12.29.2013

Quilted journal covers | Hand-made Christmas

I've kept a journal since I was about 21, in many versions. Notes on a calendar, in a spiral-bound notebook, in the daybooks we used at Battelle, and for most of my jounal-keeping life, in a dark green leather Daytimer binder. I loved that binder, and took it with me everywhere. But when I went to work as a technical writer and had access to desktop publishing software, I began keeping an electronic journal.

I still keep a notebook handy, in my tote bag or by my bed, as you never know when inspiration will hit (usually when the laptop is out of reach or inconvenient to use, like at 2:00 in the morning). But notebooks are boring, so I decided to see what I could do to spruce up my spiral notebook.

Sewing (like writing) is in my DNA, so making a fabric cover was the natural thing to do. And designing my own unique cover was so much fun... I just might have to make more of these.

I chose a simple composition book. They're inexpensive, have nice stiff covers, and you can find them just about anywhere.

My cover design has three fabric panels, so I could use three different fabrics. But I chose to use the same fabric for the two wider panels. It's this gorgeous deep purple print with red, green, and gold accents.



The middle accent strip is foundation pieced in a crazy quilt design, a technique I learned when making these cute travel sewing kits. I love the purples and greens and golds together, and I love to piece fabrics (the best part of quilting), so it was especially fun.

Best of all, finding scraps to use was easy. Whenever I sew, I keep my scraps, everything down to about 2 in square. I sort them by color into a tall tower of plastic drawers, which makes it easy to find just the right color or pattern to use in a  quilt. It's long past time to find projects to use my scraps; if I start another quilt (shoot me now) I'll be in real trouble: the bins are nearly full.


The lining fabric is a yummy yellow-green with a swirly pattern, and the pockets are a muted purple print that goes well with the cover.

I found a couple of tutorials to help me out with measurements to fit a composition book, but the final design is all my own. Here are my basic design elements:

Cover | made in three sections, with the accent strip foundation pieced onto a strip of muslin. Rather than having the pieced strip only on the front (running vertically), I thought it was more interesting to have all three fabrics run horizontally. Since the lining fabric doesn't show when the book is inserted, I went a bit wild with the fabric, just for fun. The pocket pieces coordinate with the cover fabric, as they will definitely show. I included a narrow piece of ribbon for a marker, and for my first cover, designed a fun closure: a long piece of embroidery floss in a coordinating color, which wraps around the book and a button, and is finished off with a few beads.

This is such a fun and useful project! It uses fabric scraps (you could easily foundation piece the entire cover), and I got to use interesting buttons (another of my favorite things), and make beaded "pulls" for the closure.



Because I was making a lot of these for Christmas gifts, I didn't take time to write up a tutorial for this project, but I definitely plan to do this in the new year.

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