Tuesday, October 3, 2017

TUTORIAL - a simple book cover...

I think it was close to a month ago you first saw this stitchery design and I mentioned a plan to feature it on a fabric cover for my very old Readers Digest gardening book.

With a house move between then and now that plan was pushed to the back burner for a while, but yesterday I set some time aside to play in my 'new' sewing room.

The steps I'm about to share can be followed to make a fabric cover for any size book. As long as you have the measurements of your book it's relatively easy to adjust the cover to fit. 

My old hardcover measured almost 15½" around the middle, from the edge of the back cover to the edge of the front cover...

...and the book is 9½" high. 

To complete my measurements I opened the front cover to decide how much sleeve I would need to add and chose 4" from the seven inches available as that would still allow me room to slip the cover on after it was made.

So here's what I had on paper:

Height - 9½"
Wraparound Length, with sleeves - 23½" (15½" + 4" + 4")

Allowing an additional 1" for the seams my final measurements became 10½" x 24½".

Use these same steps to ascertain the measurements you will need for your own book.

Now it's up to you how you make your cover. It may be one single length of a pretty fabric, a set of small patchwork blocks or scraps of different fabrics sewn together - just as long as it is the same size as your final measurements. 

This is what mine looked like (pinned to a bit of quilt wadding)...

Once you have the outside of your book cover made, cut a piece of thin fusible wadding and fuse it to the centre of the wrong side of the fabric. I've used some Parlan because that's what I had on hand.
The fusible wadding needs to be the exact size of the book (mine was 15½" x 9½")...

Place the book onto the wadding side of the fabric and carefully wrap the cover around it, adjusting until the sleeves inside the front and back cover have the same size fold.

This allowed me to confidently position and pin the stitchery block onto what would become the front cover.

The stitchery was then blanket stitched in place.

To line the cover I lay the fabric face down on a piece of cotton homespun and pinned the two pieces of fabric together.

You can cut the lining the same size as the outer cover, but I used scrap fabric almost the same size so chose to trim the excess later.

Personally I don't like using good quilting fabric for areas of a project which won't be seen and find that homespun is an inexpensive option for backing table runners, wall hangings or hidden linings such as this.

Sew around all four sides with a 1/4" seam, leaving a 4" opening along one narrow end for turning out later. 

Trim any excess fabric if you used a larger piece of lining fabric as I did...

Turn the cover right side out and press flat.

Ladder stitch (or slip stitch) the opening closed.

If you'd like to hand or machine quilt the cover now is the time to do it. 
I chose a touch of hand quilting with running stitch and Perle #12 thread.

Place the book inside the cover and hold the ends up to position it right in the centre.

Fold the sleeves inside the covers and with a single strand of strong thread sew a securing stitch between the outer cover and each of the four sleeves.

Carefully remove the book from the cover...

...and slip stitch the cover and sleeve edges together.

Press the cover and slip the book in.
You're done!

My 50 year old gardening book has a new lease of life, and now I'm planning more book covers because they are easy to make and look so lovely on the shelf. 
In fact I have a huge atlas my father gave me when I was very young that could do with a makeover too.

If you'd like to stitch "The Garden" you'll find the pattern HERE in my shop.



  1. Thanks for that tutorial, Jenny. Your book cover looks just lovely. I doubt that I could keep one clean though :-)

  2. What a wonderful book cover. Too cute to set away into a bookshelf. Thank you for this tutorial!

  3. Love this Jenny! This is a great way to use our stitcheries too. Thank you!

  4. You created a beautiful book cover! Thanks for taking the time to show how you did it.

  5. Hello Jenny; I have to tell you that your tutorial is the absolute best book cover tutorial that I have read. I have been watching for a really detailed, step by step, tutorial for quite some time now and with yours I feel confident to take on the projects that I want to. Thank you so much for sharing your tutorial for your Beautiful Fabric Book Cover. I look forward to seeing pictures and posts about your next Book Cover! Have a great day!

  6. Really cute Jenny. I just bought mine to add to my ever long list of things to sew...giggle.

  7. Very pretty book cover. Thanks for the tutorial as my beloved wants me to make a cover for one of his Bibles.

  8. What a beautiful book cover, the fabric and the Gorgeous stitchery... perfect tutorial... Thank you so much for taking the time to share this beautiful project with us... May x

  9. Gorgeous! And a fabulous tutorial.

  10. What an easy-to-follow tutorial, and a really pretty book now, Jenny. I couldn't help but draw a parallel between your pretty cover on the old book and the way we are made new again when wrapped around by Christ. It's a great imagery to go with baptism, I think.

  11. Jenny Dear your book now has a lovely hand crafted cover. Thank you very much for your clear easy tutorial. This will be so cozy in your new home. Home Sweet Home...xo

  12. Oh that turned out gorgeous. Love the yellow and blues in the design and fabrics. Awesome tutorial.

  13. I think that is the same gardening book that Mum always had. Hers still has the original dust jacket. It will be coming to our house to live in the next few days. The cove you made looks wonderful.

  14. Thank you for sharing this lovely tutorial Jenny. I always love to see your beautiful projects. Hugs and best wishes in your new home.

  15. Lovely, the stitching is amazing and the finished cover is as I said lovely and does your book proud.

  16. Great tutorial, and it is so much prettier than the original cover!! Hugs, H

  17. Hi Jennifer,
    It's 2022 !
    A new year, a new cover for this years creative thoughts and ideas journal :)


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