Menu

How to make a DIY leather bound notebook

DIY leather bound notebook | The Crafty Gentleman
DIY leather bound notebook | The Crafty Gentleman
DIY leather bound notebook | The Crafty Gentleman

What is more timeless and classic than a leather-bound journal?! Perfect for business, as a gift or even just as a scribble pad to keep at home, they’re a really useful way to organise your life in true gentlemanly style! In this tutorial, I will show you how to make a pocket-sized leather-bound journal, complete with decorative inner lining to personalise it to your own tastes. I made this journal for about £6, including the leather and the awl (which I got from Amazon) – so there’s no excuse not to give this a try!

DIY leather bound notebook | The Crafty Gentleman

How to make a DIY leather bound notebook

Supplies and tools

  • Soft leather
  • Leather awl
  • Decorative paper
  • Waxed linen thread
  • Rotary cutter or good scissors
  • Self-healing rubber mat
  • Fabric glue
  • Paper for the pages

What to do

Making the cover

  1. Using a rotary cutter (or good scissors), cut out a strip of leather measuring 27cm x 12cm. Try to cut this as neatly as possible, with clean lines and sharp corners.
  2. Cut a similar strip out of your chosen decorative paper (I used a map of the British Isles, but you can use anything you like!)
  3. Using a suitable fabric glue, stick the decorative paper to the inside of the leather strip. Leave this to dry under a stack of heavy books for at least 24 hours (ensure that it doesn’t stick to the books by first placing a piece of cling film over the top).

Making the pages

  1. Cut out 18 pieces of paper, each measuring 12 cm x 17 cm
  2. Arrange these into 3 stacks of 6 pages each.
  3. Fold each of these stacks in half, keeping all of the pages in the stack carefully aligned. Use a blunt knife to enforce the crease.

Compiling the journal

1. If the leather/paper cover has completely dried, use an awl to make 6 holes in it, as shown by the red marks in the diagram below. These should be approximately 3 cm from the top edge and 3 cm from the bottom edge.

DIY leather journal

2. Similarly, make two holes in the centre of each of the previously prepared stacks of pages. The holes should be along the crease and should line up with the holes made in the cover.

3. Finally, tie the pages to the cover by carefully feeding a length of waxed linen thread through the holes. Start from the inside of the book, threading the needle through to the outside (leaving a tail of at least 5cm). Feed it down to the next hole, to form a straight line of thread (as you can see in the photos). Repeat this for each of the holes, ending with the thread back in the centre of the journal. Remove the needle and tie the two loose ends of thread together.

DIY leather bound notebook | The Crafty Gentleman

A DIY leather bound notebook like this would make a pretty good gift, don’t you think? You could even make a set of mini notebooks and tie them together with twine! After all, you can NEVER have too many places to doodle and make lists! 🙂 – Mike.

Don’t forget to Pin this image, so you can make it later:

Learn how to make your own leather bound journal notebook in this easy DIY tutorial.
About Author

Hello, I'm Mike! I started this blog in 2013, and it's since become a part-time job for me. I've always been obsessed with crafts (my very first memories are of making things... and I've never grown out of it!). So it really is a dream come true that I can now share this joy with people like you, every single day. Thank you for being here! READ MORE

20 Comments

  • Leslie
    December 18, 2020 at 4:13 pm

    I do not see an image or diagram below with red dots. Am I missing something?

    Reply
    • Mike
      December 18, 2020 at 5:01 pm

      Sorry Leslie, the image of the diagram appears to have broken – I’ve fixed it though! Hopefully you can see it now, and it makes more sense. 🙂 Thanks – Mike.

      Reply
  • Ann Thompson
    June 23, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    I’m still confused about the threading. I think I have the holes right but the series of steps from “center” etc as you described isn’t clear to me

    Reply
  • Radu Vladislav
    November 25, 2017 at 4:35 pm

    Brilliant idea!

    Reply
    • Mike
      November 25, 2017 at 5:46 pm

      Thank you! 🙂 – Mike.

