DIY Journaling Bookmarks (and pencil pocket) free sewing tutorial


Let’s sew some DIY Bookmarks! Last weekend I wanted to make a super-quick gift to make for some young women in our church and this is what I came up with. This easy sewing project is jelly roll friendly because it uses 2 1/2’’ strips. You can also personalize the pieces with machine embroidery before sewing them together.

This blog post has been converted to an optional PDF that’s optimized for printing. Find it here. The blog post below contains everything you will need to make the DIY Bookmarks with a pencil pocket and it is totally free to read, print, and sew! Just hit CTRL +P on your computer to print. The PDF download for $3 is totally optional.

These were so much fun to make, I can’t even tell you. And. So. Fast. I used fold over elastic (FOE) because I love how soft and pretty it is, but you can really use any kind of elastic that you have on hand.

If you don’t plan to embroider these bookmarks, then you can totally make them with 2 1/2” jelly roll strips, how cool is that? Plus you can make 2 cute divided pencil pockets. Sometimes I am a genius. 🙂

Wristlet wallet-2.jpg


Journaling Bookmark and Pencil Pocket sewing tutorial

You will need:

  • 2 fabric strips 2 1/2” x 8” for the bookmark itself

  • 1 fabric strip 2 1/2” x 10” for the pocket

  • 1 piece of elastic 1” wide by 14” long

Notes: This bookmark fits notebooks (or journals) that are 11” tall. You may need to adjust the length of the elastic if your notebook is a different size. I used 1” wide FOE (fold over elastic), but just about any kind of elastic will work.

If you plan to personalize your bookmarks with embroidery, do that first on the lower half of the pocket fabric and then trim it down to size. See the next step before embroidering so you see that the design should be below the middle of the pocket strip.


1. Fold the 2 1/2” x 10” pocket piece in half and press.

2. Topstitch along the folded edge.

Bottom piece and pocket.

Bottom piece and pocket.

Bottom piece, pocket, and elastic.

Bottom piece, pocket, and elastic.

Bottom piece, pocket, elastic, and top piece - pinned.

Bottom piece, pocket, elastic, and top piece – pinned.

3. Now we’ll stack all the pieces together and pin:

  • Start with one 2 1/2” x 8” piece on the bottom, right side up.

  • Put the pocket piece on top, aligning the short raw edges on the left side with the topstitching toward the middle. If your pocket piece has a right and wrong side (such as if you embroidered it), it should be right side up.

  • Place the elastic on top next, aligning the raw edges on the right side. If the elastic has a right and wrong side, place it right side down.

  • Place the remaining 2 1/2” x 8” piece on top, right side down. Pin through all layers to secure.

4. Sew around the bookmark, leaving the bottom open where the elastic is sticking out. As you can see, I sewed for about 1/4” on either side of the elastic so that some of the bottom edge is sewn. Make sure you backstitch at the start and end so your sewing won’t come out when you turn the bookmark right side out.

Clip the corners.

5. Gently turn the bookmark right side out using a turning tool (or chopstick) to help you push out the corners. Press it flat.

6. Press the edges at the opening to the inside.

7. Place the free end of elastic inside the opening by about 1/4” – 1/2” and pin it in place if you need to. Make sure the elastic won’t be twisted as it goes around the notebook.

8. Topstitch across the bottom of the bookmark to secure the elastic. Then pivot and topstitch the rest of the way around the bookmark.

Sew a line down the middle of the pocket to make two pen or pencil spots, if desired.

Now have fun making lots more because they are so fast and easy!

Make sure you pin this tutorial so you can find it later. 🙂

Are you sewing gifts? Here are 14 more fast and easy gifts to sew!

Happy sewing,

Disclosure: some of my posts contain affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of those links I may receive a small commission, so thank you for supporting SewCanShe when you shop! All of the opinions are my own and I only suggest products that I actually use. 🙂

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  1. Allyce Noble says:

    Hi, sorry I don’t understand when you fold the 2 1/2×10 in half an press,then top stitch the folded edge an when you open it how does one side have a shorter side then the other ?? Thanks

    1. Hi Allyce,
      After you fold the 2 1/2” x 10” strip in half and press, it becomes 2 1/2” x 5”. You will not open it up again. The folded edge is topstitched and this piece becomes the pocket. Does that help?

  2. Hi from Kazakhstan!
    I am enjoying your post. It is written very simply to follow your instructions. I am just an English teacher at KSTU ( and my name is Samal. Hope to be one of your fans. Good luck!

  3. Love it! i made me one 😀 I would post the pic but i dont know where and how to do it here.

  4. Anne Mckenzie says:

    I had trouble getting the bottom to look nice. I was thinking I might try another pin first end of elastic to bottom then turn inside out. If I do that there wouldn’t be so many layers to try to get straight.

  5. Wendy Devers says:

    Anyone have some better suggestions how to flip them right side out? the tiny space where the elastic comes out … I’ve been struggling. I even didn’t sew on that ens at all until after I flipped it. It doesn’t turn out as well…. I have 38 of these to make, and this is the worst part.

    1. Oh no! Does this mean that you didn’t sew the elastic in as shown in step 3? It is meant to help you gently tug and turn the piece right side out. Skipping that step would make it tricky. Maybe a chopstick or other turning tool will help. Good luck!

  6. Thank you for this tutorial! I just made one for myself using leftovers from a jellyrole. Your directions were easy to follow and the photos were very helpful. While I was finishing mine I thought what great birthday gifts they would make. I’m always late with birthday gifts so I’m going to stitch up a lot of them and get some journals and be all ready to go! Thank you!

  7. Have you ever tried making this with 3 different pieces of fabric, just for the tutorial pictures? Or making the pocket piece out of a contract fabric, again, just for the tutorial pictures? I was thinking it might make a prettier finished bookmark if there were 2 or even 3 complimentary fabrics used together? Just a suggestion. What do you think?

  8. Love this idea & plan to make many using my creative ideas to adjust here & there. Birthdays, Christmas or for a ‘no reason’ gift too! I’ll be making one for my checkbook cover; I’m always needing a pen & won’t have to dig for it. Thanks for sharing!!!

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