If you like to garden and study wild plants and habitat with your students and you want to document your exploring, Plant Journaling for Homeschoolers is a collection of opportunities for you. Plant Journal Pages for Homeschoolers is a 40 page eBook designed for you to download and use to record your plant studies.
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Maybe you want to try journaling your studies of plants, but you don’t know where to begin.
Follow this tutorial for making your own hand bound book using the quarter size pages from the Plant Journal Pages for Homeschoolers eBook.
Before you begin, download the pages by signing up on the form below.
Once your Plant Journal Pages are bound, you can take them into the field and make a note of the things you see along the way.
The instructions on how to use the pages are right in the eBook.
The quarter sized pages can be used in any combination and make a sweet little hand bound book.
Trust me, once you’ve tried some of your own book binding, you’re going to be hooked!
Materials You Need for Binding Plant Journal Pages for Homeschoolers
There are two sizes of the pages found in the Plant Journal Pages for Homeschoolers.
You can print the 8.5×11 pages and put them in a binder or you can print the quarter sized pages back to back and bind them using a process for hand binding books.
One is more fun than the other!
If you’d like to follow this tutorial for a hand made binding, you’ll need the following materials.
- Quarter sized pages– to cut and fold into signatures from the Plant Journal Pages for Homeschoolers eBook
- Bone folder– so you can make a nice fold in your paper
- Awl– you’ll need to poke holes in the pages so you can sew them
- Thread– I like book binding thread, but you can use regular thread doubled.
- Wax– if your thread is not already waxed, then you want to wax the thread. A candle will do in a pinch.
- Needle– to use with the thread to sew the signatures to the binding
- Ribbon- optional ribbon to glue to in the binding to use as a book mark
- White glue– I used regular Elmer’s glue
- Glue brush– not necessary but totally fun and if you don’t have on you can use your finger
- Twill tape– you can also use bias tape if you have it. This is what you will sew the pages to.
- Book press– these are easy to make with plywood and bolts. You’ll be placing the book in the press at multiple times throughout the process.
- Linen– to cover the binding after you’ve sewn the pages
- Embroidery floss– use all six strands to sew a headband at the ends of the binding
- Cardboard– make into a cover, although we prefer having wood laser cut for this purpose, a nice choice if you have it available
- Fabric– to cover the cardboard and binding. Leather is an amazing cover as well if you have it on hand or can upcycle a piece.
- Patterned paper– to make end papers that match your cover
There are many kit options for book binding. This one has everything you need for a variety of binding projects.
Preparing the Plant Journal Pages for Binding
It’s time to get this book binding show on the road!
Let’s start by preparing the quarter sized pages for the binding process.
- Gather your book binding kit or materials to get started- initially that’s the PDF file, a printer, and a paper cutter or scissors (if you don’t have the Plant Journal Pages for Homeschoolers yet, sign up on the form below and they’ll be delivered to your inbox after confirmation!).
- Print the pages you want to use in the hand bound book
- Print the double copies of pages back to back so you will have consecutive pages that are alike.
- Print double sided- so you won’t have blank pages in the book if you don’t want them.
- Mix and match pages- you can put them in any order you’d like, all the same pages or a mixture of pages. It depends on what you want to observe and how you want to use the finished book.
- Cut the pages in half on the solid line- the dotted lines are for folding only. I like using a paper cutter, but if you don’t have one simply cut neatly with scissors. A hand bound journal will have lots of imperfections, so relax!
Turning the Plant Journal Pages into Book Signatures
The next step is to begin folding the pages to prepare them for the book press.
- Fold each half page along the dotted line- by itself
- Use the bone folder tool to crease each page individually- the tool allows you to do this cleanly
- Gather five separate pages and group them folded together- so that five pages make a little book
- Stack each set of pages- which is called a signature, all together
- Insert the book pages into a book press for the night- so they can be pressed well for the next step
Setting Holes in the Plant Journal Pages Book Signature
The next step requires some measuring along with an awl and a block of wood to protect your work surface.
- Get a small piece of paper and cut it to the length of your book- this will be the pattern for your hole setting
- Fold the paper- along the long side
- Measure a half inch from each end – and mark a pair of holes in the paper at the valley of the fold
- Mark a pair of holes in the center- you’ll have three sets of holes when you are finished
- Set the holes in the paper at the valley of the fold with your awl- the width between the pair of holes depends on the width of your book tape. If the tape is narrow, the holes need to be closer together as pictured above. If the tape is wide, you can set the holes a little farther apart.
- Pick up a book signature- and place the holes pattern in the valley of the book signature fold
- Punch holes in the book pages using the pattern- by putting your awl through the holes in the pattern all the way through the signature
- Repeat the last step for all the book signatures- so that when you are finished, all your book pages have holes in them that are in the same place
Decorating the Edge of the Plant Journal Pages
Next up is preparing the book pages for another night in the book press. What…again?
Remember, book binding is a long process!
