*Iron your fabric. Ironing is the easiest way to dramatically improve the look of your finished item. Wrinkles=no good.
*Trim excess fabric from corners before turning.
*Once your journal is tucked inside the lining fabric is not visible so use something basic/cheap/recycled.
*Make your pattern from heavy paper (like velum) and then trace around it with a Mark-b-Gone pen or tailors chalk...so much easier then pinning the pattern in place. Or just use a ruler and pen or chalk to draw directly on your fabric and skip making the pattern all together.
*Where leaving an opening to turn your pieces I always sew it closed at first. At both ends of where the opening will be I back tack and then use a longer stitch length in the middle. Then iron the opening and use a seam ripper to remove the stitches. When you hand sew it shut it will be much cleaner because you've ironed a nice crease.
Pattern measurements for a Pocket Moleskine or any journal measuring 5.5" high x 3.5" wide x 0.5" thick:
Main body:6.75" high x 11.5" wide (tape together two pieces of 8.5" x 11" paper if you don't have paper long enough)
Flap: 7" high x 2.75" wide - Make the square first and if you want rounded corners then find something round (a glass?) to trace around to make rounded corners at the top. Or just leave it square--it is way easier to sew.
1) Cut pieces (grain of fabric should run parallel to the short end of your pattern)
1 main body in outer fabric
1 main body in lining fabric
1 interfacing for main body (optional but gives the cover more substance - sew-in or fusible 1 flap in outer fabric
1 flap in lining fabric
1 flap in interfacing
Velcro strip about 1.5" long
2) Center one Velcro piece on the outside of the flap lining about 1/2" from the top. Sew in place.
3) Place flap pieces with the face sides together and pin. Leave an opening to turn (see tips above). Sew around flap.
4) Place main body pieces with the face sides together and pin. Leave an opening to turn (see tips above). Sew around main body.
5) Trim corners and clip curves of flap.
6) Iron around stitching of both pieces to shrink thread and iron your openings back so you'll have a nice crease for closing them up. Be careful not to melt the velcro when ironing.
7) Open your pieces and turn. Use your scissors to gently poke the corners out nicely, being careful not to push too hard so the fabric doesn't give.
8) Hand stitch the openings closed. Iron again if you are a perfectionist.
9) Top stitch around flap and along short ends of main body.
10) On main body piece measure in about 3" at each corner and mark with pins or the mark-b-gone pen. This is where the main body flaps will be sewn down. DON'T sew the main flaps down yet!OR for a custom fit do this: fold main body piece in half to find the center. Place your journal in center crease and then open the front and back and wrap the main body ends around front and back. Close journal with fabric tucked inside and mark where the main body flaps will be sewn down. Make any adjustments to fit by tugging the ends to get the fit you want. Mark for sewing, but don't sew yet.
11) Now you need to line up where your flap will go and the second velcro piece. This is the hardest part to exlain...I pin the flaps in place and then put my journal inside and just line it all up nicely. Then center your flap along the back and pin in it place. Using the flap as a guide figure out where the velcro piece needs to go and pin that down. Take the journal out and unpin the flaps laying the main body flat. Sew on the flap and then the velcro piece.
12) Refold the inside flaps to your marked spots. Now it's time to sew the inside flaps and topstitch along the upper edges. For topstitching I use the inside of the feed dog as a guide (about 1/8"). So your topstitching will be just inside the edge of your presser foot. Sew all the way across the top and then the bottom.
13) Your journal jacket is done! Trim any weird threads and snuggle your journal into its new home.
My mom is the most fearless sewer I've ever met. She will sew anything and is alway willing to try to fix or make things that would baffle or overwhelm me. When I was a kid there was always some old couch being torn apart in her sewing room (often it was me tearing it apart for a few extra dollars) and then re-upholstered, or a horse blanket being mended, or some ratty lining being replaced for someone. So for Christmas I made her this super handy sewing cuff with built in pincushion:
She's actually had one of these wrist pin cushions for as long as I can remember but it was one of those terrible plastic cuffs that don't fit well or stay on. This particular cuff is made from a super soft Japanese cotton for the strap and then a cute scrap of the red mum fabric backed in red polka dots. Then I used a fun sparkly button and wool thread to define the flower "petals".