Saturday, September 6, 2014

how to cover a book {tutorial}

This summer I was again asked to be the crafts counselor for our church's girls camp. Crafting is my favorite part of camp, so of course I said yes! We wanted to give each girl a small book of scriptures so we could all read together before bed at night, so each girl got to cover a mini Book of Mormon for one of our crafting activities. It took a little preparation on my part, but it was a hit with the girls and the leaders. Here's my tutorial for how to create a fun covered book, complete with a beaded bookmark. These instructions can be used to cover any book or notebook.

How to Cover a Book

The best material to use to cover books is book cloth, which has a special backing that protects it from the glue seeping through and ruining the fabric. You can find it at places like Paper Source and online, but I found that it is expensive and rather plain--mostly solid colors and not many prints. To save money and give the girls more options, I chose to only use real book cloth on the spine and make my own book cloth from fabric, iron-on adhesive, and tissue paper for the covers, as I learned in this tutorial by the talented Amber of Damask Love. If you want to make your own book cloth, be sure to get the iron-on adhesive and tissue paper listed under Supplies.


Chipboard (find it at craft stores, art supply stores, or online)
Book cloth or Fabric (we tried a decorator’s weight fabric and a quilting cotton and both worked great)
Coordinating fabric or book cloth for spine
Heat ‘n Bond Ultrahold iron-on adhesive
White tissue paper
PVA glue (bookbinding glue–find it at Paper Source or other online retailers)
Foam brush
Narrow ribbon for bookmark
Metal charms for bookmark (optional–find these in the jewelry aisle at craft stores)
Metal embellishments for cover (optional–ours are by Tim Holtz)
Needle and coordinating thread
Scissors, Exacto knife, rotary cutter and cutting mat

First, measure your book. You'll need the height, width, and depth. Now it's time to make your book cloth if you choose to create your own.

How to Make Book Cloth

Using your cover measurements, cut two pieces of fabric twice the size of your covers. Iron them if needed. Next, cut a piece of Heat 'n Bond adhesive about the same size and iron onto the back of your fabric pieces, paper-side up, according to the manufacturer's directions. Peel off the paper backing. Iron the tissue paper onto the adhesive--it only takes 1-2 seconds to bond it. Voila! You have made book cloth!


Use your Exacto knife to cut two pieces of chipboard that are 1/2" longer than the height and 1/4" shorter than the width of your book measurements. 

Cut two pieces of your book cloth 3" longer and 3" wider than your chipboard pieces. Use a rotary cutter and ruler for the most precise cut. 

Bookmark & Spine

Cut a piece of narrow ribbon 3" longer than the length of the spine. If you want to add charms, thread them on the ribbon and tie a knot at the end to hold them on. We used two ribbons for our books.

Using a little PVA glue, attach the top end of the ribbon to the top of the spine, about 1.5" down. Then tuck the ribbon inside the book so it will be out of your way while you finish the covers. 


Cut a piece of book cloth the same height of your spine and twice the width. Spread a thin layer of PVA glue on the book cloth with a foam brush. Center it on the spine and fold it around the cover of the book, smoothing out any wrinkles or bubbles.

Chipboard Covers

If you want to embellish your front cover with a metal accent, follow these directions first. Center a piece of cover chipboard on the back of a piece of your book cloth. Fold each side over to crease it.

Remove the chipboard and, using the needle and thread, sew the metal embellishment to the front of the book cloth. You could also try hot glue, but I wasn't sure it would be a strong enough hold, and I wanted our books to look more professional.

Next spread PVA glue on the cover chipboard and center it on the back of the book cloth using your fold marks as a guide.


Trim the corners of book cloth with scissors in a rounded motion, being careful to leave about 1/8" of fabric at the corner. Otherwise your chipboard will show on the finished covers.

Spread PVA glue on each flap and fold over chipboard, smoothing out any wrinkles. 

Repeat for back cover.

Now it's time to attach the covers to your book. Each cover will hang over your book about 1/4" on three sides. This will allow a little of your spine to show. Spread a little PVA glue on the back of the covers, avoiding getting glue on the 1/4" of the three overhanging sides. Press and hold in place until it sticks. And you're done!

Our girls had so much fun making these covered books at girls camp this year. Here are a few more covered book tutorials you might like.  And if you're looking for craft camp ideas, check out my other camp crafts for more inspiration!

Japanese bookbinding tutorial {how to make a book from scratch}

Make Your Own Notepads {from scratch paper and card stock}

LDS girls camp craft
Duct Tape Notebooks {and pens!}

*This tutorial was originally published at Skip To My Lou on July 23, 2014 as a part of their Summer Craft Camp series.

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1 Comment

One Response to “how to cover a book {tutorial}”

Think Bowtique said...

The books look great. I am sure the girls will cherish their book of scriptures for years to come.

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