Monday, May 14, 2012

Fabric covered notebook with pen pocket!

I am so excited to show you this tutorial!

I was trolling Pinterest looking for ideas for small teacher gifts for teacher appreciation week.  I loved the idea of a fabric covered notebook, but the one that I liked best wasn't a tutorial, just a pattern you could buy for $1.99.  Well, not this girl!  I knew that I could figure it out and save my precious two bucks.  I loved the way they turned out so much, I made one for myself as well. 

The photos are all from the first notebook cover I made.  I adjusted some of the measurements when I made mine (like the placement of the pencil pocket, for example--I placed it lower the second time so the pencil doesn't stick up as far), so the measurements I give might not line up exactly with what you're looking at.

I started by buying a 10-pack of these little yellow notepads.  My husband uses them too, so I knew we'd go through them, and then I'd have a few extra if I needed little gifts along the line.  They were 10 for $5.50 or so.  Then I chose two coordinating fabrics from my stash.  If you are using the same notebooks as I am, you will need the following:

Exterior fabric:  1 piece, 17.5 inches long by 6 inches wide
Interior fabric:  2 pieces,  8.25 inches long by 6 inches wide each (I just cut a 17.5 inch length then cut it in half)

Pencil Pocket (same fabric as interior):  1 piece, 4.5 inches long  by 4 inches wide (the pocket shown in the tutorial was 4x4--I decided to make it a little taller the second time around and liked it better)

Note--if you are using a different size of notepad than I did, your exterior fabric should be two times the height of your notepad plus the thickness of your notepad plus one inch, by the width of your notebook plus one inch.  For the interior panels, cut a piece the same size as the exterior then cut it in half.  (This is assuming it's still a notepad that is bound at the top, not on the side.  If the binding is on the side, then it should be twice the width instead of height.)

Additional supplies:

6.5 inch length of elastic (I used foldover elastic because that's what I have for my headbands)

Thin cardboard the same size as your notebook (mine were about 5"x8")--I used a cereal box.
Nothing but the best for my family!
I traced around the notebook to cut my cardboard piece--it will go inside the front cover of the notebook for stability.
Okay, so here's what you do!

1.  Start with your pencil pocket.  Fold it in half lengthwise (right sides together) and sew around the outside, about 1/4 inch from the edge, and leave an opening to turn inside out (I did about an 1.5 inch opening).

2. Clip the corners and turn right side out, then press.  (If you like to do your pressing all at once, like I do, you can also press the interior fabrics as described in step 5 at this point.) You should have a rectangle that is 4" tall and about 1.5" wide.  Sew a straight line across the top.
This way all of the sides will match when you sew the other three sides to the exterior fabric.
 3.  Pin your pencil pocket to the exterior fabric.  I attached mine 1.5" from the edge and 1" from the bottom the second time around--shown is 1.5" from the bottom but then the pencil sticks up too far. 

4.  Sew around the sides and bottom of the pencil pocket, attaching it to the exterior fabric.
Don't you love how easy it is to cut straight lines on striped fabric?
5.  Now for the interior panels--on the right side of the fabric, fold one short edge under about 1/4 inch and press, then sew in place.  Do this with both interior panels. 

6.  Lay out your exterior panel, right side up.  Lay your elastic out near the bottom of the fabric (I put mine right across the bottom of the pencil pocket).  If your elastic is two-sided (like foldover elastic), put the right side down. 
The elastic will end up stretching around the backside of the notepad, holding the cover closed.

7.  Next, lay your two interior panels right-side down on top of the exterior fabric with the sewn edges towards the middle.  Line them up with the outer edges of the exterior fabric, leaving a small gap between the two sewn edges.

8.  Pin together, making sure to catch the elastic in the pins so it gets sewn in place.  Note--you want the cover to fit the notepad and your cardboard snugly.  I laid my notebook and cardboard panel out on the fabric and placed my pins so that they were exactly where I wanted to sew to get a tight fit.  It ended up being about 1/2 inch seam allowance on the sides and a little smaller top and bottom.

9.  Sew all the way around the outside of the fabrics, backstitching at the beginning and the end.

10.  Clip corners, trim extra fabric, and turn inside out, press flat.

11.  The exterior fabric in the middle will have folded over onto itself.  I chose to sew that down,  but it's optional. 
I sewed a little seam on the section of exterior fabric visible inbetween the interior panels (described in step 11)

12.  Slip your cardboard inside the panel that has the pencil pouch.  If it sticks out past the fabric, trim the cardboard back a bit so it's hidden inside. Then slide the cardboard back of the notebook into the other side.  If the fit isn't tight enough, you can always turn it back inside out and sew in a little closer.

13.  Slip the elastic around to the back to keep it closed, put a pen/pencil in the pocket, and you're ready to go!  With this size of notebook, a pen might be the way to go because even when I lowered the pocket, a brand-new pencil still sticks up a tiny bit. 
Hmmm, it's really hard to show the elastic in a picture.  See that little black thing sticking down near the bottom of the notepad?  That's it.  It's holding it closed.


Oh, and I had The Boy write a note to his teacher on the first page of the notepad, eliminating the need for a card.
These are totally refillable, and there's enough wiggle room that you could fit a slightly thicker pad in there if you wanted to (I used a 50-page version, but they make 100-page and I think even a 150).  Totally handy, and totally cute!  I love that the decorative nature of this is also a practical piece, protecting the paper inside from getting crinkled, ripped, and otherwise destroyed.  It might be fun to add pockets on the inside or the back for coupons or some such thing--it's a pretty versatile little cover!

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