      Reply
  • Anna N
    December 21, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    What kind of/brand of fabric glue did you use? I’m worried about the glue drying out and cracking the paper so I’m also curious how the journal has held up. Thanks!

    Reply
    • The Crafty Gentleman
      December 23, 2015 at 10:26 am

      I used a thin layer of PVA glue – it’s perfect for paper! Just don’t apply too much, or it may wrinkle. Good luck!

      Reply
  • Sharon
    May 28, 2015 at 12:56 am

    would you show the order in which you thread the holes and how you tied it off

    Reply
    • The Crafty Gentleman
      May 31, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      Hi Sharon. All you need to do is tie three loops of thread – have a look in the first picture, where you can see the spine of the journal. I threaded through one of the top holes, then down the spine and back through the bottom hole, then tied a knot. I repeated this two more times (for the other two pairs of holes). The knots are inside the notebook, so you can’t see them.

      Reply
      • Bonnie
        June 7, 2019 at 1:20 am

        I’m having a hard time understanding how the 3 lines of thread are tied in the center of the book pages. Are there 3 separate pieces of thread?

        Reply
        • Mike
          June 9, 2019 at 5:08 pm

          Hello! There’s just one piece of thread that goes through all six holes. Start in the middle, then go outwards through one of the corner holes. Feed it up to the next hole and back into the centre of the notebook. Repeat this for all three pairs of holes. Then tie the two ends (both of which should be hidden on the inside of the book) together to secure. I hope this helps, Bonnie! 🙂 – Mike

          Reply
  • Shirley
    December 7, 2014 at 11:59 am

    What a great tutorial. I have some faux leather in my sewing room that I’m going to try this out on! Thanks!

    Reply
    • The Crafty Gentleman
      December 7, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      You’re welcome! Great to hear that this has inspired you. I’d love kt see a picture of your leather journal, when you’ve made it! 🙂

      Reply
  • Ben KARLIN
    December 7, 2014 at 12:11 am

    Mike, thanks so much for the idea and help. I feel like a dunce for asking but evidently am more easily confused than most: Where do the 4 holes go through the paper stacks as compared with the 2 holes through the leather? And how do you tie them in, I mean, is there a way to bury the ends of the waxed linen thread so curious fingers don’t untie it and take everything apart?

    Thanks for your patience, too!

    Reply
    • The Crafty Gentleman
      December 7, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      No problem! What to need to do it make six holes in the leather (as shown in the diagram with red spots). Then take one of your paper stacks and make two holes along the centre crease. These should be a few cm from the top and a few cm from the bottom, so that they line up perfectly with the lines of holes you made in the leather. If you repeat this for each paper stack, you will have three paper stacks, each with two holes, making six holes in total – that line up with the six holes in the leather. Does that help clarify it? Sorry for any confusion!! With regards to tying it, I tied it in in the centre, so the knot is concealed when the journal is closed. If you tie it tightly, there’s no reason it should loosen. 🙂 I hope this helps!

      Reply
  • Kate
    December 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    WHERE do you buy the leather???

    Reply
    • The Crafty Gentleman
      December 6, 2014 at 8:17 pm

      I got mine from eBay! I also often see leather offcuts in fabric markets and some of the larger craft shops.

      Reply
  • April
    October 5, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    want to try this! thanks for the tutorial & pics. yours looks awesome. great idea to put the map! what is leather awl, though? is it necessary or can I do without it?

    Reply
    • The Crafty Gentleman
      October 5, 2013 at 10:25 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this tutorial! 🙂 a leather awl is a tool used to make holes in leather – you can buy them very cheaply on eBay. They aren’t essential (you may be able to use a sharp knife if you’re careful), but they’re super useful! Let me know how it goes if you do give it a go!! 🙂

      Reply
      • Kate
        December 6, 2014 at 7:58 pm

        you could use a sewing stiletto, too, easier to come by in a hurry at a quilt shop or maybe Joanne’s

        Reply

Leave a Reply