In this tutorial, you’ll learn how to make handmade leather journals with this DIY leather journal tutorial. This project is the perfect craft to make and sell and includes shoppable links to all the supplies you will need.
Hello crafters! Today I’m so excited to walk you through how it to you a makeover your old journals and folders (especially the extra ones you have lying around) into new looking, leather-bound journals. Now, this project is awesome for recycling the empty journals you already have around the house, but it also makes a really excellent craft to make and sell. Why? Custom leather journals always go for a premium and they are super easy to make. So without further ado, let’s get started!
DIY Leather Journal Supplies:
- Old journals from around the house or Blank Journal Inserts on Amazon
- Rotary Cutter Set
- Leather Piece
- Set of Magnetic Snap Buttons
- Permanent Fabric Glue
- Craft Adhesive
DIY Leather Notebook Instructions
To make this journal, start by grabbing an old partially used journal all that has been lying around the house. (Of course, if you are making these to sell, I recommend using refillable journals inserts like these Journal Refills on Amazon.) For today’s tutorial, I picked an old high-quality notebook that I got at a conference a few years ago and never really used.
Next, grab some genuine leather (You don’t have to use the highest quality leather. You can even use faux leather if that feels better for you. High-quality leather goods can get expensive!) Just make sure you have enough fabric that you can fold it over the entire front and back of your journal before cutting.
When you begin to trim your leather to fit your journal, leave plenty of space around the cover. This initial cut does not need to be exact because I’ll be trimming off all the excess later on.
Tip: When you are trimming the leather for your DIY leather journal, it can be helpful to use a Rotary Cutter Set. It will give your leather the cleanest lines possible which is helpful because these cuts will be visible when your project is complete.
Next, we will be using Permanent Fabric Glue to coat the entire back of your journal. Before you press your leather in place, it can be helpful to make a perimeter of glue around each cover and then go back-and-forth before pressing the leather in place. This way, you can use your hands to evenly distribute the glue to make sure that it’s covering the entire cover of your journal.
When you are done, repeat on the other side.
Once your front and back cover are glued, it’s time to start trimming.
Tip: I recommend not getting any glue on the binding of your journal because it can crease when your book is opened.
Once you get to the center binding of your journal, it might be helpful to use scissors where your rotary blade can’t reach. Just make sure to cut with smooth, clean lines since these cuts will be visible when your project is done.
Now that your leather journal is resurfaced with leather, it’s time to add closures. To do this, I will be recycling a leather cuff that broke by trimming the sides that had studs-punctures. If you don’t happen to have an old leather cuff lying around, don’t stress! Instead, take an extra scrap of leather and cut it into a rectangular shape that fits your notebook.
From here, wrap your rectangular piece of leather around the front of my journal and decide where you’d like it placed.
To add closures, We’re going to be using Magnetic Snaps. These come in two pieces. One disc goes on the inside of your project to hold it in place while the outside of the Magnetic Snaps will be visible.
Often the directions that come with Magnetic Snaps can be confusing (or not exist at all,) I’m gonna walk you through how to install them yourself.
First, separate each of your magnetic clasps into two pieces. Then, push the visible side through your leather by cutting slits for the prongs on the inside of your clasps. Slide the provided metal disc over the two metal prongs and use jewelry pliers to extend outwards. This is going to make your clasp permanent.
Use another Magnetic Clasp to install on the opposite edge of your leather flap. Next, we’ll be marking and placing the corresponding clasps to make sure everything lines up well and lays flat when your DIY leather journal is closed.
To mark your closures correctly, fold your leather flap over the body of your leather journal. Be sure to lay your flap out smooth before marking your placement lines with grid ruler and an X-Acto knife.
As you can see, the metal prongs of these magnetic clasps are not very wide apart. So, you really don’t need to make your cuts very large. We really just need to be able to feel them on the inside of our journal.
From here, open your journal and cut parallel lines with an X-Acto knife on the inside cover. This way, we have markings to feed the top (visible end) of our magnetic clasp through. Next, all that’s left to do is slide the disc over the two metal prongs and use jewelry pliers to extend out words. Finally, repeat the process on the last magnetic closure.
Now that the front of your leather flap is installed, we need to secure the back edge of your leather. To do this, fold your rectangular piece around the front edge of your journal and use more permanent adhesive on the back edge. Just make sure this line is really clean since any excess glue will be visible. Press your closure flap in place and make sure that it’s completely dry before using your journal.
Now your journal is looking really good! It’s already gotten a great makeover but the front magnetic clasps are still visible…. which isn’t very great. To cover them up, use a permanent adhesive and cover the back of your magnetic clasps with turquoise pieces or other embellishments. You can get creative here and use buttons, broken jewelry, and pendants, or other stones to cover the discs.
Once your glue is completely dry, your newly refinished DIY leather journal is ready to use! Take some pencils or fountain pens and fill it with whatever you wish, to-do lists, journal entries, or even your newest creative ideas!
This new, elevated softbound leather journal feels more luxurious to write in and I love the closure flap. Again, you can use this method to resurface journals and notebooks of any size.
Since it takes very little leather to complete this project (I imagine you can make nearly a dozen journals from a single Leather Hide) and Journal Inserts like these are just $4.30 each, this makes a great craft to make and sell. The average handmade leather journal sells for $25 to $70 on both Etsy and Amazon Handmade.
Not sure how to price your handmade products? Click here to get my free printable worksheet!
It can be so rewarding to create beautiful handmade pieces with your hands and to be able to create a supplemental income from your skills and talents. They make a thoughtful gift for any creative person with writing needs.
Sharing your handmade creations, creating a wonderful thing you love, and sharing your talents with the world can be the most rewarding adventure.
If you have ever been just a little bit curious about starting your own handmade side-hustle, I created a free workshop for you.
In this totally free workshop, you’ll learn:
- The top 3 best-selling handmade items you can start making this weekend
- The formula top-selling business owners use to price their handmade creations
- How to do market research and decide if a project is worth selling
- The myths that hold most creative entrepreneurs back