Project Home Page: Junk Journals

What's A Junk Journal

A junk journal is basically a journal that is made with a variety of papers and other materials, often things that many people would consider junk, like used envelopes, packaging and other recyclables that you find interesting. I love using my junk journal because it takes away the fear of the blank page, because you're rarely looking at an empty white page when starting. A lot of the work is done in the initial binding, so when it comes time to fill it you don't have to think too hard. This worked especially well for me when I was trying to get back into the craft room after having my son Magnus. Since it's called a junk journal, you don't have to take yourself too seriously when working in it: just kind of stick stuff in as you feel like it. And then magically it all comes together as a fun and interesting hodge-podge.

Making the actual journal may seem a bit intimidating, but is actually pretty simple and requires very few tools. In fact, the only thing you need is something that can poke a hole through a bunch of papers. I literally went to the hardware store and asked for something that would poke holes and eventually found something. You can also order an awl from Amazon if you don't want to seem like a weirdo at the hardware store. Aside from your poky tool, you just need the papers you want to include, some embroidery thread and a large needle. I have a video here that walks through the process of stitching the binding.

Some people like to combine several of the hand-stitched journals together (a single stitched collection is called a signature) into a book. I always make my signatures too full, so I just use them on their own as a notebook. Lately I've preferred to add a sturdy cover when stitching, usually a plastic folder cut to size. I also like to add a string binding so that I can close the notebook. You can make your journal any size. I usually make mine traveler's notebook sized (about 4.5x8.5 inches) and I also enjoy using a mini one (3.5x5.5 inches).

Junk Journal Process Videos


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Finished Notebooks


Baby Junk Journal #1
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Baby Junk Journal #2
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Baby Junk Journal #3
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Baby Junk Journal #4
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Baby Junk Journal #5
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Baby Junk Journal #6
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Baby Junk Journal #7
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Baby Junk Journal #8
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You can check out my Amazon store where I have the few items that I use listed. I keep a pretty minimal craft room and I print out the majority of my papers on my home printer. A lot of my elements stash comes from the dollar store.



If you have any questions please ask below in the comments and I'll do my best to answer.

Video Transcript

Hi there! Today I am going to show you how I stitch my junk journals. So I have here a collection of papers that I already got together, because this takes a little bit of time to get all the papers that you have, that you want to include. So I've already done that.

So I'm going to go ahead here and look through what I've got. This one kind of has a pink theme. I think I'm going to use this. Let's see, I have one of these. They're both scrapbook papers...trying to decide which one to use as the cover. I think I might use this one as the cover, because this one has— I printed on the inside.

So I'm going to use this one as the outside layer. Or the cover, basically, and then I'm just going to start including in some of these papers here. And so I'm just going to stack them in so that they are inside of each other. And then if it matters to you which way is up then you can— yeah— sorry I was thinking there. Just make sure that they are facing the direction that you want to have them.

All right, so I'm gonna put this here. Then I have— this is a paper that I cut ahead of time on my silhouette, so it is ready to go. Let's see here, what should we put in next? This pink one. Put in this doily. I can't put that here, I think I'm gonna put this pocket in the middle. Maybe? And this black and white paper— I think I'm going to put— I think I'm going to go back and put this here.

Okay, okay, so I've got my papers all stacked together. Now I just want to make sure that they are all centered. Let's make sure— I'm lining everything up I think, to the bottom here. Push everything down. Just have a little look. I like making junk journals because they are called junk journals, and so that means that you know things do not have to be super— you know— exactly right.

So I've got these here, and now I'm just— I want to make sure that the middle here is lined up because I'm going to poke a hole straight through the fold...there. So I want to make sure things are nice and tight. I have some clips here. I'm just gonna secure my things here, and then make sure these are here. I don't know if this clip is gonna get me quite— I'm gonna get another, bigger clip.

Okay just make sure these are tight in there. Alright, alright. So I probably will come back and trim, I'm gonna trim these edges here. And then, you know what? I was going to put in— I forgot one layer I was going to put in. This paper, this plastic bag so…

All right, so now I've got my spine together. So now I'm going to poke my hole, so I have this pokey thing that I bought at the hardware store. If you're looking online for something you want— it's called an owl: AWL. It just, you know, makes a hole basically. But this I bought at the hardware store. I just asked them for something that could make a hole like this. So I don't exactly know what this device is called.

