Making a vintage-style journal

journal with crcover flourioss stitch spineI like making books. My mom says I was making my own tiny books by hand since I was 6 or 7 years old. It seems that I’ve been making them ever since.

I like the idea of gathering my own materials, my own papers, assembling them into the order I want, and then binding them together. I like making my own covers so my creation will complement other books in my bookshelf.

After getting plenty of inspiration from others on youtube, making vintage-styled journals, I wanted to try making my own.

By far, my favorite artist who makes vintage style journals is Michelle Mooney from The Paper Addiction. Her creations are amazing.

What is a vintage-style journal? I don’t think there is a precise definition, but generally it’s a book constructed by hand using vintage or vintage-styled materials.

  • The covers can be made from scratch using heavy paper, or it can be made with an existing book cover that has been altered in some way.
  • The internal pages are arranged and/or assembled into signatures (a bundle of folded pages). Often time the paper is dyed with tea or with coffee.
  • The signatures are attached to the covers by sewing them into the spine. Alternatively, pages can be bound with the cover using a cinch, or using binder rings.
  • The “vintage” part comes in to play with how you decorate the journal. Papers, materials, scraps or other pieces of ephemera that are indeed vintage or aged, or more often embellishments are new but made to look vintage. The book covers themselves can come from an old book without being changed.

For my own, I wanted my book cover to have a leathery look, something in a brown or red-ish brown. I also wanted it to be gender neutral and relatively plain. Honestly, I really dislike flowers, lace, rhine stones, charms or whatever gets piled on and adhered to a cover. I wanted my book to be able to easily slide into a bookshelf.

cover flourish

I used 4 sheets of cardstock that I painted brown and sprayed with a red dylusions ink. I used more acrylic browns around the edges to get the colors I wanted. I glued on a grunge board flourish piece and painted it brown. Then I inked it with a copper color stamp pad. I painted a varnish on everything once it was done. For the inside cover I took some pages from an old book in German of stories and glued them in. After they were dry I coated the pages with an acrylic varnish to keep them from peeling.

prepping the internals

My internal pages were tea dyed to take away the whiteness and make them look slightly aged. I took 5 pages for making a single signature. I also added a couple of other paper sources, such as envelopes and 6 x 6 card stock, so that each signature had 7 pieces total. My book contains 3 signatures.

I wanted to sew my pages into the spine with a cross stitch. I did all kinds of planning and testing to get it just right. I decided on 7 rows of stitches and punched them into the spine using a template I made along with an awl.

cross stitch spine

I decorated the inside with pieces of collage art I made, with pockets made from old book pages and envelopes, and other kinds of papers that worked with my overall theme. Sometimes I sewed them in directly onto the page. Of course, I sewed them in before I attached the signatures into the spine.

page pocket

My title is “A Book of Little Treasures”. I want to use this book for keeping finds I’ve come across at flea markets, used book sales, and antique shops.

A book of little treasures


On some pages I covered them entirely with collages made from different old book pages and ink stamping.

collage of vintage papers


Here are some other pages:

vintage journal 1


The envelope is in the middle of the signature. I stitched it in with the rest of the signature while the envelope was unglued. After it was in, I closed up the base and it hides the stitching inside.


vintage journal 2

vintage journal 3


Here’s another envelope though this one is not attached the same.

vintage journal envelope


I like to use stencils.

vintage journal 4


This is a square-shaped doily. I tea-dyed it and then sewed it on to the page.

vintage journal 5


I’m very happy with the journal overall. I made a video that goes into more detail about how I assembled it as well as a page-by -page flip through.


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