The Lis Journal Cover Tutorial For Beginners

The Lis is a simple and luxury minimalistic journal cover which you can now make for yourself! So grab yourself some leather and let's do it!


What you need ( in order ):

  • Veg-tan Leather ( preferably 1,4mm/3 oz. )
  • Pattern
  • Scratch awl or Something pointy
  • Ruler or Wing dividers
  • Sharp Knife
  • Glue
  • Sanding papers ( different grits )
  • *Edge beveler
  • Wood slicker or piece of fabric
  • Burnishing gum or water
  • Punching surface ( kitchen cutting board )
  • Pricking irons
  • Mallet
  • Needles
  • Thread
  • Lighter

    *Not necessary

    STEP 1 - Marking and Cutting the Pattern

    What you need: Veg-tan leather, Pattern, Knife, Ruler, Scratch awl or Something pointed

    Get your leather and set it up where you will be working. Next, take your pattern pieces and mark them onto leather with a scratch awl. Continue until the leather is neatly marked all over. Let's get cutting! Pick up a knife that is razor-sharp and a ruler, preferably one made of metal. You won't have any issues if you've cut leather against a ruler before. If so, practice your cutting techniques on a few scraps of leather so you'll know exactly where to set the ruler and how much you will cut.

    Let's start by cutting each piece as straight as we can. No worries if you struggle to make curves by hand; we will use sandpaper instead to correct any mistakes you make when cutting your leather.



    STEP 2 - Glue the pieces together

    What you need: Cut pieces of leather, Glue, Ruler or Wing dividers

    It's time to glue everything together now that you have all the parts. No need to worry if you can't glue it properly from corner to corner and side to side because my templates come with a 3 mm trim allowance. If you have wing dividers, you can mark the backside and set it to 5 mm, so you know how far to apply adhesive. You can always mark all of your measurements with the ruler if you don't have wing dividers. Apply glue to both pieces from the border to the indicated line. If you're unsure how much glue to use, you can test it on a scrap piece of leather.

    We can put the pieces together as precisely as we can now that you have applied glue to all of the pieces. While there is room for error, try to minimize your mistakes to a minimum.

    STEP 3 - Trim allowance

    What you need: Glued leather, Ruler or Wing dividers, Sharp knife

    We can use the trim allowance approach to reduce the amount of time you need to spend sanding now that all of our pieces are put together. Make a line on the sides, using a ruler or your wing dividers set to 3 mm. Due to the difficulty of making exact cuts on thick leather projects, we only employ the trim allowance for straight lines. You can now lay your ruler on the leather and begin cutting all the lines you marked as accurately as you can. You can see how clean those cuts are; we don't need to sand for hours to get our edges straight. It depends on how you cut. Last step is to cut the corners. You can use whatever you want for this part as long as it is something circular.

    STEP 4 - Making Stitching Holes

    What you need: Trimmed leather, Punching surface, Pricking irons, Mallet, Ruler or Wing dividers

    So you should have clean edges and everything aligned. Now it's time to make holes and prepare for the next step. Grab your ruler or wing dividers and mark the stitching line 3 mm from the edge of your Journal Cover. Next, take your punching board and put the Journal Cover on it. Now that you know where to put your holes for stitching grab the pricking irons and align them with the marked line as precisely as possible and be careful not to angle your pricking irons at any angle other than 90° from the surface you're working on.

    Now, grab your mallet and give it a strong swing. If you want to be more precise, you can always put the last tooth of your pricking irons in the last hole you made, which will naturally straighten the angle. Continue this process until you hit the end on the other side. Time to stitch.

    STEP 5 - Sewing

    What you need: Leather with holes, Needles, Thread, Lighter

    It's tough to explain without showing you how to stitch the leather, but you can find tons of videos of how to saddle stitch on the internet with visual representation. After you finish the stitching, cut the remaining thread roughly 1 mm from the surface and burn it with the lighter so it seals it on the surface of a stitch.

    STEP 6 - Sanding

    What you need: Sewn Journal Cover, Sandpapers, *Edge beveler

    Now that we have perfect edges and everything stitched, we can go for sanding. The curved parts are the ones you have to take your time with. Take the sanding paper, preferably with a grit of 400 and up, and start sanding. If you think your edges are perfectly aligned, you can switch to a higher grit of sanding paper to get it even smoother. The higher the grit, the smoother edges and the more professional look you will get.

    When you get the most out of 400-grit sandpaper, you can switch to 600-grit sandpaper and work your way up to the point you are happy with. Some leathercrafters go up to 2000 grits, so you get that shiny look on your edges. If you have an edge beveler, you can bevel all the edges and smooth that curve again with the sandpapers. If you don't have an edge beveler, you can trim the edges by hand and sandpapers, but it's not that easy.

    STEP 7 - Burnishing

    What you need: Sanded leather, Wood slicker or Piece of fabric, Water or Burnishing gum

    Now that we have all edges perfectly sanded and aligned, we can move to burnishing. Burnishing is basically polishing and sealing the rough edges of the leather with friction and heat. Take some water or your burnishing gum and put a little on the edge and smear it all over the sanded side. Grab your piece of fabric or wood slicker and start. Remember that it's not about power but friction. 

    Then run the burnisher fast back and forth across the edge. Be sure to not put too much pressure on the edge itself. All you are trying to do is create heat through friction, not mushroom your edges. Do this until you hear a tacky sound. It's hard to describe, but you will know it when you hear it. Once you hear it, you know your edges have been burnished well. Congratulations! You did it.


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