Thursday, July 19, 2012

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal with Pencil Pouch

I'm so excited to share my first tutorial with you today!

Before we get started, I want to mention that I was interviewed and featured over on my friend Mary's blog, Where's the Zoom as part of her "Inspired: Be Your Own Boss" series.  Mary asked some thought-provoking  questions about starting a small business.  I am honored to be featured and talked a little about learning to sew, finding balance, and setting up my Etsy shop.  Mary's blog is full of beautiful photography and all kinds of goodness, like recipes, DIY projects, and things to do around town - I'm still dying to go check out this cool soda shop in Durham.  So, pop over and check out her blog - you'll be glad you did!

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal with Pencil Pouch

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal with Pencil Pouch

Ok....the tutorial!  This is my first time writing a tutorial and I really enjoyed it.  I like writing steps - kind of a nerd like that!  Please send ANY comments/questions my way.  I'd LOVE to hear what you think.  And, if you make a journal, please share it with me!  Alrighty, ready?  Let's go...

Note: The journal cover portion of this tutorial is based on and inspired by this tutorial.  I have made many journal covers using this tutorial and have added modifications for this design.   


3 coordinating fabrics
        A(main outer) -1/2 yd
        B (outer spine and pocket) -1/4 yd or FQ
        C (pocket) -1/4 yd or FQ
Lining fabric - I prefer canvas, but flannel or batting would work as well
Fusible interfacing
sew-in velcro
water soluble pen
coordinating thread
sewing machine
serger (Optional - If you have a serger, consider yourself lucky - I have serger envy!!!) : )

For the applique (optional): scrap fabric pieces, Steam a Seam 2 (or other fusible web), piece of felt or fabric scrap for letter OR sticky felt letter (I discuss these below). 

1. Cut fabrics:

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - Supplies

Fabric A
Main outer fabric panels - Cut 2 pieces 13.5" (H) x 12.5" (W).  Make sure you have directional fabrics oriented properly.
Fabric B
Outer spine fabric panel - Cut 1 piece 13.5"(H) x 6" (W)
Pocket Back - Cut 1 piece 13.5" (H) x 5.5" (W)
Fabric C 
Pocket Front - Cut 1 piece 13.5" (H) x 5.5" (W)
Pencil Pocket - Cut 1 piece 12"(H) x 5.5" (W)

Lining Fabric (canvas)
If you have serger, cut 1 piece 13.5" (H) x 29.5" (W)
If you DO NOT have a serger, cut 1 piece 13.5" (H) x 28.5" (W)

Fusible Interfacing
Cut 1 piece 13.5" (H) x 5.5" (W)
Cut 1 piece 12" (H) x 5.5" (W) 

2.  Make the outer cover:

Layout your fabrics as shown below, from left to right: Main outer panel (Fabric A), Outer spine panel (Fabric B) - make sure you use the piece that is 6" wide (just sayin'!), Main outer panel (Fabric A).   You will stitch these pieces together from left to right.  So, right sides together, align the right edge of the left piece with the left edge of the middle piece and sew with a 1/4" seam.  Press seam towards left piece.  Repeat with the right piece, pressing the seam towards the right piece.

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 2A

IF you have a serger, lay your outer cover on top of your lining piece and serge around all edges.  Press the short edges under (towards wrong side) 1/2" and topstitch.  Skip to topstitching below the following photo.

IF you DO NOT have a serger, first center your lining on the wrong side of the outer cover.  The outer cover should extend beyond the lining ~1/2" on both sides.  Pin the canvas to the outer cover and zig zag stitch the layers together along the top and bottom (longer) edges.  Next press each short edge under (wrong sides together) 1/4" and then again 1/4" and top stitch in place.

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 2B

Finally, I like to topstitch on both sides of the middle fabric piece as shown below, to reinforce the seams.

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 2C

3. Make the Pencil Pocket:

You should have 3 fabric pieces remaining for the pencil pocket!  The first two pieces below will make the back of the pouch and flap (labeled 3A, 3B below).  The remaining smaller piece will make the front part of the pouch with pencil slots (labeled 3C).

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 3A

First apply the fusible interfacing to the inner back piece (3B) and the pencil slot piece (3C).

Next fold the front piece (3C) in half lengthwise with wrong sides together, giving a 6" (H) by 5.5" (W) piece.  Topstitch along the fold ~1/8" from edge.

