Faux Leather Gratitude Journal Tutorial

Gratitude Journal 13Crafty Secrets October 2013 Linky Party

Hi, friends!  Is it really time for another Crafty Secrets Linky Party?  It doesn’t seem possible, but I look at my calendar and see that this is indeed, the first Monday in October, so it is time to play.  The design team will be sharing tutorials and projects this month featuring fall and Halloween themed projects on our blogs.  You can hop from blog to blog for inspiration and tips on using your favorite vintage images from Crafty Secrets.  Then, visit the Crafty Secrets Heartwarming Vintage blog and link up your new fall/Halloween themed project made primarily with Crafty Secrets supplies.  Sandy, the owner of Crafty Secrets, is so generous: each person who plays along will be given a $6 credit at the Crafty Secrets online store.  But that’s not all: one lucky name will be randomly drawn to receive a $50 credit.  That’s a lot of fun shopping!  So, before I share my faux leather Gratitude Journal tutorial with you, let me give you the links to the other gals on the design team.

Faux Leather Gratitude Journal Tutorial

Before we get started, I will tell you that there are a lot of photos, and a ton of steps for this tutorial.  You may want to go get yourself a cuppa of something tasty to drink and a snack before we get started.  Go ahead…I’ll wait for you….Ready?  OK!  All the images and papers for this project came from the Crafty Secrets Digital Thanksgiving Collection and Autumn Blessings Heartwarming Vintage Cuts.  The Thanksgiving collection is brand new, and available for immediate download for just $10.99.  The Autumn Blessings Vintage Cuts have been marked down to just .75 cents!

A couple of years ago, I noticed a trend on Facebook for celebrating the month of November as a month of gratitude. I love this idea, and it was wonderful to read day by day the things that my friends were thankful for.  The only problem is Facebook is a very temporary platform.  I mean, have you ever tried to go back and find a post that you liked yesterday, only to search in vain?  With Thanksgiving approaching, I thought it would be really nice to have an actual journal where I could record a short entry each day of something I’m thankful for.  And, if I could include pockets for photos or recipes or little mementos …that would be even better.  And, if there was room in that same journal to write down lists or notes, that would be super.  So I went to work, designing the features I wanted in my gratitude journal.

Step 1: Eat Your Cereal

Would you believe me if I told you that this sweet little journalGratitude Journal 17  started life as a cereal box?  Well, it did!  To create the cover for your journal you will need an empty cereal box.

025 (2)

Flatten an empty cereal box and cut to a height of 6 3/8 inches.

Flatten an empty cereal box and cut to a height of 6 5/8 inches.

027 (2) Trim off one edge of the box, and cut it down so that each side measures 4 1/2 inches by 6 5/8″  .  You want your spine to measure 2″ in width.  Conveniently, this box measures that exactly, which gives me a pre-scored spine.  

028 (2) Emboss both the front cover and back cover of your journal with the embossing folder of your choice.

031 (2) Sand the front cover to prepare it to receive ink.  No need to sand heavily…just create some tooth.

029 (2)  Use alcohol ink and a felt applicator.  I used a mixture of Espresso, Pesto and Cranberry in the first coat.  You’ll finish with the copper metallic.

032 (2) It will take more than one coat of the ink to completely cover the writing on the front of the box.  Just be sure to let each coat dry before adding the next coat.  It doesn’t take long.  Be very careful if using a heat gun…alcohol inks are flammable.  Keep it a good distance away from the surface and keep the nozzle moving.  Or, just be patient. 

033 (2) Just ink the edges and the spine of the inside cover. 

034 (2) Score the spine at 1/4 inch intervals and accordion fold it. 

035 (2) I like to use alligator clips on it for a couple minutes just to train the pleats to stay in place.

037 (2) Tap the front cover all over with Versamark Ink.  Just the cover…not the spine!

038 (2) Sprinkle with clear embossing powder, tap off the excess, and heat set.  Repeat this process on the back cover.  When you are done, your cardboard cereal box will look like old leather…and it feels really neat, too!

039 (2)

Create your inner pages

Use sturdy 8 1/2×11 cardstock to print out your selected pages from the Thanksgiving Collection.  I printed each page, flipped it over in the printer and then printed the backside with a complimentary pattern.  (I used Stampin’ Up Ivory Naturals cardstock because it has a vintage look to begin with, and it takes the printer ink really well.) You are going to need 5 sheets of double-sided printed paper and one sheet of single sided printed paper to line the inside of your book.

Select your liner paper, and cut two panels, each 4 1/4″ x 6 1/4″.  Ink the edges with Vintage Photo Distress Ink and use strong white glue or double sided tape to secure to your inside covers.

040 (3)  Save the leftover bits…we’ll be using them soon.

I had some old pages from a day timer journal that were the perfect 4×6 1/4″ size for the inside pages, but you could easily cut sheets of cardstock or notebook paper to this size.  You’ll need 35 sheets, divided into 5 “bundles”.  Cut your double-sided paper as follows: 5 rectangles cut to 4 1/4″ x 6 1/4″ and 5 rectangles cut to 4″x 6 1/4″  .  You’ll also need five 1″ x 6 1/4″ strips for binding.

