How to Make a Rugged Leather Journal Cover

comments (4) June 14th, 2013     

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MaryRay Mary Ray, contributor
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This leather-covered journal will impress the writers on your list.
The natural edge of the skin, imperfections and all, is the only finish you need.
Mark the skin at the edge of the notebook and again 1/4 inch beyond. Cut along the second marking.
This leather-covered journal will impress the writers on your list.

This leather-covered journal will impress the writers on your list.

Photo: Mary Ray
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I think anything made from leather seems so authentic-whether the hides have been buffed to remove any imperfections or they're left in a more natural condition. I don't pretend to be an expert when it comes to working with leather, but I find it's really easy to use if I keep the designs simple. A journal cover is a simple project that will let you get your feet wet and you can make it from scraps. I used a piece of upholstery leather that I picked up from the scrap bin at Carroll Leathers in Boone, NC. They manufacture all sorts of leather products including motorcycle apparel and accessories, western wear, and furniture. You can contact them from their website regarding scraps and closeouts. Additionally, check out the Tandy Leather Factory for scrap bundles or whole skins, which are generally priced by the square foot.

Here's what you need to make this project:

  • A blank book or journal (I used a simple composition notebook [9-3/4 inches x 7-1/2 inches] available most anywhere. It's plain, inexpensive, holds a lot of notes, and can be easily replaced in the cover when the current one gets filled up-I even found an eco-friendly version at Staples made from sugarcane-based paper.)
  • A piece of leather large enough to cover the journal plus enough for the overlaps and the wrap-around strap
  • Scissors
  • Thread (I recommend a #12 weight cotton that looks sturdy and shows up on the leather.)
  • Rotary cutter
  • Teflon presser foot or roller foot that glides easily over the leather
  • Leather needle, optional (I find a regular needle works just fine.)
  • Paper clips or bulldog clips
  • Some rubber cement

1. Open the journal, place it on the wrong side of the leather, and mark a line at the top and bottom edges. Trim the top and bottom edges 1/4 in. beyond the marked lines. Be sure the leather piece is long enough to allow for the inside overlap that holds the top cover and the overlap that folds to the front when the book is closed. Use the natural edge of the skin to create the edge finish for the top overlap, trimming if necessary by beveling your scissors as you cut.

  The natural edge of the skin, imperfections and all, is the only finish you need for the top overlap of your journal cover.
  Mark the skin at the edge of the notebook and again 1/4 inch beyond. Cut along the second marking.

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posted in: leather, guy gift, gifts for men, journal, boyfriend, husband

Comments (4)

MarthaMyers writes: Mary, your version looks so great. I tried one with scraps from a faux shearling piece I had, but I like the look of your leather much better. Hope to try that next. I used my new teflon foot and it sews so smoothly. Thanks for the inspiration!
Posted: 4:52 pm on December 25th
prpldy writes: Awesome tutorial! Thanks! I have a male friend this would be perfect for and IO also have recycled leather from coats, pants, etc.
Posted: 12:21 pm on December 14th
PollieP writes: I have always been afraid of working with leather...not any more. This is a super project for both male and female alike. Thanks for all the information. I cant wait to start!
Posted: 12:01 pm on December 13th
eveh writes: I think this a great project. I am going to hold off though till after the first of the year to do this. Because I am going to be selfsih and make it for myself. Women like leather too. LOL
Posted: 11:56 am on December 13th
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