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FMQ Folder Cover Project

Free motion quilting folder cover project

This folder cover project was written by Sarah Eliza from Edward and The White Bear. Sarah is a quilter and textile artist who runs patchwork & quilting classes in Leeds & Manchester.

If you are new to free motion quilting read Sarah’s guide to setting up your sewing machine for free motion quilting and free motion patterns feature before starting this project. 

This folder cover project is a perfect way to show off your free motion quilting skills you could also use the same instructions to make a notebook cover instead if you prefer.  Select a range of patterns you have been practicing and enjoy stitching – it looks good to choose patterns which blend easily into each other. I have selected a series of patterns which are curvy in nature – including circles and waves.



–          Old ring binder or lever-arch file to cover

–          Plain fabric for outside of binder cover (approx. half yard – dependent on size of folder)

–          Fabric for inside of cover (approx. half yard – dependent on size of folder)

–          Wadding

–          Variegated thread for free motion quilting – I have used a thread from Superior Threads’ Rainbows range.

1) Measure all the way around the front of your folder including the front and back cover and the spine.  Measure from top to bottom.  Make a note of these measurements. 

Beginner's free motion quilting project

2) Add 2” to each measurement taken in step 1 to give the size to cut your fabric. My folder measures 21” around and is 12½” high, so my fabric needs to be 23” by 14½”.

Cut two pieces of fabric and a piece of wadding to this size.  Create a quilt sandwich (top fabric, wadding, bottom fabric) and fix the layers together.  I used a spray basting glue to keep the layers very flat while quilting.

3) Divide the top of the quilt sandwich into sections.  Use a disappearing pen, light pencil, or large tacking stitch – you need to be able to remove your marks later.  I stitched two wavy lines going side to side and four top to bottom.

Quilted journal cover project

4) Start stitching your first free motion quilting pattern into one of the areas you have marked on the quilt top.    Fill the area with stitching – don’t worry too much about staying exactly in the lines though, you want the pattern to merge into one another. 

Free motyion quilted notebook cover tutorial

5) Continue quilting across the surface of your quilt sandwich.  As you move from one area to the next, change your quilting pattern.  Try to merge the patterns smoothly as you go.

Free motion quilting designs

6) Once you have covered the entire surface with stitching, trim the quilted piece to square it up.  It should be trimmed to 1” bigger than the measurements of your folder (noted in step 1).  Stitch a small zig-zag stitch around the edge of the quilted piece to hold the stitching in place after you have trimmed it.

Easy free motion quilting projects

7) Remove the lines which marked the quilt top into areas. 

How to sew a free motion quilted binder or notebook cover

8) Measure the inside cover of your folder – height and width.  Cut two pieces of fabric – the same width and an inch bigger than the height.  Fold each piece in half along the short edge and press.  These will form the pockets which hold the cover in place on the folder.

how to make a bespoke notebook or binder cover

9) Pin the pockets in place on the inside of the binder cover, matching raw edges. 

Free motion quilting tutorial for beginners

10) Use your preferred method of binding to bind the edges of the whole piece and secure the pockets in place.  Insert your folder inside the cover and get ready for the compliments!

If you’d like to learn free motion quilting in person then visit Sarah’s website to find out about her classes and quilting retreat.