Monday, July 20, 2015

DIY Paper Towns Travel Journal

The Paper Towns movie is coming out next week. I thought it was a perfect time to make a travel journal with the YA kids at my library. If you have read the book by John Green, you know that the main character, Quentin, goes on a road trip with his three friends, Radar, Ben, and Lacey. The journal I created commemorates that road trip using needle and thread.

The project is fairly simple to complete and only requires a rudimentary knowledge of sewing and embroidery. To complete it, you will need:

  • Printed map of the East Coast of the United States*
  • Tapestry Needle
  • Embroidery Thread
  • Chipboard or Heavy Cardstock (2 sheets per notebook)
  • Printer paper 
  • Scissors
  • Glue Stick or Rubber Cement
  • Hole Punch
  • Pencil
Step 1: Cut the paper journal elements into the desired journal size. My journal measures 8 in x 4.5 in, but you can cut yours to be smaller or larger depending on how big you want the journals to be. Make sure to cut the computer paper to the same or slightly smaller size as the chipboard.

Step 2: Glue the map sheet to the chip board or card stock if you did not or could not print directly to the material. If you want a more durable notebook, you can also cover the map with a thin coat of modge podge to stiffen it and give the map a glossy finish. Do this step before any sewing happens, or the thread will end up looking gunky. Wait until the glue is completely dry (a few minutes if using a glue stick or rubber cement) before moving on to the next step.

Step 3: Take your tapestry needle and poke holes along the route you wish to embroider, making sure to poke a hole at ever slight curve of the path so that the thread will not make an unwanted detours through corn fields. I used this helpful google map as a reference. If necessary, trace the route with a pencil before poking the holes. The embroidery thread will cover any marks you make.

Step 4: Cut a length of embroidery thread (Measure you arm, fingers to elbow, with the thread is a good guide for how much to cut as a start.) and thread it onto your needle. tight a knot on the other end of your thread. Starting from the underside of the cover (so that your knot does not show on the cover of the journal), begin connecting the holes you made along the route. You will have to pass through most of the holes twice to completely connect the route. Once finished, tie off or weave in remaining 'tail' on the underside of the cover. Don't worry if the back of the cover looks like a mess.

Step 5: Punch three holes in the top edge of both covers and all of the journal pages, one in the middle and one on each outer edge. Stack the front cover, inside pages, and back cover together, making sure that all of the holes line up with each other. Using a second length of thread, loop the thread through a hole of your choice and tie it in a knot so that the covers and all pages are secure. Loop the long end of thread through a second hold, connecting the two holes together. Repeat until the edge of the binding is tight and well-connected. Weave ends into the back of the book.

Optional Step: The wording at the bottom of my journal is optional, but if you would like to recreate it, you will need a pencil. On the back of the cover, trace the lettering backwards (otherwise it will appear backwards on your cover). Poke holes along the trace lines so that the shape of each letter will be visible once you've connected all of them. Sew along each letter in the same manner as step 3.

You're done! Enjoy your travel journal!

*If you use card stock, you can print the map directly onto the card stock and eliminate the necessity for glue, or glue the printed map to plain card stock for a sturdier cover. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

New Year, New Blog, New Reading Challenge

It's a brand new year! 2015, in fact! Just look at that date. I remember thinking at the turn of the millennium that 2015 seemed like a lifetime away. And now here it is, and here I am, doing what most people do at the start of the new year. Starting a blog. Yay!

I could start this new blog by talking about myself or my profession or my hopes and dreams or some other boring thing that no one but me (and maybe my mother) cares about. I'm not going to do that. Instead, I'm going to talk about important things. Like books.

Every year I challenge myself to a read a certain number of books via  Goodreads. Last year, my goal was to read 85 books, and I got there by the skin of my teeth. This year, I've upped the ante by a whole book. 86 books might sound like a lot or barely a challenge, depending on who you are and what type of reader you are. And if you're a non-reader, what are you doing here anyway? I suggest you visit this post (mind the language), and then kindly go pick up a freakin' book.

This year, on top of reading 86 books, I have decided to make the challenge a bit more interesting by creating a mini-challenge to how and what types of books I read. It isn't enough that I read 86 books. They need to mean something. Because I'm that kind of book snob. So, here goes. My reading challenge for 2015:

2015 Reading Challenge

  • Read at least 1 book about writing a month. That resolution about getting a book published by the end of the year isn't going to happen on its own.
  • Read at least 1 book over 500 pages. Bonus points if it's over 1000 pages.
  • Read at least 5 non-writing non-fiction books. 
  • Read at least 2 books written before 1900, the older, the better.
  • Read at least 10 books from my personal library. There's no point in being a book hoarder if you're not going to read any of the books you hoard. Staring longingly at them doesn't count.
  • Write at least 1 thoughtful, analytical review a month. Preferably published on this blog.
  • Read at least 3 physical books for every audiobook. 
  • Do no let the July-December reading drought happen this year. DO NOT LET THE JULY to DECEMBER READING DROUGHT HAPPEN, DAMN YOU.
We'll see if any or all of this happens. What is your reading challenge this year?