Friday, March 27, 2020

How to Make an Easy Felt Travel Journal Holder

You know, for all of that traveling that you're currently (not) doing!


Seriously, though. With all of this home-time and that anxiety ball in the pit of my stomach (I keep offering it a snack, but alas, it's stress, not hunger), buckling down on big projects has turned out to be a decent way to keep myself distracted.

You probably know by now how much I love to travel with my kids, AND you probably know that I generally make them keep a travel journal while we're on our adventures. Letting them pack their own notebook to use as a travel journal, though, generally just means that they're keeping it in whatever random, previously half-filled notepad or sketchbook that they've just happened to come across while packing, and they never remember where their journal is afterwards and they NEVER seem interested in preserving it for posterity.


Combine this with the fact that, fingers crossed, my Girl Scout troop has a big tripped planned this summer that we've been planning together for years and no I don't want to think or talk about it right now, and I'd like them to keep travel journals, too, and I've decided that what I need to do is just turn the whole thing into a Big Production.

STEP ONE: When my Girl Scout troop can one day meet in person again, I've prepped this DIY hardback journal activity for us to make together. We're going to use mat board, duct tape, and large-format newsprint that I have in my stash (craft supplies hoarders make great Girl Scout troop leaders!), and the kids can decorate the covers with Sharpies.

STEP TWO: Remember me complaining every now and then about how I have an absurd amount of stash felt? I have SOLVED THAT PROBLEM, and one of the ways that I did so was by making a monogrammed felt travel journal holder for every kid in my Girl Scout troop!

As usual, please excuse the terrible quality of these photographs. This is the fifteenth day of our Pandemic Staycation, and I want to say that it's rained something like 13 of the past 15 days. 
These travel journal holders are absurdly easy to make, and easy to level for different abilities. At the minimum, they require only two straight seams, and you could easily hand-stitch them.

Instead of the satin-stitch applique, you could hot glue the felt embellishments to the cover (or use fabric glue if you want your travel journal cover to be washable).

Instead of the grommet, you could sew two ribbon ends to the travel journal cover's envelope flap.

Here's how I made this set of felt travel journal holders:

1. Make the pattern. Your pattern should be two travel journals + 2.5" wide and one travel journal + 2" tall:

2. Cut out the felt embellishments. I wanted the first letter of each kid's first name on the cover. I'm kind of over the hassle of using my old-school Cricut now that the company took down the design software that supported it (not cool, Cricut!), but fortunately I was smart years ago and cut myself a whole set of my favorite alphabet in cardstock!

OT: I'm definitely in the market for another cutting machine, so tell me if you've got one that you love. It has to have design software that lets me create my own designs, and it can't be a Cricut!

3. Attach the embellishments. Do this before you sew up the sides! The front of your travel journal holder is also the side that has the extra 2.5" length for the envelope flap, so make sure you keep that in mind when you place the applique:

Again, you can glue your pieces to your travel journal holder, or hand-stitch them, but my sewing machine, whose thread tension lately has been concerning me considering the local repair shop is closed for the pandemic and they're also super mean to me whenever I go there, was behaving admirably for a change so I buckled down and satin-stitched fourteen letters to fourteen travel journal holders before it could change its mind.

Don't worry, my sewing machine TOTALLY changed its mind when I started the project after this one, which was sewing 14 cloth napkins. It took me something like 12 cloth napkins to get the thread tension adjusted to a more or less workable level, just in time for me to have to figure it out all over again for my next project...


4. Sew the two side seams. I didn't take a lousy photo of this step, because you've seen me sew side seams before. Put the two sides of your travel journal holder wrong sides together, leaving an extra 2.5" on the side you want to be the front, and straight stitch them.

5. Add a closure. The whole point of the travel journal holder is to hold your travel journal, so you have to have a way to fasten it shut so your travel journal doesn't fall out!

I played around with a few ideas, and I'm quite pleased with the one that I finally settled on:

The grommets were maybe a little more fiddly than I should have used with felt, but if you place the grommet well away from the cut end of the envelope flap you shouldn't be able to put more tension on it than it can handle. I did mess up while placing one grommet and it looked like it might tear away, so I hand-stitched around that one and now it's SUPER sturdy.

The elastic is whatever is the most narrow from my stash, cut to twice the width of the travel journal holder, threaded through the grommet, and then tied off. It doesn't put a ton of tension on the travel journal holder, but it will definitely keep everything inside.

Along with the travel journals that the kids will make for themselves, I plan for their travel journal holder to contain one pencil and one pack of 10 fine-line Crayola markers. You can go for fancier supplies if you want, but my travel journal aesthetic has always sort of been rough-and-tumble, sturdy-and-cheap, decent-quality-but-I-won't-cry-if-I-lose-it. 

Now, here's hoping that we have need of these travel journal holders this summer!

No comments: