Sunday, February 12, 2012

Journal Cover

Last week was the first P&Q class for the year, and I thought I would start by encouraging the group members to keep a journal: to jot down and further develop inspirational ideas; to keep tips, class notes, pictures and magazine articles all together, and to keep a record of their work and workings.  I presented them all with a new journal, and suggested that they make a cover for it - to personalise it and claim it as their own.  I have always loved the fresh possibilities of new stationery at the start of the school year!

I made a class sample, with some ideas they might like to include or extend.  The wonderful Rita from Red Pepper Quilts had donated a lot of generous fabric off cuts to the group, which we had fun distributing, and I also used some of this to make the class sample, along with additions from my stash.  All the materials are scraps (including the zipper).

 Some of the techniques included in this cover are:
  • design for function and aesthetics
  • string piecing
  • free-motion rotary cutting (no rulers!)
  • curved piecing
  • simple free-motion quilting
  • measurement vs fitting
  • inserting a zip
  • embellishments
While not a detailed tutorial, I thought I would walk you through the steps to make this journal cover / carry all, which includes a pocket for magazines and a built in pencil case.

The cover could be made of a single piece of fabric, or pieced fabric in any design that pleases your eye. Measure your journal in height, and the length of the measuring tape wrapped twice around the width.  I used a plain A4 visual art diary.

In my sample the strip pieced patterned fabric was 2/3 of the eventual height.  I then curve pieced a strip of unbleached linen on the bottom, using a merged Rosalie Dace / Ricky Timms technique, of overlapping the fabric right sides up, and free-motion rotary cutting in gentle curves.
I tend to leave my ruler on the fabric, but out of the way of the cutting, to provide a bit of weight and stabilise the fabric.  When the discarded edges are removed the curve is revealed.  Keeping the edges together mark the abutting edges being careful not to shift anything.
With right sides together pin at each of the matched markings.  The more markings, the more pins, the smoother the curve.

 The finished curve:

Using a scrap of batting I free-motion quilted the 2 layers together, with simple curves punctuated with occasional zig zags.  I also used this to try some of the new quilting threads I received in Superior Threads "Thread of the Month" Club.  Love the fluorescent orange!
I then trimmed the fabric to fit the journal.  The left-hand side / front cover would be a standard fit, but the right hand side was extended to wrap around the journal to include all the extra features.
To minimise any ridges and bumps in the fabric which would get in the way of drawing or writing, the flaps to hold in the journal covers are a single piece of fabric folded in half and extending almost to the spine of the book.  There are no hems and the raw edges are included in the seams of the cover.  In the photo below the journal has slipped a bit to the right, as there needs to be enough extra fabric to go around the spine when the book is closed.  Behind the book there is a lining fabric extending seam to seam and under the flaps.
With the book closed, the cover extends out to the right for twice the width of the book.  The first section includes a pocket for magazines/cuttings/loose pieces of paper.  The top and bottom edges of the pocket are again included in the seams of cover.  A side opening keeps all the papers in the cover when it is closed completely.

On the right of the picture above you can see a covered wide piece of elastic which is the closure for the journal cover when it is completely wrapped closed.
In the last section is a lined pencil case, with a zipper opening in the seam.  As this can get bulky, it sits on the very outside of the journal cover.
I then stamped a title on the linen, but really any embellishment could be used as long as it will stand up to your journal being carted around with you for whenever inspiration strikes!  Let me know in the comments section if you would like further explanation of any of the steps.

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