junk journal kids colouring book

How to Upcycle Junk Mail – Junk Journal Colouring Book

This tutorial is all about how to reuse the envelopes from your post, junk mail or otherwise and turn them into a junk journal style colouring book for kids, personalised with their favourite characters!  

In truth you can use this tutorial to make a junk journal notebook for yourself but as its getting to be that time of year I have also reused some cut outs from my son’s Thomas the Tank Engine magazines to decorate my junk journal cover so I can gift it as a blank colouring book to my nephew who is nuts for Thomas!

Materials Needed:

Thomas the Tank Engine Junk Journal Colouring Book
  • Envelopes
  • Thin cardboard wrapper roughly the size you want your finished book to be. (I used a rectangular chocolate bar wrapper that was made of cardboard).
  • Embroidery thread
  • Large Sewing Needle
  • Scissors
  • Mod Podge 
  • Magazine cut outs of the kids character of your choice 

Step 1: Cut your cover to size

how to make a junk journal colouring book
using a cardboard wrapper as a junk journal cover

I used the cardboard wrapper from a large dark chocolate bar as the cover of my colouring book.  I cut it at one side and removed the excess flaps so that I just had a front and back cover and the spine.  Mine was a thin rectangle that was a bit smaller than the envelopes I used for the pages but you could use a cereal box or something larger and cut it to exactly the shape you need.

Step 2: Cut your envelopes to size

using junk mail to make a junk journal colouring book
how to make a junk journal
how to make a junk journal

Even if you’ve signed up for paperless bank accounts and bills you still inevitably receive lots of junk mail in these white envelopes (designed to make the inside look more important than it is!).  These are what I collected to use for my junk journal colouring book project.  I also used one that had some red on it just for a bit of interest.  You can play around and use whatever type of junk paper you have.  The important points are:

  • make sure there is still enough blank space on the paper or envelope you are using so that it can be effectively used to colour or write notes.
  • The paper should be large enough that you can fold a seam for the spine of the book – see below.

I cut the raggedy tops off my envelopes, then cut the remaining part to fit my cover.  I also opened the seam at the sides but not at the bottom of the envelope.

how to make a junk journal colouring book gift
making a junk journal from envelopes

If you are using envelopes like I did you will likely end up with parts of the clear address window still included.  I think it adds to the recycled charm of it all but if you don’t then you could try using other types of junk mail instead of the envelopes.

Step 3: Bind your Junk Journal Colouring Book

how to bind a junk journal

Here is how to bind your junk journal colouring book:

  • Open up all of the envelope pieces and your cover as if you were looking at the middle page of the book.
  • Double up some embroidery thread on a large sewing needle and double knot one end.
  • Start threading by piercing through all of the paper and cardboard with your needle at Point A in the image above.
  • Follow the arrows and thread outside the cover to point B, then pierce through to bring your thread back to the inside and make another hole very near your first one back at A.
  • Thread outside to point C making your last hole to bring your thread back in and tie it to the thread back at A to finish off.
  • Snip off loose ends.

There are some more photos below to help illustrate.

binding a junk journal
how to bind a junk journal
how to bind a junk journal
how to bind a junk journal

If you are making this as a notebook for yourself you could stop here.  I continued on to decorate mine so I could gift it as a personalised colouring book.

how to make a junk journal from envelopes
junk journal from envelopes
junk journal tutorial

Step 4: Decorate Your Cover

old kids magazines for upcycling
mod Podge Thomas and friends colouring book
using mod podge

I’ll admit it – I buy too many kids magazines for my son.  He makes the eyes and he gets one.  But for this project I convinced him to let me cut up some of the ripped pages to decorate this ‘colouring book’ for his cousin who is as mad for Thomas the Tank Engine as he is!  I used mod podge to  create a little Thomas collage on the front and back cover.  I put a bit of cardboard in between the cover and the rest of the junk journal pages while it was drying, just to make sure they didn’t stick together.

Step 5: Give your recycled gift!

personalised name crayons

I am going to give this junk journal colouring book alongside these upcycled personalised name crayons as a bit of a colouring set for my nephew Nate.  Hope he likes them!

junk journal colouring book
personalised kids junk journal colouring book

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junk journal colouring book for kids
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