DIY Leather Journal Cover

My husband and I recently celebrated our 8th anniversary. If you want a refresher on why I have every reason to celebrate this relationship feel free to visit my gushing Father’s Day post. The thing is though, in the gift-giving department my husband makes life fairly difficult. At least he was kind enough to specifically tell me what he wanted for Father’s Day this year, but generally he is hard to get for as he is quite the minimalist, non-materialistic type. He gets more excited about not spending money than about buying something for himself! But lucky for me, he tends to always appreciate a handmade gift.

My husband is a writer, both by profession and in his free time. He isn’t currently in need of a new journal, but he is constantly jotting down ideas, so his current one will have to fill up eventually. When it does, he’ll be ready!

This gift also fits the glorious “no money was spent” criteria for my husband’s optimal enjoyment. Well, almost. I think the blank book ran $1.50 at Michael’s.

The leather came from this jacket that a neighbor no longer wanted. With all of the advertisement embroidery on the back (and front as well) it wasn’t a good candidate for thrift store donation. It worked great for this project though, and I get excited thinking about how many baby shoes I can get out of it as well!

So here is the journal that is really about the last sort of cover most people would think of gifting their husband! I cut the piece of leather from the jacket sleeve.

To create the extra length to wrap around the journal, I cut an additional piece and attached it with a zigzag stitch. I flipped it to create a contrast of textures.

I cut a thin strip of leather and attached it to the inner side, cut a small slit near the edge of the flap and threaded the strap through. The leather strip should be long enough to wrap around the book twice and have a little extra tail besides.

Now to make the inside panels to hold the cover onto the book. I had a bit of this fabric left over from a previous project. It had originally been one of his favorite shirts from Urban Outfitters in Chicago. A lot of good times were had wearing that shirt! I cut two rectangles to fit the inside of the journal cover, turned in the edges and stitched them down.

I figure I’d attach the fabric to the leather with elastic to grip the book.  Here is where I made a series of incredibly stupid  educational mistakes which I will spare you. Let’s just say the gift wasn’t ready for our anniversary celebration which took place a few days after the actual anniversary. Now on to the steps that were actually helpful and don’t require repeated use of a seam ripper.

I slightly melted the edges of my elastic strips to prevent fraying. It gave me another chance to put these really cool matches I got in my Christmas stocking last year to use.

I then sewed a short piece to each corner of both panels of fabric.

The inner fabric panels were then sewn to the inside of the journal cover.

The smooth side of the leather wouldn’t advance through the machine, so I put a piece of paper underneath.

When finished I flipped it over and tore away the paper.

At this point I put the journal into the cover so I could figure how much of the elastic to fold under for a good fit. You’ve probably noticed I haven’t given any measurements. It all depends on the journal. Other journals from Michael’s that I have aren’t even the same size as this one so the measurements would most likely not apply to the next attempt. Actually I did almost no measuring but cut most of the pieces just by using the journal as a guide.

I underexposed this photo hoping you can see the black elastic against the black leather. I couldn’t pin the elastic to the leather before sewing without leaving holes in the leather. Instead I folded under the elastic to the previously determined place and secured it with a couple of drops of glue. I then put a book on each fabric panel to hold everything in place until the glue dried. This held the elastic in place long enough for me to sew it down, again using a piece of paper underneath to be able to slide the leather through the machine.

Insert book and there you have it… a handmade leather journal cover!

Thanks for stopping by!


Here’s where I’m linking up:


