Manilla File Folder Journals are Quick and Easy...and Addicting!

Last spring, I learned how to make a simple and quick journal using a regular office manilla file folder.
Each year, my office throws out tons of them because we throw out old files, folders and all to make room for the new year’s paperwork. I have been hoarding them for years, using them for all sorts of things from bookmarkers to scratch practice pads.

I found a tutorial on making these folders…there are hundreds of ways to decorate them, close them, create pockets, etc. I picked a very basic one to start. After I made two, I felt confident enough to make one for my partner in the LGT2 swap… @seeuudee…she had altered art in her swap notes.

On to the pictures (she also has some in the swap gallery)…link to more pictures

Most of the journal is paper but the back edge is a strip of fabric glued and sewn to make it sturdier. You can sew as much as you want.

The insides all have pockets where you can stick in bookmarkers as well as file folder inserts to write on and embellish.

You can really get creative with ribbons, tags, threads, inks, stamps…whatever suits your fancy!

Be prepared to enter a black hole if you google this…there are just so many styles and techniques…they are really fun to make, so give it a try and post your creations!


I love this so much! Your journal is just too beautiful, AIMR. What a wonderful swap item to receive.


This is beautiful and I love the fabrics and papers you chose. Looks like a fun project!

Thanks…believe it or not, it was all made from scraps from previous projects…I sort of wish I had saved the hummingbird paper which I salvaged from the inside of an envelope I got in a prior swap…there is someone here that is a Hummingbird Hoarder (aka @Lynx)… :smiley:


I love to use file folders too but I have never tried this shape/orientation. Can you share the tutorial?

(Runs off to rummage thru school cabinets…)

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Nice! I have to cackle because I see some duplicates of paper I have in my own stash. Still working your way through a giant pad?

File Folder Journals

She does a double file folder and then a fold out one…I made mine using the first tutorial but using only one file folder due to weight…my partner was international so I didn’t want to spend a fortune mailing.

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ha ha ha those are indeed scraps from a huge stack I bought years ago…I have a holiday one as well…I don’t think I ever need to buy paper again…ha ha ha

These are great!! What a creative bit of recycling! Love how you are using fabric and paper! :grin:

What is the “giant pad” - is it a paper sampler that we all wish we had too??

So smart, and such nice results! I appreciate the warning about the internet rabbit hole; it helped stop me before I went too far. :grin: I really thought, until I read and looked closer, that you had covered the folders with various fabrics and sewn them in place. Kind of like using the folders like interfacing between the fabrics. So many options. The cogs in my brain are starting to turn…

Now that I deleted my Insta, I kinda feel like my name should be Hummingbird Hoarder! But, that’s a mouthful to say and verrrry long to type.

But, I digress… I really like these! Way to re-purpose those file folders. The paint sample card is super fun! I never would have thought to do something so simple but so fun! Cool project.

I have so many paint sample cards and was looking for things to make with them. Journal cards and bookmarks come to mind. But they are fun to stick into pockets - totally stealing this idea!


That’s gorgeous!

Have you heard of lap books? It’s a homeschooling activity using those manila file folders. Not as fancy as what you’ve made but our kids put together some real beauties when I was teaching them at home. I work in an office and every file folder I see makes me smile because I know it’s potential secret crafty life :wink:


What an awesome project! I wouldn’t have figured that it started with a manila folder if you didn’t let on. You managed to add so much interest to the journal. Nice!

Did you hand sew the fabric on the spine or do you have a long arm sewing machine?
I was trying to envision how much of the folders it would be easy to sew and what portions would be difficult! Really a fun and useful project!

This is super cool! :heart_eyes:

We have THOUSANDS of these at work! My favorite are the ones that are almost completely filled up! The also go across our company (from branch to branch and back), so it’s super cool to see where it’s been!

But this…whhooooooo…this is completely different! I love this! and thanks for the warning - I will not allow myself to look now, but later? IT’S ON!

:shamrock: :metal: :four_leaf_clover:

I’ve been working on shredding old files so I 100% understand this! I save many folders for us to reuse (just turn them inside out) but I filled a box with them and have been tossing the excess. I’ll have to take some home with me now to try this.

Thank you for the inspiration! I love how it looks.

All the stitching is done by machine…I just changed up straight with zig-zag. but if you have a machine with more stitches, you can do a lot of other things…

The way it is folded makes it really easy to sew

I like leaving some of the file folder showing and the tabs so that one can see its origins…

I want to experiment with cut outs in the pockets…

Something like this really does let you use up odd pieces of paper you have collected, ribbon scraps, bits of ric-rac…etc. The sky is the limit!

This looks so wonderful!! I’ve been wondering about trying a little journal-making / altered art, and I think you’ve just pushed me over the edge!