How to Make a Button-Embellished Notebook Cover

comments (13) February 19th, 2016     

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Sister_Diane Diane Gilleland, contributor
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Make an everyday spiral notebook special with a crafty cover. (Theyre so quick to make, you could even make one as a Valentine.)
Its not hard to place buttons this precisely if you tack them down first with a little glue.
This project makes a great showcase for those odds and ends in your button collection.
Make an everyday spiral notebook special with a crafty cover. (Theyre so quick to make, you could even make one as a Valentine.)

Make an everyday spiral notebook special with a crafty cover. (They're so quick to make, you could even make one as a Valentine.)

Photo: Diane Gilleland
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I'm an inveterate carrier of spiral notebooks-they're so important for capturing those sudden flashes of inspiration. But I wanted to dress mine up a little, so I made these simple felt covers. Then I decided to embellish them with buttons-an excellent excuse to dump out my button jars and rummage!

What you'll need:

  • Spiral-bound notebook
  • Pen
  • Measuring tape
  • About 1/4 yard wool felt
  • Scissors
  • Washable fabric marker
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine and thread
  • Iron
  • Craft glue
  • Small paintbrush
  • Embroidery needle
  • Pearl cotton embroidery floss
  Measure around the spine of the notebook to determine the size of the cover.

You can really use any size spiral notebook you like for this project. Mine is 5 inches x 7 inches, so all the measurements here are based on that size, but it's easy to make adjustments.

Begin by measuring around the spine of the notebook, starting at the outer edge of one cover and ending at the outer edge of the other cover. Add 8 inches to this measurement. (My notebook, for example, measures 11 inches around the spine. Adding 8 inches, we get 19 inches.)

Then, measure the height of the notebook and add 1/2 inch. (My notebook is 5 inches tall, so that's 5-1/2 inches.) Cut a rectangle of felt to these dimensions: for my notebook, this rectangle measures 19 inches wide by 5-1/2 inches tall.

  Cut a small rectangle of felt to serve as a pen holder.

In addition, cut a small rectangle of felt that wraps around your favorite pen, as shown. The two ends of the felt should extend about 1 inch beyond the pen. The pen I'm using required a 3-inch-wide by 2-3/4-inch rectangle-yours may be different.

  Wrap the felt cover around the covers of the notebook.

Place the large felt rectangle on your work surface. If your felt has a right side, it should be facing down. Place the notebook, open, on the felt and center it. Wrap the ends around the two covers as shown.

  Mark the location of the pen holder on the edge of the front cover.

Now, look at the edge of the front cover. We're going to install a pen holder here. Using that small rectangle you cut earlier as a guide, mark the location on the edge of the cover, as shown. I'm using a washable fabric marker here.

  Cut a slit in the felt along the line you marked.

Remove the cover from the notebook. Cut a slit in the felt along your marked line.

  Insert the pen holder into the slit.

Fold the small rectangle around your pen, then insert the ends of the holder through the slit. If your felt has a right and a wrong side, make sure the right sides are together. (I like to leave the pen in place during this step to help me gauge how large the holder should be in order to fit snugly.)

  Flatten the slit around the pen holder and pin in place.

Here's a view from the other side of the felt. See how the ends of the pen holder extend beyond the edges of the slit? We'll trim them later. Fold the felt so that the slit is flat against the pen holder, and place a pin to anchor the layers.

  Machine-sew close to the edges of the slit.

Anchor the pen holder in place by machine-sewing close to the edge of the slit, as shown.

  The ends of the seam should curve gently toward the fold.

Here's a view of that short seam. The ends of the seam should gently curve back toward the folded edge of the felt, as shown. After sewing, trim all layers of felt close to the seam and press the pen holder flat. (Note: be careful not to press over any marks you made with the washable fabric marker. Often, pressing will make these marks permanent.)

  Rummage through your button stash to find some pretty button embellishments.

Wrap the cover around the notebook again, with that pen holder in place on the front cover. Now it's time for the fun part-rummaging through your button collection to find some pretty ones for the cover! (Any time I can dump my buttons all over the table like this, that's a good day.)

I'd recommend that you use sew-through buttons for this project rather than shank buttons. The sew-throughs will lie flatter against the felt.

