November 29, 2011

Blessings Wrapped in Vinyl


I am happy to say that I’m still feeling full of gratitude (and turkey) from all the Thanksgiving fun last week.  I think it’s no coincidence that we go from the November mindset of being grateful for all we have into the December mindset of giving gifts of the heart to those we love. Down the road, aren’t these the real gifts that will be remembered?

Holiday Joy. Love. Family. The Spirit of Christ.

Whatever you personally call it, I’m ready to start celebrating it!

One of my favorite things to give as gifts (perfect for almost ANY occasion) is a personalized vinyl book cover.  Why?  More like Why Not!? It is durable, useful, sentimental, reusable over and over and over, and easy to make.  Honestly, it is a gift I’ve been shown the most appreciation for when I’ve given it – a sure sign of a winning idea!  Soooo…. let’s DO THIS!

The options of books to cover are literally endless.  Some popular choices are notebooks, journals, cookbooks, artist sketchpads, & Scriptures.  Here are a couple examples with a notebook:

Perfect for keeping a family journal of vacations, anniversaries, & special occasions you want to remember or all the FUNNY things that happen in your marriage!

Yep, this is my Christmas book {how could you tell?}  We all write down special things we do together for the holidays, memories, favorite treat ideas, our kids’ wish lists in their handwriting… a sure treasure in years to come!

This is a more generic tree design that I personalized for a friend {actually, it was for my husband’s ex wife’s wedding – I’m tellin’ ya, you can’t LOSE with this gift idea!}

So let’s get started!  First things first, ya gotta get your vinyl.  My sweet friend, Patricia Smith, let me in on the secret of  This is a great place to get this vinyl if you don’t already have some.

You can have as many or as few colors as you want… it all depends on your design. The sky’s the limit!  If you can cut the shape,  you can do the design!

Whether you’ve got a fancy program and Cricut {or similar machine}, a die cut or just plain ol’ scissors, begin by cutting out your shapes.

Here I’ve cut out 3 circles in various sizes and one tree trunk.  I threw them together to visualize the design.

Grab a regular Composition notebook. **Note: a great time to stock up on these is around “back to school” sales.  I got mine for 40 cents.  Boo-yah!  {You may remember we’ve also scrapbooked these notebooks in the past.} It’s always a good idea to measure twice and cut once, and I’ve found that the measurements printed on the notebook are often up to a quarter inch off! Also, because a Composition notebook purchased at Walmart may NOT be the exact same dimensions as one from Target, you will want to pay attention instead of just using a template.

Here are the measurements you’ll want to remember:

Length: length on front + length of binding + length on back + 1/2 inch total for the edge (1/4″ front, 1/4″ back)

Height: height of book + 1/2 inch total for hangover edge (1/4″ top, 1/4″ bottom)

Pockets: cut two pieces the same height as above and approximately 4 inches in length


Wrap the cover around your notebook just to double check everything.  You should have 1/4 inch hangover on the top, bottom, front and back as shown.

Next, we’re gonna make it easy on ourselves {high five} by gluing each piece onto the cover exactly as you want it before beginning to sew.

Do I like it?  Yes, I do!  Time to personalize.

I love to stamp because you can do both letters and designs, but you can cut out a name or initials in more vinyl or draw on the cover… it’s all up to you!  If you do stamp, I suggest you practice on a strip of paper first so you know precisely how much room the word or picture will take up.  Experiment by placing the strip different places on the cover to see where would look best to permanently stamp.  Be sure to use StazOn brand ink (found at any craft store) because it needs to be permanent.

Sewing time! LOVE this part!  You will, however, thank yourself if you use a “walking foot” on your sewing machine vs. a regular foot.  Also, because we’re working with vinyl, you’ll want to have a needle rated for leather.  (If you don’t have a sewing machine, sweetheart, I would go make friends with the gal who has one next door like reeaaal dang quick! But if a sewing machine is on your Christmas wish list, I know where you can save up to $130 on one!)

You definitely want a clean look, so I recommend NOT backstitching… at all. Begin slowly, hand turning the needle to get you started.  When you finish with one shape’s stitching, completely cut the thread, leaving plenty to tie your knot on the backside.  Take a seam ripper or pin and gently pull both the beginning and end of the top thread piece through from the front side to the back.  You’ll have four ends of thread total on the backside.  Take two and two and do a square knot.

Sew each piece. Make a snug square knot on the back for every piece.

Remember the two 4 inch pieces we cut out at the beginning?  Go ahead and clamp those to each end inside the cover and sew them on as you sew a complete 1/4 inch border around the whole cover.  This will create the pockets for the notebook to slip into.  I love the contrast of the thread color to the vinyl color!   The clamps (or paperclips if you prefer) will help the pockets stay lined up while you sew. The dents it leaves on the vinyl will simply disappear within a matter of minutes.  Once again, pull your top threads through to the bottom side and finish with a square knot on the inside of the cover.

Lookin’ good and nearly finished!

Cut the outside edge off with a decorative cutter, following a ruler to make sure you don’t run onto your thread seam!

These scissors are just as effective or create your own design around the edge.

Slip that notebook into your hot new cover, and you are DONE!


Eventually when the notebook inside is filled with years of memories and laughs, simply replace it with a new notebook into the cover and archive the old one.

I double dog dare you to make these and see if they’re not a great hit!  Enjoy!

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Recent Comments

13 Responses to “Blessings Wrapped in Vinyl”

  1. Corie corie says:

    Thank you for sharing such a user friendly tutorial. I love this idea!

  2. Kari Kari says:

    Kiirst! We love ours! Such an adorable way to keep memories together in such style. Love it!

  3. Erika Erika says:

    This is fabulous, and so easy to follow. Really, the sky is the limit on what you could do with this!

  4. Kendra says:

    Oh I love it!! I’ve been thinking of making a book to write funny quotes and experiences in for my husband and I. This would be the cutest! And I’m getting a sewing machine for Christmas!

  5. Cami Cami says:

    Oh Kiirst! I never knew you were so talented with a sewing machine! We will have to get together sometime and share our sewing secrets. These books are adorable! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Kristen kristen says:

    ADORABLE! I love mine! Thank you so much, this is a great gift idea!

  7. Tracy Pelkey says:

    So cute! I need to save up for a cricut!…And learn how to use my sewing machine! lol I love this site and the fantastic ideas! If you have the time, I need a creative gift idea for my chocolate loving hubby!

  8. Wendy Wendy says:

    AND I Love mine to pieces!!! Wish I was so crafty! Thanks Kiirst! Maybe we could do this one night. LOL

  9. Nki says:

    Brilliant! I’d love to try this. Must learn how to use a sewing machine

  10. Nki says:

    Hi again Kiirsten,

    I was wondering if you could tell me how you made the top vinyl cover (the black cover with the black damask on the heart and momogrammed B&K lettering). I have two sister-in-laws getting married this month and would love to make a cover for a photo album as a wedding gift for them. I’m not crafty at all, but this is something I’d really love to try.

    Thanks so much in advance.

    • Kiirsten Kiirsten says:

      No problem! I made the cover with the black damask on the heart by using a roller stamp in the StazOn ink. Just make sure you press firmly the first time – there’s no redo button :) If you don’t have access to large stamps, you can stencil a design on in permanent marker or even freehand it if you are feelin’ confident! I let it completely dry and sewed it fully before sewing the white vinyl square also stamped in the StazOn ink. It is as simple as that! Good luck and have fun!

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