How to sew a DIY notebook cover
Now that you have your DIY notebook, it’s time to give it a fabric notebook cover. Think of this as an upgraded version of those brown paper textbook covers you made in junior high and high school.
I will assume that if you’re making this with your kids that you will the use of the iron and sewing machine. Be safe in the sewing room! Hot and sharp things shouldn’t be totally unsupervised!
Step 1: Cut your fabric
The first thing you need to do in making a DIY notebook cover is to cut your fabric.
Fold a piece of your fabric. Match the notebook spine to the fold.
You should have enough fabric so that if you fold the fabric back on itself, it can make a little pocket over the end of the book.
Next, draw a line 1/2″ from the edge of the top and bottom of the pages.
Mark a line parallel to the spine right at the top and bottom. Draw a second line 5/8″ from the top and bottom edges past these marks all the way to the edge.
See the notches this makes? This extra width will help add some space for the cover.
Cut along the lines through both layers of fabric. When you unfold it, it’ll look like a capital letter I.
Cut a second piece of fabric the same size.
Step 2: add elastic and a bookmark
No good notebook cover is complete without a bookmark, and the elastic will help you make a notebook that won’t flop open.
Cut a piece of foldover elastic that’s a little longer than the notebook is tall. Next, line up the elastic just past one of the notches and pin to the outer fabric on both ends.
Pin a piece of ribbon to the middle of the lining fabric on one side. Stitch the ribbon and elastic close to the edge of the fabric where you pinned. Move the unsewn end of the ribbon to the middle of the cover so that it doesn’t get in the way.
Now it’s time to put this cover together.
Step 3: Sew the cover
First draw a stitching line on the wrong side of one of your fabric pieces. Mark a 1/2″ seam allowance all the way around. At the notches, make a tiny 1/8″ notch connecting the pocket sides to the rest of the cover.
Place the notebook cover and lining right sides together with the marked side up.
Sew along the lines you drew, starting on the bottom edge of the cover.
When you get towards a notch, stop a few stitches shy.
Turn the fly wheel so that you land right on the corner. Lift the presser foot and pivot the fabric towards yourself. Drop the presser foot, take 2 stitches with the fly wheel so that you land right on the next corner. Pivot again and continue stitching towards the next corner.
Continue pivoting as you need to all the way around the cover. Leave a 3″ gap at the bottom of the cover.
Step 4: turn the cover
Trim down the seam allowances to about 1/4″. Clip in towards the notches and clip the corners.
Reach in through the hole you left in the cover and turn the fabric to the right side. Use a chopstick and your fingers to work out the corners.
Give the cover a good press with a hot steamy iron set on cotton.
Fold the cover pockets towards the wrong side of the cover right at the notches. Press along the folds. See how the edges don’t meet with the rest of the cover. Don’t worrry! We’ll fix that in the last step.
Step 5: make the DIY notebook cover pockets
Now we need to make the pockets for the notebook to fit into. Make sure that the piece of elastic is folded to the outer piece of the cover.
Pin the short edge of each pocket to the edge of the cover.
Next stitch through the edges of one pocket down the long edge of the cover and through the second pocket. Backstitch at the beginning and end of your stitching. When you’re stitching on the pockets, sew as close to the edge as possible.
Repeat for the second side.
Press the cover, and pop in your DIY notebook!
Kid-friendly fun ways to use your DIY notebooks
- Walk around your neighborhood: draw pictures of flowers or trees you see
- Write some easy poetry
- Make thumbprint sketches
- This fun bubble art activity
- Write out family recipes
- Make a quote of the day book
- Keep a journal: I love these writing prompts for kids from Journal Buddies
- Bonus one for adults: Keep a productivity journal
I hope you had fun learning how to make a notebook + adding its own DIY notebook cover. If you’re like my kids, this is a project that’ll be in high demand in your house! I for one will take cute notebooks like this over my house over scraps of paper any day!
More stuff for kids to sew:
How to sew a pillowcase
15 minutes + easy sewing = fun pillowcase
DIY sewing cards
A quiet sewing project for little hands
10 things to sew when you’re stuck at home
Easy ideas for sewing projects that’ll drive away boredom
Elizabeth Farr is the writer behind the Elizabeth Made This blog where she shares helpful sewing tips, step by step sewing tutorials and videos to help you explore your creativity through sewing. She has written sewing Eguides and patterns, been a featured teacher at Rebecca Page’s Sewing Summit and Jennifer Maker’s Holiday Maker Fest and her work has appeared in Seamwork and Altered Couture magazines. She also created a line of refashioned garments for SEWN Denver. When her sewing machine isn’t humming, she’s playing and teaching violin, and hanging around a good strategic board game with her husband and 4 kids.