I began this Bullet Journal project for the simple reason that I am left-handed. As a left-hander I find that spiral bound notebooks, three-ring binders, and stitched journals are difficult for me to use because of where my writing hand falls on the page. My writing hand always right on top of the spiral wire, binder rings, or on the raised area of the stitching.
Because of this I prefer a top-bound notebook or journal or loose pages that are later added to a three-ring binder. This places the binding area of the journal out-of-the-way of my hand.
Instead of buying a Bullet Journal that I would never use because it would be uncomfortable, I decided to make my own leather, top-bound journal. Making my own meant that I also had the fun of working a pyrography pattern on the front cover.
The journal is bound with a very simple lacing pattern that can be opened to remove and refill the journal cover for long-term use. The paper pages, printed using my home computer printer, are laced to the back cover only, which allows the front cover to be fully opened and even rolled over to the back of the journal during use.
My finished journal is a small-sized booklet, measuring 6 1/2” wide by 8 1/2” high, perfect to fit into the outside pocket of my purse. Now that this one if finished I plan to have fun creating a full-sized journal for my desk.
2 pc – 6 1/2” x 8”, 7 to 8 ounce, vegetable dyed leather
1 pc – 6 1/2” x 3”, 7 to 8 ounce vegetable dyed leather
Self-healing cutting mat
large, transparent quilting ruler
Pan of clean water
Clean kitchen-style sponge
Leather edge beveler
3/16” leather hole punch
dark brown synthetic leather sewing thread
waxed linen rug thread
2 – 1/8” bamboo kitchen skewers
Graphite tracing paper
Variable temperature wood burning unit
Loop-tip or ball-tip pen
Spear shading pen
Sharp-point, curved shading pen
White artist eraser
Fine-grit emery cloth or honing strop
Artist quality colored pencils – titanium white, carbon black, medium cadmium yellow, pale rust, medium cadmium orange, yellow-green medium, olive-green
Assorted nail polish – several shades of pink, red, or rust
Matte acrylic spray sealer
Bullet journal papers – 6” x 7 1/2”
Click on any image for a full-sized, large photo.
Use vegetable-tanned leather only for your pyrography projects. Dyed leathers and synthetic leathers contain chemicals that may be harmful during the burning process.
I used 7 – 8 ounce leather for my journal cover. You can use thinner leathers, as 4 – 5 ounce. To give your journal extra strength when using thinner leathers you may wish to add a cardboard chipboard layer behind your printed pages, cut to fit the size of the pages.
1. Measure and cut two leather pieces, measuring 6 1/2” wide by 8” long – one for the front and one for the back covers. For easy and accurate cutting use a self-healing mat board, a quilting rotary cutter, and a transparent ruler.
2. Cut one leather piece 6 1/2” wide by 3” high for the top cover joining piece.
3. On the raw hide side, reverse side, of the leather front, measure 1/2” from the top edge and mark a pencil line. Measure 3/4” from one side of the cover, along the previous line, and mark with a dot. Measure 3/4” from the opposites side and mark a dot. Measure 3 1/4” from one side, and mark a dot.
4. Use a 3/16” or 1/4” leather hole punch and wood mallet, and working from the raw hide side, punch one at each marked point along the top edge line. This creates your three lacing holes in your leather front.
5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 to create lacing holes on the top edge of the back cover and on both edges of the 3” joining piece.
Tracing the Pattern:
Center the pattern to the left, right, and bottom edge of your leather cover. This allows excess space at the top of the cover for your bamboo skewer and waxed thread lacing. Use a small piece of painter’s tape to secure the pattern onto the leather.
Using graphite paper under your pattern, trace along the pattern lines using a light to medium pressure. Remove the graphite paper and pattern.
Outline the Pattern:
A ball-tip pen will create an extremely even, uniform line that does not vary in thickness as you move through the curves of your pattern. The loop-tip creates a thick and thin effect that can add interest to a simple outline burning.
Remove the Graphite Lines:
Note: School and office erasers are often dyed with bright colors. That dye can transfer to your work, whether you are burning leather, wood, or paper. Using a white, un-dyed, eraser avoids the chance of dye transfer.