DIY: Sew a Journal Cover

What is it about journaling that’s so addictive? Is it sorting through your innermost thoughts? Connecting with parts of yourself that no one else sees? Expressing yourself through words and doodles? That’s all well and good, but let’s get real. It’s the journals themselves, right? I have a soft spot for journal covers. I love getting new journals because the covers can be so beautiful, but then I fill up the journal and get sad because it’s full and then get excited because I get to find a new cover and then I have to journal some more about the sadness and the happiness, and so on and so forth. It really is a vicious cycle.

The real problem, though, is the cost. Journals can be pretty expensive. One day last year, I asked my sisters if they could think of any sewing projects they would like me to design. Heather, who journals more than anyone I know, came up with the idea of sewing a cover for cheap composition books. Brilliant! This way, she could have a great cover that reflects her personality and she could use it over and over and over again, saving tons of money.

So here is what I came up with. I’ve made many of these – for the tutorial, for gifts, for the sewing class I teach at Inspire! – and they are quick and fun. Sometimes I add pockets to the inside flaps. Sometimes I leave off the pen holder. It would be easy to add ties to help keep it closed. The most fun part, though, is decorating the front – just think of the possibilities: appliqué, reverse appliqué, quilting, cross stitch, embroidery, rosettes, etcetera.


If you like this video tutorial, be sure to check out my others (here, here, and here), and subscribe to my YouTube Channel.



  1. Leanne says:

    Hi Ginny, this is such a fantastic idea! My boyfriend and I have a book we use to jot down our scores during Scrabble games so a cover would be ideal. I’m off to hunt down some Scrabble themed fabric. :) Thank you!

  2. Amelia says:

    So pretty! I want to try it thus weekend!!! What are the exact measurements for the fabric? Thank!!

  3. Josie says:

    Hi Ginny, I just love your work, both journals are adorable! I have just got back from YouTube and your video tutorial is so straightforward but professional. It’s definitely suitable for all levels of sewing expertise. Thanks so much for sharing with us all. (And I’m about to go and check out your other offerings!)

  4. Josie says:

    Hi Ginny, so impressed with your work and I have left a comment for your wonderful blog. I love sewing, but am a little new to the ‘blogging world’ – So I’m not really sure what a ‘sew a long entails’! However, the amazing quality of your creations is more than enough to convince me that is is something I want to be part of!

    I replied to your original email, but then noticed the address said ‘no reply@…’, so I thought I ought to message you here as well.

    Thank you once again for your kind words,

    • Ginny Ginny says:


      Thanks so much for your kind words and I’m thrilled that you like the video! A sew-along is where sewists from all across the blogosphere put their own creative spin on one pattern (in this case, my journal cover) and then share what they made with one another (in a Flickr group). I’ll then post a collection of my favorite covers from the sew-along.

      I’ve participated in a sew-along before, but this will be the first time I’ve hosted one, so I’m nervous about it :-)


  5. Caila says:

    GREAT video Ginny!

  6. Mary W says:

    How do you do reverse applique?

  7. Hey Ginny! I know you did the sew along about two months ago and I didn’t have time to do it then but I ended up making FIFTEEN journal covers recently based on your tutorial. They all came out great and everyone loves them! Would it be ok for me to make some more and list them in my Etsy shop as long as I don’t give out any instructions/patterns? let me know – other girls who didn’t get one are starting to get jealous and I don’t have time or money to make 30 more, LOL. Here’s my post about the covers i made:

    • Ginny Ginny says:

      So sorry it took me this long to respond. I’m happy you’re having so much fun with the journal cover. It’s fine by my if you use the pattern to make covers to sell on Etsy, but yes, please don’t see the instruction/pattern. Thanks!

  8. Linda says:

    Hey Ginny,

    I just “found ” your Journal cover tutorial and I really like this idea. Perfect for gifts now that it is almost christmas time. I really like this tutorial because you make it look so easy and it gets me excited about trying it myself. Only thing is, I was wondering how I can measure my fabric. I mean, my notebook is not the size your notebook is, so how much do I need to add to the fabric to make it fit my notebook. I know it also depends on thickness of the notebook, but an rough estimate would be nice. I don’t want to make the cover to find out it doesn’t come close to fitting my notebook ;o( I hope you can help me out, I can’t wait to get started !!

    • Ginny Ginny says:

      Thank you!

      It’s very easy to adjust the size. Just measure your notebook – easiest way is to open it up and lay it out flat – then add 1/2″ to all four sides for the cover. That will give you enough to sew a 1/4″ seam, turn right side out, then add an edge stitch. For the flaps, they can be the the same width I use, but add 1/2″ to the measurement of your top and bottom sides.

      Let me know if you have any trouble :-)

  9. Kymido says:

    I really love this! For sure to try it.


  1. [...] Journal Cover March 11, 2013 By Ginny Leave a Comment In my Journal Cover video tutorial, I mentioned that you can embellish the exterior piece however you like. Really the possibilities [...]

  2. [...] For my very first sew-along, we’re going to make a Journal Cover! This cover is quick and easy, doesn’t require much fabric, and is a great project for creativity. Design and decorate your cover to showcase your personality and then put it all together by following my video tutorial. [...]

  3. [...] Last week I shared a journal cover that was part of a Sew Along hosted by Darlene’s Adventures.  She has an awesome video tutorial about it on her blog. You can check it out here. [...]

  4. [...] tutorial on how to sew your journal. Ginny created an amazing video tutorial and you can see it here.  The video is concise and professional. I wish I had the capabilites to make one of [...]

  5. [...] All that is left is to sew the notebook together using the clever video tutorial over at Darling Adventures. Ginny is a natural teacher and really makes this project simple. In the end, this is what my [...]

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