July 8, 2012

Make it: Plastic photo inserts for art journals

Confused by the title? See that page in the middle? That's what I'm talking about. This is a spread I made for my art journal that was kind of scrapbookish; commemorating the night I saw my friend Andy's play at the beginning of June. I decided to "immortalize" Houston Press' review of the play, along with his photo and an instax I took in the theater that night in a plastic insert. 
The first time I experimented with turning plastic page protectors into photo pockets was actually born out of a lack of space. I was making a birthday book for a friend and after finishing the book (I'd sewn the book together with only so many pages, so once filled I couldn't just add more) realized I had sooo many extra photos that I still wanted to include! I've also been really obsessed with the idea of Project Life photo inserts, and how I could somehow create that to fit any project I was working on. The following DIY is basically an adaptation of what I made for my friend's book; instead of taping the inserts in, I've adjusted the design so I can make plastic photo/ephemera inserts to add throughout my art journal! 
So, to make one of these, you will need: 
1. Cut off the edge with binder holes. Flip your page protector so that the closed edge is on the left. 
2. This picture is supercloseup and hard to see, I know. I should've put something behind it for better contrast, but bear with me. Sew a straight margin about 1/2 inch from the closed edge of the page protector. I just kind of eyeballed mine, but if you're punching holes, you want to make sure you have room. Once you've got your margin, punch your holes accordingly. The pages of my art journal are smaller than the plastic page, so I used one of my completed journal pages as a guide. 

3. Practice laying out your page so you know where you want everything. Starting with the bottom left corner, insert and sew around each element, one at a time. For elements of different sizes and shapes I usually use a straight stitch, but for a few of the photo pages I made for my friend's book, I used a zigzag stitch and colored thread to create more interest. 
Initially, I'd planned on using the instax photo of the flowers for a journaling page, but decided at the last minute (while I was prepping this DIY, actually) to include the photo and a small panel of journaling instead. More variety, ya know? I sewed a block around the leaves first, then the photo, then the text. The petals were the last thing to be added because I wasn't sure how much room I'd have left. Also, notice how crooked some of my sewing is. Don't stress about it, totally adds character to your page. At least that's what I'm telling myself. 
Final product! Left: front / Right: back
One thing to remember is that the back of whatever you put in your photo pockets will show too, so if you have a newspaper clipping with random stuff on the back that you don't want seen, back it with paper and add a sticker or stamp or something (which I didn't do on Andy's insert because I didn't really care). On the back of each instax I add a label with the date. For my friend's book, I glued a small bit of paper to the back of each photo to write a note or date, etc. Anyway!
Handmade photo inserts are a fun way to add interest to your art journal, especially when you have elements that are more difficult to work with on a page (like leaves, petals, etc). My favorite thing too is that they don't always come out the same size as the journal pages you're working with, or even the same shape, like Andy's page, so the edge isn't just another straight line. 

Happy journaling friendlies! How was your weekend? I was kind of lazy for the first time in awhile...caught up on some movies, hung out with some great people, took a few photos. Did anyone take any great photos or create some amazing art? I wanna know! 


  1. very cool idea jessica! not that i sew. i have a machine that sits on the floor unused. i took some photos & created some art, but i wouldn't call it amazing. just saying. ;)

    1. Thank you! And GRRL you should take full advantage of that sewing machine! I used to sew a lot more but recently it's just been stitching paper for art journal stuff. PS go you for creating. That's all that matters (and I'm sure it's more amazing than you make it out to be!)


    I love this. I've always wanted to sew random things that are not fabric. Good to know that works out.



You're so sweet (: Thanks friend!


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