How to Make a Disc Bound Notebook Journal using your Automatic Cutting Machine
Have you ever wanted to make your own personalized planner or journal designed exactly the way you want it?
What if you can cut the perfect size page or divider on your own machine WITHOUT going to the store?
That's what I wanted to do for a garden journal. So I made a template for using these discs from an office supply store so I could make my own personal disc bound journal notebook from scratch. It's even got dividers with tabs on the sides.
Then decorate the cover with whatever creative approach you want. I used these great Tim Holtz dies from Sizzix, Distress Paints, Distress Inks and crayons.
So this is another variation on the books that I love to make. Sometimes I make a book as a shadow box as I did for the Owl's House. And sometimes I make a book to function as the base for my little houses. The best book I made was for Gus the Ghost's House. So for this little book I have two online challenges where I can share this journal - A Vintage Journey's Book It Challenge and the Mini Album Maker's May Challenge.
This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.
Materials for Your DIY Disc Bound Journal
- Pattern template from the Paper Glitter Glue library
- Cardboard for the cover and dividers
- Cardstock or copy paper for pages
- Gesso as primer for covers
- Discs for planners
- Garden Journal Cover Decorations:
- Tim Holtz Wildflower Stems #1
- Tim Holtz Large Stems
- Sizzix Potted Dies
- Sizzix Wildflowers Thinlits Die Set 661190
- Tim Holtz Alphanumeric Cutout Upper Thinlit Dies 663073
- Tim Holtz Sizzix - Bigz Die - Watering Can
- Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz Layering Stencil "Leafy"
- Stampers Anonymous Tim Holtz Layering Stencil Floral THS077
- Sizzix 3-D Embossing Folder "Lumber"
- Ranger Texture Paste Opaque Matte
- Ranger Distress Paints:
- Ranger Distress Inks:
- Ranger Alcohol Inks:
Steps to make the Disc Bound Journal Notebook
As a paper craft this is an easy project because your automatic cutting machine does the work for you. Currently I use a Cricut Explore Air 2 which worked beautifully for this project.
Step 1: Download the Journal Notebook file from the library
If you already have subscribed to my newsletter, just type in the password and it will take you to the main part of the library. I always put the most recent files at the top of the library.
If you have not subscribed to the newsletter, you may do so with the form below. Just subscribe and you will get the password right away.
Download the Journal Notebook SVG Zip file from the Paper Glitter Glue Library. In order to make it download easily the file is in a zip format which compresses the file. You have to unzip it to open the file. On a Mac, all you do is double click the downloaded file and it automatically opens.
Here is a link to Microsoft support for how to unzip a folder. I figure they can tell you better than I can paraphrase it.
Step 2: Upload the SVG file to your cutting machine design software
Now upload your file to the design software. There are 2 different sets of files in the folder. One is for the disc bound journal and the other is for a 3 hole notebook template. Choose whichever system works best for you.
What I love about the disc bound system is that you can always add individual pages anywhere in the notebook easily at any time. But the advantage of using the 3 hole is that you can use loose leaf rings or ribbon or twine to hold your notebook together. And it is easy to find a hole punch for the 3 hole system.
Each journal template file includes:
- A front and back cover (5" x 8")
- Dividers with 6 staggered tabs - same size as the covers
- Regular pages which are slightly smaller than the covers and dividers (4.75" x 7.75")
- 4 insert pockets you can glue on the dividers or pages (4" x 2 ⅞")
There is also a PDF file so you can see what is involved if you don't have a cutting machine or you want to print out the templates. Later I'll talk a bit about options for cutting out the journal pieces by hand.
Step 3: Cut out your journal covers
Now cut out the components for your personalized journal. I used a lightweight cardboard for the covers and the dividers. You can use a heavier weight cardstock or watercolor paper to make your notebook lighter. Since mine is going to be a garden journal I want it to be sturdy.
Here are the way each component looks in Cricut's Design Space.
First you see the Notebook covers with rounded edges. Notice that there are no score lines. And my Cricut cut out the tiny disc holes very nicely though I did have to send it through 3 times based on the cardboard I used.
Next are the Journal planner dividers. Again - no score lines needed. There are a total of 6 dividers for your DIY Journal or Notebook.
