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.