Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Zippered covered journals... A tutorial-ish

Let me just say that these are a bit crazy making but with a stitch ripper and a bit of time, you can be most successful!  I called it a tutorial-ish because your journal may be a different size than mine.  

You need a hardback journal to cover.  Not too big and not too small.  This one is 8.25" by 6".  The size of your journal is really important because you need a long enough zipper to go all the way around.  In this case, I used the longest dress zipper I could find at 22" or 55 cm if you are Canadian like me.  If you have a larger journal, you can buy a duvet zipper and trim it to length.  Duvet zippers are a lighter weight so it is a bit of a trade off.  In my technicolour dream world, I would have liked metal zippers but fine enough gauge and long enough was impossible to find.  Boo hiss. So here we go.

You need fabric, a zip, batting and a journal.  I used a bit of linen for the spine since I wanted to really show off Elizabeth Olwen's Wildwood fabric, I did not do any piecing other than the spine.

Measure the entire width of your journal when open and add 10".  Keep that in mind as you construct your cover.
1)  linen strip measures 3.5" by 10".
2) feature fabric 2-10" by 9.75"
3) batting approx 11" by 22"
4) inner lining, optional but makes a neat finish, 1 -10" by 11" .  I used linen.

Piece linen and the front and back panels of your feature fabric.  Place over batting and quilt as desired.  I kept the quilting minimal, with a row on either side of the spine as you can see below.

Test drive your cover on your journal and mark where you flaps will fold under.  Make sure they are even.  Narrow hem the flap ends.  Trim your cover so that you have a 1/2" of slack top and bottom. Remember that you are sewing on binding but you need to have enough slack to get the journal in and not be too tight.

Place lining on the inside of your cover, fold flaps over.  The lining does not need to be as wide as your cover but close.  Measure the centre of your cover top and bottom and mark as I have with pins.  This is very, very important as it dictates the placement of your zipper.  If you are off, then your cover will be super wonky.

Place your opened zipper at the pin marking the bottom edge of your cover.  Notice the placement of the zipper tab.  It is facing up.  This is very important.  Leave the zipper end dangling as shown in the photo.

Start stitching from as close as you can get to the zipper tab, a scant 1/4" from the edge. I used my quarter inch walking foot.  Snazzy.  I never use a zipper foot and I did not pin the zipper.  Be brave.  You can do it.

When you get to the corner, stop 1/4" from the corner and pivot your pressure foot.  At the same time, turn the zipper so it is now around the corner.  Resume stitching, making sure you do not catch any zipper teeth.  Do not worry if the zipper tap scrunches up around the corner, this will be covered by your binding.  So clever.

Continue around the next corner and overlap the zipper ends as you can see in this picture.  So tricky.  Keep going until you stitch all the way around.  Again, get as close as you can to the zipper tab but it is acceptable to have a little bit unstitched.  This will get taken care of.

 You now have something that looks like this.  Try your zipper out and see how clever you are.

I made a lot of them.

Now you need some binding.  I used 2.25" double fold binding.  And I might add that I was doing this while my husband was renovating my sewing room.

 Attach binding, starting half way down one side.  You will need to start and stop stitching at the zipper tab.  You will finish this bit by hand.  Sigh.

And all you need to do now is hand sew your binding down for a nice finish.  Finish the zipper tab end by hand as well, tucking the zipper end in to the spine of your cover.  Give it a little bit of slack and tack down the zipper tab end.  Test drive your zipper before you tack it down so you can ease the fit.  There you go.  You are done.  Try it out.


  1. YEAH! Now I need to go zipper hunting in my stash! I love your journal covers! Thanks so much for the tutorial!

  2. Very cute! Thanks for the tutorial :)

  3. This is such an awesome idea! Nice tutorial. I read all the way through and its looking like even I could make this as my dirty little secret is "I'm zipper challenged" Thanks for this, Carli

  4. Ok.. you must have the patience of a saint along with so much talent!! I made *one* wallet using this type of design, and well, not gonna happen again anytime soon!! lol!! These all turned out soo wonderfully!! :) Love them!