Pauline Hagan combines funky metallic leather, neon pink and a map print to create an uber-stylish keepsake.


Revive the traditional craft of bookbinding and make this travel diary. It’ll make a wonderful, personal treat for a friend – whether it’s to record impressions of their everyday adventures, exciting travels, new course or job.

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Keeping a diary is good for you too – researchers at the University of Arizona found that writing a journal helped divorcing couples to manage their feelings and move on – and they experienced lower heart rates too.

Read on to find out how to make a faux leather journal cover...

Make a leather-bound map journal to record your adventures!

You’ll need to gather:

  • A piece of faux leather, 22 x 38cm (8 3/4 x 15”)
  • Strip of faux leather, 0.7 x 70cm (1/4 x 27 5/8”)
  • 10 or more sheets of paper, old map cut to A4
  • Tracing paper
  • Neon string or thread
  • Neon cord or yarn
  • Neon paint (optional)
  • Needle
  • Scissors
  • Scalpel
  • Ruler
  • Superglue

Easy DIY faux leather journal tutorial

Travel journal step 1

1. Our book is A5 size. One by one, fold 10 A4 pages in half, pressing down on each fold. Place them inside one another to form a ‘signature’ (or section) of A5 size folded paper.

Travel journal step 2

2. We’ve used an old map for the first and last pages of the book, to which we’ve added a pocket so you can store memories from your travels inside. Cut an old map to A4 size and fold it in half. Cut tracing paper into a rectangle smaller than A5 size – approximately 11 x 17cm (43/8 x 6 3/4”).

Round one of the edges, and use a simple stitch to secure it to the map. Add the map to the outside of your signature – this means the first and last pages of your book will be maps, and the rest of the pages will be blank. Wrap your piece of leather around your signature to ensure that it covers your pages nicely, with one flap overlapping onto the cover.

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Open up your signature and ensure it’s positioned correctly on the leather. Measure and mark a hole every 3cm (1 1/4”) onto the leather and central signature fold with a pencil (you should make six in total). Then use a thick needle to pierce holes into the fold as well as into the leather underneath. Make sure that the holes in the paper and the leather are aligned as precisely as possible.

Travel journal step 3

3. Thread your needle with brightly coloured string. Start sewing in the central hole, with the end of the string inside the book (not outside). Tape it down so it doesn’t slip away. Using your pre-pierced holes in the paper and leather, start sewing large stitches towards the top of the fold, in and out of the holes, to the very top, down past the middle hole again, down to the bottom and then up again, until you’re back at the middle hole. Tie a knot with the end of string in the centre of the signature fold and trim the excess string.

Travel journal step 4

4. Cut two of the corners off the top and bottom of the flap.

Travel journal step 5

5. Cut one very long leather strip, approximately 0.7cm (1/4”) in width, 70cm (27 5/8”) long – we’ll use this as the tie to wrap around the book. If you don’t have a single piece of leather long enough, you can cut two pieces and sew them together. We’ve painted our tie using neon pink acrylic paint (it’ll need a couple of coats) to contrast with the gold.

Travel journal step 6

6. On the rough side of the leather, mark out two 1cm (3/8”) vertical lines in the centre of the flap, and then cut each one using a scalpel to create two slits. Weave one end of the leather tie into the slits, and superglue down the parts of the tie that are under the flap. This will enable you to wrap the tie around the book twice.

Travel journal step 7

7. Create a little tassel by cutting 15-30 pieces of pink string (the amount you need will depend on the string’s thickness), each approx 11cm (4 3/8”) long. We’ve used a nylon cord so the tassel is sturdy. Use any old string to tie a single knot in the centre of the bunch.

Fold the bunch over (where the knot is) and tightly wrap a gold coloured string around the top of the tassel, just below the loop, tying a neat knot in the back of the tassel. Trim your tassel.

Travel journal step 8

8. Flatten your journal under heavy books overnight. The next day, superglue the top of the tassel onto the end of your leather tie, and reinforce it by tying a knot with gold thread.

When closing your book, slip the tassel under the previous loop you made so the book holds tightly in place.


If you're looking for more journalling inspiration, check out our what is bullet journalling? guide or stock up on stationery with our best bullet journal roundup.