DIY Craft Tutorial: How to Make a Woven Paper Journal or Sketchbook Cover
This woven paper craft is a special way to add color, creativity, and personality to your journal or sketchbook. This technique can also be used to beautify and upcycle your diary, scrapbook, family albums, photo albums, baby books, and wedding albums.
I like to keep multiple journals. I have one where I keep a list of books I want to read, movies that I'd like to see, and other things I want to research. I have another journal where I develop my craft project ideas, and a third book where I make notes on my knitting projects. I have covered all of my journals using this woven paper technique to personalize each one for its use. It's a great way to make each book look and feel special.
This technique can also be a fun way to use and update unattractive journals or blank books that you find on clearance and can buy for a great price!
Choosing Your Journal or Sketchbook for this Craft Project
There are a few things to look for when choosing a journal or sketchbook for this woven paper project:
- The inside pages can be whatever you want: lined paper, blank pages, or photo pages.
- You want to use a book with a hard, stiff cover. Your book cover can be fancy and finished, or just cardboard or chipboard, but you do not want to use a book with a thin paper or fabric cover. A thin cover will curl during this process.
- It's preferable to use a book with a spine that is loose and not glued to the pages inside. If you open the book up completely (see photo above), there should be a space between the spine and the group of pages.
- For your first project, you should choose a book that is somewhat small (no larger than 6 inches in any dimension). The larger the book you use, the larger the pieces of paper you need to cover it, and large pieces of paper might be more difficult to find.
Materials for Making a Woven Paper Book Cover
In addition to your journal, diary, or sketchbook, you will also need:
- one very large piece of paper that is big enough to cover your book when it is face down and open, plus an additional 3 inches or so. I used a piece of brown butcher or kraft paper. You could use any rolled paper like heavy weight gift wrap or shelf paper. Thin gift wrap will probably tear too easily for this project.
- a variety of other decorative papers. These pieces of paper should cover the height of your book, plus 2 inches or so. I used paper from a pad of scrapbook paper. This worked well because I had a number of different paper patterns that were all coordinated to go together. How much paper you will need depends on the size of your book and the variety of papers you want to use.
- a box of binder clips or paper clips - you'll need 20 to 30 in total.
- craft glue that is made to use with paper. I used Mod Podge, but you could also use white glue so long as your paper doesn't get too wet and wrinkle.
- scissors, or a paper cutter if you have one
- ruler and pencil
- (optional) some decorative items like a greeting card, post card, or photo to add to the front cover of your book
Directions for Making a Woven Paper Cover for Your Journal, Sketchbook, or Album
1. The first step in this project is to measure the cover of the book you plan to use. Place your book face up on your work surface. Measure the height of your book from the top to the bottom edge of the cover. Then also measure the width of your book from the right hand edge of the cover to where your book begins to bend for the spine.
You now need to divide each of these measurements into smaller units to cut the strips of paper to cover your book. For instance, my book was 5 1/2 inches wide by 7 3/4 inches high, so I decided to cover my book in strips that were 3/4 of an inch wide. Your strips do not have to all be the same width, but this will create a more unified look.
2. Take your book and open it so you can trace just the front cover up to where the spine begins (see photo above). Trace the cover onto a piece of scrap paper and put it to the side. This template will be used later to cut out your end pages.
3. Cut your large piece of paper to be the exact height of your book and long enough to cover your book when it is face down with both sides open, plus add an additional 3 inches (see photo above).
4. Leave a 1 1/2 inch band on the right hand side of your paper to fold under your book cover. Then begin to measure out the width of your strips of paper based on the calculations you did in Step 1. Once you have marked your strips, use your scissors to cut them, but leave your 1 1/2 inch band untouched.
5. Then begin to cut your decorative paper into separate strips (see photo below). These strips should be as long as the height of you book, plus an additional 2 inches. The width of these strips is based on your calculations in Step 1.
I would suggest only cutting 4 or 5 decorative strips to start. Once you begin to weave your paper, you may need to fudge the size of some of strips to cover each side of your book.
To Begin Weaving Your Paper
1. Take one of your strips of decorative paper and put it under the top strip of your large piece of paper (from now on, I'm going to refer to the large piece of paper as "A"), leaving about a one inch tab at the top (see photo above). Then slid your decorative paper over the next strip of A. Continue in this fashion to weave your decorative strip in and out of the long strips on A.
Once you are done, pull your decorative strip of paper snug against the wide edge of A.
2. Choose your next decorative strip and put it over the first strip of A, under the next strip of A, and continue to weave this piece of paper through your large sheet in the opposite pattern as your first strip. Pull each strip tight against the piece next to it so no gaps in your weaving appear.
