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Upcycled Book Cover

This DIY book cover idea will allow you to customise any basic recycled notebook for your writing and refection purposes.

About this DIY

Today’s DIY shows you the basic recipe for making your own book cover. It’s a really simple sewing project and would definitely be one that older kids could get involved in with adult assistance. I have used some 30-cent-bargain placemats for my DIY cover today but you can use any old fabric or offcuts you have lying around.

You Will Need
  • A notebook: Try to use a basic one in a regular sizing (mine is A5) so that you know you will be able to get a replacement when you fill yours up.
  • Scissors
  • A sewing machine with thread
  • Pins
  • Fabric: Make sure this is large enough by lying your notebook in the middle of it. There should be around 9-10cm of fabric either side of the vertical length of your book and around 2cm on the horizontal.
  • An iron and ironing board

Step by Step Instructions

Step 1

My first step was sewing my two placements together. This won’t be a required step if your fabric is already large enough. I sewed these neat little seams together (the placemats are already hemmed: BONUS) as close as possible to avoid any bulk on the spine of my notebook.

Step 2

Next, or first if you are using a large enough piece of fabric to skip the first step, lay your book in the centre of the fabric around 2cm away from the bottom edge. You will need to leave the following seam allowance for an A5 book cover: 2cm on the bottom and top sides (horizontal) and around 10 on the left and right sides (vertical). Please keep in mind that this should be altered to suit the size of the book you are using and your personal preferences about how you would like the book cover to fit. If you want less fabric overhang on the inside you can have less seam allowance on the vertical, also, if you are using a denim and want raw seams on the horizontal you wont need quite so much seam allowance. I have made many denim covers as gifts as they are easy to ‘whip-up’ in a hurry with no need for neat seams on the vertical. With all this in mind and a confidence that you have the right size for your book, cut your fabric to suit.

Step 3

The next step is to sew your bottom and top seams neatly. As you may be aware, I am a little lazy. So I just ironed my seams in and sewed them 0.5 cm from the edge. One of my edges was already hemmed thanks to the person who made the placemat, one edge I was require to hem then sew 0.5 cm from the edge. This 0.5cm will be a visible bit of fabric overhang in the end result so try your hardest to make it look nice and neat (you should be able to see it in the pic above if you look close enough: sorry 6am sewing makes for some dodgy pictures)! If you are using denim you can get away with a raw edge on the top and bottom if you like that look.

Step 4

Laying your notebook flat in the middle of your cover line start to fold in the sides creating a pocket for your book to sit securely. You will want to hem these vertical edges if you have cut raw edges. I didn’t have to do this because my placemat was already hemmed. Make your hem around 0.5 to 1.0 cm. It’s really up to you what you want to do. It will be folded inside the cover and won’t be visible but pulling the note book in and out of the cover will eventually fray the fabric if you don’t hem it. Again, if you are using denim and like the frayed effect this hemming might not be desired. A tip here is to just work on one side at a time rather than sewing both down at once. This give you some ‘wiggle room’ to ensure that your cover fits just right. Picture number three should give you an idea of what I mean by ‘wiggle room’. Try to line these pocket folds up so the are similar on both sides. You will notice I have close to double the recommended seam allowance on the vertical sides. This is because I didn’t want to have to cut off much of the fabric and having double thickness helps with the rigidity of the cover with this thin cotton fabric. Once you have one side how you like it and feel confident you can sew it along the horizontal hem. You will only have to sew the length of the folded pocket section along the horizontal seam you sewed earlier. If you sew on top of that 0.5 seam then your second line of stitching should blend into the first and not be noticeable.

Step 5

Sew down the section picture above on the top and bottom of one side. Then, after a bit of a wiggle around and a test run open-and close of your note book. Do the same with the other side. Then you should end up with a notebook cover like image 7


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This post is part of our  ‘For the Love of Sustainable Self’ content. If you love it, click the ‘back’ button for more information about what Sustainable Self is, and how you can use the tools we have available to take a holistic approach to self-responsibility and support when living life in sustainable style.


To other content in our ‘For the Love of Sustainable Self’ series. 


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Have you seen our monthly magazine ‘Live Life in Sustainable Style’?

It’s the comprehensive monthly highlight of the suite of tools we have designed to help simplify sustainability so you can take action on the things you care about (minus the eco-overwhelm). The content ties together our ‘Take Action’ focus theme. In a fast-paced media-saturated landscape, we hope that this way of sharing will provide you access to all our useful tools, without feeling lost or overwhelmed. Each month the latest copy of the magazine and our most recent resources are sent to your inbox (you will only receive one email a month from us). You will get reminders via our social media channels of what content we’re championing throughout the month.

We hope that you enjoy getting your Sustainable Style fix in this easy-to-read format and that it gives you a break from the abundance of social media updates and overflowing inboxes we now navigate daily