DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journals by FanningSparks. @FanningSparks

DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journal Tutorial Part 2

In my last post, Part 1 of the DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journal Tutorial, I introduced this great make-and-give DIY project and suggested ways to find the perfect fabric.  We used the question “What’s Their Passion” to find a fabric design with special meaning.  Here are some additional ideas to consider.  How about a trip diary for the avid traveler on your gift list?

Or a notebook for favorite songs and musical scores for the music lover?

Or a knitting project planner for the person who loves to knit?

Or a Biking Log for trips planned and taken by an adventurous cyclist?

Or a Reading Notebook for the avid reader to record favorite books and authors?

The possibilities are endless.
FIve Personalized Fabric-Covered Journals with matching Corded Tassels. @FanningSparks

In this post, we’ll gather the rest of the supplies and put the journals together.  It’s a very simple, old-fashioned cut-and-paste process.

Supplies Needed
Supplies Needed to Make DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journal. @FanningSparks

Notebook: A hardcover notebook approximately 5″ by 7″.  I chose the Maggift Hardcover Notebook with 240 Pages, 8.5 x 5.7 in from Amazon.  See link in More Info below.
Fabric: Fat quarter of cotton fabric.  See Tutorial Part 1 for fabric suggestions and detailed explanation of requirements.
Spray Adhesive: I’ve had good results with Aleene’s Tacky Spray.
Wipes : For cleanup.
Thin Plastic: Sheet of thin clear plastic, at least as large as your fabric rectangle, to be used for a template.
Card Stock: One 8.5” x 11” sheet of card stock in white or a color matching the fabric.  You will need a second sheet of card stock if your notebook is bigger.
Protective Paper: A sheet of paper, such as kraft paper, packing paper or newsprint, to protect your working surface when gluing.
Tassel Maker: Cut a piece of foam core board to 5” by 8” with a 3” by 2” hole in the center.  Alternatively, use a book or piece of cardboard approximately 8” wide.
Embroidery Floss: 9 skeins 6-strand embroidery floss in 3 colors matching the fabric.  This allows for 2 3-color tassels and one 3-color braided cord.

The beauty of using embroidery floss for the tassels and braided cord is the wide variety of colors available.  It’s easy to find colors to match the fabric designs.  The resulting customized corded tassels elevate the fabric-covered notebook making it unique and special.
Cycling Fabric with Matching Embroidery Floss for DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journal. @FanningSparks

Tools Needed
Rotary Cutter, Ruler and Cutting Surface (alternatively use Fabric Scissors/ Shears)
Ironing Board
Face Mask and Gloves
Popsicle Stick

Instructions for Personalized Fabric-Covered Journal


Step 1  Measure Notebook.  You’ll need precise measurements for the notebook.  Please refer back to Part 1 of this tutorial for instructions.  Take note of the measurements for the next steps. We’ll continue to use the Maggift Notebook as our example.  This notebook has the following measurements:
. Cover Width = 5 ⅝”
. Cover Thickness = ⅛”
. Cover Height = 8 ⁷⁄₁₆”
. Spine Thickness = ¾”
It requires a rectangle of fabric measuring: Width 13 ¾” x Height 10 ³⁄₁₆”; I’ll refer to these as the Outside Dimensions.

Step 2  Create Cutting Template.  Use a thin sheet of clear plastic to make a template for cutting the fabric.  Cut the template to the Outside Dimensions (13 ¾” x 10 ³⁄₁₆”) and mark the outside border (⅞” = Cover Thickness plus a ¾” overlap) and mark the spine (¾”).  Label the right section with “FRONT”.  Alternatively, you could skip the cutting template and just eyeball your fabric placement.  However, I did find the cutting template extremely helpful for the fabrics with a distinct design and it was necessary for the unexpected, off-grain placement of the Piano Music fabric.
Using Template to Determine Placement of Music Fabric Design for DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journal. @FanningSparks

Step 3  Cut Fabric.  Press fabric. Use the cutting template to determine final placement.  Pay close attention to what will be on the front cover.  Try not to cut off important design elements.  Cut the fabric around the outside of the cutting template.  The resulting rectangle of fabric should match the Outside Dimensions.Using Template to Determine Placement. @FanningSparks

