I’ve been making my own journals, notebooks and calendars for years, b/c I could never find any I liked. I simply take pretty paper that I like and put them together to form my journal/calendar. I have been collecting pretty paper for years, but your local print/copy, scrapbooking or office supply shop will have some selections.
For a Journal
I choose the paper/pages I want (I like pretty floral stuff, obviously), mix them together in my preferred order – or random – and have my local printing/copying store bind it for me with a plastic coil. You can, obviously, make your book as thick or thin as you want by choosing how many sheets of paper you use.
Some shops have different colored coils – the one I use only has black, although you can see in the photos that they used to offer white coils too. I like the coil better than other binds, b/c I can not only lay it out flat, I can also fold it all the way back. I always have them give me a coil that is big enough for a fold back. If the coil is too narrow/small, the pages will be too tight to fold all the way back. I choose my cover page and have them put a clear plastic cover on the front and a plain white cover on the back. You could use clear for both, although I like the clear on one side only, so I always know which side is front by just looking at it. You could also do some artwork and use that for the covers – I’ve done that before too.
You could use all the same type of paper /pages for the inside; you don’t have to mix it up. I find I get bored if it’s all the same, but that may totally be what you want – or maybe just use your favorite colored paper. I always include some solid, colored pages without designs on them too.
It is also possible to cover a light weight compressed cardboard cover too (you know, like the stiff cardboard back of a legal pad – they come in all sizes – cut it to the correct size – maybe just a tad bigger?). Use paper, though, and not fabric, to cover it, as the print/copy shop won’t bind ones using fabric – they say it will clog their machine. 🙂
Cover the outside first, folding the edges over to the inside like wrapping a gift. Use a bone folder to get very crisp folds (or the handle of a butter knife will do). You can use paper that already has adhesive on it (like “contact paper”) or you can use spray adhesive (messy but effective) or a combo of both. Then you cut a piece for the inside that doesn’t quite go all the way to the edges but that covers the folded over edges. I usually press the two covers overnight between heavy books to let it dry well and make sure it stays flat. Sandwich your pages in between and take to be bound. B/c the copy shop I use usually wants to keep it and have me come back and pick it up later, I always mark the edge I want bound with a stickie note on top with an arrow – don’t want all my hard work being ruined by confusion over which edge to bind.
Think about doing little sketches in the corners and margins and/or leaving margin messages/quotes/poems randomly throughout to personalize it and make a gift of one for someone.
Also consider making it possible to tie the journal shut by placing a light weight satin ribbon mid way down the open edges – front and back (remember to do BOTH sides!). Lay the ribbon perpendicular to the opening edge on the inside of the folded over outside cover paper (remember, the inside cover paper will be adhered down over it to hold it in place), facing out, before adhering the inside cover. So that the ribbon is sandwiched between the two adhered papers and is held in place.
For a Calendar / “Daytimer” / Appointment Book
Years ago I gave up the frustrating search each year for the type of calendar I wanted and started making my own. First I made a computer document of the inside pages of what I wanted by turning the layout to “landscape.” I created the week on one regular, 8.5″ x 11″ page the way I wanted it (it just took some trial and error – pretty easy) in landscape layout and then printed it off to test it to make sure the coils in the middle wouldn’t cut into my printing. I then print (or copy) on front and back of the pages (27 pages x two weeks – one on front and one on back = 54 weeks = one year, give or take) I want (again, I usually choose floral prints – meaning that unless the paper has designs on both sides, some pages will just be solid white), cut the pages in half using a paper cutter (copy/printing shops have these for your use), write in the month and dates (the days of the week are printed on each page) and have it bound with a clear front and white back – again, with a coil big enough for a complete fold back. So my calendar ends up being half the size of my journal. I leave a few blank pages front and back for notes. I do this every year and love the creative process of preparing my year. 🙂 I use a colorful paperclip to mark the current week, so that I can always turn to the correct week easily.
For either one, you could cut the pages and make them any size you want. The photos show one full size, one half size and the smallest one is 1/4 size. Just remember to test your pages first by cutting a page or two to see how it will really present itself: Letter-sized pages with a top and bottom design will, when cut in half and turned in the correct book form/layout, have the those designs on the right and left sides and not the top and bottom, etc.
I have also used card stock instead of paper to use as a sketch book, photo album or design book (onto which I taped or glued photos or magazine cutouts). You can print on pages before assembling and make a ‘real’ book too – or just title pages.
With the scrapebooking stuff available these days, the sky is the proverbial limit in creating books of all sorts for yourself and as gifts for others. Think about copying blank/pencil designs onto pages to make someone a custom coloring book. Have fun! 🙂