  Paint small dabs of glue on the back of each button to tack it to the felt.

When you have a configuration of buttons you like, then it's time to attach them to the cover. It's actually pretty challenging to sew the buttons on one at a time and get them into a precise arrangement, so I like to tack them down first with glue.

Working with one button at a time, use a small paintbrush to paint a few tiny dabs of glue onto the back and then gently place it on the felt. I like Aleene's Tacky Glue for this step because it allows me a few seconds to reposition each button before it begins tacking up. Be careful as you're gluing-don't let any glue ooze through the holes in the buttons. This will make sewing them down much more challenging later. Try not to let any glue ooze around the sides of the button, either.

  Tweezers may make handling tiny buttons easier.

If you're working with very small buttons, you might find it easier to pick them up and place them back down with tweezers.

When all of the buttons have been glued, leave them to dry for about an hour.

  When the glue is dry, sew the buttons in place.

When the glue is dry, remove the cover from the notebook again. Sew the buttons to the felt-I'm using pearl cotton embroidery thread here. Two or three stitches through each set of holes should be plenty.

  Fold in the sides of the finished cover and pin them in place.

With the buttons attached, place the cover face down on your work surface. Fold in the two side flaps as shown. (The pen holder will mark the location of one fold. If you need to, you can place the cover on the notebook again to gauge the location of the second fold.)

Pin the folds in place.

  Blanket-stitch along the top and bottom edges of the cover.

Begin at one corner and blanket-stitch across the top edge of the cover, ending at the other corner. As you can see, part of this seam will stitch through two layers of felt and part of it will stitch through only one.

Then, repeat the process to blanket-stitch along the bottom edge of the cover. Again, I'm using pearl cotton embroidery thread.

  Slide the front and back covers of the notebook into the pockets of the felt.

With those seams in place, you'll have two pockets in your finished cover. Slip the front and back covers of the notebook into these pockets, as shown. And now you have a spiffy notebook that always has its own pen, so you'll never miss another brainstorm!

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posted in: fabric, embroidery, buttons, felt, accessory, diy school supplies

Comments (13)

Rohit Kumar writes: this was a cute and fun project.

Posted: 6:46 am on September 5th
DaveHaynes writes: I wish I've seen this thread some weeks ago.
Maybe for the next Valentine's day.
Posted: 3:18 am on February 25th
lulu5156 writes: Very lovely notebook and I shared it with my readers ♥
Posted: 6:57 pm on January 31st
Criativa writes: Muito giro! Adorei. ;)
very good. Thanks.

Posted: 8:20 am on December 29th
Iwannasew writes: This was a cute and fun project, I made this up and gave it for a valentine gift.
Diane, I think there is a mistake in your notebook height measurement,wouldn't it be 7 inches rather that 5 inches?
Posted: 6:30 pm on February 14th
VINTAGE2GLAM writes: Love this project. You are so good with directions, so simple and easy to follow. Love the idea of gluing down buttons first then sewing. Why didn't I think of that?
Posted: 10:01 am on April 18th
Eternal_Clouds writes: omg that is so cute cant wait to try it!!!!
Posted: 10:02 pm on March 7th
kreativelady writes: This is too cute. I have a couple of people who are getting this for a present. Kreativelady. "yea getting rid of some buttons....buttons.buttons

Posted: 11:43 pm on February 15th
Minimeg writes: Too cute! I love using buttons, and that trick with the glue is ingenious.
Posted: 10:24 pm on February 14th
LindaPermann writes: so cute! it's ingenious to glue the buttons down before sewing them-- i can't tell you how many times i've tried to either magically remember the position or hold it all together while i tried to sew them in place.
Posted: 8:39 pm on February 14th
47cats writes: Diane, I love it! Anything with buttons makes me happy. Lynn
Posted: 7:39 pm on February 14th
Fanie writes: This project is great, Diane! :-) I'm a little too busy to make it for Valentine's day, but I may make it for his birthday! Yay!
Posted: 10:23 pm on February 13th
susanstars writes: that's awesome, Diane, I love the idea! I especially heart the circles version :)
Posted: 6:06 pm on February 13th
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