For notebook covers, I use suede that has been rescued from thrift stores in the form of torn, grimy, stained, and otherwise worn clothing. This piece of sage-green suede came from a jacket.
I am a bit of a romantic — just a bit — and so when I’ve made notebooks in the past, I drew things on the inside of the cover. It’s a place that wouldn’t show when the journal was finished, so there was a hidden element that made the process extra interesting. If anyone bought one, I planned to send them a picture of what was inside. This time, however, I especially liked the drawing, and decided to make it the outside instead. So: ZEPPELIN! (Drawn with a Staedtler Lumocolor permanent pen; I forget the size.)
The next item of business is gluing the cover together. I used plain chipboard for this one, though I go for heavier (but NOT corrugated) cardboard when I can get it. The pieces should be a bit larger than the pages, such that the cover will stick out further and protect the paper. I don’t put any glue on the other side of the boards, mainly as a holdover from not wanting to wreck the drawing behind, but it’s also not necessary and gives you more leeway.
Letting the glue dry a bit, until it gets tacky, is a good thing to do before you fold the edges over. You don’t have to hold it in place as long, and it’s easier to position things how you want them, though there’s still flexibility.
Next, one must glue one side of the endpapers (two pieces of fabric, cut the same size as the pages) to the outside of the block of paper. Try and get the glue as even as possible, not using too much, and press well and long before the next step: gluing the other side to the inside of the cover.
I use piece of contrasting suede as a bookmark. Cut it about 1 1/2 times as long as the book, and glue it to the back cover before attaching the endpapers. Having it on the back cover, rather than the spine, makes it lay flat with the pages — instead of forcing the paper apart.
Again, let the glue dry slightly before pressing things together. Do your best to leave the book alone while pressing it under a weight… I’m planning to make an actual press soon, with rigid boards and wingnuts, but until then I must trust myself not to lift the books off and check on the journal too much while it’s drying.
Final step: Photographs!!!