Monday, January 14, 2013

My DIY rustic leather journal

Here's a great little project to start the new year - a DIY leather journal.

This one is made from an old leather coat and cost me less than  a dollar to make. You can make it any size you want or add more pages. You do need some specialized equipment though - access to a paper cutter and a rotary cutter.

This tutorial is modified from one by Kersey at Ardor. (She has lots of neat leather DIYs.)

To make a 40-page journal that is about 7 inches by 5 1/2 inches, you'll need the following:
  • piece of leather at least 7.5 by 15 inches
  • 20 sheets of 8 1/2 by 11 inch office paper
  • embroidery thread (yard or dental floss can also work)
  • two embroidery needles
  • blue tape or masking tape
  • rotary cutter
  • paper cutter
  • ruler
  • pencil or pen
  • tailor's chalk
First trim down your office paper so that it is 7 by 11 inches. Cut off an inch and a half from the long edge with a paper cutter.

Fold the paper in half. Take one piece and make a dot at the 2-inch mark and at the 5-inch mark.

Using an awl, small nail or embroidery needle, poke a hole at your dots.

Stack a folded sheet behind your template and use the first set of holes to make a duplicate set of holes on the new sheet.

Do this for all your sheets of paper.

Flatten one sheet out (or do this before you fold it) on top of your leather piece. Trace around the paper with tailor's chalk.

Cut the three sides out with a rotary cutter, allowing about a quarter of an inch margin.

Leave one edge raw as seen in the photo below.

Use masking tape or blue tape to line up your paper holes with where the holes will need to be on the cover.

Poke through the leather at your mark using an awl, small nail or embroidery needle.

Stack your papers together, alining the edges.

Thread two needles with a bundle of embroidery thread. (Don't separate the individual threads.)
Push both needles through the holes as shown.  

Crisscross and go back through the opposite hole.

Tie off with a knot and clip the excess thread.

To make a wraparound tie closure, measure to find the center of your raw flap.

Mark two small cuts with tape and pen.

Cut. Using a rotary cutter or scissors, cut a long thin strip of leather. You may have to tie a few pieces together to make your tie long enough.

Wrap it around the journal as a closure.

These are so cheap and easy you can make several.


  1. My Crafty Home LifeJanuary 14, 2013 at 2:31 PM

    Really professional looking. It's great.

  2. Academically, intellectually chic! Bravo!

  3. I love the 'raw & sophisticated' look! love love love it!