Book Cover Tutorial

Hurricane Irene blew through with high winds and knocked out power to about everyone I know. The power company has restored over 700K customers, but sadly, we are in the “last-but-not-least” category. See below.


So, my loss is your gain. I took pictures for a tutorial but didn’t get to blog last week, so here is the post now! We may not have power, but blogging must go on!

Back to school means back to the books. If your school is anything like mine, they require books to be covered. This year, I opted to sew fun covers for my children’s books. They are super quick, and will remind your little one daily of just how much you love them!

Step one, gather your supplies:
Home dec fabric 1/4 yard– basically the height of the book to be covered plus seam allowance.
Quilting ruler
Marking device–yes, I used a pencil. A regular old number 2 pencil. Done is better than perfect on this project!


STEP ONE: Marking sewing lines

Lay the fabric face down on your table and put the book on top.
Draw a line at the top, bottom, and right side of the book.



Leave the book where it is and wrap the spare fabric to the left of the book up and over the book front (like you are closing the book, only it is the fabric, not the book).

Mark where the edge of the cover is.



Remove your book and lay the fabric wrong side up again. Extend all of the marks you have made until they all meet. You should have a big rectangle.


Now, if we sew on this line, the cover will be way too tight and small. This is because when we turn the book cover to the right side, the seam allowance needs somewhere to go. SO, let’s add 1/2″ to every line so we can let the serger cut on this line! If you are sewing with a regular sewing machine, add 1/4″ and you will place your stitches on the line. Now you should have a rectangle inside a rectangle.


DO NOT CUT ON THESE LINES!!! You need to cut outside these lines. If you want, use your rotary cutter and cut about 1/4 away from the outside rectangle. If you are lazy (and have a serger) just use your scissors and cut! The serger will neaten up the SA for us later!

Once you have this cut (referred to now as rectangle one), you need to cut the fabric for the flaps and the lining.

Let’s make this as easy as possible, shall we? Let’s cut two more rectangles the EXACT same size as our first one. Just lay it on your fabric and cut two more. Don’t worry if the lines are crooked because we are going to sew or serge on the lines we drew earlier–it will look perfect!

Now, for the lining, take rectangle two (DON’T CUT RECTANGLE ONE BECAUSE IT HAS OUR SEWING LINES ON IT) and cut off about 4-5 inches from the width.

For the flaps, take rectangle three and cut the width exactly in half. Ok, don’t be THAT exact…just flop one side over to the other, crease, then cut on the crease.

Ok, now off to the sewing machine or serger!

STEP TWO: Assembly

Before we assemble, you can serge the exposed edges of the lining if you are a neat freak. I was a neat freak for this one, so my later pictures will show the edges serged. You really don’t have to do this because nobody will even know it is there….except you….and you will KNOW you didn’t finish those edges…and you will wish you had…SO, better finish those edges! Just the edges on the sides, not the top or bottom. No regrets! :) If you don’t have a serger, leave the edges raw…it is so totally not worth the effort! LOL!

Here is what the FINISHED cover will look like (just imagine those rough edges as a sewn seam with the finished edge inside.




Back to assembly:
I took this after it was sewn together…not sure where the unsewn layout pictures went (I blame Hurricane Irene), so we will make do. They still illustrate the layout ok.

Place rectangle one right side up.

Now for the flaps. We don’t want to have to sew any hems, so I just lay the flap right side down, then fold it back on itself a bit. Repeat on the other side.



Put the lining (rectangle 2) on top of that, right side down. Center it as best you can over rectangle one.



The pinning is the most important part to your success. Pin, pin, pin! I KNOW what you are thinking…you are thinking about that time you saw Margaret Tully and she said “in serging, we don’t use no stinkin’ pins!” I usually don’t, but in this case, I find them useful. JUST MAKE SURE YOU DON’T SERGE THE PIN!!! If you DO serge the pin, don’t blame me…I just warned you and even “yelled” at you in all caps. Back to sewing–

If you don’t have a serger, just keep following along with us. Your book cover will look just as beautiful as ours, but you’ll have one extra step at the end. It will be great.

SO, now that you have a bazillion pins…ok, I used like 6, but that is basically a bazillion for me since I usually don’t use pins (see above)….now that it is pinned, just flip it over and sew on your outside line removing pins before you sew or serge over them. Please note that for sergers, we added enough seam allowance (1/2″) to line up the outside rectangle mark with the cutting knife. For regular sewing, we added enough seam allowance (1/4″) to place our stitching ON the outside rectangle.


For sergers use a 3 or 4 thread overlock wide–I used 3. You could use a more narrow seam, but then I’d follow the instructions for sewing (use 1/4″ seam allowance, and make sure needle is on the line). Make sure you serge off the edge of one side, then turn your project and fold over the seam you just serged when you start the next seam. This allows you to have nice square corners. See below. If you are sewing, just stop at the corner with needle down and turn. Easy peasy!


Here is the “extra step” for those who chose sewing over serging. Cut the corners, and trim your SA to about 1/4 or so….doesn’t have to be exact, just don’t cut too close.

Now all you have to do is a few book cover acrobatics and you are done! Turn the lining right side out.



Now turn the flaps right side out! All done!

Install the cover on your book and send your child back to school with the best looking book around!




If you want to get really fancy, embroider his/her name or favorite thing on the front or spine before assembly. I didn’t have that kind of time, so maybe I’ll do that next time!

Enjoy! If you make one, post a link! I’d love to see!

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  • donna mortensen

    simple but nice!  I’m so sorry you are still operating in primitive mode (i.e., no electricity).  We were supposed to have been out until today, but they managed to get a cutting crew out to cut the trees touching the lines & restored us on Tuesday.  We were sooooooo happy (and tired of cold showers).  Crossing all my digits that you’re back up again soon soon soon!

  • Sew Shine

    Thanks so much! We just went out to get more gas for the generators and we finally have a crew here! Hoping for power by morning! :)

  • Mike

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