These DIY quilted journal covers make quick and easy gifts and are great scrap-buster projects!
I’ve made quite a few of these as Christmas and birthday presents.
You can make a quilted book cover in 1-2 hours depending on how much time you spend on the quilting part.
This makes it a great quick-finish project and an achievable beginner quilting project too.
I’ve used a quilt-as-you-go technique for these covers so you’ll be practicing that on a small scale, making it a great introduction for a beginner!
P.S. There is a video version of this tutorial at the end of this post if you prefer!
Table of Contents
- Supply List
- How To Make Quilted Journal Covers
- Finished Quilted Journal Cover Using Scrap Fabrics!
- Video Tutorial
- Printable Instructions
- Top Tips
- Journal, Book, or Notebook (you can use hardback journals, a composition book, a notebook, or any size book!) You can pick these up from any office supply store.
- Quilt Batting (see measurement directions below) or Fusible Fleece
- Fabric Scraps in coordinating colors
- Lining fabric (see measurement directions below)
- Ribbons, buttons, elastic (optional).
How To Make Quilted Journal Covers
Step 1: Measure Your Book Cover
The first thing you need to do is take a soft flexible measuring tape (like the kind used to measure a person’s waist).
Measure around the spine of the book, from the edge of the front cover to the edge of the back cover. That is your width.
Then use your tape measure to measure the height of the book along the front cover vertically. This is your height.
Cutting Instructions – Quilt Batting
Add 1″ to the width and 1″ to the height measured above. This is the size you want the quilted panel that will be your journal cover to be.
HOWEVER, as we are quilting this panel, I recommend you use a slightly larger amount of fabric.
So add an additional 1″ to each of those measurements and cut your quilt batting accordingly. You can trim it down to the perfect size when you have finished quilting.
Check out ways to use your leftover quilt batting pieces!
Note: you can swap out the batting for fusible fleece if you prefer.
Cutting Instructions – Lining & Flaps
Your lining or backing fabric should be the same size as your finished quilted cover. So add that 1″ to the width and 1″ to the height of your journal or book that you measured earlier.
For the side flaps that keep the book cover in place, you need 2 pieces of fabric, each the same height as your lining and quilted panel. These flaps will go inside the cover of the book.
You will fold these two flap pieces in half, so the actual size of your book cover flap will be half of the width you have cut.
- Book/Journal Cover Measures – 12″ x 8.25″
- Final Quilted Cover Panel needs to measure 13″ x 9.25″
- Batting cut to approx 15″ x 11.25″ and trimmed down to 13″ x 9.25″ after quilting.
- Backing/Lining Fabric cut to 13″ x 9.25″
- (2) Flap Panels cut to 9.25″ x 7″ and folded in half.
Step 2: Quilt Your Journal Cover
Please note that there is no quilted backing on this project. We will add the lining or ‘backing’ at a later step, so just have your piece of batting and a pile of your favorite fabric pieces in a mixture of squares and strips for this step.
If you want to keep things super simple you can of course cut one piece of exterior fabric for your outer cover and just quilt it down to your batting.
But what I have done (as usual) is utilize this project to use up some fabric scraps!
I start by placing one piece of fabric on the right side of the batting (this will be the front cover of your journal) and quilting it down.
You can use a small piece of fabric for this or a larger one.
You can use straight lines, free motion quilting, or use a decorative stitch on your machine that you don’t get many chances to use.
I tend to focus on the front of the notebook first and then move toward the back cover.
This is a great opportunity to use a precious last little bit of that special fabric or to fussy cut an element from a piece of fabric with a large print.
Once your first piece is quilted down you are just building on this.
Find a second piece that is the same width or height and place it right sides together with the first piece.
Sew with a 1/4″ seam allowance. You do not need to backstitch as you will be sewing over each seam line.
Flip open the piece you just sewed and quilt it down as you did the first piece.
The easy way to do this is to build up with smaller pieces (or start with one large scrap) that almost covers the right side of your batting.
Then add strips to fill up the other side of the batting.
Use one long strip of fabric for the top and one for the bottom for a much more finished look (this is how I did the journal with the swallow on the cover: see finished photos below).
But there are so many ways you can do this. Here are the key things to remember:
- The right-hand side of the batting as it faces you (held landscape) will be the front of your notebook and the left-hand side will be the back cover.
- You need to roughly plan your scrap placement to make sure you are sewing over the raw edges and seams of the pieces you quilted down first.
- Try not to have too many seams meeting at the edges of your panel, as you’ll be stitching over that again to attach the flap and the lining.
But this is a great project for just playing and having fun with your leftover scraps. Whatever you make can’t help but look arty and totally one of a kind!
When your entire piece of batting has been covered and quilted, trim it down to the size above: 1″ wider and 1″ higher than the size you measured your journal to be.
Step 3: Attach the Journal Cover Flaps
The flaps are the bits on the side that keep your book, journal or notebook inside the fabric cover, sometimes called a book sleeve. These will be tucked away on the inside cover.
Take the two pieces you cut as described above and fold them in half wrong sides to wrong sides (so you can see the right side of the fabric on the outside).
Place the raw edge of that folded piece of fabric along the side edges of each end of your fabric cover (the short edges).
Your folded edges for each flap should be facing each other and pointed toward the middle of your book cover.
