DIY Journal Covers

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Some of you may have seen a recent post I shared involving  journal covers.  I promised to share actual instructions “very soon.”  Well, dear friends, “very soon”  has indeed arrived.  I have to say that my journal cover is different from the one my friend Kathryn designed, but it is along the same lines and you can design your cover any way you’d like.  This post is simply a loose recipe for dimensions and construction.  Have fun, and be as wild or subdued as you see fit!

We started with a journal refill from Barnes & Noble ($4.99):

(You can get the journal here if you don’t have a store near you)


The first step is to measure your journal and figure out seam allowances.  I used a heavyweight, non-fusible interfacing as a base.  (We used felt for Kathryn’s).  I cut my interfacing 8  3/8″ tall by 16″ wide. (This is allowing for 1/4″ seam allowance and approx. 2  1/2 ” on either side to turn under so the journal can slip into it)

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The friend I made this for likes black and loves to write, so I chose a combo of fabrics I thought she’d like:

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Cut your fabrics into random width strips.  They can be cut into wacky wedges, as long as they’re made with a straight edge! (make sure their length is at least the height of your base fabric/interfacing + an inch)

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I used the “stitch and flip” method, which is a fun, easy way to get stripes for ANY project.

Place one strip of fabric RSU (right side up) onto the interfacing, along the left edge.  Let the fabric hang over the interfacing about 1/2″ all the way around:

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Now place a second strip RSD (right side down) matching long edges with the first strip.  Although these strips don’t have to be the same length, make sure there is a little extra length on all of your strips.

Stitch, using 1/4″ seam allowance, down the entire length.  You can start before the interfacing and stop after.

Flip the strip that you just stitched so the RS is facing up.  Iron flat.

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Continue with this technique until you have the entire interfacing piece covered in strips.

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Flip your project over and trim all sides to the the original interfacing dimensions:

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Cut a piece of fabric the same size as your interfacing piece.  This will be the inside lining of your journal cover.  I chose a modern looking black and white check.  Layer these 2 pieces RST (right sides together) and pin all the way around.

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Stitch all the way around, leaving a 3-4 inch section un-stitched at the bottom.

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Clip corners (see photo above) and turn RSO.

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Iron flat and turn seam allowances at bottom of cover to inside.

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Measure 2 1/2″ in from either side and mark with a straight pin.  Fold these edges in toward the lining side.

View from the front, with edges folded under:

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Once the edges are folded and pinned under, decide on placement for the button closure (or whatever you want, IF you want one).  I stitched the button on here, taking advantage of the opening at the bottom.  (That way you don’t have any stitching showing on the inside of the cover).

Next, flip open the opposite edge and decide on the placement for the elastic. (Hair ties from the dollar store are great for this!  Lots of colors to choose from!)  I placed the edge of the elastic just inside the fold:

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Stitch elastic in place using a zig zag stitch if you have one.  No big deal if you don’t.

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I wanted to cover the stitching, so I stitched a small piece of ribbon down the length of that side to cover itOne of my favorite notions is the 1/4″ double sided, wash-away tape by Dritz.  I always use it when stitching trim.  Stick it down, peel the paper off, then stick the ribbon right on top:

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Stitch it down…

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Now fold that edge back under:

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The inside of the cover will look like this:

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Stitch along the very top edges of the pockets.  Stitch all the way across the entire length of the bottom (this will not only stitch the bottom of the “pockets” down, but will close the hole where you originally turned it RSO)

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It’s all done!  Slip the cover and back flaps into the pockets (if it is too small for any reason, just cut a little off the cover to make it fit…Kathryn and I learned this the hard way…)

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I hope this inspires you!  This is a great project that not only goes fast, but it is a terrific way to use up some of those scrap piecesI’d love for you to share your projects with me!  Happy stitching!


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