Homemaker on a Dime,  I {heart} Naptime,  Flamingo ToesMy 1929 Charmer Blog,

What I Wore Sundayjembellish clothes upcycling page


Get Outta My Head PleaseSkip to My LouThe Gunny SackSew Can Do,

Singing Three Little BirdsEtcetorizeC.R.A.F.T.,  diy home sweet home,

Craft-O Maniac, Sew Chatty, Artful RisingSarahndipities ,

Everything Under the MoonThe Cure for the Common Monday


At Home With KNot Just a HousewifeHope StudiosFunky Polkadot Giraffe,

Kammy’s KornerThe Kurtz CornerI’m Topsy TurvyTip Junkie,

Raising 4 PrincessesThe Creative Itch BoutiqueSchwin and Schwin

Tip Junkie handmade projects


Sew Much AdoFrugally SustainableThe Shady PorchLil’ Luna,

Someday CraftsPassionately ArtisticWhatever WednesdayTrendy Tots,

Whimsy Wednesday


Mom On TimeoutThrifty DecoratingBear Rabbit BearThriving on Thursdays

The Crafty BlogstalkerThe Shabby Creek CottageHouse of Hepworths,

Sorta Crunchy, Delightful OrderAnything Goes Linky Party,


Simply DesigningWhipperberry,  Happy Hour Projectskojodesigns,

Joyful StamperMaking Lemonade BlogThirty Handmade Days,

Release Me CreationsNaptime CraftersRomantic HomeFinding Fabulous,

Shabby NestFrench Country Cottage, The Charm of HomeThe Grant Life,

At the Picket FenceFingerprints on the Fridge, One Art Mama2805,


The Gingerbread BlogToo Much Time On My Hands,

Six Sisters StuffSerenity YouBe Different Act Normal



  1. Christine said,

    July 3, 2012 at 6:34 am

    This is gorgeous, Karen. What a great gift idea… Now I will be forced to unjam my sewing machine…

    • July 4, 2012 at 8:08 am

      A jammed machine is so frustrating! I always end up having to take it in for servicing. 😦 But I’m glad you liked the journal.

  2. Maysem said,

    July 3, 2012 at 7:58 am

    That cover turned out amazing!! You are so talented Karen… always leaving me in aw.. and always inspiring me to just go at it:) My husband is the same way with gifts. Extremely difficult… as minimalists tend to be. I do try to come up with handmade ideas that I think he would appreciate… best I’ve come up with is some goodies..his favorite goodies of course. But even then he’ll tell me he’s on a “diet” (his on and off diet), so the goodies just end up being eaten by me..ha!

    • July 4, 2012 at 8:12 am

      Consumable gifts for the hard-to-get-for are the best because you’re then free to give the very same thing next year. That is unless he’s on a diet! You need to find the ever elusive killer low-calorie healthy yet out of this world delicious treat recipe so he’ll have no excuses. And if you were to find such a recipe and posted about it you would get mind-blowing amounts of traffic to your site!

  3. July 3, 2012 at 8:15 am

    This is a useful idea for those people (men actually) for whom it is hard to think of presents.

    • July 4, 2012 at 8:15 am

      I hope it helps someone else who has the same gift-giving dilemma. Now I have almost an entire year to come up with a new idea… oh wait… there’s still Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and his birthday between now and then. I’d better start thinking now!

  4. dawn aldrich said,

    July 3, 2012 at 9:26 am

    Love this X’s 2!

  5. Kelly said,

    July 3, 2012 at 11:10 am

    What a unique gift! The lining from a shirt with lots of memories attached is the icing on the cake!

    • July 4, 2012 at 8:17 am

      Yea, he’s pretty sentimental that way too! The rest of it went into a little girl’s dress/shirt (depending on her size) which he told me NOT to give away or try to sell as he still hopes we’ll have a little girl. 😉

  6. adohrenwend said,

    July 4, 2012 at 6:35 am

    This turned out so beautifully! I love the way you contrasted the leather- it just feels so luxe! What a great idea for a guy-friendly gift, and I’m sure any writer would treasure a beautiful handmade journal.

  7. July 4, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Great journal.

  8. July 4, 2012 at 5:03 pm

    Awesome creation!!

  9. July 4, 2012 at 9:08 pm

    Love it! What a great gift.

  10. Rita said,

    July 5, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I love the thought of making a journal like yours. Could you please tell me if there is any way to “pin’ it for future reference? Thanks.

    • July 5, 2012 at 5:18 pm

      I’m glad you like this journal cover. I’d be thrilled if you would pin it. I know it has been pinned by others. Did you encounter a problem doing so?

  11. Melanie said,

    July 6, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    Lovely! Thanks for linking to Things I’ve Done Thursday!

  12. faerylandmom said,

    July 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    That is amazing…

  13. Oster's Mom said,

    July 7, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Wow! You are so talented. What a fantastic gift.

  14. July 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm

    Lovely!! You’re so creative. I need to send you all the junk hanging around my house – you could have crafts for years!

    • July 11, 2012 at 4:42 pm

      Please don’t! I’m trying to weed out and simplify, which is hard for someone who is a bit of a pack rat! I already have enough cast-off clothing for fabric to keep me supplied until I’m at least partially gray!

  15. six sisters said,

    July 11, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Turned out beautifully! We are so glad that you linked up to our “Strut Your Stuff Saturday”. Thanks for coming and we hope you’ll come back next week! -The Sisters

  16. July 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm

    […] DIY Leather Journal Cover […]

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