So I'm gonna go ahead here, and you can measure if you want to, but I think I'm gonna just make my hole here, so that this pocket is included. I'm just gonna poke, kind of fold this like this so. As I poke until...there you go. So you can see that the poke has come through. And then we want one about in the middle. Although, I think because of this pocket, I might just poke down a bit lower here. So that that pocket flap is included.

Now you can see the poke has come through again, and then one more here at the bottom. Okay, so that is pretty easy and now I'm just going to pull out my, what color thread this is, pink, here. So maybe I'll use this pink thread then. I'm sorry, I think I forgot my bigger needle. No, maybe I have one up here. Okay, so this is an embroidery needle. It just has a bigger eye on the top, because I want to— I'm going to put through a whole length of thread here.

So I'm not really sure how long we need to make this. We're going to go through the spine basically twice, so this is long enough I think. Okay, so there's no need to knot the end. I'm gonna go ahead and thread this needle. Okay, so then basically you want to start at either the top or the bottom hole, from the inside. And you want to leave some thread on the inside, because we're going to come back and we're going to knot using this thread. So you want to have a little there, so that you can do that, and then we want to come through the middle.

I can feel my needle is getting stuck somewhere. There we go. Okay, and then we're going to come through the top hole and snap. And then back through the middle. There we go! So pull this through. Take the needle off, and now it's as easy as tying a knot here with your two ends. And you can leave these long, or you can trim them. I'll just leave them for now.

And there you go! It's all finished. This is called a signature. So if you hear people— if they're binding books, they will talk about making a signature. Which is what this is. So you could put several of these together and bind them together, you know, in a book cover, and that's how you make a book.

But I often will just use it as is, just like this. I hope that was helpful. If you have any questions, please leave them below in the comments. And if you liked this video, please give me a thumbs up. And if you would like to see more like this, please subscribe to my channel.

Thanks a lot!
Have a great day!

Recent Comments

Marisa Lerin
Marisa Lerin Mon, 03/13/2023 - 08:29

@Elizabeth: I use Google Photos for backup.

Elizabeth price
Elizabeth price Sun, 03/12/2023 - 01:12

Question!!!! You have GOT to have a couple hundred TONS of pictures. I am trying to figure out the best way to store an OFFLINE in my hands if I need it to be way to store my son's pictures. There are only a couple ... million! (No, seriously, I have a ton.) Goggle photo scared me half to death when I thought all my stuff had been erased. Please tell me you some form of hdd or ssd or flash drive with HI capacity and LOW failure rate that you would suggest.

Melody Strahan
Melody Strahan Fri, 04/17/2020 - 08:26

JJ are my jam! I collect large old beat up books and rip em up for new books all the time! There's tons of different things you can do with them, and always new videos out on youtube with new techniques and ideas for ephemera. I am a very recent new member here, but my very next JJ thing is going to be to feed some of my less fragile book pages through my printer (attached to a sheet of copy paper with washi tape or weak cellophane) and printing background papers on it. I think it's going to be beautiful!

Shawna Adkerson
Shawna Adkerson Tue, 04/14/2020 - 08:00

thanks for the tut on making signatures! i've always just purchased them in the past. so much more simpler than i imagined it would be.

Kristal Daniel
Kristal Daniel Mon, 04/13/2020 - 05:18

I love JJ's. I love the fact that I can reuse so much of the paper from my husband's office. I love how digitalscrapbook.coms makes this so much easier because I can take all the wonderful patterned paper images and other images and print them on the clean side of the paper. Then I can use all the heavy weight junk mail I get to make tags and journaling cards. I also like to reuse all the envelopes I get. I never thought of filling the signatures before sewing them into the cover. I may have to try that, although I would need to have a cover in mind so I would know what size to make the signatures because my covers are not usually TN size. Thanks for giving me something else to consider, Marisa!

Linda2 Dlr
Linda2 Dlr Sat, 04/11/2020 - 10:18

Oh wowowowowow! Thank you for this process video! I just learned something new and different. How fun to come back into scrapping after so long to discover such creative ideas. I'm going to make a Junk Journal as soon as I can. I LOVE that you showed how to use different sized papers, types of papers, and materials to make it very eclectic and creative. I feel my creative juices starting to flow. :-)

Dorothy Orr
Dorothy Orr Sat, 04/11/2020 - 05:18

Love them!I love making Junk Journals. Such an eclectic design and feel. Thanks for sharing yours!