Eco Print & Leather DIY Journal

I’m not quite sure why I am so determined but when I have some new art to master I go full steam (or boil) ahead! I have been printing and dyeing so much that I vowed to myself to use some pieces to actually make something. I tend have note books all over the place so a journal is a great idea! This versatile design also utilizes some up-cycled leather and could not be easier. Create a piece of unique art and make this Eco Print & Leather Journal.

Obsessed Eco Printer

I have always been a sewer (a person that sews, not the drain thing on the road!) so I rightfully already have a stash of fabric. Now, I also have a huge assortment of Eco prints. Each time that I use an ‘iron blanket’ there is the possibility that it will also have some great prints. After a few uses they become even more interesting. Sometimes one section of an eco print is just magically amazing and the rest not so much. This is a small project so it can just use the best parts of the prints.

And yes, I also have a collection of leather (thanks mom!) The earth tones are so great together. But old coats are easy to come by and can be sewn with a regular machine in most cases

I love journals but I tend to not want to write in them if they are really special. I keep it for something important that never seems to happen… So thus I designed it as a cover to be able to swap out the ‘insides’ and keep using it.

If you are a hard-core book binder then surely you can bind your own. They are super lovely… and would warrant a noble use! But I’ll go the ‘quicky’ method here since I have more eco printing to do!

Measure the size

Whichever size you use can be adapted for this design. Measure the width of the covers, the spine and inside. Add a 1/4″ seam allowance (the amount for sewing the seam)

Cut the leather and fabric

It is much easier to cut nice straight edges on leather if you use a rotary cutter and straight edge.

  • Cut the strips that become the top and bottom edges at the length measured (see drawing above).
  • Cut the Eco print fabric centre sections the same length as the leather. The width will be dependant on the height of the book minus the width of the leather strips + 1/4″seam allowance.
  • Cut thin (about 1/4″) strips for the cording at a length that allows you to wrap around the journal and secure around the ‘leaf button’.
  • Cut some leaf shapes to attach the cording (thin strip for close wrap) to the middle back.

Sew the strips together

The strips of leather need to be sewn to the eco print pieces by overlap. If the leather does not slide easily it sometimes helps to put a piece of clear tape on the bottom of the foot. I am using a ‘walking’ presser foot.

The ‘Leaf’ button and cord

As a ‘button’ to wrap the cord around; similar to docket envelopes, use one of the the leaf shapes (or substitute a wood button).

  • Sew on the cord with one leaf shape. (see above)
  • Sew on the leaf ‘button’ as buttons are sewn.

The end of the cord is threaded through a hole in another leaf shape. It makes a nice finish for the cord.

Side Seams

Fold over the outside edges at the proper width (making sure it is centred). Test warpping on the book may help to size properly

  • Sew these seams right sides together.

  • Turn the cover inside out and use a pointy tool to push out the corners. See the placement of the ‘button’ and the cord attachment above.

Slide on:

To be able to slide the cover on carefully bend the journal covers outward. The leather is quite forgiving and will stretch and mold quite nicely.

Marvel at yourself!

The design keeps the corners of the journal protected but showcases the eco prints. If need be the leather could also be pieced. The insides provide some pockets to stash extra slips of paper. Close the journal and wrap the cord. Slide a pencil at the side under the cord of your new Eco print & leather journal… and you are ready to take your noble notes! Or just gaze at the marvels that Mother nature manages.

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    1. Haha, I did not print leather. It is the cotton sheeting. I hope it doesn’t read as leather. I have read that leather will print but I have yet to source some to try. If making placemats I prefer ones that are washable so maybe leather is not the best idea. Unless you are the super neat kind of person!

      1. I was thinking about it, and actually the process to make leather, involves tannins, so it should work very well. Going to try very soon!

    1. That’s very kind to say. I was the kind of kid in grade school who made book covers for her text books… I think I used wallpaper. I guess I’ve come a long long way… haha

  1. Youve created a truly beautiful journal cover. So wonderfully creative!!!! After I learn your process for eco printing, I am going adapt this to one of my journals.

    1. That’s kind. I will warn you though; eco printing becomes a bit of an addiction! And then before you know it… you’ll have tons of prints. I am in the midst of making a beautiful art quilt with a whole bunch.

  2. Hi Barbmaker,
    I love the ecojournal.What fabric worked best for you to ecoprint on?
    Is Eco print on silk and even so silk is very strong wondering if there might be a better fabric to create with. I would very much appreciate your input.

    Here’s to happy creating!


  3. Ive made simpler versions of this with my gel prints and a concertina style insert, but this is next level. So I will dig out my eco printed iron blankets, as yes they did print nicer than the cloths many times and make some of these. Perfect for gifts Bx

  4. Everything about your journal is beautiful Barb.
    I love doing eco printing and you never know what you will get when you unroll your bundles. It’s such fun and I absolutely love your idea of making a journal. I never seem to have enough printed material to see an outfit and hadn’t thought about a journal…GREAT THINKING!!
    I print mainly on silk and linen…what mordant did you use on your cotton, if I may ask???
    I bet you have many sleepless nights with all your ideas bouncing around in your head😁

    1. I have used soy dips and also a homemade aluminum acetate solution when I printed the maples I approach it a bit more like an artist than a scientist, but then it’s a bit more fun as results are quite unexpected. Yes, my mind is so busy…

    1. I actually use up-cycled leather for these (old jackets etc) since it is usually thin enough to sew on my domestic machine, not to mention much cheaper.

  5. I just love this! I feel the same about writing in a special book, but at the same time I want my journal to be pretty. Perfect solution to make a reusable cover! Thank you for sharing your process. Just beautiful 🧡

  6. These are truly beautiful. Thank you for sharing this. I have a question about the leaf strap – is it attached to the cover (and if so do you do that before folding the flaps and sewing the side seam?) or is it simply wrapped around the journal but not attached? Thanks again.

    1. It is attached and is best to do that before the flaps are folded over. I think I did it after by just moving the flap over to sew that small section. Happy making!