Smashing on a Small Scale: The Paper Bag Journal

bag journal cover

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Back in June I wrote about trying to do more art journaling, and at some point I ended up buying a smash journal (the Retro SMASH Folio to be precise), thinking that would be easier than building something from scratch. The only thing is, I barely use it, and certainly not for smashing (I’ve doodled a little and done some more word-filled journaling). Which is not to say that I won’t use it; mostly I just got away from the practice of trying to do “art” every day. Whenever I get back to that, I’m sure this will be a tool I use.

Anyway, it happened a couple of weeks ago that I wanted to play with some of the cool stuff I got from EK Success at the Craft Gossip Fork & Talk, and was thinking about an easy way to get to play with a bunch of the products without having a lot of other tools at your disposal or skill in papercrafting and I was reminded of the paper bag journal. I found that tutorial from Burlap and Denim on Pinterest, and I basically followed it when I put mine together.

What You’ll Need

  • three paper bags
  • a single hole punch
  • a length of twine, yarn or ribbon
  • a bunch of scrapbooking paper, stickers, findings, whathaveyou
  • glue stick, scissors, cutting mat and X-ACTO wouldn’t hurt either

What You’ll Do

  1. Fold the bags in half and punch holes. I did five holes, but you could probably get away with fewer. This is the hardest part. Invest in a good punch if you plan to make a lot of these!
  2. Thread twine or whatever you’re using up, then down, through the holes and tie at the bottom.
  3. Decorate your pages in whatever way you want!

My Smash Paper Bag Journal

Of course everyone has different supplies in their house so no two of these smash paper bag journals is going to look the same. That’s part of the fun. Even if everyone who went to that event — who all had the same stuff — made these together we wouldn’t come out with two that looked the same. Ooh, this would be a fun one for a crafternoon with friends: just gather some supplies and you can work on your journals together.

All of the papers you see in these pictures are from the K&Company Engraved Garden Specialty Paper Pack.

bag journal cover
The front of my paper bag journal

On the cover, I also used two of the Engraved Garden Clearly Yours Epoxy Stickers (that’s the hot air balloon and the butterfly). The little tag with the scissors, the cameo and the lace trim are all from the Jolee’s Boutique French General line, which is not really my style usually but I loved having for this project.

I’m not going to take you through every single spread, but I did want to point out some cool things.

smash journal stamping
Cute stamps on a paper bag journal.

This page on the left is stamps from an Inkadinkado Layering Scenes set, and I messed up the top of the building so I cut a little of the lace to cover it. I think it’s kind of cute!

paper bag journal embellishment
The Z-ACTO helps a lot for detail work like cutting out that butterfly.

This page features some punching gone awry (with an EK Tools 2-in-1 edge punch; I’m sure it was user error) but I like this one because I cut that butterfly out by hand from a different piece of paper. Also, another one of the lace sticker trims, which I love.

paper bag journal pocket
I built this pocket out of paper and embellished with a sticker.

Here’s a better job punching (with a Martha Stewart Crafts Double-Edge Punch) and a little pocket I made from another piece of paper. The right-hand page has an edging from a different paper, and another cool French General sticker.

paper bag journal smash book
This bird paper just had to make it into my smash journal!

Finally, I just love this vellum bird paper. Had to get it in there somewhere.

This is not a great work of art, but I did finish the whole thing in about two hours, which was pretty cool. It was a lot of fun, and now I have a little book I can carry with me, scribble down notes, note down scribbles, and even carry a little bit of stuff in because of the pockets formed by the bags. How cool is that?

Have you ever made a journal like this before? I’d love to see it!

Thanks for visiting, commenting and sharing!

I should let you know that one link at the tippy top for Smash books is an affiliate link. If you want to help me out more than that, you can save on scrapbooking supplies at They have a bunch of the stuff I mentioned. If you do, they’ll send a little coin my way, and I’ll appreciate you!

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