Monday, April 1, 2013

April Showers bring Journal Covers....

April  Across The Pond Sew Along Project !

April showers bring May flowers.... and Journal Covers!
I have been noticing a lot of cute journal covers on blog posts lately.  I never made one before, and decided that April is the month to make a few!  Would you like to make one with me?  
I'll be making a couple of journal covers during this month.   Amanda, The Patchsmith, and Amy, at  Amy Made That!, will also be making their own journal covers and sharing on their blogs.  You really have to check out their talent and style and imagination!
You can put your own journal cover into the Across The Pond Sew Along Flickr group to share with everyone! 

I discovered that there are lots of sizes of journals , with and without sprirals. Amanda,  our  ATPSA partner from England, told me that Art Diaries, in sizes A4 and A5, are readily available there.

Composition Book:   7 1/2" wide x 9 3/4 " tall  (no spiral)
Little spiral bound book (from JoAnn fabric ... for under a buck ):  5 " wide x 7 " tall
A4 :    8 1/2" wide x 12 " tall      
A5:   6 1/4 " wide x 8 1/4 " tall

If you are like me, and need a few pointers,  here are some great  tutorials and blogs that gave me inspiration and a place to begin:

Rachel  at Stitched In Color

By Rachel at Stitched In Color

And a second tutorial from Rachel   at Stitched in Color

Another pattern for the cover by  Rachel at Stitched in Color
Rachel's tutorials are made to cover the composition book  size....   7 1/2" wide x 9 3/4" tall.   I just love her style and the fun way she uses fabric colors!  I didn't make the zipzag pattern yet, but want to try to make one soon.
Urban Threads  actually makes a cover for the small 5 " x 7" spiral notebook, found at JoAnn fabric.  This tutorial gave me the idea of how to sew the lining to the cover (in a familiar technique.)

Journal made by Urban Threads  for a small spiral notebook

 Moda Bakeshop has a beautiful tutorial , by Roslyn Mirrington of Bloom    at                                           Roslyn Mirrington Moda Bakeshop.  
Journal Covers by Roslyn Mirrington at Moda Bake Shop

I love how she used linen  and ribbon with her fabric strips.

This gave me an idea to use up some fabric strips and scraps that I had.  And to coordinate my journal with a tote bag that I made, back in Nov 2012, as our very first Across The Pond Sew Along project.  My sister, Amy, of Amy Made That!  designed this  sophisticated bag , the Anita Vacation tote bag.
My Anita Vacation Tote Bag
I picked my composition book as the journal to cover first.   Rachel's  tutorials are this size..... Stitched In Color tutorials,
I measured my book and made a few notes with the dimensions.   The  fabric cover needed to be about   29 1/2 " wide x 12 " tall.  Lining-  same size
** Note, Rachel 's tutorial pictures  show making a cover with no lining.**  It is not hard to adapt this...

The fabrics - leftovers from DS Quilts and DS Quilters Quarters, 
                                     Brussels Washer Linen Blend White (55% Linen/45% Rayon.)
                                       ( I fused Pellon SF101 interfacing to the back of the linen, to stabilize the linen . (It is not as transparent , either.)

I  figured out that there are basically 4 sections to  the cover , with the flaps being the left and right end pieces:
7 1/2 " + 7 1/2 " + 7 1/2 " + 7  1/2"   at 12" tall

(flap)      (back)   (front)      (flap)
I pieced the fabric  cover top with strips that were 1 1/2 " wide. 
The lining was totally scrappy, and it was  fun... to  use up as much of the scrap pile  that I could.

** Note: For a little bookmark:
I made a  basic little skinny strap ,two-toned:  by sewing together 2-   2 1/4 " x 15 "  pieces, and 
folding and ironing  the short ends in,
 then folding each side twice toward the center crease , so no raw edges remaining.   (2 inches  wide gets folded into 1/2 inch wide.)   Top stitch all the way around on all 4 sides.

I pinned the right sides together of the cover and the lining, and sewed 1/4 " seam all the way around.... leaving a 3 inch gap to pull the right side out through.  After pulling the right side through the gap, top stitch it closed.  Iron the cover for crisp edges.  It might be  a bit bumpy/bulky in the corners due to the lining.

** Note: I didn't need to finish up the sides of the cover,  or the bottom and top edges, as she  does in her step 2, as they are done already.

Step 3:  Lay cover RIGHT side up... place journal so you can pin each side to create the side flaps.   You will be folding  each side of the cover toward the center, and  sewing along the top and bottom of each flap.  The very center of the cover doesn't get stitched.
Make sure there is room to sew along the  top and bottom edges, and you can slip the book cover into these new flaps you are making.
FLASHBACK!!!  This is like covering books for your children with brown paper bags....anybody else do that for their children?

**  I had to make a little adjustment  at this point.  My back flap was too long (I think to 'fussy place' where I wanted the front cover to show, my back side had more fabric than it needed.)  I just folded it  back onto itself, and sewed the flap as normal.  The adjustment worked.

