Friday, October 9, 2009

Journal cover Tutorial - long post!

Following this post, I had a few enquiries about how to make a journal cover. So I have prepared a little tutorial for you. I had to cut back the photos from 30 to 12! It wasn't easy!

The measurements for this tutorial are based on creating a journal cover to fit an A5 notebook (hard-back, 85 pages). However, I have shown you how to measure a book so you can make the journal cover for any size notebook you desire.

In brief, the journal cover is made by sandwiching together the front fabric (which I refer to as the feature fabric or panel); the backing fabric and the inner section of the sandwich is the batting or Vilene. If you haven't used it before, Vilene is an interfacing that has one adhesive side to it. It is ironed on to fabric to give it body, to hide stitching threads, or as a 'batting' for quilting.

The journal cover comprises of just one long panel which is folded over at each end. It is in these 'folded-over' sections (which I refer to as envelopes*) that the notebook sits inside.

Note: you can click on any image to enlarge it and view it more clearly.

Requirements list

A5 hard-back notebook

1 Fat Quarter cotton feature fabric (for front panel)

1 Fat Quarter coordinating fabric for binding (and possibly for the 'envelopes' too)

19"x9" backing fabric (this will not be seen)

22"x10" batting of your choice (I used fusible Vilene N 640)

Quilt basting spray

4"x3" scrap of red wool or kunin felt (for label)

3"x2" scrap of tonal fabric (for label)

DMC threads: 347 Red, 738 Sand.

Quilting ruler, rotary cutter and mat

Embroidery needle and scissors

Water erasable fine-liner pen (or pencil)

Sewing machine and general sewing supplies

Light box (optional)

Pinking shears (optional)

Note: A 1/4" seam allowance is used in all sewing.

All measurements are in inches.

Measuring the notebook to glean the size of your journal cover

Open your notebook. Lay your tape measure underneath and bring it 3 inches over to the inside back cover as shown above. Secure the measuring tape with your finger. Now close the book and bring your measuring tape around to the front. Measure up to the right-side edge. Note the measurement, and add an extra 3 1/4 inches to get your final measurement.

My measurement from the inside back cover to the front right edge was 15 3/4", so I added the extra 3 1/4" which brings my final measurement to 19 inches.


Using a quilting ruler, rotary cutter and mat, cut:

One 19"x8 3/4" rectangle of feature fabric

One 19"x8 3/4" rectangle of backing fabric

Three 25"x 1 1/2" strips of coordinating fabric for binding strips (cross cut one strip in half)

One 20"x10" rectangle of Vilene or batting.

Positioning the feature fabric and trouble-shooting!

If you are using a large design for your feature fabric such as I have, before cutting, consider what area of the fabric design you want to be prominent on the front cover. You need to remember that 3 1/4" of the fabric will be folded over to the inside of your journal to form the envelope*.

For example, I wanted the country of Australia (large red lower 'blob') central on my front cover, but it was right on the edge of the fabric I'd cut and would therefore slip inside to become an envelope (see example A)

The look I wanted to create is shown in example B. So I needed to trouble-shoot and decided to add a border of coordinating fabric to the right-hand side of my feature fabric.

I cut an 8 3/4"x3 1/4" rectangle of coordinating fabric (that left over from my binding) and sewed it to the right-hand side of my feature fabric, right sides together as shown in the photograph below.

Once sewn, iron the seam towards the coordinating fabric. The front 'panel' will now be too long, so you need to cut it back to 19 inches. Use your quilting ruler, rotary cutter and mat, measure 19 inches and cut the surplus from the opposite end of your recent sewing.

Putting it all together

Following manufacturers guidelines, iron your feature panel on to the fusible Vilene. Ensure the sticky 'bobbles' are facing the wrong side of your fabric. If you are using batting, use a quilt basting spray to affix the two layers together.

Once affixed, cut the excess Vilene or batting by using your rotary cutter, mat and ruler. See photograph below.

Now use the quilt basting spray to affix the backing fabric to the reverse of the Vilene or batting. You have now made a 'quilt sandwich'. Allow sufficient time for the basting spray to dry before sewing on the binding.


Pin the top and bottom binding strips to the longest length of your panel, with right sides together as shown in photograph below.

