Introduction: Personal Sewing Book

This is great for anyone who sews anything by hand. Put basic sewing supplies in it (like a first aid kit) and put on a book shelf. It is compact and light weight for on the go or just easy storage. Take it to Dr.'s visits, craft group meetings or “in front of the TV” work. It would make a wonderful gift, even for guys. Take the concept and make it to hold what you do.

6/30/13 Update:  I found that I need to add a small notebook and more pencils. See Step 14 for this update.

Step 1: Decisions

Determine how big you want to make your book, the fabric you prefer to use and what features you want. Here is what I decided to do.

Fabric: This is not an item that will need to be washed regularly so felt should be fine. Cotton fabrics can be used but the edges must be finished and cardboard or other stabilizer may be needed.

Size: 9” x 5 1/2” - Standard craft sheets of felt come 9” x 11” approximately. It's easily found in wonderful colors at craft and fabric stores and department stores with a craft department.

Features: What do you want to store (and carry)? Thread, needles, straight pins, safety pins, scissors, measuring tape, yoyo makers, fabric for, turner (chop stick), pencils, instruction sheet(s)… This means we need 2 envelope pages (storage), 1 page of thread, 1 or 2 pages for tools (meas. Tape, scissors, markers, turner)...

Closure: venetian blind cord; Many other items work just as well. Use what you have on hand.

Decoration: Fabric flower and lace doily

Hand sewn or machine sewn: machine sewn

Color: greens

One last thing: Fabric alone tends to be flimsy so you may want to stabilize your book with some cardboard. If so, you want to create an “envelope” in the front and back covers for inserting a piece of cardboard. This is the option I will demonstrate here.

Step 2: Gather Tools & Supplies

Collect your tools and supplies. This is determined by your decisions in Step 1.

fabric scissors
hand needle
rotary cutting mat
rotary cutter
sewing machine

felt – at least 4 sheets
tulle, netting or orange bag – 22” x 5 1/2”
2 buttons - for closing the book
rubber bands, approx. 2 1/4” long x 1/16” – 20 +
1 rubber band, 3 1/4” x 1/8” wide – secures scissors
cardboard – pretty sturdy – about 8 1/2” x 4 1/2”
4-6 medium size safety pins
flat magnet, about business card size
decorations - doily, quilt block, beads, embroidery thread, etc.

The pictures show most of the supplies plus some alternatives to what is in the list. Use your imagination and what you already have around the house. This should not be an expensive venture! The tulle is used because you can see through it.

Step 3: Preparing the Closure

Warning! Be very careful with sharp pointed scissors, rotary cutters, needles and the sewing machine. Have an adult perform these jobs for you, if you are unsure or do not know how to use them.

You have many choices for accomplishing this part. I used a 5 1/2” piece of venetian blind cord. You could also use a rubber band, ribbon, string, twine, etc. or cut a piece of felt (instructions below). Set aside.

Felt Closure - Cut a 1 1/2” x 4 1/2” strip of felt.

Your latch (closure) can be rounded, squared or whatever you like. Just keep as much fabric as possible around the area where the button hole will be. To make the button hole, determine where it needs to be then fold the fabric over (long edge to long edge) and snip, with scissors, a very small cut perpendicular to the fold (see picture). You can cut it more but you can't put it back together. Check that the button will slip through without too much resistance. If not, snip just a little more.

Step 4: Inner Lining Preparation

Lay out the piece of felt you are using for your front and back cover. Fold it in half (short end to short end) and mark the center (at the fold) at top and bottom. Grab the piece of felt you are using for the inner lining. (Check to make sure the pieces are close to the same size. The lining piece can be about 1 1/2” shorter (length) than the cover.) Trim as needed. Cut this in half (see picture) and place one piece at each end of your previously laid out felt (cover). Make sure you have at least 1”, in the center, that is free of the lining. This is where your pages will be sewn in.

Step 5: Tool Slots

On one of the lining pieces, 2 1/2” down from the top and 1” away from the edge (top right or left corner), cut a horizontal slit 2” long. You can mark it with a fine felt tip, if it will help you. (Fold the fabric opposite the way you want the cut to go and cut across the fold.) Drop down 1” from that and cut another horizontal slit (centered under the other cut) 1 1/2” long. This will hold your scissors (with the aid of a rubber band). You can go through this procedure again, on this piece or another, to make a place for a tape measure and other tools

Step 6: Securing the Lining and Closure

On the right hand side of the back cover (lefties can put it on the left hand side), insert the end(s) of your desired closure between the cover and the lining. Pin the lining in place then sew about 1/4” away from the edge around all the outside edges (not the edge toward the spine of the book) making sure to securely catch your closure in the stitching. You can back stitch over your closure or stop with the needle still in the fabric then turn the assembly around to stitch forward, again, over the same spot. This will keep your closure more secure. Now, sew the lining to the other side of the book. Your cardboard will go inside the pockets you have just made, one at the front and one at the back.

Step 7: Pocket Page

Now we need to make the “pocket page”. Grab another piece of felt. Cut the tulle or netting in half lengthwise so you now have 2 pieces the same length as the felt sheet. Lay one piece of the tulle/netting on the felt page at the top, lining up the sides and top. Pin in place then sew 1/4” away from the edges of the tulle/netting along both sides and the bottom (not at the top). Lay the other piece of tulle/netting at the bottom of the same page. Pin and sew, in the same manner, along the sides and bottom. You now have two long pockets. Fold this page over, locate the center and mark it then unfold it and set aside.

