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My Journal Got A Fabric Makeover

February 29, 2024

A journal is lying on a wooden table. Its cover is a pink vintage fabric with tiny blue flowers. The journal is held closed by a minty green elastic band and there are two ribbon bookmarks, one the same minty green and one grey. It is surrounded by various desk items such as a candle, glasses, pens, lip balm, a small porcelain dish, and a scrunch of different pink floral fabric.

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This is part 1 of 3 in a series of covering various things in my life in fabric for various reasons. Part 2 (an old sewing box!) is here and part 3 (clothes hangers!) is here.


I've been dressing up my journals for years now - I remember the first one I made with some old upholstery fabric samples that someone had given my mom when I was in college, I think it was junior year. As I started to put together this post I realized I've never really thought much about the WHY, even though I've done this like 10 times.

Four old fabric covered journals with various patter
The first one I ever made is on the left!

The Why

After a moment's thought, it turns out there are two reasons I like to cover my journals with fabric:

  1. I like patterns! I mean this feels like the most obvious of potential reasons. There are plenty of journals with amazing designs and patterns on them, but for a long time I've been a Leuchtturm girlie and their journals are all solid-colored. I love the ability to customize the look while still buying the journal that I love.
  2. It makes the journal more pleasant to touch! I think I'm getting more sensitive to textures as I grow older, but I have always had a hard time with feelings such as itchy clothing tags, spinny socks, and CORNSTARCH (iykyk, and if so, I am deeply sorry to share this aversion with you). A soft cotton journal just feels *nicer*.

I am not the most avid journaler, I've even actively avoided it for many years, but I know it truly improves my day to start with a few minutes of writing. That's why any little thing that I can do to encourage sleepy, irrational, grumpy, morning Katrina to pick up her journal, I will do it.

The Supplies

The fabric options

Supplies are super simple for this one!

- A Journal (duh)

I usually buy this Leuchtturm, but this go-round I went a little cheaper with this one. It totally does the trick, but the Leuchtturm is very noticeably nicer quality.

- Glue

I used both rubber cement and Sobo craft glue. If you just get one, get the Sobo. I also used Fray Check for all the raw edges.

- Fabric Scissors

I LOVE my Ginghers, but these are a fabulous affordable option.

- Pencil or chalk, small ruler

You will only need these if your journal has an elastic closure.

- Fabric

I recommend using a fabric with no stretch in a pattern and texture that you enjoy. If your journal has an elastic closure or ribbon bookmarks, pick a fabric that looks good with those colors. The fabric I used is a really soft and cute vintage cotton - try to find something second-hand if you can, even if that means cutting up an old shirt you loved but no longer wear!

- Washi Tape (optional, for the bonus Morning Prompts!)

I love Rifle Paper Company, so I use theirs! The pattern I used is old and discontinued, but this set is a cute option!

The How

A blue journal on top of the fabric I choose which is a dusty pink with tiny blue rose-like flowers.

To start, I laid the journal down on my (ironed) fabric, and cut 1" all the way around the journal, rolling it from one side to the other over the spine without lifting it off of the fabric so that the fabric is the size of the entire cover of the book (not just the front or back, but the front + back + spine).

Showing the small slits in the fabric above the spine.

Then I glued the front side down, smoothing the fabric with my hands. Before doing any more gluing, I snipped from the edge of the fabric to the journal on either side of the spine so that I had a little strip of fabric the same width as the spine. I trimmed it a bit shorter and then folded it on itself twice, leaving it a touch taller than the spine of the book. I repeated the same method on the bottom side before gluing the fabric to the spine and the first half of the back.

Showing the elastic emerging from the fabric on the back of the journal.

My journal has this elastic loop closure, so I cut a slit between the two points where the elastic emerges from the book. At each end, I snipped a very small opening the width of the elastic, so I effectively cut a verrrrrry long capital letter "I" (with serifs!). Then I pulled the elastic through and glued the fabric down. I was very careful to line the fabric up with itself and then used a bit of Fray Check to lock the edges in place.

Ripping the front page of the journal.

Because I went for a cheaper journal this time, the inner pages on the front and back were already somewhat lifting. I thought I could just peel it off which would make creating a clean finish to the journal really simple, but the center of the page was actually glued down very strongly. I even ended up ripping the paper on the front cover a little in my attempt.

Gluing the fabric to the inside of the front cover.

Since that didn't work, I went with the method I have done in the past. Starting with the front cover, I glued down the corners, top and bottom, and long side of the fabric. (It was at this point that your fearless heroine became frustrated with the rubber cement and switched to the Sobo... which is ACTUALLY meant for fabric, unlike rubber cement which is meant for paper... oops on my part there.)

The front inside page glued down covering the raw edges of fabric

Then I glued the first page of the journal down which covered the raw edges and made it look *profesh*.

Folding the fabric right up to the elastic pen loop

From here, I did a very similar thing to the back. I cut the same kind of strip I had done for the spine but this time for the pen holder. I folded it twice on itself and glued it right up to the edge of the elastic.

Glueing the fabric to the back cover

The back came off a bit easier, just on the long side, but I used this to my advantage and glued the corners and long sides down under the pocket.

Gluing a tiny hem in the fabric on the topside of the book
Showing the fabric glued to the underside of pocket at the top of the book

Here is where I made the biggest boo-boo of the whole project. I should have cut a bigger margin around the book because this section needed to be glue "hemmed" in order to hide any raw edges. I barely had enough fabric, so I glued the teeny-weeniest little hem before tucking the fabric into the fold of the pocket. (Pro tip: Open up the pocket while it dries so you don't accidentally glue it shut!)

Showing the top of the completed journal

The final step was to glue the little flaps of fabric on either end of the spine down. I was very careful not to get the glue on the pages.

And with that, the cover of the journal was done!

Bonus: My Morning Prompts

Like I said at the beginning of the post, journaling does not come easily to me. I mean, I honestly hate it. As someone who tends to be more negative, free write style journaling has a tendency to pull me down deeper which has in the past ruined many, many days. I have spent a lot of time envious of friends and family who are able to get a lot out of journaling, sort out their thoughts, and learn to know themselves better. For me, it has almost always been a bit torturous.

My morning prompts
I pull a tarot card every morning and write down the associated mantra from The Light Seer's Tarot.

Changing the method of morning journaling from a free write to a short list of prompts, some of which can be answered in one word, has changed EVERYTHING. I have always loved the clarity of filling out forms, and this feels a bit like that.

My morning prompts attached to the journal with pink floral wash tape.

I like to use washi tape to attach a little paper of prompts to the first page of the journal that I can fold out on any day. This way, I don't have to try to remember the list or keep it on my phone. It's super effective and super cute!

To Sum Up

This project is one of the coolest! It's quick, cheap, and quite effective! Also, now that I have used this journal for the past two months, I can say with conviction that it succeeds in making these cold, Midwest mornings a little brighter. I hope you try this project! It's relatively low effort for a big reward, and if you are slow like me at filling out your journal, you will be reaping that reward for a good, long time!

Close up of the completed journal surrounded by various accessories such as a candle, glasses, and sea shells.

I hope you have a beautiful rest of your day and thank you so much for being here! Please don't forget to check out part 2 and part 3!

💖, Katrina



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