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Junk Journal: Inexpensive Paper Crafting at It’s Best

Junk Journal: Inexpensive Paper Crafting at It’s Best main article image
Posted on February 6, 2021 by Julie Richards

Junk journals are the latest trend in inexpensive paper crafting. They are used as daily planners, diaries, and scrapbooks. A junk journal is actually a combination of the three at a fraction of the cost. And yet each junk journal has a purpose all its own. Once you make your own junk journal, you will begin to see how versatile these handcrafted books actually are in your everyday life. I will walk you through the steps to create your own personalized junk journal with whatever you have on hand.

Reasons to Create a Junk Journal

Let me first explain what exactly a junk journal is and why you should create your own. A junk journal is a place to record your thoughts, write down appointments, keep track of goals and store memorabilia. These handmade journals are crafted to keep record of life’s moments. A junk journal is used in parts or in whole. There are beautiful pages for writing, tuck spots for photos and other mementos, calendars, and so much more. In other words, you can create a book that is uniquely yours alone.

These budget-friendly books are handmade with a wide variety of pages, papers and elements to create a tangible product you will fall in love with. The beauty of junk journals is how affordable they are to make. You probably have everything you need to create a gorgeous one-of-a-kind journal of your very own.

Basic Junk Journal Supply list

Very few supplies are needed to make a junk journal. The ones you do need are items everyone has in their homes, making this one of the most inexpensive paper craft projects I know. You will want to add more to your supply list as you create additional junk journals, but your first handcrafted journal should be simple in design so you understand the core concepts needed to produce these one-of-a-kind books. I’ll give you the list of supplies and explain their use afterwards.

What You Need:

  • 1 Cereal Box
  • Ruler/Tape Measure
  • Variety of Papers
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • 15 inches of Thread/String/Yarn/Twine


We will transform a cereal box into a 6-inch by 9-inch cover of your first junk journal. If you don’t have a cereal box, any type of box will suffice as long as it is the same thickness and measures at least 12-inches by 9-inches.

There are a variety of glues on the market but for this inexpensive paper craft we will use regular school glue. You can even use a glue stick or paste glue to create your junk journal. As long as the glue permanently bonds paper to paper it is usable.

The type paper you use is entirely up to you. It can be notebook paper, junk mail (hence the name “junk Journal”), old magazine pages, book pages, newspapers, wrapping paper, and printed paper. Anything is usable in the inexpensive world of junk journal paper crafting. You need about 10 to 15 pieces of paper that measure 11.5 inches long and 8.5 inches wide or less. This will be explained better as we go along.

Selection of Papers

As for the binding, that’s where the thread comes into play. We are going to bundle the papers together in handcrafted book fashion to make our junk journal. This means that you can use yarn, twine, a piece of ribbon, embroidery thread, anything that does not create a lot of bulk. The process works to hold your first handmade junk journal together. As you advance your skill in the art of creating junk journals, other binding methods will be better suited for your creations.

Step-by-Step Quick Guide

  1. Open the cereal box along the seam so it lays flat on the crafting table.
  2. Cut the box to a 9-inch tall by 12-inch wide size.
  3. Choose two or more papers for the outside and inside cover of your junk journal.
  4. Glue the papers to the cover and allow to dry completely.
  5. Fold the cover in half so it measures 6 inches wide and 9 inches tall.
  6. Select 10 to 15 papers for the pages of your junk journal.
  7. Fold your chosen papers in half so they fit inside your cover.
  8. Slide the pages into the junk journal cover and adjust them in order.
  9. Cut down any papers that are sticking out from the edges of your cover.
  10. Lay the handcrafted book flat and open to the middle.
  11. Lay the string vertically in the middle of the junk journal and close the book.
  12. Pull the ends of the string tightly to the middle of the spine of the cover.
  13. Tie the string tightly in a square knot to secure the pages in the junk journal.
  14. Personalize your handcrafted junk journal any way you wish.

Binding the Journal

Adding Embellishments

What I just described to you is a quick guide to creating a junk journal using inexpensive paper craft techniques. Even this simple process can result in a beautiful handmade journal for personal use or to give as a gift. When you add embellishments, your junk journal becomes personal and shows off your flare.

