Updated: May 1
Junk journals. You've heard about them. Seen them. Now you want to MAKE ONE! But you have so many questions! How do you start? What do you use for a cover? What size and what and how and.... aaagh! Take a breath! You can DO this. Below are some of the questions we've heard on our Facebook Group and other places. We hope you find them helpful as you begin your junk journaling journey!
Also, here are some links that may help you:
Supplies for Beginners - All the "things" you need to start making journals!
So, let's get right to the questions!
What IS a junk journal?
A junk journal is a handmade or altered book with pages created from many sources: recycled materials (old sheet music, maps, illustrations, notebooks, etc.) and also printable images (such as junk journal kits from Etsy, etc.). It can be made of paper, fabric, etc., and usually includes ephemera (things such as old stamps, receipts, tickets, postcards, etc.).
What do you DO with a junk journal?
Junk journals can be used as:
- And MORE! Here is our post about what to do with a JJ.
You can also just enjoy them as a creative outlet. They do not need to have a "purpose" any more than a song or a piece of art needs a purpose. They are there to be enjoyed.
How do I purchase, download & print Etsy digital files?
Here is a video to walk you through buying, downloading and printing Etsy files.
How big should a JJ (junk journal) be?
There are no size restrictions. But there are some "common" sizes. In the US, we use Letter Size Paper, while many other countries use A4. (Letter size is 8.5 x 11 inches, A4 size in inches is 8.27 x 11.7 inches.) So, usually a journal is the size of a piece of paper folded in half. In the US it is 8.5 x 5.5 inches. But again, you can make them ANY size at all.
What is TN or Travelers Notebook?
TN journals are a kind of tall skinny journal. They are approximately 4.25x8.25 inches, but again, sizes can vary. You'll often see them with leather covers, held together with an elastic band. They are popular for creating planners or bullet journals, etc. But they can really be used for anything.
What is ephemera? A masterboard?
Take a look at our A-Z Glossary for common JJ terms and definitions.
What kind of paper & printer should I use for printables?
We use 110 lb. Pen & Gear brand cardstock and Premium Bright 24 lb. paper. But that's because it's easy to find (Walmart) and works for our needs. You may want something different. Check out this article to learn about paper and printers.
What is a signature & what goes in it?
A signature is a group of folded pages. Journals can have just one signature or 2, 3, 4, 6, 10.... you get the idea. The reason we use signatures instead of folding all the pages into one giant signature is because the journal would be very small at the spine, but really big at the open end (we call it alligator mouth). Signatures help the journal to be more uniform in size.
Also, there is no set amount of pages for a signature. You can have just one page folded in half if you really want to. But many people use 6-10 sheets of paper, approximately, folded in half. If you're going to use a lot of ephemera (decorative cards, tags, etc.) then you'll likely want less pages in your signatures to make room for all the bulk.
You can also add ANYTHING to your signatures: doilies, envelopes, smaller pieces of paper, book pages, cloth... don't be afraid to try new things.
How do I attach the pages to the journal cover?
There are lots of ways! You can tie them in with ribbon/string. You can sew them in. You can glue them in. Use elastic bands. It's totally up to you. Remember, there is no wrong way! Usually, though, I like to attach my pages by sewing them in with a pamphlet stitch.
What do I use to sew pages?
Our favorite way is with wax thread from a bookbinding kit. But don't be afraid to try your own strings, ribbon, embroidery floss, whatever.
How big should my journal cover be?
As big as you want. I usually use 8.5x5.5 inch, the same size as my folded pages. But if you're making a different size journal, just make a cover to match the page size. Journals can be any size or shape. Even round.
What do you make a cover out of?
Anything: cereal boxes, envelopes, file folders, pudding boxes, Amazon boxes. But generally chipboard (which is harder than cardboard, not as hard as wood). Or you can also use old book covers (just remove the pages and add your own, or alter the pages by gluing over them).
What should I include in my junk journal?
Anything! You can use coffee-dyed paper (or tea, avocado, or any other kind of paper you want), card stock, vellum, pockets, receipts, old notebook pages, folios, old letters, book pages, stickers, envelopes, printable papers, old photos, printed photos, postcards, receipts, candy wrappers, artwork, lace, folios, embroidery, 3D inserts.... seriously. It's a junk journal. Find some junk and make a book! Click here for a list of items that can go in a junk journal (includes freebie!).
What's up with different "spines" for journals?
You've probably seen fancy corset spines and hidden spines, etc. How your journal spine looks really depends on the kind of binding you're using. We (My Porch Prints) have a hidden spine template that you can print and use so people won't see your sewing on the outside of the spine. We also have a tutorial for a faux corset spine.
How can I share my junk journal with others?
How do I get started making a junk journal today?
Gather some paper and just start. It doesn't have to be fancy. It's okay to try things your own way and learn as you go. Try our beginner's journal kit. Or if that's too daunting, try a folio first. You can do it!
You probably have a lot more questions. You'll likely find the answers by Googling or searching YouTube for "junk journal tutorials". We have a beginners playlist that might help you get started. Also, join the My Porch Prints Facebook Group. It's a great place to see what people are making, get freebie printables and share ideas and projects. Learn by watching and doing. Give yourself permission to make mistakes. Keep trying. You'll find your own style. It won't look like everyone else's, and that's what will make it awesome. Good luck!
Stephanie Owner, My Porch Prints on Etsy
Hi! I'm Stephanie, Owner and Designer at My Porch Prints on Etsy, and a wife & mama who loves to craft! At MPP, we create and sell unique downloadable journal kits, folios, papers, mini books and MANY other printables on Etsy. You can find us on YouTube, Facebook, etc. Check out the social media icons at the top of the post. And don't forget to join our Facebook Group for freebies and inspiration! Thanks for stopping by the Porch!