How to Make Spell Books – Halloween Tutorial
October 13, 2021
Finished faux leather spell book

How to Make Spell Books a Halloween Tutorial

I needed a “How to make spell books” tutorial for a friend who runs a local Salt Lake Wizarding Academy. Inspired by the journal of Tom Riddle in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets we wanted to transform a simple composition book into a journal with a faux leather cover.

The trick is these spell books needed to be easy enough for 150 children ranging from 7-12 years to complete on their own. So here we go….

This is not intended to be a professional looking leather bound book, but I was pretty pleased at the results on my dollar store transformation!

Faux Leather Paper Spell Book tutorial
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13 Days of Halloween

It's Day 12 of our annual “13 Days of Halloween ideas”. I’ll be posting new Halloween ideas Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays all month long. This year the theme is MAGICAL BOOKS and I share tips for a Room on the Broom Halloween party as well as Harry Potter inspired Halloween ideas.

Check back each week on the blog, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Or better yet, JOIN ME to receive a weekly summary straight to your inbox each weekend so you don't miss a single Halloween thing.

How to Make Spell Books 

Faux leather paper spell book supplies

Faux Leather Spell Book Supplies

Video Tutorial for How to Make Spell Books

You can go through this video tutorial with for a start to finish of how to make spell books. Or continue reading for step by step images and written instructions.

Step 1: Measure & Cut Inside Spell Book Cover

Trace the cover onto black cardstock

The very first thing to do is to create a template of your inside cover BEFORE it starts to get messy. Place the cardstock inside the book so it's tight against the spine.

Use a pencil to trace the cover. Cut along the pencil line then use a paper cutter to trim a tiny bit {like 1/8″} off the straight back.

Step 2: Prepare Your Surface & Paper

Tear kraft paper into pieces that will fit onto cover of journal

This is a messy craft so make sure to prepare your surface with a drop cloth or an extra piece of kraft paper like I did.

Then you'll want to tear pieces of paper that about the size shown above. Much bigger and the glue dries before you can get to it. Smaller and you'll have tons of seams to try and cover.

Step 3: Glue Faux Leather Spell Book Cover

Painting glue onto cover of journal to create faux leather look

Starting with a corner apply glue liberally to a small section the size of your torn paper pieces. You'll need to work on one area at a time or the glue will dry.

Creating a faux leather cover for spell book or journal

Place the piece of torn paper on top making sure to overlap the edges a bit. Then see if it can slide. If it sticks, add more glue. As you slide the paper use your fingers to smush and create folds in the paper.

The smaller the folds the more realistic the leather looks. Large folds like these are easier for kids but make sure to press the air out of them.

Step 4: Cover Spine

Once you finish the cover, wrap paper around the spine and continue to side two. Open it up flat if possible to allow the front to dry as you work.

Step 5: Continue Adding Faux Leather Paper

Adding kraft paper to cover of spell book DIY faux leather

Keep adding pieces of paper, crinkling as you go. Glue down any loose edges, especially where the pieces overlap. You want all the paper stuck down tight. Finish up the back cover and let dry.

Step 6: Spell Book Finished Edges

Painting the edges of paper to wrap around the cover of a spell book

Now that the outside is dry, turn your book over and glue the paper on the edges.

Finishing the edges on a DIY faux leather journal

Press it down well making sure the edge is smooth and no wrinkles this time. You may have to fold the paper a bit to get those nice rounded corners. Let dry and do the other side.

Step 7: Distress Faux Leather & Seal

*I didn't get photos of the final steps. So for a visual of the painting please go back up to the video, skip ahead to 6:35 and watch to the end.*

Now it's time for paint. For the first pass use a dark chocolate brown paint and dry brush the ridges, getting into the side creases. This helps gives added depth. To dry brush use very little paint on a dry paint brush and sweep in over the tops. We are NOT painting the whole thing at this time.

Let it dry and then stir some paint into your mod podge and paint over the entire thing. Really use that foam brush to press into the cracks so there's no dry paper left. This will seal your cover and make it strong.

If you'd like to add more distressing you can go over it in areas with additional brown paint and blot off the excess.

Step 8: Glue Inside Spell Book Cover

Once the whole thing is dry you can apply the inside cover piece. Since you followed the directions and cut those first you should be ready to go! You'll notice it's the same size as the cover and hides all those nice finished edges you just did.

Adding inside cover to a DIY journal

If your paper is a little too large, you can take it back to the paper trimmer and slice just a tiny bit off the top, bottom, and back straight edge. You'll probably need to smooth out the corners again just a little bit with your scissors.

Then paint the whole inside cover with glue and apply the paper smoothing it out with wide strokes to remove any air bubbles.

Let it dry and repeat on the other side.

Enjoy Your Finished Faux Leather Paper Spell Book

Faux leather Journal cover

I have to admit that this little dollar store composition book transformation surprised even me. It's pretty fun when something turns out better than you expected!

Creating a journal of their very own may encourage young writers to record some thoughts. Who knows, it might even inspire the next J.K. Rowling!

All the Witchy Details

Faux Leather Paper Spell Book tutorial

Get kids even more excited to write with a fun Halloween inspired pen. We love these witch broom and blood red syringe pens. They might even make homework a little more exciting.

Tom Riddle's Faux Leather Paper Journal

Finished faux leather spell book

Now that you know how to make spell books with faux leather covers, you can use this technique on anything to give it an aged vintage leather look. I think a whole stack of old spell books will make a great addition to your Halloween decor!

What about you? Do you think you're brave enough to try this faux leather paper journal? If you try it, I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. And if you share photos, I want to see it too! Please tag us @partieswithacause on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We love celebrating all your hard work! 


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Faux leather Halloween journal by Salt Lake Party Stylist

13 Days of Halloween

Coming up next for Day 13….

Harry Potter Floating Candle DIY

Floating candles for Harry Potter party

From the Halloween Archives

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  1. Holly Hulke

    I love how spooky this turned out! It totally looks like leather!

  2. Susan-Sugarpartiesla

    This is genius ! What a great and inexpensive way to diy.

  3. Jordan Hansen

    What a fun project and I NEED one of those syringe pens! Loved your video 🙂

  4. Lori

    What an AMAZING transformation!! I love this one so much!! And it’s so affordable too!


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Gingerbread houses in a row as table runner centerpiece for a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party I’m Bri of Parties With A Cause. I’m a mother to three crazy awesome kids, interior designer, & party planning junky. I love reading, globe trotting, and frozen yogurt. And I’m elevating the party experience one cause at a time! Read More

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