I used a walking foot on my sewing machine to sew the binding on, and used a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

To complete the binding:

1 Fold your binding strip over to the reverse side (your backing fabric)

2 Fold under once

3 Align with your stitching line and pin in place

4 Blind-stitch your binding on using a coordinating thread.

Snip the leftover fabric on the ends so your sides are straight and level (Fig A).

Now pin the two shorter binding lengths to the sides, placing them centrally so there is a little bit of fabric overhanging at each end. Now use your machine to sew the binding strips on in the same way you did before.

Once sewn, fold the end of your strip in to the centre to hide the raw edges (Fig B) then pin, and blind-stitch in place (Fig C).

Adding the label

1 Use the pinking shears to trim your rectangle of red felt to 3 1/4"x 2". Ensure you cut straight. Now position it on the front of your journal with the tonal fabric on top to check the dimensions look right. I cut my tonal stitchery fabric back to 13/4"x1 1/2".

2 Use running stitch with DMC 347 thread to secure the felt to the journal.


3 Using your word processor, type up the title of your journal (eg. Travel Journal) in various font sizes. Print it out and choose the right size for your stitchery by placing your tonal stitchery fabric on top over a light box. (Alternatively you can use a window in daylight).

Trace the title on to your tonal fabric using a water erasable fine-liner pen, or a pencil.

Affix a slightly smaller rectangle of fusible Vilene (or batting) to the reverse of your stitchery rectangle. (Mine was 2mm smaller all round.) This will give it a nice padded, quilted effect.

4 Using back-stitch, stitch the lettering using DMC 347.

5 To secure the stitchery rectangle to the red felt rectangle, use blanket stitch and DMC 738.

6 Stitch the top and bottom first followed by the sides. This will prevent puckering. If you need a good tutorial on how to blanket stitch, click here.


1 Place the cover on to the notebook and pin in place. Ensure the notebook is closed when doing this as it will be fully stretched in this position.

2 Leave in the pins while you remove the notebook. Reposition pins above the binding fabric.

3 Using DMC 347, use cross stitch to sew the envelope and front seams together.

4 Put the notebook back into the finished journal cover. Ta-da!

You're Done! :-)

I hope you found that useful! Now all you need to do is make a cuppa and sit down with your travel magazines to find that next holiday destination!

Happy sewing! Hugs! Vikki x


Simone de Klerk said...

Thank you, Vikki,for the lovely tutorial! Very good pictures.

Dawn said...

Fabulous idea to give a tutorial...Thanks Dawn x x

Vicki ♥ said...

Love it Vikki darling! Great tut and fabulous journal cover :)hugs

Anne at Film and Thread said...

Love the tutorial and love that world map fabric. I recently made a laptop cozy for our daughter with a world map, but I appliqued the continents and then stitched her flights. I like your fabric better!

Maggi said...

A great tutorial. Thank you

Wendyb said...

I think you've done a rather wonderful job on this 'troublesome' tutorial Miss Vikki!!!! Looks magnificent....but did we really expect anything less???
Well done my friend,
lots of sugary hugs
'o) Wendy B XX

Allie said...

Wow what a GREAT tutorial, Vikki - and your fabric is perfect! I love this idea so much, thank you!

Micki said...

What a great tutorial and thanks so much!

Kerryanne @ Shabby Art Boutique said...

Amazing tutorial Vikki.
I'm already thinking of lots of gifties I can make.
Thanks again.
Hugs ~ Kerryanne

Julia said...

Thank you, Vikki,for the lovely tutorial... it's very easy to follow!
Julia ♥

Anna Rosa Designs said...

Hi Vikki,
OMG< you are sooo clever and soo generous for giving this tutorial on a Journal cover.
Wow, I am impressed.
Have a great weekend.

Amanda said...

Great tutorial Vikki, Amanda

Jenny of Elefantz said...

Hmmm, love it!!! Now I must make one for a trip I'm planning next year...I'll be meeting up with some Nutters, and I'm sure I'll need to write lots of notes! ;-)

I Purr-Furr to Craft said...

lovely tutorial Vikki
thank you for sharing. all the best in your new quest

Maeve said...

thanks so much for this tutorial,i'm going to italy with school in a couple of weeks and i've been looking for a good tutorial for a journal, i'll definitely be making one!

Unknown said...

thanks for giving wonderful piece of information.
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