And here are the pages that are slightly smaller (4.75" x 7.75") than the notebook covers (5" x 8"). Please note that these are smaller than the commercial disc bound pages that you can buy. The advantage is that you can cut your own pages whenever you want, but if you want to a lot of pages it will take time to cut them 2 at a time.
Finally, if you want an insert pocket you can use these to make some small pockets. I use them to hold seed packets and plant labels.
There are 4 score lines that you must change for each pocket. On the right side you see 4 areas that say "CUT". You must change those 4 lines to cut lines at the top of Design Space.
Make your DIY Disc Bound Notebook without an automatic cutting machine
You can still use the disc binding system if you don't have an automatic cutting machine, but it is a little more challenging. Your options are to buy a disc binding punch. Here are some options:
Really I think if you cut your notebook out by hand I would simply use an 8.5" x 11" paper or cardboard, cut it in half and use a hole puncher for a 3-hole notebook. Much simpler.
Step 4: Personalize and Decorate Your Journal Cover
You knew I was just waiting for this step, didn't you? Indeed, it is my favorite part.
So there are 3 main steps for personalizing your journal cover - the background cover itself, design elements, and putting it all together.
First paint the background cover
Initially I made this cover to enter into a Simon Says Stamp Online Challenge called "Use Stencils". But I missed the deadline. Still I used some stencils for my two sample covers because they work so great for backgrounds.
Below is the leafy stenciled cover background. First I paint the cardboard with white gesso - the primer I use all the time. Then I painted it with Twisted Citron Distress Paint. It's a light, bright yellow green color that I didn't expect to love but I do.
Next I dry brushed Mowed Lawn Distress Paint over the Twisted Citron layer. I followed that with a Stampers Anonymous stencil called Leafy inked with Mowed Lawn Distress Ink. Also I think there is some smeared Peeled Paint Distress Ink and then lightly spritzed with the Twisted Citron Distress Oxide Spray.
After this photo was taken I decided I needed more contrast so I inked the edges with Wilted Violet Distress Oxide ink.
The background for this one is very similar with two layers of green paint. Then I used this beautiful Stampers Anonymous stencil called Floral with Ranger texture paste.
For the Floral background, I painted the leaves and flowers with Picked Raspberry and Mowed Lawn Distress Paints. The centers of the flowers are tinted yellow with some gold perfect pearls powder.
Unfortunately I didn't take an other process photos for this cover.
Design Elements for Your Personalized Journal Cover
Next make the design elements. Since I'm making a garden journal I used some of my favorite dies to decorate the cover.
There are alphanumeric dies for the Garden word. An offset darker version of the letters forms a drop shadow so they would show up better on the green background.
The embossed wooden barrel is from a new Tim Holtz Sizzix die called "Potted". I love this die.
The flowers were colored with various paints and inks. I even used the Mowed Lawn Distress Crayon for the leaves.
Next test the arrangement of the flowers, the words and the barrel.
Actually I like this arrangement better than the one I ended up with. I changed the arrangement so the leaves would not go over the edge. Oh well.
Now Put it all together
Just use your favorite glue and glue your decorative elements to the front journal cover. I glued a piece of cardboard behind one of the daisies for extra dimension.
And I finally remembered to add the metal band to my wooden barrel. I colored the band with silver and gunmetal mixative distressed with some Black Soot Distress Paint.
One mistake I made was adding little purple flowers in the R and D letters of Garden. That just looks silly.
To give the edge of the notebook cover a little more definition I inked it with some Wilted Violet Distress Oxide Ink. I like that a lot.
The End Result - the Finished DIY Garden Journal Notebook
Here are the journal covers.
Oh, here is one photo I will to be sure to add to my journal - my first apple on one of my dwarf apple trees. It's about 2 inches in diameter right now. I hope I can wait until it is ripe but I know it will be difficult because I stare at it everyday.
And this is what the pocket insert looks like on a disc bound page.
Finally, here is a sketch of my front yard garden - a rough sketch. I am going to do a lot of rearranging this fall probably.
Finally, this is what the pocket insert looks like on a disc bound page.
So that is how you make your very own personalized journal with an automatic cutting machine.
I hope you will try it out. Let me know if you have any questions - [email protected] Thank you so much for stopping by.
P.S. Be sure to pin this if you want to remember where to get the instructions.