Felt book covers are a great way to turn ordinary inexpensive notebooks into something lovely – and they all make lovely personalised gifts, too.
- A notebook, journal or diary.
- Wool felt big enough to cover your notebook, and scraps for embellishment.
- Six strand embroidery floss.
- Sewing needle and pins.
Step 1: Measure and Cut the Felt Cover
A note about felt: I always use pure wool felt. Cheap acrylic felt is widely available but the feel and quality just doesn’t compare to wool felt. It isn’t as dense or soft and can be quite see through. Your project will look so much better if you use the real thing.
Lay the notebook centered on the main piece of felt.
Fold the felt in half over the notebook and measure an extra 6.5cm (2 and a half inches) past the edge of the cover for the fold-in flaps. Mark the measurement, open the felt and cut it to size.
Note: The notebook I used measures 11 x 14 cm (4 and a quarter x 5 and a half inches), so the 6.5cm fold-in flaps are half the width of my book. Adjust the measurement to suit your notebook size.
Fold the felt around the notebook again and check the fit.
Open the felt flat and place the notebook about 6mm (less than 1/4 inch) from the bottom edge. Measure 6mm (less than 1/4 inch) from the top of the book, mark the measurement, rule a line and cut the felt to size.
Step 2: Design the Front Cover
Before designing the front cover motif, it will make it easier if you can accurately see the space you’re working within. Wrap the felt around the notebook, making sure the book is centered and the flaps are the same width. The cover shouldn’t be too tight, especially on a spiral-bound book. Mark the left and right edges of the felt front cover with pins.
Remove the book and lay the felt flat on the table. Take two pieces of white paper and lay them on each side of the pins to define the front cover edges.
Sketch your design onto paper if you need to and cut out the felt shapes. Or cut the shapes out roughly and draw directly onto the felt. Make sure you cut the felt inside the pen line.
When you’re happy with the design take a photo of it so you have a reference.
Step 3: Embroider the Cover
Starting with the bottom most shape, sew the design onto the cover. You can add a small dab of glue from a glue stick, or pin your shape in place if you need to.
Cut a length of embroidery floss and separate it into two lots of three strands. Thread the needle with three strands and tie a knot in the end of the thread. Bring the needle through the corner of the felt shape from back to front – so the knot and tail will be between the cover and the shape. Stitch around the shape in small running stitches. Don’t worry too much if they aren’t perfect – the beauty of handmade is in the imperfections!
Continue around the shape and finish with your needle on the back of the cover. Sew a small double stitch, making sure the needle only passes through the cover felt and not the shape. This way, the double stitch won’t be visible on the front.
To hide the thread tail pull your needle through the cover felt towards the centre of the felt shape. The needle should pass between the cover felt and the felt shape. Bring the needle back out, pull the thread so the felt gathers up, and cut the thread. The tail will now disappear between the cover and the shape and leave the inside of the cover looking neat.
Continue to assemble the cover, sewing around each felt shape in turn.
The back of the cover should look neat with no loose threads visible.
Embroider any additional areas, like the rain I added in running stitch.
Step 4: Make the Cover
Fold the cover around the book again, making sure it’s not too tight. Mark where the flaps fold. Remove the felt cover and pin the flaps in place.
Step 5: Blanket Stitch the Cover Edges
Thread the needle with six strands of the embroidery floss. Tie and knot in the end. We’ll start sewing from the top of the inside front cover. Pass the needle through the fold from inside the flap to the outside, 5mm (about 2/10 inch) from the top edge (as shown in the top left image below). The height of the stitch is important – if your stitches are too long the book won’t fit into the cover.
Now bring the needle around the back of the cover and pass it through the cover and flap, 5mm in from the fold and 5mm down from the top edge (as shown in the top right image below).
Pull the needle until you are left with a small loop (as shown in the bottom left image below) then pass the needle through the loop and pull the loop closed. That completes the first blanket stitch.
The second stitch is made by bringing the needle through from the back 5mm from the first stitch. Make the loop and pass the needle through as before (as shown in the bottom right image below).
If you run out of thread half way along the cover, just finish off with a small double stitch and run the thread under the stitches on the inside of the cover.
When you reach the end of the top edge, finish off with a small double stitch and take the needle through to the inside of the folded flap. Cut the thread so the end is hidden inside the flap.
Blanket stitch along the bottom edge of the cover in the same way, then insert the book into the cover.