Monday, March 8, 2010

How to Make a Traveler's or 'Moleskine' Journal

Chipboard, Scalpel(exacto knife), Bone Folder, Book Press, Book Binding Glue, Scissors/Rotary Blade for Leather, Leather/Faux Leather/Paper, Text Block of Desired Size bound (I use French stitched), Clips, rounded corner paper punch, Mull, Endpapers, Paper for inside pocket, elastic, acrylic paint (optional).

Step 1:
Put your bound text block in your book press and glue the spine, let dry. Glue spine again, this time gluing on the mull, let dry. Trim so the mull is flush on top and bottom of the text block, but has an inch or so left on either side of the text block.

Step 2:
Once, the mull has dried glue endpapers on the front and back of text block. Only brush on an 1/8 of an inch strip of glue so that the endpaper can isn't completely glue to the text block. Using a piece of scrap paper helps.
Step 3:
Now is the time to cut out the covers for the journal. Since this journal is flush on all sides, just measure the size of your text block and that will be the size of your covers. You can use the scalpel or a paper trimmer to cut the chipboard the size you want. I rounded the corner with my paper punch so it was rounded like my text block.

Step 4:
Measure the width of the spine of your text block. You might want to add an 1/8th of an inch to leave room for the pocket that will go in later. Then, I just used scrap paper to glue the two book covers together to keep the spine width consistant while gluing the cover on your paper/leather. (The picture will probably help explain it better.

Step 5:
Glue onto your paper/leather. I'm using paper because it's easier to show the next steps. Use your bone folder to help you smooth out the paper/leather onto the chipboard.
Step 6:
Glue down rounded corners by fraying the corners of the paper/leather and glue down so they mold around the corner. You may need to use your clips to help hold the paper/leather down until the glue dries.
Step 7:
Finish gluing down the rest of the edges. If using paper use the bone folder to score the paper so it's easier to glue down. Also use it to crease the spine so that it will open and close with ease.

Step 8:
The Elastic Closure:
It's really hard to find colored elastic (other than black and white) so I used acrylic paint. You can water it down a little bit so that it acts more like a dye and it will soak into the fibers of the elastic.
Cut slits into the back of the book cover and thread the elastic through. Make sure the size is right and it fits nicely around the book like you want it to before gluing it down.

Step 9:
Glue on the endpapers of the text block onto the inside of the cover (don't glue down the spine of the text block just the endpapers).
Use your bone folder, once again, to help smooth out and crease the endpapers where needed.
(Tip: don't worry about your elastic ends showing through the endpapers on the backside of the cover. The pocket for the book will cover it up. However, if your making one without a pocket, it is suggested that you used another piece of chipboard similar to the one you made for the outside cover, and glue that over the back cover. Then glue down the endpapers as usual. I haven't tried it though.)
Step 10:
The Pocket: I think that the pictures will do a better job explaining than I would, and hopefully they make sense.

Step 11: Glue in pocket so that the opening is facing the crease or inside of the book, but you can be really creative when putting the pocket so it's really up to you. But this is how the journal usually looks.
Once the pocket is in your done! And here's what it looks like finished. (Most traveler's or Moleskine journals are made of a faux leather not polka dotted paper just so you know).

Posted by: Angie Steggell
T TH 8:00-10:45 AM


  1. where did you get that lined paper for the pages?

  2. Yes, please let us know where the lined paper text block came from.