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DIY Day Planners

Keep organized with your own custom-made leather day planner. For added embellishment, choose a color of thread that contrasts with that of the leather.




There are many reasons leather is the best material for everything from day planners to checkbook covers: It's durable and weather resistant, conforms to different shapes, and develops a soft, well-worn feel. But perhaps the best reason is that you can easily fashion little luxuries from it yourself.

Making you own accessories costs far less than buying the finished products, and you can use surprising colors and details that you won't find in a store. Leather is forgiving to work with -- it doesn't fray, so there's no need to finish edges, and if you purchase a 1/16-inch or thinner hide, it can be fed through a sewing machine.

You'll need sturdy poly-cotton thread, a leather needle, and a Teflon pressure foot, which will keep the leather steady. Raise the tension according to your sewing machine's instructions, and make the stitches slightly longer than you would with fabric, to prevent the leather from tearing. Mark lines by scoring with a bone folder before sewing.


  • One hide (5 1/2 square feet) leather
  • No-slip ruler
  • Rotary cutter
  • Multipurpose cement
  • Poly-cotton thread
  • Sewing machine equipped for leather
  • Leather hole punch
  • 1/2-inch binder rivets
  • 7-inch 6-ring spine
  • Rivet setter
  • Mallet
  • Paper inserts
  • Grommet kit or elastic cording (optional)


  1. Step 1

    For standard refills (6 3/4 by 3 3/4 inches), use a rotary cutter to cut a rectangle of leather that is 10 3/8 by 7 1/8 inches. Mark the midpoint of the length, and score with the bone folder. For the closure, cut a 3 1/2-by-1-inch tab to fit in a 3-by-1/4-inch strip.

  2. Step 2

    Cement a 1/4 inch of the tab halfway up the inside of the back cover of the planner; let dry, and then sew. Cement the strip halfway up the outside of the front cover; let dry, and sew ends. For side flaps, cut two 3 1/4-by-7 1/8-inch pieces. Cement them on all but the inside long edge; let dry, and then sew all around, leaving a 1/4-inch border.

  3. Step 3

    Backstitch at start and finish. Place the spine on the halfway point, mark each hole with a pencil, and punch out marks with a hole punch. Align bar over holes, and stick rivet posts through each one; snap the cap pieces onto posts from the other side. Position rivet setter over each rivet head, and pound them into place with the mallet. Fill binder with paper inserts. Use flaps to store loose items.

Martha Stewart Living, January 2003



Reviews (18)

  • iowabeachs 7 Mar, 2012
    found a spine and rivets here. Only place I seem to tfind them on-line

  • HoneyMesquite 4 Jan, 2011

    Using leather is so uncool. Use fabric, vinyl or faux leather or an old wool sweater that has been felted. Any of these materials would be more eco-friendly and easier to work with than leather. If you must use leather, buy an old leather coat at the thrift store!

  • KaterTot 3 Jan, 2011

    Five and a half square FEET???

  • KaterTot 2 Jan, 2011

    Five and a half square FEET???

  • nickel48 2 Jan, 2011

    Wish Ms. Stewart would offer the supplies needed for her craft projects on her shopping site. It would be soooo much easier. I think I will recycle my old-falling-apart planner and use parts from it. Probably more "eco-friendly" anyway...

  • mothership1 6 Oct, 2009

    I have my purple leather to make this for my daughter for Christmas, but I have no idea where to get the spine, or the binder rivets. Help!!!!

  • BelleArtMom 5 Sep, 2009

    Sorry, here is the correct link:

  • BelleArtMom 5 Sep, 2009 sells leather.

  • elizabeth91 5 Sep, 2009

    you can find cheap leather jackets at thrift stores too, just cut them up and voila leather for your planner.

  • riehlcowz 18 Jul, 2009

    I have found this kind of binder at our local thrift stores. They always seem to have them

  • EclecticBianca 14 Jun, 2009

    Where would I find the binder rivets and spine?

  • mapster 14 Jun, 2009

    A good fabric store should have leather , but the really nice synthetic suede should work just as well.

  • Meggs23 14 Jun, 2009

    Does anyone have a good source of colored leathers?

  • CraftTestDummies 4 Mar, 2008

    Leather, shmeather! How about some great animal print vinyl, for a hip and edgy look? Not your average soccer-mom's planner!

  • kuii 27 Jan, 2008

    i'm from my place,there aren't any shop sell the spines...-_-\","2008/01/27 22:33:33.000

  • THEMAGICKEY 25 Jan, 2008

    They sell the spines in a few sizes at ARCH SUPPLIES in San Francisco: 415-433-2724
    Have Fun!

  • rhetta 11 Jan, 2008

    maybe you could reuse a spine from an old planner, or purchase an inexpensive planner and reuse that one?

  • meso 9 Jan, 2008

    I really do love this project. But...where on earth do I buy a 7 inch 6 ring spine. ??