Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Write to your heart’s content journal

Ok folks, this is my first crack at a actual, real tutorial. 

I made something similar to this a few years back from a pattern I purchased but it never quite fit right and I didn’t really like how they put it together.  I thought they made it way more complicated than it needed to be.
So the week between Christmas and New Years when I was off work I decided to take a crack at doing my own.  My sides family Christmas wasn’t until January 9th but I still needed gifts for my great nieces, plus my sisters.  My sisters and I try to make something each year for each other so I thought these might fit the bill all the way around for my sisters and nieces.


Here goes…

Supplies needed:
at least 2 fat quarters
trim, ribbon or yarn of your choice
matching or coordinating thread
a composition notebook

First press your two fat quarters to get the folds out so you can get an accurate measurement.  I used two coordinating prints.  Out of each print I cut a 11” wide x 21” long(almost width of fabric) piece of fabric.  Then from one of the prints, I cut another piece 6” wide x 21” long.
I used the bolder print for the outside of the journal and the solid for the inside and the band on the outside of the journal.  It’s strictly your preference.

Take the 6 x 21 piece, fold in half lengthwise so edges meet and stitch 1/4” along the long side of the fabric.
I used my 1/4” sewing foot.  I don’t know what I did before I bought this.  My seams weren’t as accurate, that’s for sure.IMG_8874
When finished, you will now have a piece that is sewn along the long edge and open on both ends.

Turn the tube of fabric right side out.
Lay the tube out with the seam in the center back and press.
IMG_8878You’ve now completed your accent strip for the outside of your journal.

I positioned mine in the center of the journal but you could vary that according to what you like.
I measured 4-1/4” up from the bottom of the outside cover and positioned the strip there.
Then I cheated and used some old stitch witchery fusible tape I had to secure the strip in place so I didn’t have to take the risk of pinning it and having it shift as I sewed it.
I then topstitched both of the long sides at approximately 1/8” from the edge of the strip. IMG_8881  
At this point your can easily sew another type of trim on top of this coordinating strip if you want, like I did on these for the great nieces.  Some I sewed jumbo rickrack and others another type of ribbon.
Back to the one we are putting together right now though…place wrong sides of your journal fabrics together.  Pin in place.

Next, using a pen or whatever marking tool you prefer, (I used a pen because it was handy and no one would see it in the end anyway) mark your outside cover at the center bottom.

Start stitching approx. 1-1/2” away from your mark and make a 1/4” seam on all four sides of your cover, stopping approximately 1-1/2” from the same mark, leaving a 3” opening.  You will use this opening to turn your cover right side out.


Before turning your cover, clip your corners diagonally being careful to not cut into your stitching, like I came close to doing here.IMG_8889

Turn your cover right side out, using the eraser end of a pencil or an orange stick to push out the corners.
Once you have it completely turned, turn under the open edges and press the entire cover.IMG_8891

Turn each end of your cover under 2-3/8” and press and pin in place.

Topstitch along the top and bottom edge of your journal a scant 1/4” from the edge being sure to catch the pressed opening where you turned your journal right side out.

When you are finished stitching, your cover will now look like this.

Fold in half and press again. This will help define your center back for the next step.IMG_8898
Cut a piece of ribbon approximately 50” long.  Find the center point.  Lay that in the center of the coordinating strip on the outside of your journal and stitch in place along the center back fold that you just made with your iron.IMG_8902
You’re almost there!  Insert the composition book into the cover.

Tie the ribbon in a nice bow on the front and wallah!  In less than an hour’s time, you’ve made a nice gift for someone else or yourself!

Once you get a system down, you can easily make one of these in a little over 30 minutes.

I really like the way the batiks turned out.   IMG_8937IMG_8938

You can use these for a journal, recipes, school, the possibilities are endless.  My daughter in law is even using hers to track her fitness goals.  I’d like to keep a couple of these on hand for a quick little gift when needed.

If there is something you didn’t understand or I wasn’t clear on, please let me know.  If you make one, I would love to see your finished product.



  1. If this is your first tutorial I'm pretty impressed! I love journals myself and I know lots of people who do so this is a great gift idea. BTW, Saturday I'm headed back to Louisiana to the mission for about 4 weeks. Please include me in your prayers. Blessings, Marlene

  2. You had me until the word "sew." Then I realized you were teaching in Chinese. No wonder I wasn't able to follow the directions. ahahaha. Great step-by-step photos. The end result is gorgeous, and I'm sure everyone is enjoying and using their gift. Thanks for sharing. Blessings, SusanD

  3. I do not do much sewing, but those are cute. I just bought material to make an apron today.....this will be my first big project. I hope it turns out as well as your. Blessings!

  4. Great job...perhaps a teaching career is out there:) But the idea is great...saw these at a craft fair here in Fair Oaks CA, but they were not cute or artistic like yours! Have a great day!

  5. Very pretty! I covered some composition books using scrapbook paper. But I like this idea better!

  6. Blog hopped and found your super tutorial. I am going to have a go at this cover myself, altho' I think I might take longer than 30 mins! Your are lovely and I love the trims you've used.
    Thank you