Like many other parents, I spent a large part of early June attending end of year celebrations, preparing children to say goodbye, and thanking teachers for their work. For us, this included deciding to make 12(!) homemade teacher gifts.
We wanted these gifts to be affordable but special. After (too many) hours of brainstorming, browsing, reading, and websurfing, I finally hit upon the idea of making fabric covered journals.
These cost us only about $4 each to buy the notebooks and some additional elastic ribbon for the closing mechanism.
The full list of materials:
5″ x 7″ soft cover bound notebooks (not spiral)
10″ x 14″ piece of fabric (cotton works great, brocade was a disaster) to cover the notebook
9″ piece of elastic ribbon to bind on the back cover and stretch around to close the book
9″ piece of regular ribbon (we found 1/2 inch to be a nice size) to serve as a bookmark
2 4 1/2″ x 6 1/2″ pieces of paper to line the inner cover
modge podge or elmers glue and foam brush for spreading the glue
Optional: fabric flowers, beads or other embellishments to attach to the closing elastic
It takes a couple of days to make the journals as you need to allow enough time for the glue to dry in between steps.
Step 1: Cut fabric (trust me, don’t use brocade!) to allow for one inch overlap on all sides. Cover the journal in glue. Fold the fabric over the journal, smoothing out any bunching or bubbles. Do this for one cover at a time and then stand up with the pages spread out to dry.
Step 2: Once the fabric has completely dried and
adhered to the journal, cut the fabric to allow for folding on the inside of the journal covers. This requires cutting a v at the top and bottom middles along the center page binding. (Top left corner of the picture). Also cut a v at each outer corner to create a neat corner edge.
Step 2: Fold in the edges of the fabric onto the inside front cover and glue into place. Be careful not to get glue on the front page of paper and be sure to prop open so the front cover has time to dry. I found we needed to complete the front cover one day and the back cover the second day in order to allow sufficient time to dry.
Step 4: Once the fabric is secured and dry on the inside and outside of both covers, it’s time to attach the closing elastic and the bookmark. I used the hot glue gun for this. I put a dab of hot glue in the left top corner of the back cover about 1″ from the top (bottom of the fabric edge but where paper would cover) and attached a ribbon to serve as a bookmark. I repeated the process on the right top corner and right bottom corner to attach the elastic.
Step 5: We lined the inside of the front and back covers with decorative paper. The girls wrote brief notes to their teachers on the inner cover.
Optional: For Big Girl’s main teacher we attached a fabric rose to the elastic closure.
I know this project comes too late for anyone to use for this year’s end of the year gifts but maybe it will work for some of you as a holiday gift or an idea for the future. The great things about this project were that both kids really made them on for their teachers. They picked out the fabric and cut it, glued it down, picked out the paper and glued that, etc… Also, for anyone with lots of fabric scraps this is a great use for them! Since we could use fabric scraps these were really affordable so I could let both girls give one to every teacher they wanted to say thanks to!
Downside, because of the drying time, they took a long time to finish up.
Even so, I’m totally making one for myself this summer!