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How to Make a Fabric Cover Junk Journal

Junk Journal

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So, you’ve probably already made a few journals out of repurposed old books, or maybe even made your own junk journal cover from scratch using scrapbook paper. But now you’ve found a really beautiful piece of cloth and you’re wondering how to make a fabric cover junk journal.  

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It might seem a little bit daunting at first, or maybe you’ve already tried it and had glue come oozing through the cover, fabric that wouldn’t take and you were just plain frustrated with the process. Never fear, the tutorial we have for you today will take you through the step by step process of creating a fabric cover for your junk journal.

I think I’ve mentioned it before, but I love using book cloth to make my covers. For strength, flexibility, ease of use and variety, I’ve not found any other option that compares.  It also, by default is the best way to make a fabric covered junk journal.

The layer created when you make book cloth, helps keep the glue from seeping through the fabric and also makes it much easier to adhere your fabric to the chipboard cover.  So the very first step to creating a fabric cover junk journal, is to make sure you’ve turned your plain old fabric into book cloth.

We have an entire tutorial (with video) on how to make book cloth, so head over and read that first.

In that article we also discuss which kinds of fabrics work best – as some are definitely better than others, though most will work.  As a quick review, I like choosing a light-weight, tight-knit cotton fabric. Especially on your first try, that type of fabric seems to be the easiest to apply.

I’ll be constructing my cover with chipboard sides and a solid chipboard spine. This can be used for case bound journals, but is ideal for saddle stitching. You can always modify this method for any number of other applications by changing the layout of the various boards.


How to Make a Fabric Cover Junk Journal

Step 1. Create book cloth out of your fabric using our tutorial on how to make book cloth

Step 2. Cut your boards to size. This depends on your journal and preference, but I aim to have a ⅛” border around the text blocks. To do this, I add ¼” to the height and keep the width of the text block (the extra length will be made up in the hinge). The width of the spine should match the depth of the text block, or as wide as you want it to be if you plan to saddle stitch it.

Step 3. Layout the boards. Each of my boards are spaced with ¼” between them, this will become the hinge. I then use a couple pieces of painter’s tape to fix the boards’ spacing. The painter’s tape is optional and whether or not it is helpful depends on the type of glue you’re using, but for the adhesive I use, this makes things go much faster.

Step 4. Glue the boards to the book cloth. For large area static applications, I prefer an acid-free spray adhesive. By static, I mean that the glued bits are not expected to flex or bend. Apply the adhesive to the side of the chipboard that does not have the tape. Place the adhesive side of the board onto book cloth, leaving at least a ½” on all sides.

Work out any possible bubbles and apply pressure over the entire cover, making sure that the entire surface is well bonded. If you’re using a spreadable adhesive, you may want to apply and set one board at a time. Make sure that you use a very thin layer so that you do not oversaturate the boards and cause them to warp.

Step 5. Test and trim the edges. Trim any excess length from each of the sides, leaving at least ½” on each side. Heavier weight book cloth might need more length to bond well. Test fold the material over the boards, you can use a bone folder to improve the crease. Notch each of the corners so that when they are folded over, there is a slight overlap.

Step 6. Glue down each of the flaps. As much as I love spray adhesive gluing the book boards down, I have never had much luck using it on this step. Just too messy. Use a spreadable adhesive and apply a thin consistent coat over the flap, fold it over and use a bone folder to work out any bubbles and excess adhesive. Repeat for each of the other flaps.

Step 7. Allow the book boards to dry, preferably pressed under a heavy flat surface to keep the boards from warping while they dry.


Now you just have to take your fabric cover junk journal and add some signatures, and you’ll have a full junk journal ready to go!


If you’re looking for other junk journal tutorials you might want to try these:

How to Make a Junk Journal (Step by Step)

Junk Journal Supplies for Beginners

Junk Journal Page Ideas


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