Now, turn the cover right side out now... and press again.   Rachel recommends starching it for a crispiness.

Lastly, I sewed my bookmark under the top folded-over edge, in the center.

Inserting the bookmark strap

Sewing the bookmark in
My journal-  back side

Anita Vacation Tote Bag and coordinating journal cover

A bookmark is handy!

This journal cover was so much fun , that I decided to make one to cover my little journal notebook, 5" wide x 7 " tall, with a spiral back. (My deal of the week!  Just  $0.75 )

I read over the tutorial at Urban Threads,  but chose not to use a lining.  I  treated the edges as  Rachel described in her tutorials above.

I made a template from a brown paper bag.  It was 19 1/2" wide x 10 1/2 " tall.
Idea for front:   2 little paper pieced blocks to be the center of the front and the back.
I got the patterns from a book, "50 Little Paper-Pieced Blocks", by Carol Doak.
***Note: confession:  I actually wanted to the bird to be on the front cover.
But, the way the bookcover works.... the block on the left shows up as the back cover.   I should've placed the bird on the right, and the birdhouse on the left, to make the bird be  the front cover!  Good lesson   ***

Next, I sashed around the 3 1/2" unfinished blocks, with the mini gingham, 
 to make the block 5 " x 5 ".  
Bluebird and Birdhouse paper pieced blocks,  sewn to gingham and linen  
Fabrics:  Brussels Washer Linen Blend Natural (55% Linen/45% Rayon.)
            Michael Miller  - Mini Mikes Tiny Gingham  Tan   (this is to make Amanda smile!)

The bird and birdhouse blocks were very light, and you could see the cover through the fabric.  So I just ironed on some Pellon SF 101 (ShapeFlex) onto the back of the block. The notebook did not show through my fabric any longer.  yay!

I added linen sashes to make the front and back panels 5 " wide x 7 " tall, and  then joined the blocks.   I added the tiny tan gingham to the sides , and top and bottom, to get the 19 1/2 " wide x 10 1/2 " tall size.

Now it was time to prepare the edges.
  The 10 1/2 " sides :  fold over 3/4",   Topstich the edge,  and overcast the raw edges ( this is in the Stiched In Color tutorial.)

 The top and bottom edges:   fold over 1/4 " and sew . Then,  I folded the corners in 45 degrees (to look like a mitered edge when it is folded down another 1/2 " in next step )
Preparing the edges
Top and Bottom edges;  fold over 1/2 " and sew down.  See the nice mitred-like edges?

Make sure this is 1/2" at the top edge and the bottom edge, for sewing the flap

Both long edges are sewn down. (No raw edges.) I added some hand  embroidery to the blocks, and a tiny heart button for the birdhouse roof. Now it is ready to turn over and make flaps.

Place the cover front side up
Fold the sides in toward the center, to make the flap. Pin it and  BASTE it first, to test the positioning, to see it is where you want your feature block to be positioned!

Test where you place your notebook cover , to see that your block is centered on the front. I baste stitched it first! ( Easier to rip out!!)
* it is easier to use stripes and varying shapes in your cover ! lol  *

After both sides are sewn, turn your cover right side out and Iron it 

My front of the little journal.  See the tiny little heart button?

The back side

Go Gingham!!

I am ready for the new day  , with my coffee and my idea book!

My Journals...  just waiting for some ideas 

Watch out... I found out the journal covers are just a littttttle addicting, too!  ;)

Join in with us, and show us what you have made at the ATPSA Flickr Page!

And ,today is the last day to enter my  giveaway for a free pattern ... the stylish
Satchel Bag , designed  by Samantha at At Home With Mrs H !

This pattern makes a really cute and functional  updated Satchel bag!

I'm off to my sewing room!


  1. love your journal cover, great work

  2. Oooh, I nearly chose turquoise stripes too - but went for pink at the last minute. Love the birdhouse -the little bird is excellent but I would've put the birdhouse on the front. Nice choice of project (again!) and nicely made.

  3. Hi Susie, thanks for all the inspiration you have given us with this post. The tutorials you've done on the covers are very well explained! Thanks for the links to the other sites and for all the information. You did a nice job on your covers, I love them! From here I'm going to visit the other links, thanks for the info on the Flickr group, I will try to participate.
    This post is very inspiring, I love the colors of the fabric that you used to do the covers, your covers are gorgeous!!!!!!
    Marisa from

  4. I love your journal covers, your colors are beautiful!

  5. They turned out great! What a special treat to have journals so beautifully covered. :-)

  6. What a great and informative post, Susie! Thank you so much!! I can't wait to get started on mine. Yours turned out so cute!!!

  7. I love this project! Thanks for all of the inspiration - I really have to make one of these. Love your bird and bird house!

  8. The journal covers are such a good idea and look so stylish. Di x


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