If you’re new to making junk journals, then you might be wondering which junk journal binding methods are best for beginners.
Or, if you’re a more seasoned journal maker, then you might be looking for some other junk journal binding ideas to challenge yourself with.
Regardless of which camp you fall into, this blog post should help and inspire you.
Let’s get straight into it, shall we?
Popular Junk Journal Binding Methods
1. 3 Hole Pamphlet Stitch
The 3 hole pamphlet stitch is one of the most popular junk journal binding methods.
While most people use waxed linen thread when binding their journals in this way, you can also use strong embroidery floss and even twine.
This method is also one of the easiest to master and is what I’d recommend beginners start with.
The 3 hole pamphlet stitch is also my favourite binding method when I’m making simple notebooks because it’s fast, easy and secure.
Here’s a diagram to show you what the stitch looks like:
With this binding method, you’ll:
- Start with the centre hole
- Come in through either the top or bottom hole
- Come out through the remaining hole
- And back in through the centre hole you started with
It’s up to you whether you start inside or outside of your journal.
If you start on the inside (this is the most common method), then your bow or knot will be on the inside of your journal.
If you start from the outside, then the bow or knot will be on the outside of the spine.
This tutorial from Helen Heibert is very helpful if you’re a beginner.
And if you’d like to see how I bind multiple signature journals using a 3 hole pamphlet stitch, then check out this video.
2. 5 Hole Pamphlet Stitch
While a 3 hole pamphlet stitch is ideal for notebooks and smaller journals, as you progress in this craft, you might find you need something that offers more security.
For instance, if your journal has gotten very bulky and heavy with lots of interesting ephemera inside.
This is where the 5 hole pamphlet stitch comes in.
While on the surface it looks tricky, once you’ve tried it a few times, it’ll start to make a lot more sense.
Here’s a diagram to show you how to do it:
With this method, you’ll start in the same way as before (with the centre hole) and then:
- Come in through one of the holes next to the centre (hole 2)
- Come out through one of the outer holes (hole 3)
- Back in through hole 2
- Come out of hole 4
- In through hole 5
- Back out through hole 4
- And back in through the centre hole you started with
Imagine this method is like a figure of eight. When I was first learning the 5 hole pamphlet stitch, I found these written instructions from Art On The Page particularly helpful.
3. Ring Binding
If you’d rather not stitch your signatures into your journal cover, then ring-bound journals are a great alternative.
You also gain more freedom with this method. You’ll be able to reorder or swap out your pages as much as you like, but you also don’t need to worry about how heavy your pages are – at least compared to a sewn binding.
To make a ring-bound journal, all you need to do is punch two or three holes into both your front and back cover and all your pages. And then simply slip everything onto book-binding rings.
But you do need to make sure you’re punching your holes in the right place.
Otherwise, you might find some of your pages sit higher or lower than your covers, which isn’t a good look.
4. Twine Binding
If you want the same kind of freedom you get with a ring-bound journal, but something that looks sleeker, then you might like the twine binding method.
This method involves wrapping twine around your spine to hold the pages in place and then tying a pretty bow on the outside for decoration.
Twine binding is easy to do and will securely hold your pages in place. But you do have to be careful of the twine cutting into the top or bottom of your pages.
You can easily avoid this by ensuring your signatures are smaller than your journal cover so that the spine itself takes the weight of the twine rather than your pages.
5. Elastic Binding
Elastic binding is almost exactly the same as twine binding, but you’ll use some elastic cord (ideally a 2 or 3-mm cord) rather than twine.
Once again, you gain the freedom of moving your pages around and you don’t have to stitch through paper!
An elastic binding is my preferred method when I’m making folios and altered file folder journals because I like that the journal inside becomes completely removable.
While you won’t be able to tie a pretty bow on the outside like with the twine binding method, you can make elastic binding look prettier by slipping beads or charms onto the elastic cord.
Of course, you can always “hide” your binding with some pretty spine jewellery or a tassel if you prefer.
6. Button Binding
Speaking of buttons, another binding method that looks super attractive along the spine is button binding.
Here, you’ll use either a 3 hole or 5 hole pamphlet stitch. Whenever you push the needle through to the outside of your journal, you’ll thread some buttons onto the binding.
Essentially, you’re decorating your spine with buttons. How fun!
7. Ribbon Binding
Ribbon binding is another variation of the twine and elastic binding ideas mentioned earlier.
Instead of wrapping twine or elastic cord around your spine and signatures, you’ll use some fabric ribbon.
The best bit? Not only do you gain the same freedom as the aforementioned types of journal binding, but it also looks pretty along the spine – especially if you tie a bow in the ribbon.
8. Japanese Stab Binding
All of the junk journal binding ideas mentioned so far will only work if you use signatures in your journal (i.e. papers folded in half).
If you want to bind single pages together then Japanese stab binding is one of the best methods you can use.
While I haven’t tried this binding myself (it looks a little too complicated and longwinded for my liking), Natasa from Treasure Books has created a great tutorial video should you want to give it a go.
9. Cross Stitch Binding
Once you get more confident with binding your journals, you might want to challenge yourself a bit more.
One way to do this is with cross stitch binding, which looks amazing along the spine.
This binding method involves passing the thread out of one signature and into another to create a cross or “X” shape.
10. Tab Binding
If you’re looking for a junk journal binding method that doesn’t involve any sewing or special materials, then tab binding might be the one for you.
This method involves glueing each of your pages onto “hinges”, which are small, interlocking pieces of cardstock or strong fabric.
These types of journals have such a decorative spine!
To make a tab-bound journal, all you need is some strong glue and something to act as your hinges such as cardstock or strong fabric.
I wouldn’t recommend the tab binding method for full-sized or heavy journals, but it’ll work just fine for small notebooks, folios or tag books.
Top Tip: If you don’t fancy cutting out small strips of cardstock or fabric to make your tab hinges, then you could use longer strips of paper or fabric instead. Here’s a video to show you this option in action >>
Standard, Hidden or Exposed Spines
While I’m on the subject of binding your journals, you also have a choice to make on whether you’ll have a standard, hidden or exposed spine.
This involves sewing straight through the spine so that the stitches are visible on the outside of the journal.
You can then leave them as is or cover your binding with lace or crochet along the spine of your journal.
This is my preferred method as it’s easy and perfect for beginners.
If you’d prefer your journal to have a more traditional bookbinding look (as in the stitches are “hidden” on the inside of the spine), then this is called a hidden spine.
It involves stitching your pages into some strong fabric or card, which you’ll then glue into the inside of your spine.
You can also make a hidden spine using some elastic cord instead of a sewn binding. This will mean your elastic cord will be “hidden” inside your spine instead.
Finally, if you’d like to try something really different then you might like an exposed spine.
This involves cutting into your spine so that part of your signatures are “exposed” on the outside of the spine.
A Few More Thoughts On Binding Your Junk Journals
I hope you’ve found these junk journal binding ideas and tutorials helpful.
But if you still find binding your journals daunting, then you might enjoy making altered book journals where you don’t have to do any binding whatsoever.
You might also enjoy making folios or altered file folder journals where you also don’t need to bind any pages into them. Adding a journal to projects like this is entirely optional!
That said, if you really want to learn how to bind your journals, then you might find a bookbinding cradle helpful. While not an essential tool, you’ll find a cradle especially handy once you start binding multiple signatures into your journal covers.
If you’re after even more journaling advice, then I have lots of other blog posts you might enjoy reading. You can find them all here >>
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