DIY Planner: (Part 1) The Leather Binder


  • A piece of leather (I cut mine from a pair of leather trousers)
  • Lining fabric (mine is a scrap of cotton/linen curtain)
  • Leather thong (Approx 1m depending on how many times you want it to wrap round)
  • A large button
  • Wonder Under/ Bondaweb
  • Stiff Interfacing
  • Machine needles specifically for leather
  • A walking foot (recommended because the leather can slip under a standard foot)
  • A ring binder attatchment
  • Strong machine thread

The first thing you need to do is draw out a template for the shape of your binder. This will of course depend on the individual dimensions of your planner. Mine’s A5 and quite thick; yours might be A4 and alot thicker or even thinner. (The pages I’m gonna share with you later in the week can be printed A4 or A5) So I’d advise spending some time putting your planner pages together  (that’s all of your pages together and inserted into the ring binder fixing. One like this that comes in a little kit) so you know what dimensions you’re working with, before you attempt to make a binder to fit it. However, that part is quite tedious so I thought I’d show you the fun and satisfying part first…then you can decide whether or not it’s worth the effort to print, guillotine and punch all those planner pages like I have below!

Essentially it has to be big enough to wrap around your planner, with however much overlap you require on the front, and an extra 2-3mm top and bottom to allow for trimming and to make sure your pages are protected around the exposed edges. I rounded off the corners on mine just because I thought it looked nice…

This can take a bit of trial and error. I cut a couple of templates out of old wallpaper and tested the fit around my planner (with all the pages inserted into the ring binder fixing) before I was happy with the fit. IMPORTANT: Make sure you mark the “spine” of your binder on your template, so when it comes to fixing the ring binder mechanism, you know where to fix it. Then once your’e happy with your template……

1) Cut one from Wonder Under and affix to the reverse side of your leather; and one from stiff (ish) interfacing and affix to the reverse of your lining fabric
2) Trim away the excess
3) Peel away the paper backing from the Wonder Under on your leather piece, then place wrong sides together with your lining fabric (the thong should be inserted between the 2 layers at this stage. See Step 4). Then press under a cloth, until evenly adhered together. (The Wonder Under adheres everything together temporarily. So no need for pins, which would damage the leather. Along with the interfacing it also acts to stiffen and stabilise the binder). Don’t worry if there’s a bit of excess lining poking out along the edges as you can see in the far right pic. We’ll trim this later

3) Edge stitch all the way around the outside. I’d advise practicing on some scraps first. I had to use quite a high tension setting on mine to get the bobbin thread to sit flush on the underside. I also used a walking foot as the surface of the leather is quite slippery for a standard foot.
4) When you get to the tip of the envelope part, this is where the thong should be. I SHOULD have inserted this between the leather and the lining fabric before I adhered them together. But I’m a numpty sometimes. So I had to peel the 2 layers apart slightly (Wonder Under is not a permanent adhesive), insert them between the two layers, and carry on stitching all the way round.
5) Trim close to the stitching all the way around for a nice clean edge

6) Then it’s just a question of attaching your ring binder (I got mine from Amazon but they’re available on Ebay too) according to the manufacturers instructions. Use your template to line it up where it needs to go and mark where the holes are; punch out the holes, fix in the rivets/screws and you’re almost done….

All that remains is to add a button to the front and fill it with your customised planner pages!

So if all of that doesn’t sound like too much hassle…then stay tuned for a Free Download of the planner pages themselves 🙂

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookPin on PinterestGoogle+


  1. anastasia anezinis April 30, 2013

    Is cool!I like it but don’t have leather…maby I’ll try to make it with fabric 😉
    Thanks for sharing!

  2. I will work for Fabric April 30, 2013

    How cool! I made something similar a while ago might have to add another to the collection.

  3. cmoh April 30, 2013

    OH wow this is fabulous. I am always in need of a good sturdy journal. I am going to pin this. Thank you os much for sharing.

    The Glitter Tart

  4. Eddie Roued April 30, 2013

    Very cool tutorial. Need something to plan crafty projects in. Perhaps I’ll try it with fabric too 🙂


    Eddie’s Room on Facebook come over for some crafty ideas and conversation.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *