How to Make a Button-Embellished Notebook Covercomments (11) August 23rd, 2013
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
- Measuring tape
- About 1/4 yard wool felt
- Washable fabric marker
- Straight pins
- Sewing machine and thread
- Craft glue
- Small paintbrush
- Embroidery needle
- Pearl cotton embroidery floss
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.
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.
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.
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.
Remove the cover from the notebook. Cut a slit in the felt along your marked line.
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.)
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.
Anchor the pen holder in place by machine-sewing close to the edge of the slit, as shown.
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.)
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.
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.
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, 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.
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.
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.
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!
After you make this project, show off your work to other members!
Post your project in the gallery