Homemade leather travel journals

I write this week from a beneath a pile of clothes, suitcases, scarves, swimwear, camera kit and general travel-related bounty; we’ve booked a last-minute trip to Morocco, and feverish excitement is high.

Berber man

Map of Marrakech

Photo by Christopher.michael/Flickr. Illustrated map by Mariko Jesse for CondeNast

We were searching for an escape from the relentless rain, wind and grey drizzle which seized Britain in December and has yet to let go; Morocco offers a complete contrast and at just  a 3hr flight away feels deliciously close.  We’ll be staying near Marrakech but venturing up into the Atlas Mountains and generally exploring – I can’t wait.  (Have you been? Any hot tips or must-sees?).  The weather at this time of year can be unpredictable but the one thing we know for sure is that it will be better than here..

One night this week I made a simple travel journal each for Harry and for myself; Harry’s contains crayons and envelopes for drawing pictures and the capturing of treasures; both took just a few minutes to make.  Instructions below if you like the look and want to have a go (these make great gifts too).

Handmade travel journal

Materials and step-by-step instructions after the jump ;

You’ll need:

  • A stack of sheets of basic letter paper; I used A4 but any size will do.  You can also mix letter paper with watercolour paper if you want to have pages which can take paint or moisture; anything goes
  • Sheet of decorative paper (optional)
  • A hole punch or Crop-o-dile
  • Needle and thread
  • Button
  • Piece of faux leather for the cover (mine was from ebay, at about £3/$5 per metre).

Firstly, fold your stack of paper in half  (I used 10 sheets), open out and punch 3 holes at equal intervals.  You can pierce with a needle if you don’t have a punch.

Travel journal step 1

Now cut out a piece of decorative paper (I used gift wrap from here), leaving a border of about 0.5cm all around.

Travel journal step 2

Travel journal step 3

Stitch the sheets & cover paper together by going up through the bottom hole, down the middle hole, back up through the top and then down again through the middle.  Knot the ends at the back and trim.  Back view below (before trimming of ends);

Travel journal step 4

Now open out the book and place on the sheet of faux leather; cut around again leaving a border, this time of about 1cm;

Travel journal step 6

Using either watered-down white glue or spray adhesive, stick the back of the decorative paper to the leather, anchoring your book in place and leaving pretty endpapers when you open the journal;

Travel journal Step 7

Trim the edges as you desire, and then weight down with a stack of books whilst the glue dries fully.  Now cut a long thin length of the leather and stitch it to the cover using a button for decoration;

Travel Journal Step 8

Loop the cord around the book and tuck into place to hold it shut – and you’re done!  You can add decoration to the inside pages, or for kids do what I did in Harry’s book and stable a pack of crayons or pencils inside the back cover..

Travel journal for kids

Or add vellum envelopes for tickets, receipts and ephemera from your travels..

Travel journal with vellum envelopes

I accessorised mine with a glitter-tipped feather, a nice idea of you’re giving these as gifts; just spritz some spray glue on the top half of a feather and then douse in glitter; very beautiful!

final travel journal

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