How to Make a Patchwork Quilted Journal Cover

This tutorial shows how to make a patchwork quilted journal cover with a ribbon bookmark, based upon the measurements of a purchased hard cover journal.  Make your own customized cover by measuring the book you want to cover, raiding your scrap stash, and sewing a work of art!
*measuring tape, pencil and paper large enough for you to make a template of the journal cover ( which will include all seam allowances and ease).
~ collection of cotton quilting fabric scraps ( from small pieces to larger strips)
Note: because these covers are customized, the measurements I give for the size of my journal and for the sizes I cut for the lining, batting, flaps and the quilted cover may differ from yours.  Just follow the calculation formulas I've given to determine what amount of fabric and batting you will need.
~ quilt batt ( size needed determined by the journal you're going to cover - see step #1 & #2)
~ narrow ribbon (scrapbooking ribbon works great and doesn't fray.  The length needed depends upon the size of your journal.  I used 15" for my journal)
~ plain cotton quilting weight to be used as a foundation fabric for the patchwork
~ cotton quilting fabric for the lining of the journal cover
~ cotton quilting fabric for the flaps of the cover

I also highly recommend a walking foot to be used for the topstitching (the last step in assembling the cover).  The walking foot simplifies stitching through  all the layers of the cover.

1. Measure the total length of the book, laid flat on its spine. ( length is 15.25" )

2. Measure the height of the book ( height is 9.5"
3. Make a paper template to aid you in cutting the cover, the flaps and the lining for the journal cover you will take the above measurements and add in .25" seams and ease.
Take the length measurement 15.25" + 7" (this will allow me to wrap 3.5" as flaps at each end) + 1.25" ( for seam allowance and ease) = 23.25" total length
Take the height measurement 9.5"+1.25" (for seam allowance and ease)=10.75" total height
 The paper template for my cover will measure 23.25" long and 10.75" high (see above photo, showing the comparison between the size of the book and the template to make the cover).
4. Take the plain fabric for your foundation piece and cut it 6" shorter than the template length and 1" greater in height than the template. This extra allows for any loss that may occur during piecing and quilting.  Once the quilting is completed, the pieced cover will be cut to the exact size needed to make the cover.

Here's the scraps I pulled to make my cover.  There are strips, small squares, rectangles and even odd shaped fabric bits.  I always start with the smaller bits.

5.  Mark the mid point in the length of your foundation piece before starting.  This helps with visualizing the front and back portions of the quilted cover.  Choosing two smaller fabric scraps and placing them a little higher than halfway up on the right half of the foundation piece (as this will become the front cover on my journal), machine stitch in place using .25" seam allowance - fabric pieces are placed right sides together, with the bottom fabric placed wrong side down on the foundation fabric.  See next photo....
6. Press the seam just stitched, then open the fabrics so that both are wrong side down and press again.
7.  Take another fabric scrap that will be at least as long as the ones already in place on the foundation and lay this next piece right side down, stitching it onto the previous fabrics with a .25" seam.
Repeat step #6
Repeat step #7 and then #6...
It's possible to stitch small pieces together first to make up a length needed for your patchwork - as shown below.  Also, pieces with angles can be incorporated. 
The important thing to remember is to keep all the piecing lines you sew, straight, because not only are straight lines easier to manage, it will keep you from having areas where you miss covering a raw edge with your piecing.

Another tip to make your piecework go more smoothly is to add a little extra length to any fabric pieces that are alongside an angled fabric piece...
so that the piece you will sew onto the angle (keep it aligned with the angle) now can join onto those side pieces without any raw edges ending up unstitched.  Simply trim the extra off those side pieces once the seam transversing them is completed.

 8.  Keep adding pieces and strips until the whole foundation fabric has been covered in patchwork.

9. Take your quilt batt and lay the newly completed patchwork piece on top.  Cut the batting slightly larger than the patchwork piece to make quilting easier.
10.  Pin patchwork piece to the batting and machine quilt the layers together.
11. Cut your lining fabric using the fabric template you made in step #3.
Here you can see my template on top of the lining cut to size and my completed piece of patchwork, quilted and ready to be assembled (photo below).
12. Cut the patchwork piece (after you completed all the quilting) to  down to the size you need to make the front cover. From the total length determined for the template you will subtract *7".  The height measurement will be the same as the template.
The size of my patchwork piece is cut to measure 16.5" by 10.75"
*Flaps will be sewn onto each end of the patchwork piece making up the lost 7", as you want the front cover to be the same size as your template, once the flaps are attached.

13.  Find center on the lengthwise top edge of the quilted piece.  Baste the ribbon right side to right side at the top edge to form the bookmark for the journal.

14.  Cut flaps for the front cover.  The flaps will make the pockets on the inside of the cover that the journal will slide into.
Cut 2 flaps 4" wide by the height of the template.  (4" x 10.75" for this cover)

15.  Using .25" seam allowance, sew the long edge of each flap (right sides to right sides) onto the short ends of the quilted cover.  Remember to back stitch the start and finish of these seams.
Here's the cover with both flaps sewn on.
16. Press the seam towards the flaps.

17. Lay the completed front cover (quilted main part with the flaps) right side up, with center marked by pins on the lengthwise edges, and place the lining right side down on top of it.  Pin in place.  Using a .25" seam, stitch around the perimeter of the cover, leaving an opening along the bottom edge for turning.
 Make sure that the ribbon used for the bookmark is only stitched down where it's already been basted and not caught anywhere else in this seam.

18. Clip the corners,

turn right side out and press.  Hand stitch the opening closed.

19. * Press the flaps, 3.5", to the inside of the cover (placing the seam line where they are attached to quilted cover as the front edge).   Pin in place. The flaps form the pockets which the journal will slide into to secure the cover over it.
* I added my label onto the bottom (near the edge) of the back flap BEFORE I pinned and stitched the flap in place
20. Using the walking foot on your machine, top stitch 1/8" from the edge around the full perimeter of the cover.
The sewing part is complete!
Slide the front cover and back cover of the journal into the pockets formed by the flaps more easily by folding the cover in half along its center (where the spine of the journal will lay). Now the tension of a snug fit won't impede the journal fitting into the pockets. ;o)

Ready to use!

A look at the finished cover when opened flat....
If desired, you can hand stitch buttons or charms to the quilted cover to really personalize it (click here and here).
Happy sewing!


  1. Wow, thanks Katherine for the tutorial! That must have been a lot of work! I sure want to give it a try!
    Happy weekend!

  2. right tut Katherine. I will try it soon i promise. working on a sewing machine cover for my Diva friend while she is still away. have a good weekend

  3. What a fun project and a great way to use up those treasured scraps.

  4. I'm on to it, Thanks very much for spending the time to show us!

  5. Do you think if we shopped together in a fabric store our eyes would both gravitate to the same colors??

    I LOVE this combo.......

  6. Thank you Katherine! It's a great tutorial.
    I'll give it a try next month, i hope.

    (I am slowly catching up with my blogger friends...)

  7. Wow! Such a great tutorial and fun project.
    Love the fabrics you used. The peacock feather print is gorgeous!

    Kimberly :-)

  8. Great tutorial.

    Thanks for sharing the secrets to a beautiful project! :o)

  9. what a great tutorial! i'm so thrilled to have one of your originals! :)

  10. Thanks for the tutorial! I just made it and it looks great!

  11. great tutorial.. must try! thanks for sharing.. :)


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