Disc-bound Notebook Cover - Felting Fridays

diy felt cover for disc bound journals

There are times that I go through a bad case of grass is greener syndrome, especially when it comes to stationery/office supplies. I can easily spend quite a bit of free time looking at beautiful notebooks, planners, pens, markers, art supplies, etc. while there are still a few blank ones sitting on the shelf behind me. Yeah, I know that in pretty much 99.5% of the cases, I don't actually need anything else, or something that I have would be more than sufficient. I don't know if it's the imagined promise of feeling like I'd have things a little bit more together if I had the perfect planner, or my organizational skills would improve if I had the right notebook, or the right ideas would appear, or I would have artwork worth drooling over with the right sketchbook. The perfectionist within thinks that this next one will be different, that there would be no mistakes whatsoever. Every word intentionally written, every i dotted, t crossed, not a single misspelling, everything beautifully lettered. And then reality sets in, I screw up same as any human does, and go in search of new promises of perfection. So the now-imperfect-and-old notebook becomes a practice notebook while I look for the next "right" one.

I think that's why I love disc-bound notebooks (you may know them as arc, or circa, or levenger... there may be additional brands) because I do not have to commit to my mistakes. I might kill a few extra trees in the process as I tear out the "bad" pages, but, and here's the best part, I can mix-and-match the pages that go in. I can have lined pages and print outs and drawing or mixed-media paper in there. Yeah, it's like a binder, but it feels more like a notebook and doesn't have those annoying rings that always manage to bend on me after a while, where one is then doomed to snag every page that attempts to slide over it. Maybe I don't need to find the perfect notebook... maybe I just need to update the ones that I already have so that they are perfect. And that's exactly what I decided to do.

I'd been pinning ideas here and there on my Felting Projects Pinterest board, and one of the ones I'd saved had this really awesome texture as a result of nuno felting with dyed scrim. Unfortunately I do not have the means to dye cellulose fibers (well, actually... I'd have to check to see if my silk painting stuff would work for that), but I DID have some unused cheesecloth sitting in the kitchen drawer. I also had quite a bit of scraps in the form of nepps, short bits, knotted bits saved up from carding my recently dyed wool. On a side note, I never toss scraps. Never never never. I am not concerned with spinning this fiber, and anything can be used in some way. So all that went into the project.

Pinch tests are important when wet felting to make sure it's doing what it's supposed to.

Pinch tests are important when wet felting to make sure it's doing what it's supposed to.

Since I did not use any fiber over the top of the cheesecloth, I wasn't sure how well it would stick. I made sure to not use hot water for wetting the fiber, and I applied a ton of pressure as opposed to rubbing. With nuno felting you want to make sure that the fibers get a chance to lock in with the material, to enmesh the mesh so to speak, and using hot water/rubbing would both cause the fiber to crinkle up and just felt to itself before it has a chance to wrap around the threads of the material. Luckily, taking my time with it, making sure to continue pressing all over the felt and restraining myself from wanting to go in full force like I usually do paid off. 

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I didn't get a photo of the layout of the colors prior to adding the cheesecloth, but trust me when I say it really did not feel all that cohesive. The cheesecloth actually helped to unify the whole thing and tone down any transitions between colors. Luckily the final piece came out to be just the right size for my needs (plus I ended up having a little left over to use in another project some day). On a side note, while I was looking at the price and availability of scrim (and later realized that if you look for gauze stateside you'll find more options), it is a common material used in theater/set design. So of course that had me thinking those cute whimsy theater sets that always grab my attention, like moon and stars hanging from the ceiling. I can't think of an exact example that shows what I mean, but I suppose the music video for Sunrise from Norah Jones comes pretty close. Besides, celestial-themed anything is a favorite of mine (like that table runner I've been working on). 

laying out the cover

In order to create the art, I used my embellisher, some yarn and fiber. The moon I did in the wool first and then outlined in yarn, and the stars I actually laid out in yarn first, then filled in the gaps with wool. Initially I didn't plan on it, until I saw a bit left over from one of my absolute favorite blends ever and just had to use it in the stars. 

To reduce any raw edges, I made sure to line up my cover so that only two out of four edges would need to be trimmed. I'm not worried about them being perfectly straight because I'll be able to block/stretch it with the stitches as I attach it to the cover. But before we get that far, we need to grab a ruler and awl, measure out and punch holes in the plastic cover where we'll stitch. I decided to measure mine at about 1cm intervals (adjusted a bit spread out since it didn't measure out to a whole cm) with 1cm away from the edges. The part next to the binding, it's 1/2cm from the binding, and then a second row of holes exactly 1/2cm behind those. It's not necessary around the other edges because we can blanket stitch around those.

punching out holes for stitches

 

Hopefully you can see the holes in the image above. In case you need an awl, this came as part of a set of exacto-type knives from harbor freight. I want to say I spent no more than $10-15 on the set, and it's come in handy quite a few times. When you're done measuring out and punching holes, flip it over and punch them in from the other side. This way the jagged bits will mostly be covered by the felt, and you can make sure the holes are big enough to fit your needle and string through it.

holes near binding

In the image above you can see what I meant by doing two rows of holes one behind the other, 1/2 cm apart. The reason I chose cm over inches because 1/4inch felt too close together, and a 1/2 inch felt too far apart. But you can use whatever distance you prefer.

stitch it on

For the exposed edges, I used a blanket stitch, and for the one next to the binding a ladder stitch (I think that's the best way to describe it? Come in from the inside of the fabric, then stitch it down in the hole next to the binding). 

And here it is! I love it so so so so so very much. I think I'm getting better at replicating that look of art journals with the use of fabric/felt. I LOVE the texture from the cheesecloth, the bold colors, the playfulness of the yarn, etc. Everything about this is me. My only regret is that I didn't have any plain boring covers for the notebook, so you can see a bit of the pattern peeking out next to the binding, but I don't think it distracts from the whole thing too much. I know you can purchase the covers on their own without having to buy an entire new notebook, so that's always an option if you don't want to "destroy" one of your other covers. Now I'm really looking forward to using my *new* notebook.