Thursday, August 23, 2012

{Tutorial} Journal Covers

Journal cover tutorial

Journal covers make great gifts and are a super-fun way to use fabric scraps.  My tutorial is based off of this one by Jennifer Paganelli with a few modifications.  Appearing here by popular demand! It's designed to cover a composition book, which measures 9 3/4" x 7 1/2" and has a nice firm outer.  These are widely available at back to school time in the States or anytime at an office supply store. I buy the "grid rule" kind online via Staples, since graph paper is great for sketching quilts.  I know you're itching to make one, so let's dive right in!

Step 1:  Prepare Fabric

I've made journal covers in a myriad of piecing styles.  Just go for it!  This is a great way to test color combos and techniques.  When all is said and done, trim your work to 12" tall by 29.5" long.

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As I'm designing a cover, I keep a composition book on hand for visual reference.  I like to drape my work-in-progress on the cover to see how the piecing will look on the finished dimensions.  I often place favorite parts of my fabric design on the front of the cover.  The left edge of the front cover will fall at 14 3/4". Here I've placed the composition book at the 14 3/4" mark.  I'll lift or roll the composition book to focus on the fabric just underneath as I visualize the finished effect.

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If your fabrics are very light in color, you may want to add a second layer of lightweight muslin or the like to prevent your cover from being see-through.  This is very rarely a problem, so lay your fabric over your composition book to check before opting to add a lining.  Cut the lining fabric to 12" x 29.5", just like the exterior.  Layer the lining under your exterior fabric and baste with a line of stitches along both 29.5" sides at 1/2" from the raw edge.

Step 2:  Side Edges

Turn under the 12" sides of the cover by 3/4".  The Dritz EZY-Hem makes fast, accurate work of this step!  Press neatly.

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Finish the turned under edge with a 1/8" topstitch.  Be sure to use coordinating thread for this part, as it will show!  I also attach my Stitched in Color tags (made by gutenTAGS) at the same time.

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Lastly you may wish to finish the raw, turned under edge of the 12" sides with an overcast or zigzag stitch to prevent fraying should the item be machine washed.  If your entire cover is patchwork, there are actually lots of seams inside that could fray.  Ideally, the cover would be hand washed or washed in a delicate bag to minimize fraying.  I'm not sure that it's important to overcast the two 12" side edges, but it can't hurt. And, they are the ones closest to the outer part of the cover.  (By the way, I do this step after the top stitching because I feel it helps me press under/top stitch more accurately to delay it.)

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The top and bottom of the journal cover has a full 1" seam allowance that is mostly encased when the cover is complete.  The long 29.5" edges do not need any special treatment.

Step 3:  Sew it Up!

Back at your cutting mat, lay the work right side up.  Fold one side in about 6 1/2" and then fold the other side in about the same amount.

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As you fold, you are exposing the wrong side of the work and creating the inside flaps of the journal cover.  Fiddle with it until your folded work is 15" long, with both flaps about the same size (about 6 1/2" each).  Check the total length (15") against the cutting mat lines.  A bit of the right side portion should still be revealed at center.  

If you added a lining, used heavy fabric or did lots of applique that made your work thicker than regular quilting cotton, make your work 15 1/4" long to account for the extra bulk of your fabric.

Now, use a clear quilting ruler to mark sewing guidelines at 1" from the top and bottom long edges.  Mark these guidelines over the wrong side portion only, skipping the right side exposed at center.  I'm using my favorite Clover water soluble pencil, worn down to a nub!

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Pin along the line over the folded portions.

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Sew along these lines, backtacking at the start and finish of each line.

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Clip corners and turn right side out.

Step 4:  Finishing

Before inserting the composition book press thoroughly.  Once the cover is on the book, you won't be able to iron it.  Of course, you can take it back off to iron or wash, but now's the time to press to perfection!  A little spray starch is a good idea to give it a nice, crisp look.

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To put it on your composition book, first slide the book's cover into the front flap.

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Then, bend the back cover really far open so that it can reach the inside back flap.

