DIY Hardcover for Catholic Bible Journaling

I’ve been eyeing this Journaling Bible, but I haven’t hit the buy button because it’s not a Catholic translation.  There is the NRSV Notetaker’s Bible which is an approved Catholic translation, but it’s out of print and crazy expensive!

I already had this New American Bible. (It’s $6 on Amazon right now!) It’s the only Catholic Bible I have… that I can bring myself to write in.

It’s just that it’s not shiny and pretty quite like the fancy journaling Bibles out there

…until I decided to fancy it up myself.

This is a NO-SEW project.

foamcore hardcover

I traced the front, back and spine of the softcover Bible on white foam-core.

print on fabric

I actually whipped up a couple custom Kelly SaintsTM patches to make this cover distinctly mine. =)  I’ve been wanting to try printing on fabric…and it worked! This tutorial for turning a softcover into a hardcover  is what inspired me to try printing on fabric…as well as attempt the DIY hardcover project!NAB hardcover

I quickly learned that a glue stick isn’t strong enough to even try to tack the fabric in place. I got out the glue gun.

hardcover spine

I ended up trimming the spine foam-core piece to ensure that I can open up the covers and spread the book wide open. The spine piece needs to be a touch narrower than the actual spine…maybe 1/8″ narrower (but try it out before the final gluing!).

hardcover construction

Elastics kept the panels in place firmly while the glue dried.

fabric cover with iron on printed patch

I found this leftover upholstery material and I cut the piece after I decided where the pattern would fit across the front and back covers. I cut the fabric with an extra 1″ allowance…but I could have used a 2″ allowance because of the way I ironed the seams (with iron-on adhesive).

I was kind of learning as I went.

The Kelly SaintsTM badges I printed on the fabric turned out well, although the white fabric I had on hand is very thin and frays a lot. I used iron-on adhesive to strengthen the badges and ironed the patches in place on the fabric cover.

iron on seams hardcover

The upholstery fabric I chose for the cover was a little thick. I thought that I could iron crisp seams, but that wasn’t working. I ended up using more strips of iron-on adhesive to make clean edges for the cover. This being a NO-SEW project, after all.

Because I ironed pretty generous seams, I couldn’t actually fold the fabric cover to secure it at the top and bottom edges of the book.

inside front cover

I started with the front cover. I made sure I knew exactly where I wanted the fabric placed (across the front cover).  I glue-gunned the fabric cover to the edge of the inside front cover (almost a 1″ overlap of fabric).

softcover to hardcover bible

I added a line of the glue gun all around the edge of the front cover and carefully smoothed it in place as I wrapped the fabric around the book.

foamcore hardcover bible

I wanted the spine to remain smooth, so I added a line from the glue gun on either side of the foam core spine. I smushed the fabric into the hot glue as I continued to wrap the fabric around the book.

I’m sure real book binders would gasp and wince and cringe at my technique.

Let it be known I was also supervising  Adam while he made a giant plane out of the leftover foam core.

Adams project

I used another bead of the glue gun around the edges of the back cover and then glued the final edge of the cover to the edge of the inside back cover (about 1″ overlap of fabric).

custom Catholic Bible

It’s not perfect…but I think I like it even more for that reason!

back cover with Kelly Saints printed patch

While the New American Bible is not an official Journaling Bible (Attention Catholic Publishers: please make an awesome Catholic Journaling Bible ASAP!), this Bible does have a significant amount of notes throughout all the pages. I have at least 3 other Catholic Bibles of different translations with their own sets of notes, so I don’t feel guilty at all, painting over the notes so that I can add my own notes and illustrations and doodles as I read Scripture.

Even when my husband catches me painting the Bible and says “…uh, pretty sure you shouldn’t be doing that. They worked a long time writing that”

painted notes in bible

The pages buckle a little when I paint them, but ironing the pages, (with an extra piece of paper on top) really works to smooth out the pages like new. Wow, my iron has never been used so much as this week…albeit ironing paper. =)

There are tons of inspiring Bible Journaling posts (see Catholic Icing) and Pinterest pins and this awesome Facebook group…just in case you’d like to try Catholic Bible Journaling! I’ve got a few more ideas to make this Bible Journaling my own. =)

My only temptation is to focus too much on how my actual journaling turns out…like how pretty can I make the pictures and how perfect can I make the text. I don’t want this to be just a creative project. I don’t want to get too caught up in pretty Pinterest pins and perfectly illustrated pages.

I’m hoping, rather to focus on how I can use Bible Journaling to draw closer to the Lord through Scripture. Hopefully, my new custom Catholic Hardcover will help me dig into Scripture more consistently (every day!), prompt me to finally memorize key Scripture and find and recognize the Living Word that talks to my soul. 

Who’s with me?

…a couple affiliate links, in case you’re looking for a Bible…


  1. I love the cover idea! We gathered all of our bibles from around the house so I could pick which one had the most space to add journaling! I wish there was an affordable Catholic journal bible! Hopefully they will publish some options soon 🙂 I love journaling/illustrating as I read with my family!

    • This Bible has notes on every page…but the area ranges from a couple lines to a whole column (vertical half page!). I’ve been painting over the notes and I’m experimenting with different art supplies to see what works best! I’ll be posting the DIY Part 2 soon!

  2. Wow, this is genius.
    I love it.
    I know – and I feel your angst about writing in a Bible.
    I’m just using a pretty journal.

    Love this Monica. How very creative and wonderful!

    • Thanks, Em! I didn’t do a perfect job…it’s just my first try, but I like the way it turned out! It was a Bible I’ve already written in…and I feel like I’m really making it my own. I think it will be great for journaling!

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