Think of each page as a new canvas. You can draw, paint, write poems, jot down meaningful Bible verses, transcribe the lyrics to a favorite song. The list goes on and on. Here are a few more ideas:

  • Birthday/Anniversary dates
  • To-Do list
  • Reading list
  • Weekly calendar
  • Medication list
  • Phone numbers or addresses
  • Recipes
  • Budget-friendly paper craft ideas (wink wink)

The inexpensive junk journal we just made is so versatile in that you can create a handmade book in a matter of minutes for gift giving. For instance, those recipes that you have scattered on scraps of paper can now be copied into the pages of your junk journal and shared with other family members. Or use your junk journal as a way to record the itinerary and events of a family vacation. A junk journal is an inexpensive crafting project that lets you share copies of photos taken at a family reunion or wedding. You are only limited by your imagination. And if you are anything like me, that means you will make an entire batch of junk journals to be used throughout the years to come!

Creating pockets, tags and tuck spots

Remember when I said the part about adding embellishments? I want to teach you how to add pockets, tags, and little tuck spots to your handcrafted junk journal. You may also want some color and texture in your handmade book. This is where the real fun begins. Let’s start with a simple pocket to hold favorite photos or lovely notes and cards from family and friends. You already have everything you need so, before you put it all away, let’s get crafting.

  1. Cut a piece of paper 2 inches wide by 8.5 inches long
  2. Choose which page of your junk journal to create the pocket
  3. Glue the top, bottom and one side of your paper strip
  4. Attach it, from top to bottom, on the outside edge your selected page
  5. Allow the glue to dry completely before closing your junk journal

This is called a side pocket. It is used in junk journals to store cards, letters, and photographs. A side pocket can be attached to the inside or outside edge of a page in your handcrafted junk journal. Feel free to add more than one. Keep in mind, the more embellishments you add, the thicker your handmade book will be

Make a corner tuck spot

Another embellishment we will add is called a corner tuck spot. This inexpensive paper craft idea is just as simple to create as the side pocket. Again, we will need the same supplies we already have on the craft table.

  1. Cut a 3-inch by 3-inch paper square
  2. Select the desired page in your junk journal
  3. Add glue to the bottom and one side of the paper square
  4. Attach the paper square to the bottom corner of your junk journal page
  5. Leave the journal page open until the glue dries completely

The corner tuck spot is where you can store business cards, small photographs, little notes, tags or anything else you desire. Again, feel free to add several corner tuck spots in your junk journal.

Page Pocket and Tag

I have mentioned tags several times in this writing and I want to expound on them. A tag is a piece of paper or card stock used to create additional writing space, color or texture to a handcrafted junk journal. The size of your tag is a personal preference. You can make them large or small. The junk journal tag for the handcrafted book we just made is one piece of paper or card stock approximately two to three inches wide and three to four inches long.

  1. Cut your desired paper to a size of 2 inches by 3 inches
  2. Bend the edges paper so the long edges line up together (try not to fold)
  3. Line your scissors up at an angle approximately ½ inch down on the outside edge of the paper and ½ inch away from the bent side along the top of the paper
  4. Cut that triangle out and let the tag open flat

You should end up with a something that looks like a price tag with the top corners missing. Insert this tag into one of your corner tuck spots you made earlier. The back of the tag is used for jotting down little notes or inspirational quotes to make you smile.

Color and Texture

Adding color and texture to your journal is the easiest and most fun of the handcrafted junk journal process. This is where your personality shines best. Like I said before, each page in your junk journal is a blank canvas. Use colored pencils, acrylic or watercolor paints, markers, or anything your paper crafting heart desires to add a picture, favorite quote or design. Make sure that as you decorate your pages, you allow them to dry before closing your junk journal.

As for texture, the sky is the limit. Glue bits of fabric, lace, decorative papers, and beads to your pages, pockets and tags. Don’t forget your outer cover in this glorious process. You can add strips of fabric, the front of a greeting card, a page from a favorite book, a picture from a magazine. Think of it as your own little space to let your inner crafting goddess shine! The only people who will see your inexpensive paper craft creation are you and with whomever you choose to share your handcrafted junk journal. I would love to see what you create. Feel free to leave a comment below how your junk journal turned out. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.

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