I loves me some of those old-school composition books. Last August, our local Fred Meyer had them on sale for 25 cents apiece for back-to-school, and K and I laid in a stock to get us well into our old age.
I’ve been noodling with ways to make them look prettier. There are tons of tutorials on the web for mixed-media treatments, or removable patchwork covers. But I wanted something a little more simple and durable – after all, my notebooks take abuse.
I don’t know why it took me so long to arrive at this dead-simple idea, but here you go.
So first, you’ll need a piece of fabric that’s roughly 1″ larger on all sides than your opened-flat composition book.
This project works best with a woven cotton that’s a little on the thicker side and tightly woven. Quilting cottons are ideal. Do take a moment and see whether the black-and-white composition book cover will show through the fabric – this can happen with light colors especially.
Next, get a sheet of fusible web that’s slightly smaller on all sides than the fabric. You’ll notice that I haven’t gone to too much trouble to cut anything perfectly straight. This tutorial was shot on a Sunday morning. There’s no need to get too exacting about anything on a Sunday morning.
Place the fabric on an ironing board wrong side up. Place the fusible web over the fabric, with the web side facing down.
Your iron should be on high heat with no steam (No steam is really important here.) Pass the hot iron over the paper backing of the fusible web. Keep the iron moving, and make sure you iron over all of the paper – especially out to the edges.
When you’re done ironing, let the fabric and paper cool for a moment.
Gently peel away the paper. See the shiny glue fused to the back of the fabric?
You should end up with a nice, even coat of glue fused to the back of your fabric. If you end up with bare spots, try placing the backing over the fabric again in the same position, and iron over the bare spots again to transfer the glue from the paper to the fabric.
Now, place the fabric on your ironing board with the glue side facing up. Place your composition book over the fabric, like this. Then, close the book, folding the fabric over it.
Take a moment to adjust the placement of the fabric as needed. This is why we made the fabric bigger than the book – so we’d have some leeway for adjustments.
Make sure the fabric is smoothly spread over the cover of the book. Then, iron the fabric to bond it to the cover. Again, keep the iron moving and make sure you iron along all the edges of the cover.
Flip the book over and re-smooth the fabric. Iron the fabric to the back cover.
Lastly, run the iron along the spine a few times. Then let everything cool for a moment.
Next, trim the fabric along the edges of the book cover. I like to use my rotary cutter for this, but you can also cut along the edges with some scissors.
(Don’t you love all these conversion tables and things on the inside covers of composition books?)
I prefer to use scissors to trim the fabric along the rounded corners.
As a last step, iron along all the edges and corners of the cover one more time, to make sure that fabric is good and fused there.
…And it’s done! Don’t you love this 70′s fabric? I’m only going to use this notebook to write about my dates with Keith Partridge.
Of course, since you’re playing with fusible web, you could also fuse a solid fabric to the cover and then fuse some cut-outs from other fabrics over that. There are a million and one possibilities.
Looking for more notebook-y tutorials?
I have lots! Such as: