Make a Custom Composition Book Cover with Rob Appell of Man Sewing (Video Tutorial)


I love to customize everything including my
composition book. So today’s tutorial is a really fun and easy patchwork cover for
your composition book. Let’s get started. Check this out. I’m super excited about
today’s composition book cover. 1. Because I love to customize like I said. But 2. Because
I wanted to build a project for all of us that was focused on the use of ten inch squares
because I always fall in love with these wonderful bundles of fabric. Today is Gypsy from Windham.
And it’s just another great line of fantastic and fun little prints. So I wanted to create
covers that we could really mix up the parts and pieces so you could get extra scrapy and
extra patchy with it if you want to. Or you can make them kind of like I did which is
going to be a two cover or two fabric exterior cover. And then on the interior we have a
liner and then we have little pockets or the sleeves that will hold the cover of the actual
composition book. So the construction is very simple. Please bounce down into the description
below, we have a free printable for you. And as you’re getting ready to hit print on
that I want to just point out a couple of things here for you. If you’re making your
own style using just solid pieces of fabric the diagrams have the finished sizes. The
cut sizes down below in the list, those are the cut sizes I had used to make it patchwork.
So we’ve kind of tried to set it up for you both ways. So you can play with it and
make it your own. Like I said it’s all about customizing. Now let’s get into those parts
and pieces because I’m dying to show you how it works. So the first thing we’re going to build,
we’re just going to use this as our reference, is what I’m going to call the liner. That’s
going to be this interior piece that’s in there. And I’m going to start with two of
my ten inch squares.So this is what the piece looks like finished. Technically it’s just
10 ½ by 16 inches. So if you’re making it with your own piece of fabric. What I simply
did is I took two ten inch squares and created this seam here first. So we’re going to
do that by going over to the sewing machine right sides together on two ten squares. And
everything is done with a quarter inch seam allowance and even though it’s construction
of gear we’re using cotton thread today. I’m not worried about seam allowances and
structure of my thread today. We’re going to do a lot of this construction because of
the use of the ten inch squares, we’re going to sew on parts and pieces and then we’re
going to slice them off to use for scrap and building. So I’m going to take this real
quick, hit it with my iron. Ok. So now technically I need to make a piece that’s just 16 inches
long as I go across here. So I can use my mat and come down here to 26 because I’ve
started at ten. That’s why I said 26. Sorry. I did that math quick in my head. Then I’m
going to cut this piece off. And then what I do with this piece that’s leftover here
is I basically divided it in half. And it’s about 1 ¾. That piece there is then stitched
together like that. That piece was sewn on and you can see it go across here. And then
the whole thing has just been like I said, trimmed down to fit at a 10 ½ by 16 and that’s
the interior cover. Now let’s get ready to do the exterior cover. That’s where I
think the magic is because that’s the part the everybody will get to see. So we’re
just going to set this aside for now. We’re going to need that in a bit. Now the interior cover, excuse me, the exterior
cover, like I said, I’m excited which means you know I’m trying to go too fast. So we’re
going to zen into this for a minute for you. We’re going to use three ten inch squares.
So what was originally built here is going to finish and look like this. This was one
square, this was the second square and here’s the third square right here. We need to divide
these pieces up to make them. This piece here was cut as a seven by ten which left a three
by ten. That was stitched onto the bottom just like you saw on the orange fabric a second
ago. And then it was simply trimmed off and then this was also trimmed to 10 ½ inches
tall that way. And then the center or the spine of our cover is made by a three by ten
and a three by three piece there. Those have the exact same thing happen. I’m going to
stitch those together along there. And then let me point out two other features as we
come into the cover again. You can see that the spine was stitched on. But here I want
to point out, this is where I’m keeping my seam allowance. And that’s really fun
if you have all of those down here because these could be alternated fabrics. One of
the reasons I built this using a bunch of different fabrics from the ten pack was that
I was thinking you could make these cuts and then mix and scramble them and then bring
them all back together and have a ton of different looks in your journals. The other thing I
want to point out which I love is someplace to place our pen. It’s just a simple piece
of elastic. It’s a one inch elastic with a little bit of extra firmness. It’s got
these ridges in it. But then it’s 1 ¾ inches long. And that was folded and that was set
into the seam, 1 ¾ inches down from the top. So that was pinned into place as I sewed two
of these cut fabrics to this fabric to make the exterior cover. And then once that was
made we have to put a little bit of interfacing in just to give it a little bit of structure
and strength and just on the exterior of the cover. So you can also see that I had a piece
of interfacing that was cut at 10 ½ by 16. And that was ironed onto the back side of
the exterior cover. That’s the only place we’re going to use the interfacing. And
I apologize, I forgot to tell you that. You saw it at the beginning in the supplies that
I was using the wonderful Heat N Bond Featherlite Fusible interfacing. It’s not the fusible
web. It’s an interfacing and that give us body right where we need it there. Ok moving on. On the inside of our cover here
we’re going to build two pockets that are going to match. But they have another fun
fabric on the inside also, right? So let me show you how those work. So here’s what
our finished product is going to look like. Let me make a little bit more room so you
can see. What I’m really going for is two pieces here and these are going to be 7 ½
by 10 ½ always 10 ½ is the height. You can see there’s another piece of fabric here.
