When I’m in a bookstore or browsing online, my eyes are drawn to the beautifully covered journals. Of course, me thinks, there must be a way to turn this into a DIY project. Below is my solution.

Nice thing about this version?
  • it’s interchangeable. Once your notebook is full, switch it out for another!
  • It’s made from recycled materials.
  • Want to use scrap fabric, felt, leather? Done!
  • Want to insert a calendar instead of a journal? Done!
  • Want to embellish until the cows come home? Done!

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover

What You’ll Need:

an old fashioned, cardboard composition book as shown below
recycled suede or leather/fabric/denim/felt…
scrap fabric and/or leather for embellishing
measuring tape
long strip of leather, suede, or fabric for your tie. (mine is approx. 24″ long)
sharpie (if using leather or suede)
fabric marker (if you’re using anything else or don’t want to use a sharpie)

[ EITHER ]sewing machine with your heaviest fabric or leather needle

[ OR ]strong thread/twine/yarn
needle
punch and hammer

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
My handy sketch and measurements. The composition book.

What You’ll Do:

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
Fold your measuring tape approximately 3 1/2″ into the inside flap and around the outside to the other end of the composition book.

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
Close the book and measure in about 3 1/2 – 4″. This is your total cutting length.
Measure the height of your book and add about 1/4″. This is your total cutting height.

Cut another strip approximately 2″ wide x the total height.
(this will go inside the back flap)

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
The cut piece folded into the front and hanging out on the backside.

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
Here’s the either/or part:

If you’re hand sewing:

Fold the suede into the inside flap 3 1/2″.
If you’re using suede or leather, mark with your sharpie about every 1/8 – 1/4″
If you’re using fabric, mark with a fabric marker OR eyeball it when you sew.
For the leather or suede, you will want to take your hole punch and hammer and punch through.
Doing this will make hand sewing A LOT easier on your poor little fingers.
Hand stitch the top and bottom edges where marked.

If you’re machine stitching:

Fold the suede into the inside flap 3 1/2″ as shown above.
Stitch about 1/8″ along the folded flap at the top and bottom edges to form a pocket.

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover

Inside Front Flap

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover

Fit the composition book into the sewn front flap and clip or pin the extra strip about 1/2″ inside the back of the composition book.

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
Sew this strip into place.

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
Inside Back Strip

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
Now you’ll need your strip for your tie and any embellishments you’ll want to use.

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
Measure the midpoint height and stitch the strip allowing about 1/2″ overlap
to the side which will fold over from the back to the front.

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
Stitch Stitch

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover

I added another small piece of contrasting leather to the top of my tie strip and stitched it into place using contrasting thread.

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
Since I use these notebooks for various things, I’m adding equally spaced sticky tabs.

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover
You are done! When closed, wrap your tie around and secure it to the front.

studio waterstone tutorial suede journal cover

This tutorial is a simple jumping off point. Imagine your possibilities:
  • Add an inside pocket to hold clippings
  • use a button and tie to close
  • use velcro to close
  • add flowers, stars, words, etc to embellish
  • use one of your old leather skirts, jackets, or…
  • use an old leather/vinyl/fabric handbag as your cover!

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