Step 4  Prepare Protective Paper.  Trace around the cutting template to sketch a rectangle of the Outside Dimensions on the protective paper.  Extend the outside lines and the border lines outside the rectangle so they’ll be visible when covered.  Label the TOP LEFT section, I used “Front – Wrong Side Up”, to indicate how the fabric should be positioned for gluing.
Template and Protective Paper Carefully Marked. @FanningSparks

Step 5  Prepare Notebook.  If the notebook has an elastic ribbon and/or pen loop, use scissors to remove them.   If the notebook has an expanding pocket inside the back cover, you may wish to remove it as well.  This pocket will no longer expand after the fabric is glued to the cover.

Step 6  Prepare Working Surface.  Set up in a well ventilated area.  Spray adhesive tends to go everywhere so I always do this outdoors while wearing a mask and gloves.  You need to be fast with the gluing step so plan ahead to ensure you can move quickly.  Clear the space where you’ll be adhering the fabric and allowing the notebook to dry.
Cover your working surface with the protective paper we prepared in Step 4.  It helps to tape it in place.  Prepare a few strips of protective paper.
Have your notebook ready.  I found it helpful to lay the notebook in the exact same position it will be placed on the glued fabric ie with the cover facing down and the top towards the top of the working surface.
Have wipes, scissors and popsicle stick ready.


Step 7  Spray Adhesive on Fabric.  Place the fabric rectangle on the protective paper.  Take care to place it correctly.  The fabric must face down with the wrong side up.  The top should be at the top of your working surface.  This means the section that will be on the front cover of the notebook is on the left of your working surface.  Align edges of fabric with the gridlines on the protective paper.  I found it helpful to cover the surrounding area with a few strips of protective paper.
Prepare Working Surface for Gluing Fabric to Notebook. @FanningSparks

Shake and apply the spray adhesive according to the directions on the container.  Cover the entire piece of fabric spraying evenly with repeated strokes.  Apply a generous coat but take care not to saturate the fabric.
Tacky Spray Has Been Applied to Wrong Side of Fabric. @FanningSparks

Carefully remove and discard the strips of protective paper to clear the work surface of unwanted glue.

Step 8  Adhere Fabric to Notebook.  With the notebook closed and front cover facing down, visually align the notebook front cover with the gridlines you sketched on the protective paper.  Ensure you’re placing the front cover on the left side of the fabric with the top away from you.  Use the label to confirm the placement.  Carefully lower the notebook onto the fabric.  Press firmly.
Press Journal Face Down on Left Side of Glued Fabric. @FanningSparks

Lift notebook onto spine so fabric attaches to spine.  Press firmly.  Lift notebook so back cover is facing down.  Press firmly.
Use hands to smooth fabric over entire surface of notebook including front cover, spine and back cover.  Working quickly, open the front cover to work the overlap.  Start by folding the fabric over the top corner.  The Maggift Notebook has rounded corners so it is easy to fold the fabric over.
Bring Fabric to Inside of Cover and Fold Over Corner. @FanningSparks

Repeat for bottom corner.  Then pull fabric in over the side edge.  Press down corners and edge.  Repeat on back cover.
Press Fabric To Inside Along Edge of Notebook. @FanningSparks

To wrap glued fabric around the spine, use scissors to snip the fabric.  At the spot where the spine and the cover meet, cut from the outside to the edge of the notebook.  Make 2 snips at the top of the spine resulting in a small tab of fabric.  Cut off about half of the tab.  Repeat at the bottom of the spine.
Snip Fabric to Notebook Along Spine and Trim. @FanningSparks
Open the notebook and bend back the covers.  This will open up the spine.  Tuck the fabric tab inside the spine using the popsicle stick to push it in smoothly.  Fold and press remaining overlap to the inside of the cover along top and bottom edges on front and back covers.
Use Popsicle Stick to Insert Fabric Into Spine. @FanningSparks

Step 9  Allow to Dry.  Keep the notebook open by standing on the bottom edge.  Allow to dry.

Step 10  Finish Inside Covers.  Use card stock to cover the raw edges of fabric inside the front and back covers.  Cut 2 pieces of card stock measuring Cover Width less ⅜” x Cover Height less ¾” ( 5 ⅟₄” x  7 ¹¹⁄₁₆”).  Taking the same precautions as outlined above in Step 6, adhere card stock using spray adhesive.  Keep notebook open until dry.

