The DIY Journal

Crafty Sabina Spiteri shares another DIY project that follows the trend of DIY Journaling.
Journalling has become a thing recently and making your own is a great way to customise.

Do you groan out aloud or roll your eyes when your child puts “Journal” on her wish list? Well I d0…especially when it says “Journal from Kikki K” and costs upwards of £15. Then there’s the novelty of writing and decorating that pretty journal with its oh-so-pretty pages that only lasts a couple of weeks! And when they’re reminded to write something in their journal, they moan and whine about it. By the end of the year, we have one journal with a quarter of its pages filled! The rest is blank. What a waste of paper and money!

Still I persevere and succumb to these wishes because I like the idea of a child putting pen to paper, creating memories and telling secrets they don’t want to voice out aloud. I like that in their teen or even adult future, they can look back and reminisce, have a laugh and remember that those hopeless, helpless feelings they have some days do not last forever, i.e. there is truth in “tomorrow is a brand new day” and all that.

Roll on to Christmas 2016, and there it is, JOURNAL on their letters to Santa (despite being non-believers at age 11 and 9 – ok so the 9YO is fluctuating between “do I get more presents if I pretend to believe…or maybe he could be a bit real”). I was very reluctant to buy yet another journal from Kikki K and having trawled through Pinterest for pretty picture ideas and Etsy for pdf pages, I decided that this year, I was doing it myself! That’s right, you heard it, myself!! Myself, meaning of course, me and a graphic designer friend. I made this to be part of my non-chocolately Christmas Advent Calendar, find out about that here.

Vanilla Beige DIY Journal

My DIY Journal pages, sitting pretty in binders.

It was important to me that there should be minimal wastage of paper here, hence the DIY. If I could print out a page (double-sided) whenever they deign to write, AND if the printed page is pretty enough so there is no lust for an actual bound 2017 journal, that would be the most ideal. Then, it would be great if I could also include other pages they might like to fill or doodle on, namely, “To Do” (there is a love for lists one can tick off…but one never completes – Daughter No.1), “Notes”, “Wishes” etc. Together, my very talented graphic designer friend and I created a few pages – well I demanded, she creatively created pretty graphics! We did it in the girls’ favourite colours, green for Daughter No.1 and pink for Miss 9.

Making your own journal pages allows you to print at will, saving paper and cost.

I threw the pages together into an A5 binder so that they could write whenever they felt the urge to do so (or when I remind them to do so!) and filed them away on their desk or hid them in their drawers. That’s pretty much the basics of it!

But, ok, there were some finer basics….BUT it could be so much more than just pretty pages, so to set it aside from other journals or to give it that certain je ne se quoi, accessorizing it was a must, otherwise it was just paper, albeit pretty pages, in a ring-binder!

Accessorise and accessories!

  • A5 binder: I bought a cheap white frosted A5-sized ring binder from WH Smith for £1.50
  • Journal pages: A5 paper – I printed talented graphic designer friend’s designs on 120gsm paper. I felt the thickness of the paper was more akin to the journals the girls’ lusted after, than regular printing paper.
  • Dividers: I printed some dividers on translucent vellum paper although frosted clear plastic would look better  but 1) this was an experimental journal and 2) I wasn’t sure if plastic would go through my printer!
  • Pouch: A5 size that could fit bits and pieces of papers and pretty bits and bobs.
  • Binder elastic: To go around the binder of course. Mine was made using velvet elastic that I had lying in the drawer. I’ve seen some gorgeous glittery ones on Etsy and in Paperchase just to give you other ideas.
  • Stickers, Washi tapes, coloured pens: All cheap and cheerful but adds so much colour to boring black and white pages.

Customised headings

Here are some ideas on headings for pages that you can customise. They are definitely not exhaustive, but this is the beauty of a DIY journal, you can customize it for your own child or even yourself!

  • Daily pages with dates or without
  • Notes
  • To-Do Lists and Priority
  • Wishes
  • Christmas and Birthday Gift lists (for thank you notes!)
  • Books to Read
  • Travel Thoughts
  • Goals for 2017
  • Things that Make Me Happy
  • My Doodling Page
Vanilla Beige DIY Journal

An example of alternate pages, printed out and ready to be slotted in where needed.

So, I am not sure how many of these pages will be filled by the end of 2017 (and beyond), but at least there’s a certain satisfaction in putting it together by myself, knowing that we won’t be wasting half a book because we can print as we go and being able to customise the pages. If we go travelling and they want a travel journal, I am sure my talented graphic designer friend could head a PDF page entitled Travel Thoughts for me (hint!), which we could print out and bring with us for the girls to scribble on!

If you have a child who loves writing, or whom you’d like to encourage to write, give the DIY Journay a go! Get printing and customizing, then if you get stuck, have a look through Instagram #bulletjournal or #bujo for some great ideas like the ones below.

Image from Instagram @planningrosess

Image from Instagram @anvikabe

Image from Instagram @bujo.mama


Image provided by Sabina Spiteri unless otherwise noted.

Sabina, originally from Australia, has lived in London, NYC, Singapore and now resides in Surrey, deepest darkest surburbia, UK. She packed her entire belongings up in a ski bag nearly twenty years ago to do the “backpacking thing” in London and never went back home. She is now chasing the dream as a wannabe writer in the deepest of deep, Surrey. Sabina is passionate about coffee, food, exploring cities and skiing.

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