DIY Removable Vinyl Notebook Covers

Posted by Stephanie Chan
Use your favorite fabric and clear vinyl to dress up a notebook cover for a fun back to school project.

I love using composition books to jot down notes and brainstorm new ideas. My girls have picked up my habit and they, too, love to use them for fun as well as for school. One thing they do is write down words they don't know in their reading books to look up later. I thought I'd dress up their notebooks with fabric covers, but to make them more durable, I covered the fabric with clear vinyl. The covers are removable when they finish their notebooks and can go on their next one. So, I had them pick out some fabrics from my stash and design some embellishments for the cover. I was a fun project to design together, and we all love the result!

Here's What You'll Need

Composition book

Thermoweb HeatnBond Iron-on Vinyl

Thermoweb HeatnBond Ultrahold Fusible Webbing


Quilting ruler, Rotary cutter, and Self-healing mat

Iron and Ironing Board

Pinking shears

Bone folder

Wonder Clips or binder clips

Sewing machine and thread

Teflon/non-stick sewing machine foot (optional)

Size 90 sewing machine needle

Let's Get Crafty!

First, we need to determine our fabric measurement. I used a standard 9.75x7.5 inch composition book and I'll use those measurements for you to figure out a cover in any size. Refer to the diagram below for a visual.

A. Open notebook and measure height and width: 9.75x15

B. For flaps that fold inside the notebook, add width of cover to (A): 15+7.5=22.5.

C. Add 1.5 inch seam allowance to both dimensions from (B): 9.75+1.5=11.25 (height) and 22.5+1.5=24 (width)

======> Final measurement for FRONT COVER FABRIC and VINYL: 11.25x24 inches. (cut 1 of front cover fabric, cut 2 of vinyl)

E. For lining fabric: Add 1.5 inches for seam allowance to both dimensions of open notebook (A): 9.75+1.5=11.5 (height) and 15+1.5=16.5 (width)

======> Final measurement for LINING FABRIC: 11.5x16.5 inches (cut 1 of lining fabric)

Note: Why is the lining fabric smaller? To reduce bulk when sewing the pockets.

Cut out all your fabrics and vinyl. The vinyl comes in a roll, and is easier to work with if it's flat. After I cut out my vinyl, I placed both sheets under my cutting mat to help it flatten out while I worked on the next few steps. Now, iron your cover fabric. Go over it with a lint roller to make sure there are no stray threads or lint sticking to it. Repeat with the lining fabric and set the lining fabric aside.

Fold your cover fabric in half and press the fold and open it up again. Then fold in each of the sides half the measurement of the cover. In this case, I would fold them in 3.75 inches on each side. Fold it in half again, and press those two folds. With the front cover up, apply your applique. My girls chose hearts and their first initial. To learn how to no-sew applique, head to my no-sew pillow applique tutorial from a few months ago!

Carefully peel off the backing paper from one sheet of vinyl. Make sure you don't crease the vinyl. Lay it sticky side up. Don't discard the backing paper yet. Then, lay your cover fabric face down on top of the vinyl. Next, lay the lining fabric face up on top of the cover fabric. Center the lining fabric so you have an equal amount of the cover fabric showing on either of the short sides.

Then, peel off the paper backing from the other vinyl piece, and lay it sticky side down on top of the lining fabric. Now, your fabrics should be sandwiched in between the two pieces of vinyl. Again, save the backing paper.

Take the backing paper you saved from the vinyl, and lay it over your vinyl/fabric sandwich. You cannot iron directly over the vinyl, or it will melt. You really have to make sure you don't iron over it, even a little bit! You can give it a try first with a scrap of fabric and vinyl for practice. Just remember to iron slowly and carefully. Your paper might stick to the vinyl after you're done ironing; just peel it off carefully and it should be fine.

Trim off the very edge of the fabric/vinyl with pinking shears to give it a pretty edge before we fold it over and sew.

First we're going to sew the side seams. Fold over each side about 1/4 inch. Use a bone folder to make a nice crease.

Get your sewing machine ready for sewing vinyl. I pressed the Leather/Vinyl button on my sewing machine and the screen told me what needle (size 90) and foot (H, which means Teflon foot) to use, plus it set the stitch length at 3.0. If you don't have a machine with this setting, you can use my stitch length on your machine and see how it goes. You also might not need the Teflon foot with this type of vinyl, but if you find that your foot and vinyl are sticking to each other, put a piece of clear tape on the bottom of your presser foot and this should help. Again, you can test it first on a scrap of fabric fused to the vinyl first.

Sew down the fold on each side.

Now fold down and crease the top and bottom edges in the same manner.

But this time, fold the sides in to form the pockets for the notebook. Hold it together with clips, making sure the seams are still folded. Sew along the top and bottom (where I have the clips in the pic below). You'll be sewing the top and bottom seams of the pocket closed, plus sewing down the seam in the middle. I was actually afraid that my sewing machine wouldn't go through all of the layers, but it did. This vinyl is really thin and was great for this project!

Insert your notebook and you're done! I can imagine using this vinyl for lots of projects, including waterproof bags!

I also made a small one. I figured out the measurements in the same manner as the large one: Add the width of the notebook cover plus 1.5 inches for the width. Add 1.5 inches the the height for the height.

The girls love their fancy new notebooks that they can enjoy all year. Now to make one for myself. No need for the woeful expression, Sherry, I'll do a cat applique next time!