Make a personalised notebook cover

Ros Badger / 24 September 2015

Liven up cheap stationery such as notebooks and diaries by embroidering your own cloth book jacket.



Address books, journals and diaries, writing paper and tissue-lined envelopes, I love all forms of stationery.

Despite technology and being able to access one’s appointments via a ‘cloud’, I still write engagements by hand into a diary and keep a notebook on me at all times in which I record everything from my to-do lists to notes for future design projects.

Nice stationery can be expensive, but you can transform even the most basic notebook by covering it with fabric and then embroidering this with a title, or something more personal.

You might choose to cover a photograph album or a scrapbook and embroider names, dates, places or other memorable words onto the front cover. You could work on patterned fabric or simplify the project by embroidering a quote or other meaningful sentence onto a plain background.

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You will need

  • Notebook, photo album etc
  • Sheet of plain paper larger than the book
  • A piece of fabric larger than the book (I used a piece of old linen from a bed sheet but any cotton or linen, new or old, will do)
  • Needle and thread
  • Embroidery needle and selection of brightly coloured embroidery threads
  • An embroidery hoop (optional)
  • Pencil (or embroidery magic markers with fading ink that disappears after 48 hours) and ruler

How to make

Step 1

Open your book out and measure the length and width. Make a pattern by marking the measurements onto the paper, adding 12cm to the length and 2cm to the width. Place your pattern on the fabric and cut it out.

Step 2

Fold over a 0.5cm hem (wrong sides together) at both ends of the shortest sides of the rectangle and sew a seam with either a sewing machine or by hand.

Step 3

To make the ‘pockets’ for your book to slide into, fold over 5.5cm at either end of the rectangle, right sides together, iron the fold then stitch just the upper and lower seams of the pockets (5.5cm each) sewing 1cm in from the edge.

Step 4

Snip the four corners diagonally then turn the pockets right sides out and iron flat. Next, stitch the two hems between the pockets, at the top and bottom.

Step 5

Use an embroidery hoop if you have one to embroider the front cover of your book. It will help your stitching stay flat and also keeps it even.

Choose an embroidery thread and backstitch a series of horizontal lines, approximately 15mm apart, from the vertical fold edge to where the spine of your book begins.

Embroider a margin in a contrasting colour about 3cm in from the spine edge. If you’re not sure you can sew in a straight line, use the pencil or embroidery pen and ruler to draw the lines onto the fabric first and embroider along them.

Step 6

Finish by embroidering your words. I did this by eye but, again, if you prefer, you can first write on the fabric in pencil or pen and embroider over the top.

Step 7

Sew in any loose ends at the back of your work, press to remove any creases and slide the cover around your book.

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