Next, cut a 1" piece of velcro.  Take one part of the velcro and pin to the front of the pencil slot piece (3C) approximately 1/2" below the fold you just stitched and 2 1/4" from each edge.  Take the other side of the velcro and pin it to the inner back piece (3B) 1" from the top edge and 2 1/4" from each side.  Check to make sure the velcro pieces line up, by overlaying these two pieces as shown below.  Stitch each velcro piece in place by sewing close to the edge around all 4 sides.

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 3B
Now let's mark the lines for the pencil slots (3C).  Take your water soluble pen and mark 5 lines -  from left to right @1.25", 2", 2.75", 3.5", and 4.25" from the left side.  Ignore my extra pencil slot piece in this photo (I made two of these as I was developing the tutorial!).

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 3C

Pin this piece to the inner back piece (3B) with the velcro (right sides up).  Sew along all 5 lines remembering to backstitch at the beginning and end.  It should look like this when you're done.  Don't forget to spray away those pen lines!

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 3D

Now place this piece right sides together with the outer back piece.  Stitch around all 4 edges with a 3/8" seam leaving a 3" opening at the bottom to turn the pouch right side out (make sure you leave the opening at the bottom, not the top!).

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 3E

Clip the corners, flip your pouch right side out and press well.  It should look like this!  You might want to check your pens/pencils and the closure to make sure everything fits before we stitch this to the cover!

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 3G

All good?  Ok, let's attach the pencil pocket to the cover.

4.  Attach Pencil Pouch to Cover: 

First, get your water soluble pen and mark a horizontal line approximately 5" from the top edge of the pencil pouch on the inside of the pouch.  This will make the flap!

Lay your cover right side up and position the pencil pouch right side up as shown below - 2 3/4" from the bottom of the cover and 3/4" from the right edge.  Pin in place and topstitch the pocket to the cover beginning along the horizontal line you just marked and sewing around the bottom of the pocket approximately 1/4" from the edge of the pocket. 

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 4A

It should look like this when you're done!

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 4B

5.  Make Letter Applique (Optional):

The letter applique on the front adds such a fun personal touch!  These are the supplies I suggest for the applique: circle templates (see below) fabric scraps, Steam-A-Seam2, and some type of felt letter.  I found these peel and stick felt letters at Joann's about a year ago, but can't find them in the store or  online (figures!).  The letters measure 2".  I would guess Michaels or other craft stores have similar products or you can simply cut your own!

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 5A

I've made a circle template for you below that you can print and use to cut your circles.  The larger circle has a 3" diameter and the smaller circle has a 2.5" diameter.  You should be able to click on these and print but be sure to check the sizes!

Follow the instructions on the Steam-A-Seam for applique.  Position the larger circle on your journal cover first.  It can be positioned approximately 2.5" from the left edge of the pencil pocket and 1"  above the bottom of the pencil pocket.  Or, grab your journal and test out the positioning by centering the cover on the journal and wrapping it around.

After applying the applique, I like to stitch around the edge of the circle - you can zigzag or straight stitch - whatever works!  Then center the smaller circle on top, apply the fusible web, and stitch in place.  Finally, you can center your letter on the smaller circle and stitch in place.

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 5B

Isn't it cute?

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 5C

6. Finish the Cover:

Yay, you're almost done!!  Ok, lay your cover right side up and fold each end of the cover towards the middle 6" (right sides together) as shown below.

Now, get your water soluble pen and mark horizontal lines 1 5/8" from the top and bottom edges as shown below.  Stitch along each of these lines, being sure to backstitch at the beginning and end.  Note you are NOT sewing all the way across, but only along the lines where the layers overlap!

{Tutorial} Kiddo Journal - 6B

  guess what?!?!  YOU'RE DONE!!  Woohoo!  Now turn those ends right side out and try it on your journal.  Hopefully, it fits, makes your kiddo happy, and sparks hours of creativity!

Loves It

If you don't want to make one, but want to purchase a journal cover, check out my Etsy shop for a custom listing.  I'll also be listing the journal covers I made with this tutorial!


  1. Great tutorial Laurel! How generous of you to share...but I'm still gonna just order one. Looks great!

  2. I love this tutorial, especially since after I saw one of your previous posts, I was trying to figure out how to make one myself. Thank you!

  3. I just came across your tutorial and wanted to say thank you very much. It's a great idea and I am sure I will be making one for my grandchild for Christmas.Thank you for sharing! Greetings from Germany