Tutorial: Leather Handbound Book


I’ve been kinda stumped with Christmas ideas. But another one came to me! Penelope and I made a few of these for gifts for her to give away. They make the perfect gift for guys or girls, too! Once I got all the supplies together, each book takes about 10 minutes to make. Perfect for mass production, or that little extra handmade touch to your perfect holiday gift.


I’ve styled this purple and liquid gold-leafed leather book in a gift “basket”. Perfect for the young lady needing a respectable purse and purse contents. Details:


They’re ever so simple to make. I’ve made these with the leather scraps I have on hand (I have a giant overflowing bin full!), but these could easily be made with felt, fabric fused to paper with Heat ‘n Bond. Let’s make one together!

EASY Leather-Bound Pocket Notebook Tutorial



Read more to learn how to assembly this easy easy book!


If you want dot gridded paper, lined paper or blank paper with punch guides, download the free printable here. Cut your paper in half so it measures 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches. You will make 2 signatures with 8 sheets.

Fold your paper in half, creasing in the middle with your finger, then creasing outward from the middle with the bone folder.


Fold both signatures, now you’re ready for punching holes!


You can use a regular hole punch, but if you’re looking for an awesome punch and rivet/eyelet/snap setter all in one, you’ll want this one (c/o WRM, and I LOVE IT!!!). Use code LOVE at checkout for 20% off. 

You’ll want to measure 1/2 – 3/4 of an inch in from each end and punch a hole along the fold. Download printable dot grid, lined and blank sheets with these hole guidelines here.


No accurate measuring required, though. Just take the center page of your first punched signature and nest it into the second. Use those holes as a guideline for punching the second set of holes.


Now you’re ready to prep the cover!


Cut out a piece of leather, felt or reinforced fabric to 5.5 inches x 11 inches. Line up the edge of the signatures and the edge of the leather up and wrap leather around. You should have some extra on the bottom.


Pick up the pieces and feel for an indent of your paper holes.


Mark that indent with your pencil or marker and punch. Most hole punches will go through leather no sweat. Punch those holes.


On the end that sticks out a little extra, cut two slits about 1/2 an inch long and 1/4 an inch apart in the middle of that section. (see pattern for slits) Be sure to use a protective mat as you cut!


Cut a length of cording about 18 – 24 inches long. Thread from the outside of the leather to the inside of one of your signatures. Leave a 3-4 inch tail on the outside.


Thread through the bottom hole back to the outside cover.


Pull cording tight.


Thread the cording back through the first hole, but into the middle of the second signature.  istillloveyou-bookbinding-easy-tutorial-leather-book-15

Thread back to the bottom and the outside cover.


Pull cording towards the top and bottom of the book to make sure it’s all tight.


tie a square knot and trim the ends to about 1/4-1/2 inch long.


Cut a strip of leather 16+ inches by 1/2 inch. Alternatively, you could use a structured velvet or grosgrain ribbon.

Thread the leather through the slits, leaving a 1/2 inch tail on the inside of the cover. Glue down. I used Barge’s leather cement, but PVA or e6000 will work, too.


Wrap around your book and trim the ends as needed.

istillloveyou-bookbinding-easy-tutorial-leather-book-20 Download the printable insert pages here:



Download the printable cover template (to go with the above pages) here:

*This tutorial/freebie is free for personal use and should not be distributed/republished without my consent. Altering any files is NOT ALLOWED. If you would like to use this freebie for commercial purposes, please email me. Thanks!
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    1. Sylvia says:

      I’m in love with this and want to come over and make a dozen. Thanks for the tutorial.

    2. Kristin H says:

      Fabulous! I may have to go make one for Evie’s teacher right now. I totally forgot about teacher gifts…

    3. Okay, LOVE this tutorial! And goodness knows, I’ve got leather. :) Thank you so much, Melissa and have a wonderful holiday!

    4. Mae says:

      I love this tutorial. Such a great gift to give!


    5. Autumn says:

      Beautiful! What a fantastic idea – I’ve never worked with leather before but I think I need to start. Thanks for the tutorial!

    6. Samantha says:

      Very pretty journals.

    7. Rebecca says:

      Thanks for the tutorial. Where do you get your leather?

    8. Robin says:

      What kind of leather would you recommend for this project. It looks like it should be nice and soft/supple. I’m not a leather aficionado, so what would you think? It makes my mind to whirl, looking at everything that Tandy offers.

    9. […] 7. This leather bound journal only takes ten minutes to make.Source : melissaesplin.com […]

    10. Cheryl says:

      Just like to say thank you for the tutorial!:) school is starting soon and I’d be needing pretty notebooks to motivate me while doing revision!:) thank you so much!:) also, I’ll probably be doing a short post on my finished item and I’ll link it back to you!:)) thank you so much once again!!:)

    11. Marilyn Z says:

      Soooo clever. I have a beautiful lambskin skirt that doesn’t fit and this is the perfect Christmas project…or maybe I will just make them for myself because I know they will be appreciated then.

    12. […] DIY leather notebooks for wordy pairs. Get the full tutorial over on melissaesplin.com. […]

    13. […] I need is a good hole punch and this tutorial for a leather journal looks incredibly simple, and incredibly […]

    14. Susan Risinger says:

      Love the look, but I’m a vegetarian so I wasn’t going to use leather. Just went to a fabric store and got ultrasuede. It comes in natural or bright colors.

    15. April says:

      Hi. I just came across this tutorial. I really wish I had found this sooner. I love these! I can’t wait to get started. I’m really curious though, where did you get that “bssket”? (leather, lace, purse bag)

    16. […] DIY for them. Not to mention easy. I first saw this on Buzzfeed, and then I went on to check the original site for the step-by-step […]

    17. Megan says:

      I can’t get the
      Link to work to find the hole punch? Will it also put the snaps on the leather bracelets? I’d love a all on one punch. Thank you :)

    18. Jon says:

      This was a pretty cool project. I want to keep seeing your projects as they come out. One source I recommend for leather is: theleatherguy.org One thing really cool about them is they individually photograph each piece of leather, and you actually get to see the piece you are buying. They also describe any flaws..And their reasonable. Keep your ideas coming! I repaired shoes and worked with leather for for 20 years!

    19. Catherine says:

      Cool and simple way to make the leather book! Can I share your project in my Facebook page? I sell leather in Etsy for craft project.


    20. KATE says:

      Very interesting!

    21. […] DIY for them. Not to mention easy. I first saw this on Buzzfeed, and then I went on to check the original site for the step-by-step […]

    22. […] Leather Handbound Book by Melissa Esplin. […]

    23. Julie Johnson says:

      Great project that worked out perfectly. Simple and beautiful use for a deer hide that needed to turn into a Christmas present. Thanks!

    24. […] Leatherbound notebook. This item looks luxurious but it’s simple to make. […]

    25. […] Handmade Leather Notebooks Treat yourself to this awesome leather notebook. The best part is that you can make it as big or […]

    26. […] Finally, for those who can neither cook nor bake nor craft, take heart! We haven’t forgotten you. This tutorial will guide you through making a hand-bound leather book in about ten minutes. By changing the leather, paper, and size of the notebook, you can create […]

    27. race davis says:

      I had the most difficult time figuring out a gift for my first anniversary with my girlfriend. This will be perfect… Thank you!

    28. Oh I will make this for my best friend she really love writting so always has handbook with her.

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