We have all finished edges. You can see that I’ve pieced on. I’m going to show you
how to do this here in a second. But what I want to point out is my seam allowance is
here topstitched. Seam allowance here, topstitched. And that way when you put your journal together
here, put it just the same. I have those same seams all running across there. And it just
looks organized that way. It’s not crucial but I just thought I’d point that out. While
we’re building that’s what we’re going for. Now to get these pieces you’re going
to have four more squares so we used a total of nine squares in today’s cover. And what
we’re doing is we’re going to take one of these here and I’m going to cut 2 ½
inches off of it. These are ten inch squares. So I’m just going to come over here and
count two and a half. Looking at that line here. So that 2 ½ is cut like this, ok? And
now this piece is going to be stitched onto the bottom. And it’s up to you whether you
want to sew it on and then trim it or if you want to it to begin with, however you like
your construction. I was also trying to think of this as a great way to work with some of
our younger sewers and quilters making their own composition book covers. And I thought
the more of these little skills we could teach folks the more we’d get them hooked on quilting
forever and ever right? So part of my sneaking up on you becoming a quilter plan. Ok so we’re
going to hit this with the iron also like yay. And then what I’m going to do is I’m
going to take and I’m going to use this edge I’ve been working with and I’m going
to trim it here, ok? But I’m also only want it to be 10 ½ inches tall. So here’s another
fun trick I can show you. Even if you’re working with a ruler that’s smaller than
what you have to work with. Then what I’m going to do because I want to trim off the
excess from the top. I want to leave that sew on piece so it looks like I intended it
to be there. Then I’m going to come down and I’m going to come where it’s 10 ½
on this line back here. And then what I can do is I can start to make my cut here because
I have a square line and a square line. Now I can move the ruler without moving the blade.
Park it right there. And now looking at the square line across the back. And I’m just
going to finish that cut out. So that worked there. And then I had this little piece floating
about, perfect or the exact size. Now what I want to do is as I go right sides together
I want to keep both of these pieces down here at the bottom, ok? So we’re going to stitch
one of these two sides. Now if I had one of these already made, this is the crucial part.
Just make one and then prepare to make your second one. So let’s say I want this fun
minty color on the outside, that means that I want this to be right sides out. This is
going to be underneath here right sides down. When it’s all done that will be my topstitch
edge. So now what I do is I flip it over. I know this seems confusing but I’m building
it as I go to my sewing machine. I just switch it. Bottom came to top and now my seam is
where it needed to be as I approached the machine. Alright, so now we have that where
we need. We’re going to bring this over here, get ready to press it for the topstitching
as well. So I”m going to first kind of set my seam. Now I’m going to fold it over so
you can see what I’m doing a little bit better. Get that line up,. I actually like
to use my left hand also in there. There we go. So we get a nice little press.And now
as I go to topstitch I’m going to run not a quarter of an inch seam but right on the
edge. Putting that needle right where that seam is. And this is a great place to practice
because later on we’re going to topstitch. We want a nice little fine topstitch. We don’t
want to go too deep. So practice it here where it’s not important, ok? Now we have these pieces built now we’re
ready to construct the entire cover. So what we’re going to do, we’re going to start
by building with our interior liner. And that’s going to be right sides up. I”m looking
at all of my seams are going to be at the bottom of the journal. So I said I wanted
my green to now be my exterior of the inner pocket. That sounds like a big word. But I’m
going to line these up like this. And we’re going to catch all of these seams at once.
So if you were nervous that some of this were to slip around I guess you could put a pin
in here but then it would be hard to see. So I”m going to encourage you just to go
ahead and make sure everything stays nice and square. I am now going to take and I’m
going to put that cover. I want to make sure again that I have all of the bottoms lined
up. I’m going to put the exterior cover. Now it’s going right sides together ok?
Everything is right sides together. And we’re going to sew around here about, you know 80%.
We’re going to leave about a three inch opening over here on one end that we can let
ourselves out. So I’m bringing us over. Now my math is pretty accurate to fitting
the composition cover. So we’re going to make sure we do a quarter of an inch here
because we don’t want to let our seams get too deep because then we’re going to have
our covers be a little bit too small. I’m going to sew all the way off of the corner.
