How to Make a Leather Journal

Use basic bookbinding techniques and stamping to create this trim, professional leather journal.


Materials and Tools:

5-1/2" x 8-1/2" x 3/4" blank book
2 each Deertan 8-1/2" x 11" trim pieces: black, brown
bold rubber stamp image
metallic silver acrylic paint
cosmetic sponge
punch board
3/32" lacing chisel
3/32" medium brown leather lacing
1mm round lacing, any color
2-prong lacing needle
contact cement
craft knife
small shears
ruler/straight edge

Note: To determine the size of the leather panels needed for the book cover, measure the height of the book you'll cover. Add 1/2 inch to the measurement allowing additional space for the stitching (example: 8-1/2" + 1/2" = 9"). Then measure the width around the book with a tape measure. Add 4 1/2 inches to that measurement. The additional measurement will allow for the stitching and the extra leather needed for the 2-inch overlap along the spine of the book. Divide the measurement in half (example: width around book 12-1/8" + 4-1/2" = 16-5/8", then divided in half = 8-5/16"). The result is a book cover made of two 8-5/16" x 9" leather panels with a 2-inch overlapped center spine.


1. Cut one 8-5/16" x 9" black and brown Deertan leather panel. To create the interior sleeves to hold the cover around the book, cut one 4" x 9" trim piece out of black and one 5" x 9" from brown leather.

2. Along one of the 9-inch edges of an 8-5/16" x 9" black trim piece, rubber stamp an image twice, evenly spaced apart and about 1/2" from the edge. To stamp the image, apply white fabric paint or acrylic paint evenly onto the rubber image using a cosmetic sponge. Allow paint to dry.

3. Using a craft knife and shears, cut around the two stamped images to create the decorative cutwork.

4. Apply a 2" margin of contact cement to the backside and around the cutwork of the panel. Allow cement to become tacky. Cut lengths of 1mm round lacing to swirl and cement around the cutwork.

5. Using an additional application of cement, secure the black cutwork edge over the 8-5/16" x 9" brown panel overlapping 2" of the panels. Use fingers to smooth and press the leather over and around the sandwiched lace, creating a raised or embossed surface design. Allow cement to set overnight.

6. Place book cover wrong side up on the work surface. Cement three edges of the black 4" x 9" trim piece onto the outside edge of the black cover. Cement three edges of the 5" x 9" brown trim piece onto the outside edge of the brown front cover. Allow cement to set.

7. Place the punch board with the cemented cover onto work surface. Using a 3/32" chisel and a mallet, punch the slits needed for stitching about 1/8"from edge along all the exterior edges of the journal cover. Then, punch two rows of perpendicular slits along both of the overlapped edges of leather.

8. Attach a lace length onto a two-prong lacing needle. Tip: To determine the length of lace needed for whip stitching this project, calculate your lace length to be approximately three times the distance to be stitched.

9. Securing the overlapped edges of the cover first, begin lacing from the underside of cover through the first slit near the end. Leave a 1/2" tail of lace on the underside to tuck under the next couple of stitches.

10. Thread the lace through the slit directly across from it, then stitch back through the first slit to the underside. Begin stitching at a diagonal through the next slit on the other side. Continue to use the whipstitch across the overlapped edge.

11. End the stitch the same way you began. Repeat this step for the remaining overlapped edge and the outer edges.

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