3. Continue to weave together your paper strips in this pattern. Choose each of your decorative paper strips to create an attractive arrangement across your book.
4. Once you have 4 or 5 strips woven together, place your woven design over your book. Fold the wide paper edge over the front cover so that your first decorative strip is against the right edge of your book. Use binder or paper clips to hold this in place. DO NOT USE ANY GLUE AT THIS POINT.
5. Then fold the top 1 inch end of your decorative strips over to top edge of your book and clip in place. Leave the bottom ends of your strips loose for now.
6. Continue to weave in your paper strips to cover the front of your book.
7. When you get to the spine of your book, fold the remaining strips of A around to the back. Then cut a piece of decorative paper to weave in to cover the spine of your book. The spine of your book might be a different width than the other strips of paper you are using, so measure and cut a strip specially to cover the spine.
8. Then continue weaving in your strips and clipping them in place as outlined above to cover the back of your book. As you work, you may need to pull in the strips of A to keep your weaving tight. Make sure your last strip of decorative paper hits the back edge of the back cover of your book.
9. Once your weaving is complete, check that all your pieces of paper are woven tight and snug. Make sure the piece of paper that you cut for the spine is laying in the proper place and that your cover fits snugly around your book. Now it is time to start gluing your strips in place.
10. Turn your book so that the front cover is facing up. Remove the clips and unfold the wide edge that is tucked under the front cover. Spread your glue along the underside of this wide edge, fold it back in place and smooth it along the inside edge of your book. Make sure there are no wrinkles in your paper and put the binder clips back in place to hold your glued edge.
Note: When gluing your woven cover in place, be careful not to get any glue on the sheets of your book. You want to keep the pages of your book neat and clean.
11. Next, remove the clips from the strips at the top edge of the front cover of your book. If need be, trim them down to only 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch in length. Apply your glue and fold them back around the top edge. Make sure they are glued smoothly and neatly on the inside cover of your book. Put your clips back in place to hold them while your glue dries.
12. Now cut the bottom ends of your decorative strips so they are 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch long. Apply glue to these tabs, fold them snugly under the bottom edge of your book, and clip them in place.
13. Once your front cover is glued in place, continue in the same way to adher your decorative strips along the back of your book.
14. When gluing the piece along the spine of your book in place, try to tuck your top and bottom tabs of paper into the space between the book and the binding of pages (see photo above).
15. When all your decorative strips are glued in place, fold your book so that it is closed and faced down. Then trim the ends of the strips of your large piece of paper, leaving about a 3/4 tab on each strip.
16. Apply some glue to each of these tabs and fold each one to the underside of the back of your book. Make sure each tab in pulled tight and lies flat on the inside cover of your book. Clip them in place to dry.
17. Now let your book dry completely, preferably overnight. I put some wax paper in between each cover and the inside pages to protect them from the glue, then put a heavy book on top of my journal while it dried.
18. While your book dries, take the template you made in Step 2 and trace it on to two sheets of decorative paper. Cut these pieces of paper out and fit them against the front and back inside covers of your book. You will probably need to trim them a bit to fit, but you want them to cover all the ends of your woven paper design.
19. Once you have trimmed your paper to fit, glue them to each inside cover of your book. Put some wax paper inside each cover and let these pieces dry in place. I put a heavy book on top to help the paper dry flat.
20. Once your woven cover is complete and dry, you can add additional decoration by gluing an image from a greeting card, postcard, photo, or drawing to the front of your book. I cut out a piece of a greeting card and glued it to the front cover of my journal. I then framed it with another piece of decorative paper for a finishing touch.
Don't Throw Out Your Scraps of Paper!
You can use the small scraps of leftover paper to make other projects. I glued my scraps down on to some card stock in a random pattern to make a bookmark for my journal. I punched a hole at the top of my bookmark and looped some strands of yarn for a tassel as a finishing touch.
I hope your enjoy adding a woven paper design to your favorite journal, sketchbook, diary, or family album!
Copyright © 2015 by Donna Herron. All rights reserved.
More by this Author
These colorful angels are made from a paper plate and basic art supplies. A fun activity for any age, these crafty angels can decorate a mantle, hang on your Christmas tree or serve as a tree topper!
Make a lovely floral decoration for your home by adding paper leaves and tissue paper blossoms to a natural branch. Easy to adapt for various holidays, this flower project is great for children, too!
Fringe decoration or tassels are often added to scarves, shawls, pillows and other handmade items. Here are step-by-step directions for adding fringe to your knitting or crochet project.