Step 11  Braid Cord.  Use embroidery floss in 3 different colors to make corded tassels for a decorative bookmark.  It will be a long braided cord with a tassel at both ends.  The finished cord should be 4 times the Cover Height plus about 4 inches (about 38”).  Use 3 pieces of 50” embroidery floss to allow for tying knots and finishing ends. Tie the 3 strands together, secure to a stationary end point and braid the strands.  Tie a knot at the end.

Step 12  Make Tassels.  Prepare to wind 3 skeins of embroidery floss in 3 different colors.  Use a small piece of tape to hold the start of the first skein.  Wrap around the Tassel Maker (described above in Supplies Needed).  Leave a little space between the threads so the second and third skeins can be inserted.  Use a small piece of tape to hold the end of the first skein.  Repeat this process with the second skein.  Repeat this process with the third skein.  You should end up with a single layer of threads in alternating colors.
Wrap Embroidery Floss Around Tassel Maker Template. @FanningSparks

Carefully slide the threads towards the center of the Tassel Maker and move the taped ends closer to the center.  Take one end of the braided cord and wrap around all threads through the center hole.  Pull tight and knot.
Tie Braided Cord Around the Center of the Wrapped Embroidery Floss. @FanningSparks

Slip sharp point of scissors under threads at end of Tassel Maker and cut slowly across all threads.  Repeat at other end of Tassel Maker.  Remove tassel from Tassel Maker.  Wrap braided cord around, pull tight and knot again.  Smooth all threads down from knotted end.  Pull braided cord to top of tassel and tuck knotted end into tassel.
Make a second tassel and repeat process with the other end of the braided cord.
Cut 3 24” pieces of embroidery floss in 3 different colors.  Smooth 3 strands of floss together and fold in half.  Place head of tassel in fold about 1” down from the top knot.  Tie a tight knot.  Wrap around about 8 more times creating about a 3/8” wrapped section.  Tie one final knot.  Pull ends into the tassel and trim even with other tassel strands.  Repeat for second tassel.
TIP: Use a plastic fork to smooth and fluff the tassel threads.
Finish Tassel By Wrapping Embroidery Floss Around Head. @FanningSparks

Step 13  Slide Corded Tassels on Journal.  The final touch is to slide the corded tassels onto the journal.  Simply fold the cord in half, slide between the front cover and the first page and pull around to the front. Slip tassels through fold, slide the fold down to the bottom left edge of the front cover, and pull the tassels to tighten.
5 Completed Journals Showing Corded Tassels. @FanningSparks

Your personalized fabric-covered journal is complete!  The lucky recipient will surely be pleased to receive this thoughtful gift made especially for them.  And if you haven’t already, be sure to make one for yourself too!
DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journal Shown Open. @FanningSparks

More Info

This is a two-part tutorial.  Be sure to read both posts:

  1. DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journal Tutorial Part 1 covers selecting the perfect fabric.  All fabrics shown below are from Spoonflower.  All designers and designs are identified in the first post.
    What's Their Passion? Selecting the Perfect Fabric for DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journals. @FanningSparks
  2. DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journal Tutorial Part 2 covers the cut-and-paste construction (this post).

This is the link to the Maggift Notebook I used.

All fabrics used in this tutorial were purchased from Spoonflower.  Check out the Spoonflower website for more info.

Hats off to the talented designers who created the splendid designs used in this tutorial.  Links for each design are below this image.

DIY Personalized Fabric-Covered Journals with Fabric Designers Identified. @FanningSparks

  1. Fun Airplanes on White Sky by Oksancia
  2. Knit Fabric Smaller by Chicken Boots
  3. Lost in a Good Book in an Emerald Forest by Honolulu Design
  4. Retro Bikes and Dogs by Vinpauld
  5. Piano Music by Jade Gordon

Today’s Takeaways

  1. A fabric-covered notebook can make a lovely personalized gift.
  2. Adding thoughtful touches, such as the perfect fabric and matching corded tassels, makes this simple DIY project unique and special.
  3. Consider making gifts to give this holiday season.

Peg - FanningSparks Author

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