overkill, but I want it to last a long time, and one or two stitches wasn’t going to cut it.

Then I got my husband to hold the pages tightly together while I marked the lines all the way down.  The pages are staggered, but I promised it looked good hahaha.

Then I poked holes in all of the markings on all of the sheet groups.

I cut up a lovely Frosted Shredded Wheat cereal box (we unsponsored-ly love the Clover Valley brand at Dollar General)…

And I made it into a front and a back for my binding, that I will glue to the front of my book covers.

I also poked holes in the covers.

Then I started binding!

This isn’t a book binding tutorial, cause I don’t know the terms and technicalities and everything, but I’m pretty sure I used a Coptic stitch, which has made sturdy notebooks for me in the past.  And I think I used some kind of Japanese stitch for the cover parts? I think.

Also my string is just thread, tripled up. (As in, 3 strands.)

758392938 hours later…

I’m “done”!

Now for the cover.

Cause a flimsy cereal box cover ain’t gonna last long.  (You may refer to Requirement #3….)

So, I found a book about the same thickness and size.

Turns out, a good ol’ Robert Frost did the trick.

I’ve had it on my shelf for years, and for as much as I’ve read it, it certainly doesn’t need a hard cover.

So I cut the cover off.

And I dressed up the naked little book. Just a little.

And I trimmed the raggedy edges of the cover.

And aw, look how nicely my new bullet journal fits.

So long, Robert Frost.  The Cover Not Taken. Whatever that means.

So, attaching it.

I tried to kinda analyze the structure of regular books, to come up with how to assemble everything.

I measured out a piece of cardstock..

And I folded it so that it fit around the book snugly.

I then cut out 2 pieces of fabric from a hem of a random old scrap shirt.

And I glued them down.

Then I glued the entire inside strip of the cardstock to the book.

And I let it dry.

While it was drying (cause I was impatient and excited), I cut some ribbon for a bookmark.

After I glued it on…

I realized that I’m always wishing for more bookmarks.

So I cut and glued 2 more on! Haha.

And that, for some strange reason, is exciting.

I realized, too late, that the ribbons were coming out of the “bottom” of my journal…

It literally doesn’t matter, cause I will be covering up the cereal boxes anyway… but it matters just a little bit, in my OCD heart haha.

Anyway, after all of that glue completely dried, I glued another strip of card stock to the spine, to further solidify it and keep the ribbons held down.

So it looked like this on the ends:

Once THAT dried completely, I glued the blue flaps to the hardcover.

Tip: Spreading the glue out with a foam brush helps it apply evenly.

I let that dry, and then I bent it so that the pages laid flat.

I also had to go throughout the book to make sure that any seeped glue wasn’t making pages stick.

Then I measured out sheets of paper to glue down over the inside of the covers.

And glued them…

And you’d think I would be done!….

But I remembered about a magnet strip that I was given 2 years ago, that has been stuck to the inside of my metal craft desk…

And I decided to make a magnetic fabric clasp.

So I cut the magnet strip in half, and hot glued one side to the front of my notebook.

The hot glue ended up not being strong enough, so my husband later used some epoxy and stuck it back on for me.

Then I cut and sewed some fabric around the other half of the magnet…

Then I turned it right side out, ironed it flat, and stuck the magnet in…and sewed a little line to keep the magnet at the end.

Then I pinned and sewed the other end.

Then I pulled it tight and hot glued the non-magnetic end to the back of the book.

Then FINALLY, after 2 billion hours of work, my cute little Road Not Taken Handmade Handloved Bullet Journal was complete!

And I love it!

Now, in the future, I’ll probably just spend $20 for a fancy bullet journal, instead of spending $0 and 240596 hours haha, BUT, I had fun, and I’m excited to decorate this baby and start using it!


7 Comments Add yours

  1. KristynL says:

    Ok LOVE this! I love a good project that will try my patience, haha. So impressed with how yours turned out!


    1. Thanks so much, I had fun making it!


  2. Cynthia Evans says:

    ah! so cute!


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