Children’s Art Jotters

I said I’d look at some ideas for home-made gifts for grandmothers over my next couple of posts, so this, somewhat later than anticipated, is my first contribution – though I think the second one may have to wait now until after Mother’s Day!

For me, often the most successful gifts are those which are both useful and which also have an added dimension – such as being beautiful or having meaning.  This gift has the potential to have all 3, as well as being yet another way of using children’s artwork.  The jotters allow you to either use some existing artwork, or alternatively create some specially.

For the interior pages, you can use either plain paper or any other paper you choose – either lined, or indulge in any beautiful recyled paper you can find.  You can also if you choose, add a decorative co-ordinating ribbon, or a printed label for the front  You could make a single jotter, or a pack of them with different coloured covers.  They can be exercise book size, or handbag memo size – the possibilites are endless, although by choosing a standard A4 paper, you can save yourself a lot of the hassle of having to prepare and cut it all to size. So on to creating your Children’s Art Jotter:

1.   The first step is to choose or create your artwork for the cover. Whichever you choose, the artwork needs to be on either thin card or stiff paper to form the covers of the book.  For my A5 sized jotters, I decided to create some artwork with the kids on coloured A3 thin card for this purpose.  I cut out an A4 sheet from this, selecting the best part of the image, to ensure that the decoration covers the whole cover.  If you use a sheet of card the same size as the cover , you may find that children don’t paint to the very edges of the sheet. Once you have a decorative sheet of the correct size, fold it in half across it’s length, making sure you have  a sharp crease. If you want to use a decorative ribbon, cut a piece approximately 3 times the height of the booklet, and glue it along the inside crease of the spine making sure that you have an equal amount of ribbon outside the cover at the top and the bottom.

2.  Next create the interior pages.  For an A5 jotter you need 6 A4 sheets of lightweight paper.  I just used standard plain printer paper, but you could use any kind of paper you like – lined, recycled, coloured or a mixture of 2 different kinds for example.   Fold each of them in  half across their length, again making sure you have a good sharp crease. Then, once folded, nest the sheets inside each other.

3.  If you wish, you can also use some plain coloured paper which co-ordinates with the cover artwork to use as endpapers. Again, I used a single sheet of coloured A4 paper, folded in half across it’s length.

4.  Form the booklet by nesting the interior sheets inside the endpapers and then the covers. If you want to include a decorative ribbon, cut a length about 3 times the height of the book, and lay the central third of the ribbon along the crease inside the cover, beneath the endpapers and interior pages.

5.  Create a sewing guide which will help you determine how to sew the jotter as follows:

Take a piece of paper the same size as the double-spread (in my case A4).  Fold it in half across its width.  Unfold it again, and then fold each edge to the centre so that you have a paper with 3 folds across its width. Unfold it again, turn the paper and fold in half along its length like the interior pages. Place the paper in the centre of the open book, with the centre-fold of all the pages matching.

6.  Using the folds of the sewing guide along with a needle and matching thread, stitch the book together. The position of the 3 folds of the guide relate to points A, B and C on the diagram.  Starting at point A on the inside of the book, take the needle to the outside of the spine (leaving a short length to knot when you finish), and then back through to the inside at point B. Take the thread along the inside of the book to point C and then back through to the outside.  Finally take the needle back through to the inside at point A.  Knot the 2 ends of the thread tightly together, and trim to about 0.5cm.

7.  With the book closed, trim the edges using a sharp knife, ruler and a cutting board, so that the pages and the cover are all the same size.

8.  To finish, tie a bow in the ribbon if  you’ve used one, and if you wish, add a decorative label on the cover.