How to Make an Embroidered Journal Cover
Show off your embroidery with this quick and easy project!
Journal and book covers are quick and easy projects and are perfect for showing off your embroidery! They also make great gifts and can be customized for almost anyone of any age.
For these samples, I used designs from Victorian Crazy Patch in the Hoop. Related YouTube videos are available for stitching the designs and making the cover:
- How to Sew a Journal Cover
- How to Stitch Victorian Crazy Piecing In-the-Hoop
These covers were made for standard composition books but you can make them for just about any book by changing the measurements.
Mine are just basic covers with sleeves on the inside to secure the book covers. I’ve added a ribbon for a book mark, a narrow elastic to secure the book closed, and a wider elastic loop to hold a pen.
The inside sleeves offer more real estate for extra pockets and personalizing. Plan ahead for any extra embroidery because you may need to complete that before final cutting to size.
- Fabrics for project (you’ll need to determine what you need based on how many fabrics you use and how large your book is)
- Interfacing. I just used Pellon ShirTailor for mine but you may want something stiffer.
- ¾” wide elastic (or a fabric loop) for the pen holder (~2½” or circumference of your pen plus ⅝”)
- ¼” wide elastic to hold the journal closed (height of book + 1”)
- Ribbon for book mark (about 3” longer than height of book)
- Optional: charm for bottom of ribbon
- Basic sewing supplies
Start By Measuring
You’ll need several measurements:
- Height of your book cover
- Width of book measured around the circumference of the closed book from front edge around the spine to the back edge (not a full circumference)
This book is 9.75” tall by 15.5” wide. Add 1” to both the height and width for your cutting size. Cut one piece for the cover and a second one for the lining.
Although we’ll only be using ¼” seams, we’ll need a little extra room for ease. When cutting the front cover fabric, I added a 2” extension to the right side for hooping and an extra ½” on the other sides for squaring up after stitching.
My design fits a 5x7” hoop when oriented in landscape mode but my fabric won’t be able to be hooped if I only use the measurements for the cutting size.
If you want your design centered on the front, be sure to use only the front cover width for measuring.
Another measurement is inside sleeve depth, which will depend somewhat on how wide your book can open and how thick your book is. The wider your sleeves, the more difficult it will be to get the cover on your book.
Also, you need at least a 3” space between the sleeves along the spine to turn the project right side out. (More if your fabrics are thick or heavily interfaced or your book doesn't open all the way.)
I cut my sleeves to 14” wide by 10¾” tall. Fold each sleeve in half, wrong sides together for a 7” x 10¾ size, then edge stitch along the folded edge.
While not strictly required, interfacing will make your project look more professional by adding structure and will help it wear longer.
Fusible interfacings are easy to use. Be sure to follow the pressing directions included with your project.
I interfaced the outer cover with Pellon ShirTailor, which is a medium light interfacing, before embroidering. I also interfaced the lining piece and one side of each sleeve. I didn’t interface any of my pockets.
The striped pocket was cut 10” wide and folded just like the sleeve and top stitched along the edge. The top pocket is narrower and was stitched to the striped pocket to form several smaller pockets. (Pockets weren’t interfaced.)
On other journal covers, I’ve just placed one small pocket for business cards. Consider making a larger, clear vinyl pocket for an ID pocket if you’re making a cover for a student.
Preparing to Sew
Cut all your pieces to size, interfacing as desired. As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to complete any embroidery before cutting to make sure you have enough fabric for proper hooping. Also, embroidery can distort your fabric so having extra fabric to square up is a good idea.
Sleeves and long pockets are folded in half right sides together and edge stitched along fold. Attach any pockets to the sleeve panels.
Patch pockets are edge stitched in place. Pockets that extend into the seam allowances can be stay-stitched into place.
If you want curved corners, use your book to trace the corners in place. Remember to trace them on the seam line and not just around the book itself.
When I took these step-by-step photos, I was working from the front cover. However, in the video, you’ll see me working from the lining side.
Working from the lining side seems a little easier because you are layering all the elements face up with only the outer cover face down. Plus, you can do all the stay stitching in just one pass. It really makes no difference to the final project which way you work.
Stay stitching is another thing the pros do to reinforce various areas that are likely to get more abuse, such as the bookmark ribbon, elastics and pockets.
Stay stitching is done within the seam allowance. On the ribbon and elastics, I stitched forward, back and then forward again for extra security.
On the pockets I just stitched them down once Stay stitching in this manner has the added benefit of holding everything in place when you have so many layers to stitch through.
Finally, layer on the lining, face down and then stitch around the outside edge using a ¼” seam allowance, leaving an opening on the bottom edge between the sleeves for turning.
Starting just before the sleeve, back tack, sew around to just off the other sleeve and back tack, leaving an opening large enough to turn the project right side out.
Did your sleeves or pockets end up on the outside instead of the inside? Don’t panic! This can happen during turning. Simply flip them over to the inside.
Add a small charm or bead or just tie a knot at the end of the ribbon.
The Moment of Truth!
Back of book cover showing closure elastic, pen loop, and ribbon bookmark with charm attached.
Now That You’ve Made One, Make Another!
Once you’ve got your measurements worked out, making multiples for books of the same size is pretty speedy.
Having an embroidery machine along with some basic sewing skills makes it easy to make a gift stash so that you always have some little something on hand.
Finger tip towels, kitchen towels, and journal covers are perfect for stocking that stash because they’re small, quick and easy to make, and can appeal to a wide range of people without having to deal with sizes!
Where to Get the Designs Used in This Project
This set includes:
- 22 pieced-in-the-hoop designs
- Full size pattern pieces
- Instructions for piecing in the hoop
- 40-page Quilt-as-You-Go Basics ebook
- These instructions for creating the journal cover in a PDF form
The "Fine Print"
You'll need to have at least $10 worth of designs to qualify (which, if you know your math, will cost you $6).
The coupon code is only good on designs and is good through the end of November 15 2017.
You can use it as many times as you like and you're encouraged to let others know about this coupon!
The coupon code needs to typed exactly or it will not work!
So take your time, browse through the shop and take your pick of singles or collections.
This coupon code can't be combined with other coupons at the same time!
About the Author
Lindee Goodall is a veteran master digitizer who's won awards for her beautiful designs, been a guest on numerous PBS sewing shows, written articles for a variety of home and industry related magazines, and is a Craftsy instructor.
Lindee G Embroidery is her second company, following Cactus Punch, which was founded in 1994.