I’m going to start my December post with a confession: while I love and adore and totally have a thing for notebooks (seriously: I am helpless in the face of a unique notebook and must buy it without question), I cannot stand altered comp notebooks. Not because of the altering itself, but because I hate the composition-book binding. Your hand bumps against the middle, and the side you’re not writing on can’t be tucked underneath. They’re just so hard to write in.
At heart, I’m a spiral notebook sort of girl. Can’t help it!
But! I do love a lovely altered notebook. And when, last Christmas, I filled up my Christmas Eve Notebook, I needed something new. And lovely. And spiral bound! Plus, I had this great pile of Bo Bunny’s Noel line, which is just my style—elegant and swirly and only sort-of grungy. That and a spare scrap of chipboard was all I needed!
Of course, I need to tell you why I need a Christmas Eve Notebook. Each Christmas Eve, after I have fulfilled my Santa duties, I take a photo or two of the tree. I make sure to get the pile of presents underneath (Santa wraps all the presents when he comes to our house).
They’re very rarely perfect, these photos; a little soft on the focus, maybe a little too dark in the exposure. That’s mostly because it’s usually about two in the morning when I take them, and my Santa duties have left me exhausted.
But, no matter how tired I am, I always take a few minutes to write. As women, we focus so much energy on others during the holidays—children, spouses, friends, family members. It’s easy to forget that your response to the events is important, too. My Christmas Eve Notebook is where I record my emotions, thoughts, and ideas, the ones that are separate from my children’s responses. I like having a record of how I feel before Christmas happens, when the anticipation is the thing that keeps me going. I write about what I’m looking forward to in the morning, and how things have changed from the year before, and whatever else comes to mind. Then, when I develop my holiday photos, I just stick down the photo of the tree.
This is one of my favorite scrapbooking projects, and it’s easy to maintain once the notebook is made. Read on for my notes on how to make it.
This sheet of the Bo Bunny patterned paper was my inspiration:
Because I also love and adore and totally have a thing for books, this patterned paper might just be my favorite one in the history of patterned paper. I wanted to recreate the leathery feel of that pile of books for my notebook. But, I also knew I wanted this notebook to be a sturdy one. It’ll be written in for the next decade and be around (I hope) for much longer than that. So I wanted the paper on the cover to be adhered firmly. Instead of using traditional scrapbooking adhesive, I used Heat n' bond, an iron-on adhesive that quilters use. That way, the paper is secured firmly, even with the wrinkles.
Make the cover with these steps:
- Find a piece of spare chipboard. The kind that cardstock comes packaged with is perfect. I got mine from a shipment of 8x10s I had printed at WHCC—it was part of the packaging they used to protect my prints.
- Cut to your desired dimensions. My pieces are 6.75"x8.5". If you’re going to be sewing on your cover, like I did, keep in mind the throat on your sewing machine (the distance between the foot and the inside edge). If you cut your pieces much bigger than your throat’s width, you’ll have a hard time sewing some on some of the pieces. Cutting the chipboard can take a few swipes with your knife (don’t use scissors!) to get through all the layers. Don’t worry if the edges are a little bit rough.
- Use a nail file or a piece of sandpaper to smooth out the rough edges. These two pieces will be the cover to your journal.
- Paint the covers. The side that will be inside the book needs to be painted completely; the front side just needs the edges painted.
- Cut two pieces of patterned paper, each at least 1/2" wider and taller than your cover.
- Spritz the paper with water, the crumple them up into balls.
- Iron the paper while it’s still scrunched into a ball, then slowly start unscrunching, ironing the wrinkles into the paper as you go. Once it is unscrunched, iron the paper again. If you have any small tears, crumple the torn edge around the hole and iron it down flat. You want it to look a little bit aged.
- Cut two pieces of the Heat ‘n Bond adhesive, the same size as the patterned paper. Iron the bumpy side onto the BACK side of the patterned paper. Let it cool, peel off the lining, then iron the paper onto the front side of the chipboard cover.
- Punch the holes for the rings. Use a Crop-a-Dial or other tool designed for punching through thick items.
10. Embellish the cover as desired.
To further reinforce both the durability and the leather-book feel, I also sewed the paper and the title onto the chipboard cover. Here are a couple of tips for sewing on chipboard:
- Use a heavy-duty needle. I keep a denim needle just for this purpose.
- If you have a walking foot, use it. It moves much more smoothly over the chipboard’s thickness than a standard foot does.
- Adjust your tension. Start with a practice piece to get it exactly right. On my machine, I set the tension dial to just over zero.
- Increase the stitch length. Unlike with fabric, the chipboard will retain the holes left by the needle, and if the stitches are too small, the stitching will be more hole than stitches.
- Sew slowly. If you go too fast, the needle is more likely to break.
- Embrace imperfection. Part of the charm of sewing is its random imperfections. Don’t worry too much about an exactly-straight line!
- Using the same dimensions as the cover, cut 10 dividers. You can “fancy cut” some of the papers, so the images fall exactly where you want them.
- Use a punch to make the index tabs. I used this one:
to make the index tabs. Punch twenty tabs out, using about 2/3 of the shape:
- Stamp the years on ten of the tabs.
- Embellish as desired.
- Adhere one tab with the date to the front right edge of one divider.
- Adhere one blank tab to the back of the dated tab.
- Repeat for the remaining nine dividers.
Print the journaling pages. Because I want the focus to be on my words, I didn’t embellish these at all. instead, I simply printed the lines on both sides of a cream-colored writing paper. Here’s a printable version for a book with the same dimensions as mine (6.75 x 8.5):
It’s easiest to print all of the right (first) pages first, then turn them over and feed them through your printer again to print the left (second) pages. Make sure you know how your printer feeds pages so you get the second side printed on the right place! When you trim the pages down, cut just to the inside of the grey line, and your pages should all be the same size.
Make the photo page. In my book, this is a 5.5x7.5 sized mini-layout. I put just one embellishment on each photo page and left enough room for one 4x6 print. This is where each year’s Christmas tree photo will go.
Assemble the book. It goes in this order:
- Yearly divider
- Photo page
- Three journaling pages
Write! Every year! I would love to hear about your way of documenting your responses to the holidays.
A special thank you to BoBunny Press for their generous sponsorship of our second annual WCS For the Holidays celebration!