Saturday, 18 February 2012

Art Journal cover tutorial(heavy photo post)

This morning I decided I was going to make a cover for my art journal as I did not like the design on the front of my AJ.
I made a slip on cover so I can remove it if I want to or put it on another AJ.

 Front and back

I took photos of the process so I could post a tutorial on here. I have only ever done one tutorial so please dont expect to much!

What you will need:
A piece of fabric/canvas/calico as your base, bigger than your art journal
Some scraps of fabric/ribbon/twill tape to sew onto your cover to add some detail and layers
Gesso and paint/ink sprays/stamps/stencils/heat gun (if you are impatient!)
Sewing machine
Bone folder

Now, I don't really do measuring, I do most things by eye but feel free to measure and be as precise as you like.
I used canvas as my base as I knew I wanted to paint on it and canvas is also nice and flexible but sturdy enough for the job. If you choose thin cotton fabric you may have to layer 2 pieces together and put some batting/wadding in between to make it a bit stiffer.
Right, here we go...

 1. Make sure your piece of fabric/canvas is big enough to go around your book with extra for the inside flaps and top and bottom seams. My inside flaps were just over 5cm wide and my top and bottom seams about 2.5 cm wide (I measured just for you!)
 2.  Turn the fabric over so your AJ is laying on the inside of the fabric. Fold a flap in on the left hand side and make a mark so you know where your flap line will be.
 3. Stand your spine up and make two pencil lines to mark out where the spine will be. You can be a little bit generous with this to allow for the opening and closing of the book. (Don't worry about my wonky bottom edge, I am going to straighten that off in a minute!)
 4. Lay your book back down ensuring that the edge of the spine is placed at the point of the second spine mark you made. Mark the edge of the book on your fabric and then mark the flap allowance for the right hand side, making sure its the same size as the left.
 5. Draw your fold lines and flap lines on, dont forget to allow extra at the top and bottom of the book as well for your seams (mine was about 2.5 cm). You can now cut your fabric to size and straighten your edges.
 6. The canvas I had was red which is why I decided I was going to paint over it. I covered it all over the front side with a layer of gesso first.
 7. While I was waiting for the gesso to dry I stamped some words onto some twill ribbon/tape that I had to attach to the cover later.
 8. When the gesso was dry I covered the canvas in layers of paint. I used reductive stencilling to add some pattern.
 9. Then I used the stencils, paints and spray inks to add even more layers (which dont show up in the photos very well!). I used my heat gun to dry the paint so I could move onto the next stage.
 10. Turn your fabric over and place your AJ back on the inside. Fold in the top and bottom seams and use a bone folder to set the crease. You need to ensure here that once the top and bottom seams are folded you still have a little seam showing top and bottom. This is to make sure you have enough allowance to sew back the flaps either side and still fit your AJ inside (IYKWIM?)
 11. Fold back the left hand side flap and use the bone folder to make a crease and then do the same on the right hand side. The canvas makes it easier for the crease to hold.
 12. Arrange your little scraps of fabric/ribbon etc wherever you want them on the front cover, keeping in mind where the creases for the flaps and the seams are. I stamped some images onto some of my fabric to make it more interesting. You could add as much as you want here, be really creative!
 13.  Open your piece of fabric back out before you start stitching your layers of fabric on in case you accidently sew through the flap or seam layers.
 14. Stitch your scraps of fabric to the back as well and I even added some twill tape/ribbon which I had stamped on, onto the spine, although my placement was a bit out which I didn't realise until I had finished making the cover and fitted it to my AJ! You might want to check your placement before you get that far!
 15. Now you want to fold in your top and bottom seams and stitch (I stitched from the front as I had a different colour thread in my bobbin) all the way along, keeping close to the edge.
 16. This photo shows the top and bottom seam stitching
 17. Now, as I used canvas I didn't really have a messy edge on the flap sides but I still wanted a row of stitches along the flap. You can make a small seam here and turn it in and then stitch if you need to make it neater or stop it from fraying.
 18. Turn your flap in and stitch it top and bottom. Only stitch the length of the flap.
 19. Inside view once you have turned your flap in and stitched it to the top and bottom seam.
 20. Inside view of both flaps stitched up.
 21. Outside view of both flaps stitched up.
 22. Slide the left hand side of your AJ cover into the left flap.
 23. Slide the right hand side of your AJ cover into the right side flap.
 24. I added some more stamping to my front and back cover once I had finished. Looking at the photos on here I might also add some white doodles to the cover as well.
25. And there you go! One finished AJ cover.

I hope you managed to understand my instructions, if you have any problems please leave me a comment and I will get back to you. If you do have a go at this please leave me a link to your cover so I can come and have a look!
Sami x


LadyBug said...

love it!!! great tutorial!! Miss LLB

Carmen said...

Fabulous! Easy to understand - glorious colours as always :) You're getting a dab hand at these tuts!

Anesha said...

Love your project and thanks for sharing the tutorial.

Joanna said...

Brilliant instructions and great photos - they really help. Well done (and super fab journal cover too, great colours).

craftattack said...

Beautiful work and thanks for sharing the great tutorial! Hugs Valerie

Virginia said...

Absolutely gorgeous sweetie, loving the vibrant colours of the cover - brilliant stuff!

Sherry Edwards said...

It's as much a fabulous work of art as all your journal pages themselves are! Wouldn't it make a great bag too!

TFS your tutorial Sam, it was great and I love all the step by step photos too.

(Have you thought about submitting your tutorial to

There's no reward other than a blog button and the pleasure of being able to share your tutorial with others :) )

Kathy said...

Love this! Beautiful work, and wonderful photo tutorial! Thank you for sharing such inspiration.

Sabrina said...

Beautiful cover and bang up job on the tutorial. They are so time consuming and you did a beautiful step by step job! I usually forget to snap photos of each step along the the way!

Sherry Edwards said...

Hi Sam, me again! I was thinking earlier about a comment you made on my blog a little while ago and that I'd replied to you via the email I get when you comment on my blog. I've just realised today, that you are a no-reply commentator and so you would never have received my email - doh!!
You were asking about the tinkling bells sound you hear on my blog - no you're not going mad (lol), I have a wind chime gadget installed - and if you scroll right down to the bottom of my blog you'll see it!

I wonder how many other replies I've made to your comments that you've never received! I suppose they're just floating about in webland somewhere - lol xx

laurie said...

what a fun, and beautiful, project! i would love to do one myself but may have to wait until summer when i have more free time. your tutorial seemed easy enough to follow - great job. thanks for sharing.