041 (2) I used a very thin bead of white glue down the far left hand side of each piece of paper to create a sort of mini pad.  Remember: you will have 7 sheets of this paper in each bundle.  I used double stick tape on the 1″ x 6 1/4″ binding piece and scored each piece at 1/2″.  I peeled the tape away and bound each bundle.

042 (2) This is what the bundle will look like when it is finished. Repeat this process for all 5 bundles.

Adding the covers to the bundles:

Once you have your 5 little bundles completed, it is time to add the covers.  Score each 4 1/4″ x 6 1/4″ rectangle at 1/4″ and again at 1/2″.  This will be the front cover and hinge for your journal. 

046 (2)  Use 1/8″ red line tape along the front edge of your paper bundle.  If you look where the pencil is pointing, you’ll see where I added the tape.  Peel off the liner, and very carefully line up the scored cover so that the edges of the cover match up with the white corners of the bundle.  You’ll have a 1/2″ overhang on the bound side of your bundle.  This is what you want.  Press down to seal.  Repeat this process on the back of the bundle, adding the matching  4″ x 6 1/4″ rectangle to complete the bundle.

044 (2)  The inside will look like this, and the back will look like this:

047 (2)  Here you can see the hinge that we’ll use to secure the bundle into the spine later.  And here’s what the bundle looks like from the front.

045 (2)  Repeat this process with the remaining bundles.  When you are done, you’ll have 5 pretty little bundles, all ready for binding:

048 (2)  Decorate the front of each bundle using images from the Autumn Blessings Vintage Cuts. Place a quote about gratitude inside the cover.  Then line the back side of the 1/4″ overhang with double stick tape and carefully stick it down onto the accordion fold.  050 (2)  It will look like this.  Flip the bundle to the backside and add a pocket.

049 (2)  I had smallish brown paper bags that were the right width, but too tall to fit in the book.  So I cut them down to the right height, sewed up the bottom seam, and folded over the flap.  I used a glue stick to adhere these to the back of each bundle.

Decorating the cover….almost finished!

I printed out a 4 x6 image, treated it with the cracked glass technique and then tore around the edges.  I inked the edges with black soot distress ink.  I secured ribbon to the front and back of my journal with double stick tape.  Do not use tape on the spine.  I added one of Tim’s buckles to my image, and then popped the whole thing on with foam tape.  Finished.  And now, for the pictures:

Gratitude Journal 01 Gratitude Journal 02 Gratitude Journal 03Gratitude Journal 04 Gratitude Journal 05 Gratitude Journal 06 Gratitude Journal 08 Gratitude Journal 09 Gratitude Journal 10  Here you can see the bottom of the bag.  I lined it with printed paper and cut a thumb hole in it.  These are so very cute, and a handy place to tuck a photo, a recipe, a souvenir…I love pockets!

Gratitude Journal 11 Gratitude Journal 18

Here’s a view of the outside and the inside of the journal.  Plenty of room to record your blessings.  Imagine your grandchildren coming across this in years to come and reading your expressions of gratitude, written in your own hand.  It gives me chills just to think about it.

Gratitude Journal 14

So, there you go, friends: my Faux Leather Gratitude Journal is complete.  If you are still with me, thank you.  I know this was a long post, but there were a lot of details to share.  If you have any questions, feel free to ask.  It’s always hard to translate a project like this onto paper.  I hope you were inspired to create your own Gratitude Journal.  I always say that thankful people are the happiest people in the world.  Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment…they make me happy right down to the tips of my crafty little fingers.  Until next time,



16 thoughts on “Faux Leather Gratitude Journal Tutorial

  1. Kathy Bradley

    What a gorgeous journal! You have a lot of steps in your tutorial, but it is so worth trying out – as your journal is wonderful!

  2. vickichrisman

    Leather look out of a cereal box? OH MY girl, is there anything you can do? geezzzz… this entire book is just so awesome! Your talent and your attention to detail makes your work… just WOW! Bravo!

  3. Sandy Redburn

    What a wonderful gratitude journal Kathy and the detail in your tutorial is amazing. It’s like you have condensed a mini book binding class and it’s perfect!

    Thanks for sharing

  4. ncguygirl

    What a beautiful transformation of a dull old cereal box – I love it! Your creativity is boundless. Thanks for making the world a prettier and more interesting place for the rest of us non-crafty folk!

    1. kathycNC Post author

      Ann, it is addictive! I love seeing that ugly old cereal box transform into this faux leather look. I hope you will share your creation with me when you do it!

  5. Darlene Pavlick

    OMG … you are SO CLEVER! I just LOVE what you’ve done with this cereal box (I see you eat healthy too … good for you! LOL) I can’t wait to get a little time so I can give this a try! What a fabulous project … WOW! I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again … you are such a wonderful inspiration to me (and to everyone!). Thanks so much!

    1. kathycNC Post author

      Thanks, Glenda. I wish everyone could just hold this in their hands. It absolutely feels like hand tooled leather. Such a fun transformation.

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