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I practically open the back cover until it is almost touching the front cover to make this work!

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Once inside, close the book and admire!

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Ok, if your cover is too small (pulling too tight once you get it on) or too large (kind of baggy on the composition book), it's not too much work to fix that.  Take the cover off, turn it wrong side out and remove those last stitch lines across the top and bottom of the cover.  Then, make your adjustments in the amount the flaps are folded and sew those stitch lines again.  I still make adjustments from time to time for a perfect fit!

stacks of scraps

I can't wait to see your journal covers!  Please share your projects at the Stitched in Color flickr group.  Happy sewing!

55 comments:

  1. Thank you!!!! I have been waiting for this.

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  2. This tutorial made my day! Thank you so much!!!

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  3. Hooray! Thanks for this. I'll be putting it to use for sure.

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  4. Thanks so much for the tutorial! I'm looking forward to playing with my scraps. :D

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  5. I've been eagerly anticipating this tutorial for a long, long time...ever since your first one. Today is a sweet day! Thank you so much!

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  6. I've made a few journal covers before, but none with this level of patchy awesomeness! I'm going to have to dig out my scraps and make something pretty now! :)

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  7. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I've loved seeing your journal covers, and now I can make one of my own!

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  8. This was such a great tutorial! Very easy to follow, and I totally appreciate the ending on how to fix it and make it perfect! It seems, no matter what I do, if I follow a pattern with dimensions, mine is always just a bit different! lol This is going to be really fun! And I'm knowing I could use several of these immediately.....one in the car, one in my tote with my stitching, take one to quilt shows for sketching....AWESOME! Thanks a bunch!

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  9. I was thinking about these yesterday, wondering if I could reverse-engineer your journal covers without a tutorial -- and now this! Thank you so much -- it's excellent, so clear and helpful.

    I'm planning to do this to all the notebooks I use for class this fall, so I can keep track of which is which visually.

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  10. Yeah! Ive been waiting for this I want to make cover for my sketch book and calendar. My sizes are different but this will help me reconfigure! Thanks Rachel!

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  11. Beautiful! Add another great gift to my co-worker Christmas list! Thanks! Jennifer

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  12. Wow what a process! looks like a lot of fun to make =D

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  13. Thanks Rachel, They are similar to how i make them except I line mine so there is no frayed threads over time. I think it is your designs that are an absolute winner! Your skills once again are amazing!

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  14. Thanks so much for posting this well-written and photographed tutorial. I've been admiring your book covers for awhile now. I think I'll grab a day to myself over the Labor Day holiday here in the States and make one for myself. :-)

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  15. Thank you, Rachel, for sharing your EXCELLENT instructions and photos with us. I have lots of fabric scraps and orphan blocks in my basket and here in the D.C. area school supplies will soon find their way to the 50% clearance bin. I know what I'm making for Christmas gifts this year!

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  16. incredible work..........love what you have done and thanks for sharing so much.

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  17. Thank you! Love t! I'm going to try this.

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  18. Great tutorial as always and can't wait to start on the cover. Thanks so much for sharing, Rachel. :)

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  19. Fantastic tutorial Rachel thanks so much!!!I was wondering how many pages do your note pads contain? Love this cannot wait to make one :) Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Welcome, welcome (to you and everyone)! They contain 100 sheets - that's the standard size.

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  20. I've been waiting for this too! I can't wait to make one!!

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  21. Me 3 on the waiting! :) Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge. It's the little details that make YOUR journals stand out from the crowd. My OCD thanks you.

    Mahalo, Ruby

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  22. thank you so much for sharing this! i love it!!! and I can't wait to make one!!
    xx
    Eleni

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  23. Oh, thanks for such a wonderful tutorial!! I want to make dozens of these for Christmas presents!!

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  24. I made a journal cover earlier in the summer with your photo for inspiration. I added some additional pockets. I will post it. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  25. What great timing you have...I just got a rather borish journal to keep track of things and wanted to cover it..and you just gave me wonderful instructions to follow!
    Thanks bunches!
    Toni
    www.lifeinapinkbunnysuit.com

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  26. I love your journals. I want to buy one from you. Thanks for the great tutorial.

