A leather journal makes a beautiful place to write your thoughts. See how you can DIY your own leather journal cover using my easy sewing tutorial!
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As much time as I spend writing and designing on my computer, I still prefer to write with actual pen and paper. There’s just something about moving a pen across paper that gets my ideas flowing. And since writing this blog has me coming up with lots of words and designing lots of projects, I go through lots of notebooks.
I love the look of a leather journal, but WOW have you seen how much they cost? The price tag alone would give me writer’s block!
So instead of buying a fancy leather journal, I used some leather and a hardbound notebook and made my own! And I’ve got a tutorial for you below.
I got the leather several years ago at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I think it was remnants left over from car upholstery. All I know is that it was super inexpensive and there was a lot of it. I’ve used it for several projects, including this leather lanyard, and I STILL have a bunch left over.
A plain leather journal cover would be nice enough, but I added a stenciled mandala design in order to give it more of a Boho vibe.
The closure is just a long leather strap you wrap around the journal a couple of times. How easy is that!
The journal itself is just a small inexpensive hardbound sketchbook from Michaels. They’re a good quality with nice heavy pages and you can get one for less than $10. The measurements are 5.5” x 8” which is big enough to jot some notes or make some quick sketches, but still small enough to tuck into your bag.
There’s a small pocket inside the front cover to hold notes or business cards. And on the side, an optional elastic loop will keep a pen handy.
A nice leather journal cover makes a great gift! So while you're making one for yourself, make another one to give to a friend!
I do love me a good covered notebook for a journal. If you’re wanting to make a larger journal, check out my Snappy Composition Book Cover. It’s made to cover a standard composition book and it’s packed with features like a snap front cover, an elastic bookmark, and pockets for notes and pens.
The measurements in my tutorial will make a leather journal cover to fit a 5.5” x 8” journal.
How to sew a leather journal cover
- 8 ¾” x 12 ½” – Cover
- 8 ¾” x 4 ½” – Book Pocket
- 8 ¾” x 3 ½” – Front Pocket
- ½” x 34” – Strap – This can be pieced from several shorter strips. Go to my leather lanyard tutorial to see how to piece the strips.
For pen loop (optional): ¼” wide elastic – 1 piece 2” long
For stenciled design (optional):
- Stencil - I prefer an adhesive stencil, but any stencil will work.
- Leather paint - If you can’t find leather paint, you can also use regular acrylic paint.
Stencil the cover (optional)
If you want a stenciled design on your journal cover, go ahead and do that now. If you wait till the journal cover is all sewn together, the pocket pieces will make your surface lumpy and it’ll hard to get a nice clean design.
Wrap the Cover piece around your journal. Place the stencil how you like and then stick it down. An adhesive stencil like this one from Plaid works great for this. But if you don’t have an adhesive stencil, you can also just tape the stencil down with masking tape.
Once you’ve got the stencil stuck down in place, remove the journal and lay the Main piece flat.
Stencil your design using leather paint. For best results use a dry brush and take care to paint straight down or away from the sides of the stencil.
Sew the strap
Turn the Book Pocket piece to the wrong side. Mark the middle of one of the long edges.
Place one end of the Strap on that mark, wrong sides together and with roughly ½” overlapping.
Stitch in place lose to the edge of the Strap.
Sew the pen loop (optional)
Turn the Book Pocket over so the right side is facing up.
Fold the elastic in half. Place it along edge of Book Pocket, ¼” above where the strap is sewn on, with raw edges aligned. Loop will be facing inward. Sttich in place close to the edge.
Assemble the leather journal c over
Turn the Cover piece wrong side up. Then place the Front Pocket piece along left edge, wrong sides together. Use fabric clips to hold it in place. DO NOT USE PINS. Pins will create holes in your leather!
Place the Book Pocket piece along the right edge, wrong sides together and with the Strap facing out. Use fabric clips to hold it in place.
Finally, sew around all four sides close to the edge.
For best results when sewing on leather, use a leather needle in your sewing machine. My leather tended to creep a little as I was stitching it, so I used a walking foot to keep the layers moving evenly together. The walking foot was a big help, so if you have one you might want to use it.
That's it! Your leather journal cover is finished! Slide the back cover of the sketchbook into the book pocket on the back cover, and you're ready to go!