See below for how to add a ribbon closure – do this BEFORE sewing down your flaps.
Sew down each raw edge with a 1/4″ seam allowance, and backstitch at both ends.
If you would like to insert a ribbon closure or a bit of elastic to close this is the time to do it.
Personally, I like to add ribbons.
Take two pieces of ribbon that are long enough that you could tie them together into a bow. Place one end of each at the middle of your front and back cover aligned with the raw edge of your panel.
Place the flaps on top as described above and pin in place.
Then continue with attaching the flaps as described above. I like to backstitch over the spot where the ribbon is when I attach my flaps before continuing to the opposite side.
If you want to add a ribbon bookmark you will do this in a similar way as with the closure.
Except this time you will pin a long length of ribbon in the middle of your cover at the top edge (long side) in between the quilted cover panel and the lining (see next step).
If you would like to add any embellishments onto your DIY notebook cover now is the time to do it.
Examples of things you could add:
- Bits of Ribbon or Lace
- Cuttings from Selvedge Edges (see black and white cover below for example)
Attach anything you like to make your cover more unique, whatever is your personal preference.
However, make sure you do this all before attaching the flaps and lining.
Be sure to keep any bulky embellishments away from the edges of your cover which you will need to be able to sew closed to finish.
Step 4: Attach the Journal Cover Lining
We are nearly done!
Next, you need to fold your flaps and ribbon into the middle of the panel again and place your piece of lining fabric right side down on top.
You should be looking at the wrong side of your lining when you bring this over to the sewing machine to sew it down.
Sew all the way around with a 1/4″ seam allowance, leaving a 2-3″ gap for turning. I like to place the turning gap along the bottom edge in the middle between the two flaps.
Trim corners and any bulky seams with a pair of scissors before turning your entire cover right side out.
Step 5: Finishing Touches
Quick tip: Use a chopstick or other pointy but blunt point turner tool to push your corners out.
Fold the raw edges of your turning gap in and pin or clip to hold in place.
Press your book cover so everything is lying flat.
Topstitch as close to the edge of your journal cover as you can get, making sure to catch both sides of the turning gap in your stitch to close the gap.
If you have attached ribbons make sure they are pulled out away from the cover before you do this!
Finished Quilted Journal Cover Using Scrap Fabrics!
And there you have it! Your own DIY journal cover! See the video below if you aren’t sure how to slide your book inside or if you want to see any of the steps in more detail.
Below are some examples of the quilted journal covers I’ve been making recently.
Mine were all made with an A5 size notebook (hardcover style journal) but follow the instructions above and you can make yours to any desired size you like!
These quilted fabric notebook or journal covers are an easy project and make great gifts. They are a great way of using up scraps and letting yourself get creative.
- Fabric Scraps - Crumbs & Strips
- Quilt Batting or Fusible Fleece
- Quilting Cotton for Lining and Flaps
- Ribbon (optional)
- Interfacing (optional)
- Sewing Machine
- Rotary Cutter
- Cutting Mat
- Flexible Measuring Tape
- Measure the outside of your journal or book with a flexible measuring tape - measure the width from edge to edge around the spine and from the top to the bottom of the front cover.
- Add 2" to each measurement and cut your quilt batting or fusible fleece to this size.
- Cut 1 piece of lining fabric that is 1" larger than the height and width measured in step 1.
- Cut 2 pieces of fabric for your inner book sleeve flaps. These should be the same height as the lining fabric in step 3 but the width should be 7-9" each. Fold these in half with the right side facing out.
- Take your batting or fusible fleece and quilt it until it is covered using the stitch and flip quilt as you go method (see video tutorial).
- When your quilt batting is completely covered trim down to the same size as your lining fabric.
- Place the folded flap pieces ontop of the right side of our quilted panel with raw edges together (folds towards the middle).
- If using a ribbon closure insert it in between the quilted panel and flaps.
- Sew flaps down along the raw edge only with a 1/4" seam allowance. Bacstitch over ribbons if using them.
- Place lining fabric right side down on top of the quilted panel and flaps. Sew all the way around with a 1/4" seam allowance leaving a 2-3" turning gap.
- Turn your cover right side out, bringing the flaps to the back of the cover.
- Press flat and topstitch around the edge to close the turning gap and finish off. Be careful which way your ribbons are pointing if you have used them.
- Insert your book cover in the flaps! Finished!
- You can use straight-line quilting or vary your stitches for each scrap!
- For the side flaps, the width of each piece should be at least 7″, but it can be longer if you are covering a very large book or you like a deeper flap. So anywhere between 7″-10″.
- I have made these flaps a bit stiffer occasionally by using medium weight fusible interfacing. Fuse it to just one side of your folded flap and cut the layer of interfacing 1/2″ smaller around the seam lines of your flap so you don’t create extra bulk!
Quilting with batting as described above will make a ‘padded’ cover. If you want even more padding you could use a thick bag interfacing or two layers of batting.
You’ll need durable, medium-weight fabrics for your quilt journal cover. You want something you can’t see through. Cotton is ideal. Felt and denim are also suitable.
If your fabric journal cover is made of cotton or a similar fabric you can wash it in your washing machine.
Consider using a color catcher the first time you wash it to avoid color bleed.
You may also need to reshape and lay falt to dry.