- Choose an ink color- to use on the edges of your book. You can choose a metallic or flat color that you can match to the theme of your book and to your cover.
- Use a sponge or a stamp pad- to blot the edges of the signature pages with color. A fine sponge is nice so you don’t have to worry about the stamp pad surface, but if you are like us, you probably have stamp pads for crafting and some strictly for stamping.
- Place the signature stack back into the book press- so that your book is nice and flat after punching all those holes.
- Keep it there over night- for maximum benefit
Since our book has a plant theme, I chose a green ink for my book edges.
If you want a nice coverage on your book pages, take your time in doing this step. If you forget and you want to do it later, it’ll just be less intense in color.
Sewing the Binding on the Plant Journal Pages
Now it’s time to begin sewing the signatures together into a book.
Are you ready?
Pro tip: This can get a little difficult depending on the thickness of your thread and whether or not it’s waxed. Be sure to have a thimble on hand if you need it.
- Cut three pieces of book tape- so that you have one piece for each pair of holes. The length should allow you to have the ends of the tape go two thirds of the way across the page when the book is closed. Not only does the tape hold your pages together at the binding, but this is where we will attach the cover of the book later.
- Thread the needle- with your book binding thread. I like waxed thread, but you don’t have it, you can wax thick thread yourself with beeswax or use two strands of regular thread.
- Place a cut of book tape at one of the pairs of holes
- Sew the book tape to one signature of the book at the site of the holes. You need to use a running type stitch oriented in a way that allows you to open the pages of the book after you’ve sewn the tape to make the book binding. See the pictures above for how the thread loops on the top of the book tape.
- Add another signature next to the one you just sewed- and sew the tape to it at the holes.
- Repeat with each of the signatures- so that when you are finished, your book is entirely sewn to the book tape by independent signatures.
Gluing the Binding of the Plant Journal Pages Book
Now it’s time to add glue to the binding to reinforce the sewing you’ve just done.
- Place the book back into the book press- this will hold the book in place while you apply the glue
- Choose a ribbon to be your bookmark- this is a fancy field journal, after all.
- Measure the length of the ribbon- by holding it three quarters of the way down the spine and then fold over on itself, so that it runs down the whole length of the spine and sticks out beyond as far as you’d like to see it out between the pages of your finished book
- Prepare the glue- by pouring some out into a small container and adding a touch of water so that it isn’t too thick. We like plain Elmer’s glue. School glue already has a little water, so you shouldn’t have to add it.
- Spread the glue- in a generous layer along the binding of your book, making sure to get all the nooks and edges.
- Lay the ribbon on top of the binding- and hold it there while you add more glue over top of it.
- Leave the book in the press to dry- over night is best to make sure it’s all dry for the next step.
Adding a Linen Strip to the Plant Journal Pages Binding
Now we’ll add a strip of linen (the traditional book binding fabric) or any woven fabric to the book binding.
This step doesn’t last long, so get ready for the big wait!
- Leave the book in the book press for this step
- Cut a piece of linen fabric- to be the same length as the binding and a little wider
- Spread glue on the binding- using a glue brush same as before in all the places
- Add the linen piece to the top- and spread more glue on the top of the linen where it is on top of the binding
- Leave it overnight in the book press- you want to be sure it’s dried well
- Cut the excess fabric- on the sides as close as you can to the binding
Sewing a Headband to the Plant Journal Binding
Have you ever noticed that the ends of a hardbound book have this nice ribbon looking piece on the ends of the book?
It’s called a headband and we’re going to add them to our book.
- Take the book out of the press- so you can work with the ends of the binding
- Choose some colors of embroidery floss- you can choose two colors, but that gets complicated with alternating colors. You can also go with a solid color or better yet, a variegated floss so you can change colors with low effort!
- Cut about two inches of a thick cord- like paracord
- Thread the needle with your floss- and knot the end
- Attach the thick cord to the book end- while winding the floss around and around the cord (and through the ends of the book pages and linen). This is step is another tricky one. Be careful to stitch so that you are winding around and across the cord and not over the ends. Also be sure not to rip the ends of the papers as you sew through them.
- Knot off the end of the floss- when you have reached the other end
- Cut the excess ends of the cord- when you are finished sewing
- Place the book back into the book press- of course
- Glue the ends of the cord- so they don’t fray
Gluing the Cover Pieces to the Plant Journal Pages
It’s time to glue the cover pieces to the book tape to start the cover process.
- Cut some cardboard- from a corrugated cardboard box or even something like a cereal box. You need two pieces about an inch bigger than the pages themselves.
- Get a length of wax paper- and place it under the book tape and over the pages. You’ll need extra sheets to protect the table when you flip the book.
- Spread glue on the book tape in generous fashion- with your glue brush. By the way, if you don’t have a glue brush you can use your finger!
