Jacquelynne Steves

Fabric Covered Notebooks and Journals Tutorial

Fabric covered notebook journal

**This is a Fat Quarter Friendly Project!** Remember making book covers from brown paper bags? Do people still do that? Fabric covered notebooks and journals are the same idea, but much prettier :)

Oh my! I can’t believe we’re already talking about “Back to School” projects- seems like just yesterday we were talking about projects to keep the kids busy all summer long!  I have always loved back to school time- it means a new beginning! Pristine notebooks filled with empty pages and the unlimited possibilities of what will be written in them. Brand-new-still-pointy crayons. Colorful folders with un-bent corners. The smell of a classroom that has been unoccupied for the past 3 months….


Perhaps your kids aren’t quite so excited about going back to school, but here is a little project that just might cheer them up (OK maybe it won’t cheer THEM up, but it IS a good use for that fat quarter stash of yours!) At this time of year, you can get marbled composition books for under $1. Decorate them with some fabric and create school notebooks for the kids, or a journal for yourself. They also would make a great gift… Once you get the hang of making these, you can churn out several per hour.

Fabric Covered Note Books and Journals Tutorial

You will need 3 different fat quarters or fabric scraps, some matching thread for topstitching, and a standard sized marble notebook/composition book (about 9 3/4 x 7 1/2″).

Cut 3 pieces of fabric, 4 1/8 x 21″.  Sew fabric together along long edges.

Press both short edges 1/4″ toward wrong side, then turn under again and press. Top stitch along fold.



Zig zag stitch along both long edges.



Fold one short edge about 2 3/4″ toward RIGHT side of fabric. Sew bottom folded edge using 1/2″ seam allowance. Backstitch at beginning and end of seam.



Place cover of notebook in “pocket.” Mark top of pocket with a pin at the edge of the notebook cover. It should be snug but not too tight. Remove notebook and sew seam for pocket at pin marking.




Place notebook back in pocket. Wrap cover around closed notebook. Repeat previous step (pin top and bottom seams and sew.)




Turn pockets right sides out. Insert notebook to check for fit- it should be snug but not so tight that it causes the notebook to bow. If you’re happy with the fit, press the seams and press the zig zag edge down.



Top stitch zig zag edge between the pockets about 1/16 – 1/8″ from edge.



Insert notebook and enjoy!

If you like this project, please share it with the buttons below!





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    Posted August 8, 2013 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    Oooh – these are so pretty!! I love the fabric that you used for these, so full of color – they don’t look like those boring composition books anymore! And I guess you could use “boys” fabric as well to make books for the little men in your life as well!!

    Thanks for these great ideas!

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted August 8, 2013 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

      Hi Jennifer- you know I thought about doing one with boys’ fabric AFTER I had my post all done! Duh! I am such a girly girl, and I have 2 girls, so that is where my designs tend to go…. But definitely they would be great with blues and greens and browns… and stripes! I’d love to see them with striped fabric!

      • Patty
        Posted August 15, 2018 at 12:00 am | Permalink

        I can tell you, from having two boys, they would hate these. They’ll take them off and hide them from the other boys. It’s just too girly, and they will not take the chance of being made fun of. Sad experience is warning you. I love these ideas, and I think girls will love it. My daughter once made a darling cover for an English assignment. She got some cardboard, cut it to size, added a little batting and fabric that she covered the cardboard with, and glued down. She had punched holes in her composition and the cardboard, and tied it all together with coordinating yarn. The teacher loved it. So did I.

  • Posted August 8, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

    These are beautiful Jacquelynne! I love making notebook covers and yes…..I remember brown paper bag ones for school!

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted August 9, 2013 at 3:36 pm | Permalink

      I always had to do the brown bag covers when I was in elementary school. By the time my kids were in elementary school, you could buy those stretchy cloth covers which were re-usable- much easier than the brown bag, but not nearly as fun!

      • Linn
        Posted January 27, 2019 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

        YES I have made many brown bag covers. My oldest daughter would take markers and draw pictures on them. It was fun for her.
        My boys likes the brown bag covers better than the stretchy ones. They thought they looked more girlish.
        At least on the brown bags they could draw super heroes.

  • Judy
    Posted August 9, 2013 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have any kids in school anymore but I do have some of those composition books around and plenty of fat quarters. I think I will make some covers for them so I have pretty notebooks in my sewing/craft room to write down ideas and inspiration. Thanks for the idea! Strangely enough I had never heard of covering books until we lived out of the US for 3 years in the mid to late 90’s and then by the time we came back it seemed like the schools were requiring everyone to do it.

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted August 9, 2013 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      Hi Judy! I love notebooks and journals but the pretty ones can be so expensive- this is a great way to make your own!

  • Posted August 9, 2013 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    Cute!! I think I might just make a few!!

  • Jacquelynne
    Posted August 9, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Sandy! I’d love to see some photos if you decide to try it :)

  • Posted August 10, 2013 at 8:14 am | Permalink

    Looks wonderful….

  • Sewcrzy
    Posted August 8, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

    Love these covers! Thinking of adding some leftover chalkboard material for my
    granddaughters so they can personalize them more.

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted August 10, 2015 at 8:17 am | Permalink

      Oh that is a great idea- wish I had thought of it!

  • Priscilla
    Posted October 6, 2015 at 12:52 am | Permalink

    LOVE it… love you! Be blessed, always =-)

  • Joni Giancola
    Posted August 16, 2017 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I had just bought some comp books for .50 at Walmart to make these for my sisters for their birthdays–love the tutorial so I didn’t have to figure it by myself….

  • Pmela Adcox
    Posted November 3, 2017 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    I have been giving my daughters a journal every year on Christmas Eve. Sara for 37 years & Jennifer for 22 years. It getting harder & harder to come up with something different. I think they would love a fabric covered one. Thank you.

  • Linda
    Posted November 4, 2017 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    What a great idea for something simple as I teach my 7 year old granddaughter to sew! She loves notebooks and, since Grammy works at a quilt store, we have endless possibilities. Thank you!

  • June griepp
    Posted August 15, 2018 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    If I make these I’m going to line the fabric after the three pieces are sewn together with Pellon Shapeflex 101 to give the covers a little more body. I think they will look better and hold up better

    Posted August 21, 2018 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    Love this project! It’s on my list to start soon!

  • Gayle Rivers Bryant
    Posted August 25, 2018 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Great idea! I’ve been keeping my genealogy searches in composition books and over the years, they no longer match. Now they will with wonderful fabrics! Thanks so much.

  • Anonymous
    Posted October 6, 2018 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

    I ‘won’ a composition covered notebook at a raffle, and love it. I can quilt & sew and I’ve been searching for a simple pattern without the bulky batting. Your pattern is perfect. I just made a cover with leftover quilt fabric, added a few decorative stitches next to seams … and wow! I love it. It is just what I was looking for. Thank you for this terrific tutorial!

  • LadyD
    Posted December 12, 2018 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    I always had to do the brown paper covers in elementary school, but by the time I was in 10th grade, the schools no longer made a point of telling us to cover our books. I think that might have been because when I was in elementary and middle school some or all of our books were new. By the time I reached 10th grade, all the books were several years old and had already been used by multiple students. Funny, I have no memory of my 9th grade text books, so I don’t know if they were covered or not…

  • Ellen Kelley
    Posted June 4, 2019 at 1:02 am | Permalink

    This is perfect!
    So simple and straight forward!

  • Johnnie Sciortino
    Posted November 5, 2019 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    Love the books … I added quilt batting to give iit a little weight…had to adjust the cuts slightly

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