1. Find your journal book cover. Go to a used book store and pick lots of books off the shelves to inspect the covers. Look for a sturdy leather or cloth cover that's about half the size of a 8.5" x 11" page. Pick whatever speaks to you, whether it's the title, the color, the artwork, the texture. are the best and these are hard to come by. Books that are about half the size of a 8.5" x 11" pages are best.
2. Cut the binding away from the cover. Use a pair of scissors to carefully cut the binding away from the front and back cover of the book. Protect the edge of the spine from fraying with some tape (you can use duct tape and scotch tape with cool designs for an extra personal touch). You can use the spine as a bookmark: a hole punch and ribbon through it make a nice touch. You can also keep a few of your favorite pages from inside the book to include in your journal.
3. Collect different types of paper to use in your journal book. Pick whatever you like and get creative! You can use ripped out magazine pages, colored paper, construction paper, patterned pages, maps, custom hand-made paper, flyers, brochures, stationary, and lined paper. These should all be about 8.5" x 11" (you'll fold them in half later) but if you have a mixture of sizes, smaller pieces can also be folded and sewn in or pasted onto other pages. If there is a side you don't like (blank or advertising), you can glue two one-sided pages together.
4. Group your pages together into "signatures." A "signature" is a group of full-size pages that are folded together to make pages that fit your book. I usually make about 12 signatures of 5-6 pages each, but you can do more or less as you see fit. Make a stack of each type of paper you've collected (e.g. lined paper, solid colors, patterns, magazine pages, etc), and make new stacks of pages (the number of pages you will have in each signature) using a mixture of each type of paper. Then, fold each stack in half by carefully aligning the edges and using a ruler or other hard edge to make a deep fold.
7. Punch holes in each signature and in the cover. Make a guide using an 8.5" x 11" piece of cardboard. Fold the cardboard in half and poke 6 holes that are evenly spaced across the center fold. Then, line the guide up with the fold on each signature and use an awl or embroidery needle to punch holes through the guide and through the pages at the crease. Use the guide to punch holes along the edge of the front and back cover as well, being careful not to punch them too close to the edge as this might tear through to the edge once you bind everything together.
8. Sew the pages of each signature together using embroidery string. For each signature, I usually cut a piece of embroidery string that measures about 40 inches (4-5 times book cover length). String this through an embroidery needle (a thicker needle with a large eye is easiest to use). To sew the signatures together, start at one of the centermost holes and weave in and out towards the outer edge and then back to the other edge, ending up in the center again. Tie a knot through both ends of the string at the outside center. The extra string will allow you to tie all of the signatures together at the end. You can also braid these strings together and use this as a tie around your journal.
9. Bind the cover to the signatures. Use embroidery string or wax-covered string. For each binding hole, cut a piece of string that measures about 16 inches (1 - 2 times book cover length). Fold it in half and string the folded edge through the hole in the cover, then string the ends through the loop. Then, sew the ends through the strings on the outside of each signature before using the same loop technique to connect it to the other cover.
Check out my pinterest board for more tutorials and journal ideas!