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Upcycle An Old Pair Of Jeans Into Your Own Beautiful, Hand-Embroidered Notebook Cover

Posted by Eleanor Friston fashion blogger

29th Mar 2017

Notebook DIY

Ok, let's admit it. We all probably have at least one old pair of jeans stashed away in the bottom of out wardrobe, just in case we manage to fit into them again! But why not put them to use right away and give them a brand new lease of life once and for all? This reusable, slip-on notebook cover is perfect for keeping your notes looking good and for protecting your diary! And it is completely re-usable - just buy a new notebook and transfer it over!

Ethical, fun and creative, what more could you want?

Project Timings:

Cutting Time and Pattern Making Time - 20 minutes

Embroidery Time - This depends on whether you are a fast or slow stitcher, and on how detailed you want to go, but my example below took around 15 hours

Piecing Time - 2 hours

 DIY embroidered notebook cover

Fabric Measurements (For an A5 Notebook):

Front - 20 x 26cm

Back - 22.1 x 26cm



  • Embroidery threads

  • An embroidery hoop

  • Pins

  • A needle

  • A beading needle (optional)

  • Beads, embellishments, strips of jewellery chain or buttons that you might want to include in your design (Keep an eye out for these in your local Oxfam or Online!)

  • Sewing thread

  • A sewing machine (optional, this could all be done by hand if you wish)

  • Scissors

  • Paper and   a pencil  and a ruler to make your pattern pieces

 The finished notebook


  • Make sure your denim has been washed so that it doesn't shrink if you need to wash your cover

  • Iron out your fabric so you aren't left with creases, which could distort your final piece

So, let's get started

1) Create yourself a paper pattern piece for both the front and back of your notebook. This will make it far easier to cut out your fabric later!

2) Cut your jeans to create flat panels of fabric, ensuring to maximise the amount of denim available by cutting as close to the seams as possible.

Handy Hint - If you don't have enough denim to get your whole pattern piece out of one panel of fabric, why not make your notebook cover up out of smaller panels. Just don't forget to add in extra seam allowance!

3) Pin your pattern pieces to the denim.

4) Cut out your front and back piece.

5) Place your front piece of material in an embroidery frame or hoop, and embroider your design onto it. If you do not have a hoop or frame, you will be able to manage without, but be sure to keep your tension even to avoid puckering.

Some Embroidery Ideas!

Detail of the embroidery

6) Stitch your front and back panel together with a 1.5cm seam, right sides facing together.

Handy Hint - when sewing denim, it is a good idea to use a fairly long stitch length as most denims now have an element of stretch to them. A denim needle is a good idea if you are using a sewing machine! If you are going over multiple layers it may be easier to turn the needle manually and if your denim is very stretchy, you may prefer to stitch by hand!

7) Fold back each side of your open seam by 0.5cm and top stitch in place to neaten the edge of your seam.

8) Fold the far left and far right edges in by 0.5cm and top stitch. This will give you a neat edge and will prevent your cover from fraying around the edges!Pin top stitch hem how to

9) Fold the top and bottom edge of the notebook by 0.5cm and top stitch.

Inside the case

10) Fold the far left and right sides in by 3.5cm and press in place.

The cover hem

11) Fold the top and bottom edge down by 1cm and stitch in place using a 0.5cm seam allowance.  Make sure your stitching is neat and straight, as this line will be visible from the front! I decided to do this by hand to ensure that the fabric didn't warp and stretch, but if you have a denim needle or a fairly firm fabric, machine stitching will be fine.

12) Give all of the seams and fabric a good press, ironing the wrong side of the fabric so you don't damage your embroidery.

13) Slip your notebook into your new cover and you are away!

 Sew your own personalised notebook case

Why not add a few personal, unique touches to your notebook cover?

  • Incorporate seams from your original jeans.

  • Use jeans pockets as a style feature - handy for storing your pens and pencils!

  • Use more panels for a patchwork-y feel.

  • Embroider motifs or your name onto the front cover to make your piece truly individual!

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DIY Slogan T-shirt                                                     DIY Ruffled Shirt Dress

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Blog post written by Eleanor Friston

fashion blogger

More by Eleanor Friston