- Put the cover centered on top of the book tape- starting from just to the side of the binding (not overhung on the binding side)
- Turn over the book carefully- and apply the glue on the book tape and the cover on top of that with the wax paper under the book tape
- Place the whole assembly back into the book press- for another night of drying
Gluing the Fabric to the Plant Journal Binding
It’s time to talk about the fabric for your cover!
You can choose any fabric you’d like. I chose to use a length of some batik fabric I made several years ago. The cool thing about this design is that it is also plant based. The shapes are made from green peppers cut in half and dipped in wax.
If you’d like directions on making your own batik, this post will give you the general directions on how to do it. Fabric dying is one of our favorite things to do, we’ll be sharing more of it.
In this step, you’ll be gluing the fabric to the binding only.
- Arrange the book in the book press- so that it sticks out above the press about an inch
- Choose the fabric you’d like to use for your plant journal cover
- Cut the fabric so that there is a two inch margin around the book- think about how you would cover a text book back in public school
- Spread glue on the binding- all the way across the linen, but be careful not to get glue on the headbands
- Center the fabric on to the binding- be mindful of which part of the fabric you want to be on the front cover vs the back and orient it correctly before pressing the fabric down.
- Press the fabric firmly onto the binding- this is the only part of the cover we are gluing in this step
- Wrap a string or piece of yarn around the book- while it’s in the press and fasten it under the press to hold it there. This just makes sure there is pressure on the binding of the book to make sure the fabric is well glued to the spine.
- Leave it to dry- you guessed it! Overnight.
Gluing the Fabric to the Plant Journal Cover
In the next step, we’ll be gluing the rest of the cover fabric to the cardboard covers.
The first two pictures show the materials you’ll need on hand for the next couple of steps and folding the end papers with the bone folder.
The bottom two pictures show gluing the cover.
- Lay the book and cover flat on the table
- Cut wax paper for this step to put between the cover and the rest of the book pages after the glue is on the cardboard
- Spread glue on one of the cardboard covers- generously, you don’t want to skimp on this one
- Smooth the fabric over the cardboard- so that there are no wrinkles and bubbles
- Put a piece of wax paper inside the cover to protect the pages from the glue while it dries
- Flip the book over carefully- and repeat the steps so you can adhere the back cover to the cardboard
- Head to the next step- so you can put the book in the press over night just once
Mitering the Corners on your Plant Journal Cover
Remember making book covers from paper bags to cover school books? This step is a lot like that only we’ll be using fabric.
Don’t remember it? You’re probably lucky and no worries, we’ll get you caught up!
- Spread glue around the edges of outside edge one of the covers.
- Fold down the fabric on that side so it sticks to the cover
- Spread some glue on an adjacent side- be careful NOT to glue at the binding.
- Fold down the fabric and stick it to the cover
- Cut the fabric diagonally- at the corner so you can wrap the fabric around the corner without adding bulk. This is called mitering the corner. You might find you need to make two cuts to miter it well.
- Spread glue on the last side and fold the fabric down
- Miter the second corner
- Add a piece of wax paper under the cover to protect the pages
- Repeat this sequence again on the other cover
- Place the book in the book press for another night
A note on the portion of the cover fabric that goes across the binding: Simple fold those edges under the binding and they will stay nicely and allow the headband to show.
See the picture below for a shot of the bottom of the finished book to see what I mean.
Adding the End Papers to the Plant Journal Pages Book
End paper time!
This is another fun step that customizes your hand bound book.
Will you choose plain or a pattern to match the theme of your book?
- Choose a paper to be the end papers in your hand made plant journal
- Cut the paper to size using a paper cutter- you’ll want the paper to be slightly larger than the papers that are in the book because they’ll be smaller than the cover itself.
- Fold the paper in half
- Insert wax paper behind the first page in the book- you can reuse pieces of wax paper as long as they aren’t gluey
- Spread the glue over the paper
- Glue the paper to the inside cover and the first page of the book- carefully smooth out the paper till it’s all firmly in place.
- Repeat this process with the end paper on the opposite cover
- Place the book in the book press over night
Decorating the Cover of Your Plant Journal Pages Book
The part we’ve been waiting for!
It’s time to decorate the cover.
This is when you get to embellish the cover beyond just the fabric choice.
Since this is such a personal choice, I’ll give some directions and some ideas.
Choose your embellishments. It could be anything that can adhere to fabric and I’d be careful of too much bulk on a field journal.
- Paint a design on watercolor paper
- Use pen and ink on paper to draw a design
- Melt a wax seal
- Draw with fabric markers
- Stamp on the cover
Basically, you can do whatever you’d like!
Or nothing more at all.
Now that you have your book all ready to go, you can drop in your bag on the way out to take a walk.
Sign up to Download the Plant Journal Pages for Homeschoolers
When you sign up for the Plant Journal Pages for Homeschoolers and you’ve confirmed your email for me, you’ll get the PDF file in your inbox.
It’s 40 pages of plant science goodness delivered to you for free!
Along with the PDF file, you’ll start to receive support for how to use the pages with your students.