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  27. Thank you so much for the tutorial ~ I was so surprised when I opened the post to see it ~ very generous of you!

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  28. Great tutorial - can't wait to try one! I also admire your wall art pieces. Can you tell me what you mount the fabric to? Thanks!

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  29. thank you for the tutorial! I'll make one for myself or to gift I think (adjusting the size to cm and German books).

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  30. Costco sells big packs of those composition books (just plain lined ones). I use them for all sorts of tasks around the house (and sewing room!). Thanks for the tutorial!

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  31. found the graph paper composition books at Walmart for $1.14 each! I bought enough to make quilt journals for all my sewing pals for Christmas. Awesome!

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  32. Bravo! My Daughter is a teacher, and i wanted to make her a few before school starts! Just in time! Thanks!

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  33. this is beautiful!!!
    thanks for sharing!!!

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  34. Thankyou for sharing your journal cover tutorial!

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  35. thanks again for this, rachel! i made it today when i was feeling a little stressed out and needing a break. it was the perfect project. i really enjoyed making it. i see an addiction forming. :) oh and i blogged mine here - http://www.stitched-together.com/2012/08/journal-covers.html

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  36. Wow, that was a really fun blog post. I love the journal covers. Hopefully they'll work well with my ringed notebooks too..? I think probably.

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    1. Yes, I think they would. Can't think why not, at least.

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  37. What a great tutorial Rachel! Thanks so much! I whipped one up last night! Check it out on my blog.
    purpleheartorijennals.blogspot.com

    Thanks again!
    Jenn

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  38. Thanks for the great tutorial - just picked up a bunch of the journals on the $1 sale at Staples. Need to make one now for tomorrow's modern quilt guild swap.

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  39. Hey there! Just wanted to let you know we featured you in our Favorite Find Fridays post over at Whimsically Homemade. We used one of your pictures and linked back to you. If that's a problem let us know and we'll remove it immediately. Thanks for your great inspiration!

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  40. Oh yes this one looks much simpler than the pattern I have used before. And as always I LOVE ur fabric!!! :-)

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  41. Oh yes this one looks much simpler than the pattern I have used before. And as always I LOVE ur fabric!!! :-)

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  42. Thank you so much for this tutorial. It was by far the easiest notebook cover pattern I've ever used. I think it took me about 20 minutes, and most of that was spent cutting!

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  43. Sweet and simple tutorial! Thanks for sharing...Judith, Texas

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  44. Hey There, I love the journal cover and plan to make a few soon. I just have 1 quick question for you, the material that's in the middle(the part that you don't mark or sew on), what do you do with it? It looks neat and tucked in on finished but I'm not sure how to handle that piece. Do I clip it and fold it up or ? Thanks for you great tutorial and your help.

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    1. The middle material just gets pressed in it's folded state when you press the sewn/finished cover before putting the cover on the composition book. So, really, there's nothing to do with the middle material at all!

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  45. BEAUTIFUL journal covers!!! Hope you don't mind, but I'm pinning this.

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  46. Finally tried one and I'll make some more for sure. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  47. Lovely! I love this idea. Thank you for the great tutorial.

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  48. Fantastic tutorial - just *had* to make some myself. :) http://www.kelseycreates.com/2013/04/homemade-journals.html

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  49. Thanks for a fantastic tutorial. I've made a few and shared your blog with a link from mine.
    http://www.quiltmonstercloset.com/2013/05/journal-covers-sunday-fun.html
    I'll also post to your flickr group.

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  50. Your wonderful tutorial has been featured at Our Secondhand House as part of a DIY Christmas: Semi Handmade Gift post. I hope you will stop by and check it out!
    www.oursecondhandhouse.com

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  51. me gusto mucho su pagina, yo vivo en tenerife q es una isla de españa, me gusta todas las manualidades, gracias por tus tutoriales.

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  52. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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