I have a not-sewing-related project to share! I love Moleskine journals and have been experimenting with decorating their plain cardboard cover Cahier Notebooks. With mixed results.
Working with these kraft cover journals is a bit of a trend in the online craft community. Maya*Made (our favorite!) regularly stamps them with her latest designs. Angry Chicken and Wisecraft have covered them in fabric. You can find them embroidered on Etsy. Search for "moleskine journal" on Flickr and you will receive tons of inspiration. And check out this little collection compiled by The Long Thread.
I was itchy to try something out and purchased a couple of 3-packs a few months ago. They are quite reasonable, here they are on the Moleskine website but you can also find them in multiple online shops.
Experiment #1: Pasting a paper initial on the cover to personalize the notebook for its owner. I made this one and a couple others for Emily, my secret-santa gift recipient last Christmas and a writer, to go along with her brown pocket pouch.
The color of the scrapbook paper I used was a purplish periwinkle when I picked it out of my stash, but by the time I had pasted it onto the journal cover with mod podge, it looked more blue-ish. I like this concept, and it's pretty quick from start to finish. If I do it again, I will work on making the letter more detailed and embellished, maybe in two layers, and probably a bit smaller.
Experiment #2: Stamping a favorite quote on the cover.
I love this idea and wish my stamping skills did not suck so badly! I think I used such tiny stamps (in order to properly fit the whole quote on the cover) that they were too tricky to maneuver into straight lines. The crookedness gives it a certain charm, but eh, I still wish I could stamp "cleanly".
Experiment #3: Painting flowers on the cover. I was inspired to do this by this photo and post by Beauty That Moves. After finding out that one of Emily's favorite flower is bougainvillea, I got to work researching, sketching and painting.
This was by far my favorite, both in process and in result. It provided less instant gratification than the other experiments, but I loved slowing down to draw and paint. I think the colors really pop on the kraft cover and the time spent on the painting really makes this a thoughtful handmade gift. I'll definitely do this again.
And finally, Experiment #4: Fabric collage on the notebook cover. My college best friend recently got engaged, a couple of weeks before her birthday. I tend to make her handmade gifts for her birthday and wanted to craft something useful as she enters the whirlwind that is wedding planning.
I managed to coax some info out of her, primarily that she wants bright yellow flowers for the ceremony. I decided to make her an "inspiration" journal to jot down wedding to-dos and ideas, with a bright yellow flower collage on the front.
I could have kicked myself for not realizing sooner than the mod podge (or whatever that glue is) was glossy and not matte! Consequently, I had to paint the whole cover with it to match the sheen. I have mixed feelings about the result. I like the idea, but should have pasted the fabric onto white paper before gluing to the cover, to avoid some see-through issues. I will probably try this again but will plan out my design a bit better. Overall, this was a super fast project, maybe 30 minutes from start to finish, and a great way to use tiny fabric scraps!
Have you ever decorated these journals before? Do you have ideas for what you would do to personalize them?
Jenny, I've said this before but it bears repeating: the thought you put into your handmade gifts is really inspiring. That sweet energy permeates anything you make. I was folding laundry today and the lunch bag and snack bags you made Ian for Christmas were slowly uncovered as I picked up items, and the sight of something you made with your own two hands gave me the best feeling.
I haven't decorated these books before, but I am definitely a Moleskine fan. I like the idea of making potato stamps and using white ink for printing. Using favorite fabric scraps is brilliant too. I am going to try this soon!