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Using a paper bag to make the cover of your sketchbook / art journal / junk journal is a very easy papercraft recycling project. Here's how.

Make a sketchbook from a paper bag using watercolour paper/ cartridge papers/coloured papers. The sketchbook is bound with an easy pamphlet stitch. This project was made entirely from my old supplies of paper, garden twine and a paper bag from my grocery delivery. You can also use this idea for junk journals / art journals or even a notebook, if you change the paper that you use for the pages.

The first step is to glue the flaps and flatten the bag. Tip: Iron the bag first with care not to burn the paper. Spray a bit of water on the bag and put it underneath an old cloth and then iron it flat.

Glue the edges and the top of the bag.

Put it under a heavy weight. I used a pile of sketchbooks and I left it overnight and then the next day it was dry and flat.

Fold it in half. If you don’t have such a thing as a bone folder, you can use a ruler. Fold it in half and then use the ruler to flatten the crease and this forms the cover of your sketchbook.

Create the pages. I used watercolour paper but you can use any type of paper.

Fold the pages in half. When you’re happy with the folded pages place them inside each other,

Measure the cover and measure your pages. Your pages will need to fit inside your cover so you may need to cut them down. I used a pencil to mark where I want to cut the pages down

I like the paper to have deckled edges so I used water to soften the paper. Then using a ruler, place it on top and pull the paper so that it rips along the edge. This gives it a handmade look. You don’t have to do this. You could just cut the edges. Tip: If there’s not much paper to remove you can dampen the edges of the paper again and use some tweezers to remove the paper. This makes it a bit easier but it’s still a bit fiddly.

And now place the pages inside your paper bag cover to see if they fit and adjust if necessary. Now it’s time to bind the sketchbook.

I use a really easy pamphlet stitch so you’ll need a needle that has quite a big eye and you’ll need some type of thread to bind it with. I use twine, which is not that easy to pull through your needle, so you will need a needle with a large eye. Use a clip to clip all the pages to the cover and then with the bradawl make some holes and be careful! Now you’re ready to stitch the cover to the pages.

Pull the needle from the front through to the centre. It can be quite hard to pull so you can use pliers if you need to so pull it through the centre.

Then you need to go back through from the inside of your sketchbook out to the cover again at the top and then go to the bottom and go back through to the inside again. I put a little bit of water on the cover to dampen it and make it easier to pull the needle through because it can be quite tough.

Pull your thread through and take it back through the centre again to the outside. Cut it. Then make a knot.

Wow! Now you have your finished sketchbook and you can make this as simple or as complicated as you wish.

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