Step 8: Locate Center of Last Page

Locate the center on the last sheet of felt and keep the pins in place. Pin it at the edge, too, so it will stay folded. You may want to use safety pins for this since we are going to work with the piece in the next step.

Step 9: Thread & Needle Holders Page

Thread a needle with thread and make a knot in the end. About 1” away from the right edge and 1/2” away from the top edge, insert the needle (from bottom to top of page) from the front taking a tiny bite and come out about 1/8” away on the front side (see photos). Do this again but don't pull the thread tight. Pinch together and insert one of the smaller rubber bands into the loop. Pull the thread so it cinches the rubber band at the center. Secure the rubber band in place with a couple more stitches ending with the needle at the back of the fabric. Knot off and clip the thread. Scoot to the left about 2” and start another loop for another rubber band. (Lay the next rubber band to the side of the one just sewn down and locate the center of it on the page.) Work your way across and down the page until you have as many thread holders as you need. These will hold bobbins of thread. Leave enough space at the bottom of this page to add a business card sized magnet. You still need your needle and thread! Find an old flat magnet, the kind you get from advertisers. Business card size is big enough or you can cut down a bigger one and make it a bit larger for your purposes. Using a sharp instrument like a pointed screwdriver, make two small holes (in 2 opposite corners), similar to button holes (see picture). Now, place the magnet (black side up), below your thread holders and sew it on the way you would a button, using those holes you made. See the picture of my finished thread & needle holders page.

Step 10: Sewing the Pages to the Cover

Lay the cover face down and align all the pages on top, making sure they are centered and the space around all the sides is the same. Hold them securely then sew down the center, with a straight stitch, on a sewing machine. A walking foot makes this easier and you have less slippage of the layers. Use a longer stitch than you usually do and take it slow. You may need to pull a bit to help the bulk move under the needle. I usually sew it a second time, just turning around at the end and going back along the same line.

Step 11: Add Button to Close and Decorations

You're at the end.

Add the button for holding your book closed. Do this by hand with needle and thread using a basic sewing stitch. The knot can be hidden behind the button rather than on the back of the fabric (which is now almost impossible to get to).

Decorations must be sewn on by hand. Use basic sewing stitches. If you have chosen a finished doily (or something similar), tack it on strategically so you can tuck things behind it. If you sew the decorations on before doing everything else, you will have stitches running through your designs and parts getting in the way of your sewing machine needle.

You're done! Fill it with your tools and get sewing or put it in your gift closet for later!

Step 12: Hand Sewing the Binding

If you prefer a hand sewn binding, use a blanket stitch to hold it together after folding in half. It adds decoration to the binding so use a complimentary thread color. Here is an excellent tutorial > Blanket Stitch Tutorial- How to sew a blanket stitch . You could also use a running stitch down the center. It will not be as decorative but it is functional.

Step 13: Alternative Ideas

Lining: 1) If you expect to use this on the couch where things slide off the arm, you might want to use rubbery shelf liner as one of the linings inside the cover. You must lay a light weight paper over it, so it doesn't stick in place on the sewing machine. It only needs to cover the underside of the machine foot as long as the fabric is against the base of the machine. 2) Use cotton or polyester fabric. Add any tool holders first then turn one long side under twice for a hem, align with good sides facing each other and sew 1/4" seam along 3 sides. Turn right side out.

Pockets:  Use felt or other types of fabric instead of the tulle/netting/orange bag. Make them long and skinny to hold crochet hooks, knitting needles, rulers, paint brushes, etc. or make them smaller for holding game cassettes or embroidery floss (on cards).

Tool Holders:  Use elastic sewn to the page before incorporating it into the book. If your scissors fall out, attach a larger rubber band through one finger hole then stretch it down and over the cutting end encompassing the slit it has been inserted into. See the photo included in this step.

Guy decorations:  old keys, scout patches, patches made from old shirts, geometric shapes, ribbons sewn in different directions (before adding the lining), ...

Other uses (may need to alter design):  Small tool storage in garage, game cassettes, CDs/DVDs, ...

Step 14: 6/30/13 Update: Add a Notebook & More Pencils

These additions were made to the first Personal Sewing Book I made which has cotton liners so the methods for adding in these areas is different.

If I had known exactly everything I wanted to carry in my book (before sewing it together), the methods for adding these items would have been different but since I have to sew any additions by hand (at this point), the options are limited. For example, I could have made one of the liners into an envelope pocket. I could do this now, if I want to sew it all by hand.

I opted for rubber bands; you could use elastic, ribbon or string, too.

Figure out where your rubber band should be so your tools will fit right. For the pencil storage, you want the rubber band to be about 2" below the top edge but for the notebook, you will want the rubber band almost at the top edge of the page. Cut the rubber band so it will lay flat. Sew the ends down at the outer edges of the page using a hand needle and thread. Be careful that you don't pull a big hole in your rubber band. You just want to tack it down.

Slide the cardboard back of the notebook between the page and the rubber band.

For the pencils, I tacked the rubber band in more places along it so it stays in place better. To keep the pencils from falling out, I wrapped a smaller width rubber band around the pencil, inserted the pencil under the stitched down rubber band then stretched the rubber band (around the pencil) over the rubber band in the book then over the pencil. The rubber band in the book is acting like rod on the wall and the pencils are hanging from it.

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