Leave my needle down and pivot at the corner instead of trying to guesstimate where the
quarter of an inch is. And if you were watching very carefully you’ll notice that the other
pocket just fell off, is laying on the floor. So in a second, after I get this secured,
I’m going to stop and I”m going to get that other pocket. We’re just going to build
a blooper reel into today’s tutorials for you. But I’m not going to stop until I need
that pocket. So I’m securing this all the way through. And I just finished securing
the first pocket. It’s right here where that spine basically ends. Excuse me a moment.
This is what I was referring to. And remember it was green sides up but you know you can
check, you can just look here it’s easy. And I’m down here where my seam side was
and my topstitches are into the center. So I’m just going to now bring this in. Line
up this back corner, line up this back corner. Fold all of this over. Lining up these corners
first because that’s where I’m sewing to, pulling that edge no problem whatsoever.
However maybe those pins wouldn’t have been such a bad idea after all. Ok let’s get
back to work here. So I”m just going to sew off this edge as well. Rotate. And because
I did drop those pieces on the floor I’m going to take an extra second, let’s get
a stitch in here to hold it. Make sure it’s nice in here in that corner. Now I’m just
going to make sure that everything stayed as it should have. And it’s looking imperfect.
I’m not worried at all. One more rotation. And don’t worry about those loops of thread.We’re
going to dog ear those corners in a second. Ok I want to make sure my other pocket hasn’t
slip from its top location so I’m just going to double check that corner as well. Make
sure everything is as it should be. And as I come around this fourth corner don’t sew
it all the way closed. We have to let ourselves in so we can turn it right sides out. So again
about a three or four finger opening is all we’re going to need. So I”m going to stop,
I’m going to lock that stitching in. And now as I come off, because I want a really
crisp and nice finished cover, I am going to dog ear the corner. So I’m cutting. I’m
not cutting into my stitching. I”m just cutting basically just right past where the
cross of the thread was. Ok, nice and easy. Now I’m going to reach on in here and start
to roll all of my stuff here out. And then sometimes you have a little panic moment because
the pocket comes out on one side. Don’t worry, you’ve got it. You did it right.
Swing that around and now I’m just already tending to those corners because it just goes
right there. And a lot of times I’ll put a purple thing or a stiletto or even the back
end of my little shark rotary cutter in there, just to get the corners all crisp. Because
like I was saying a moment ago we’re going to now topstitch this to close up that back
end. And that’s where I’m going to start. And then we’re also doing it for a nice
finished look. So I’m going to get you started on that and then I’m going to show you one
last trick so bear with me a second while I fix the corners. You can’t rush this motion.
Beautiful. Ok now one of the things I like to do before I topstitch is I like to try
to get this seam. Because again I really want the smallest amount of seam allowance. I don’t
want to take any extra. So I’m just going to take this and kind of it hold it. Carefully
bring in my iron to set a crease like yay. And now as I come over here and begin my topstitching
again I’m just going to stay, just stay right along this edge. Because if we make
too deep of a topstitch we’re just going to actually start to reduce our seam allowance.
And that’s going to make it so that the cover doesn’t fit perfectly. And I told
you I have a trick for that so let me show you. We’re just going to go right along
this edge here. And I’m just going to take you to one corner because now instead of sewing
off of the corner because it still has a little bit of a rounded effect, I’m going to give
it a couple of stitches. And then I’m going to swing it one more stitch. Swing it all
the way, boom, boom. And now I’m again on that edge and I’ve got a really clean, nice
topstitch as I go along there. Now let me show you what I’m referring to with one
of these finished journals. Here you can see the actual topstitching again that goes all
the way around. It was a continual motion, right? But I had one that I put it together
and it was a little bit snug. So let me show you, the much easier solution than cutting
out all that beautiful stitching work is you can go in here to one of your journals you
could take a razor knife and you could just shave the edge of that. Or you could just
shave any of your composition book covers themselves that are just not fitting because
you did such a beautiful job with your journal. Leave the seam ripper sheathed today and just
pull out the razor knife and take care of business the old fashioned way. Like we love
to do, right here at Man Sewing. But before I let you go today I want to hear
from all of you, what did you think of the actual patchwork version of the composition
cover. I thought it was genius, I hope you did too. We’ll see you next time at Man
Sewing. Oh, hey are you still in here. I thought you
would have been checking out some of those other great videos. You know we’ve got a
link there, over there. And hey don’t forget to subscribe. Make sure you never miss a minute
of the action. We’ll catch you next time, at Man Sewing.