DIY Vintage Brown Paper Bag Junk Journal

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When you’re a paper addict, you are willing to try just about any project that involves the use of paper. Naturally, this led me to junk journals. Naturally, it’s another way for me to record precious memories and still create something beautiful. Since I had come across some of my families’ vintage photos I wanted to create a junk journal to hold them, as well as, any memories I could find out about those family members.

What is a junk journal?

Well, quite simply, a junk journal is comprised of just about anything. It’s a handmade book of recycled items such as paper, magazines, music sheets, lace, envelopes, brown paper bags, tags, post cards (the list is endless!). Anything you can get your hands on or have on hand in your craft room will work. The books themselves could be paper, cereal boxes, bound books and more. The possibilities are really endless with constructing and embellishing a junk journal.

This was my very first junk journal creation and I was very pleased with how it came out. We had plans to have Easter dinner at a friends house and I brought all my supplies so we could have crafting time while dinner cooked. It was the best time to just sit, relax and craft the afternoon away with my daughter, niece and best friend. It’s true that some of the best craft memories are made around the table!

This junk journal was literally a last minute thought so I didn’t necessarily have a theme in mind. But I knew I wanted a vintage feel to my junk journal. Every page leaves an opportunity to record a memory or insert a photo. This journal was created with a simple brown paper lunch bag that I had laying around the house. Also, because it was my first junk journal I didn’t have a ton of vintage style supplies and so I did fill in some areas with stickers. But, I still love how it turned out and it gave me so many other ideas for creating other junk journals.

Since I wanted that vintage feel, I also created my first batch of tea-stained papers and doilies. The process was pretty simple and I even got a little creative using a doily to imprint on the paper. It really gave the vintage paper a whole different look and enhanced the vision I had for my junk journal.

The very first two-page spread of my journal incorporated a corner pocket inspired by Rita Donnelly (the creator of this corner flip pocket). What I love about the pocket is that I can flip it up and also record some thoughts or a memory under the flap. It’s perfectly sized for some handmade tags, to hold memories, or even small photos. Both the tags and the corner pocket were adorned with some decorative buttons.

The page opposite the corner pocket was a doily imprinted tea stained paper with some stickers embellishing the page. I planned to put in a little memory note of our girls’ crafting day. The sticker in the bottom right corner reads, “It’s a crafting kind of day”.

On the next page I tucked in a tea stained doily that peeks out at both the top and bottom. Although it’s a sticker, I felt like the dress form sticker had the perfect vintage feel. This sticker reads, “I just want to make pretty things”.

With the next set of pages, I inserted a small piece of scrapbook paper my friend had on hand, which was a perfect complement to the style of my journal. I added another sticker that reads, “Make pretty things every day” (see a theme here). Then I couldn’t help adding a small butterfly button at the top of the opposite page. Notice on the left side there are some various black smudge spots. I have no clue how that happened but it was during the staining process and it actually blends perfectly in this setup.

These next pages not only include the addition of a doily, but a small scrapbook paper pocket that holds two scrapbook paper journal cards. In this space, I felt that journaling about my pets would be a nice addition. With a corner wood-look button and small cat sticker, this page was complete.

Another 2-page spread that incorporated a scrap piece of scrapbook paper sized to fit perfectly in the middle. This piece of paper also wraps around the pages added on top of it.

This spread included another doily (love adding these!) and a scrapbook piece of paper that flips up for additional journaling space.

The final pages are directly in the center of the junk journal and, again, I couldn’t help but add a heart shaped tea-stained doily. The left side of the paper has a wood-toned button that reads, “Happy” and the opposite page has some complementary rose washi tape along the edge.

The best way to finish off your junk journal is using a needle and tatting thread. That way, you can add whatever you’d like and with just a few holes you can keep your journal together. The benefit of finishing off your junk journal using this method is if you ever wanted to add more pages, you simply untie the string; take the journal apart; add in more pages where you’d like; realign the holes and tie it back up again.

Junk Journal Tips

  • Assemble your junk journal from the outside in. Lay the cover down first, then the next page and so on.
  • If you’re feeling intimidated by creating a junk journal, use a brown paper lunch bag and simply fold it in half (that is how I constructed this journal).
  • Leave enough extra thread to work with so you can add charms on the ends of them to let them dangle out the bottom of the closed junk journal.

The backside of the paper bag (where it is gusseted) I had glued in two extra pieces of scrapbook paper to give it a little more decoration than just a plain brown bag look. Sadly, I did not get that pictured. The final touches were to hand stamp the cover with a beautiful vintage style stamp, add some vintage lace along the edge, glue on a button to use as a light-weight closure (for when the journal gets thicker).

If you were inspired to create a junk journal after reading this post, don’t forget to share by tagging me on Instagram and using #btdinspired, I’d love to see your work (and I just might repost your photo)!

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