Covered books don’t have to be boring with these free DIY tutorials showing how to protect and decorate textbooks, paperbacks, novels, etc., with paper, fabric, vinyl & more.
Some are permanent, decorative options while others are slipcovers that can be taken on and off or reused over and over again.
Many involve minimal or basic sewing skills but there are several crafty, no-sew projects as well so there’s something here for everyone.
New Collection Update: October, 2022
Recommended supplies vary depending on the technique but this is a good time to break out the stash of decorative ephemera, pretty fabric scraps, stamps and washi tapes that you’ve been holding onto.
I’ve sorted this page into several sections for easier browsing:
- Two Basic Methods For Covering A Book (includes diagrams). Instructions from my personal notes.
- More Free Tutorials & How-To Ideas (favorite DIYs that inspire & cover all the bases)
- Bonus Goodies (for bibliophiles)
- Videos I Recommend (for library-level protection)
Whether you’re looking to wrap paperbacks for toting around on daily commutes or wanting inspiration for jazzing up journals, notebooks and school textbooks…there’s a great bunch of ideas here for you. Enjoy!
Two Basic Methods For Covering A Book
Here’s an idea: Keep your cookbooks (or other items) clean by covering them with oil cloth. You can either glue the cloth directly on top or make a pocket cover. These two methods are outlined below (including diagrams).
- Draw a pattern by laying out the volume, opened at center, on paper and tracing around it.
- Allow about two inches at top, bottom and both ends to fold under.
- Cut away the corners from the part that folds under, and also cut away a V-shaped piece from the middle at top and bottom–to allow the cloth to fold under without buckling. See diagram below.
Pocket Slipcover Style:
If you do not want to paste or glue the cloth to the outside, a straight strip of cloth may be used, making sleeves at each end to slip into.
- Cut the cloth longer than the measurement when the book is open.
- Draw pencil lines on reverse side at both ends. Allow about 1/8″ extra width top and bottom.
- Fold at pencil lines and bind top and bottom for pockets at each end. See diagram above.
Can use oil cloth, fabric or heavy paper.
Adapted From: How To Make Good Looking-Inexpensive Things For the Home With Blenback Oil Cloth (1920’s/1930’s)
Quick Notes: I find the B5 Stalogy (365 Days) ideal for my daily bullet journal/work planner setup. Because the size isn’t as popular as the smaller versions, it was a problem finding a decent cover for it that didn’t cost a fortune.
I decided to whip up the pocket style version above using clear tablecloth vinyl but the inner foldover flaps I made about 5 3/4″ wide for both sides so the sleeves could hold a year-at-a-glance calendar card and other bits. I machine stitched in place with grey thread and trimmed close for a tidy finish.
Next, I found some gold glitter craft sheets at the Dollar Store, cut a piece down to size and slid it into the plastic slipcover (with sides folding inwards 2″ deep so the Stalogy’s edges are tidy). This can easily be replaced with other pretty fabrics or decorative papers whenever the mood strikes.
Once everything was even & finished neatly, I slid the journal in and haven’t looked back. It’s held up nicely, wipes down well & is still going strong a year later.
More Free Tutorials & How-To Ideas
Here are a variety of ways you can make notebooks, paperbacks, hardcover novels, journals and favorite tomes in diverse dimensions a little more special.
As always here on Tipnut, all the tutorials listed on this page are 100% hassle-free, which means there are no fees charged to access instructions and no email addresses to submit or memberships to signup for. I focus on written/text instructions but there may be the occasional video provided for extra assistance. If that has changed since being added to this collection, please let me know in the comments area below so I can remove it.
Directions: Click on images to view project page, a new browser tab will open & save your spot here
My heart skipped a beat when I came across this tutorial…love love love this idea! Vintage magazine ads or pages are torn out, cut to size then fused to iron-on vinyl. Pieces are stitched together & then all the way around in a brightly colored thread to finish it off. I’m going to have A LOT of fun with this one 🙂
Two pieces from an atlas or map are cut into strips that are 1/2″ wide & long enough to wrap around small composition booklets from top to bottom (leaving an inch around all sides). Once you have enough prepared, they are then woven into a mat & applied with double sided tape. Nicely done instructions!
A brown paper bag is cut down to size & folded as needed then stickers, torn stationery & other crafty embellishments applied to the front as desired. Once it’s how you like it, everything is sealed in place with Mod Podge.
Shows how to measure for a perfect fit, has handles for easy toting & a button/loop closure. Recommends using a 1/2 yard of canvas material & cotton for the lining.
Pretty scraps are stitched together to create a 12″ x 27″ rectangle, lined with batting and backed with muslin. Easy enough to adjust sizing as needed.
Fusible web is applied to a piece of fabric (she recommends quilting cotton) then using a hot iron, it’s permanently fused onto the notebook. Trim around round corners & any other rough bits. Super simple!
Lined with flannel, has inner pockets to switch out items easily. Button & elastic loop closure (ideal to hold a pen if desired).
Removable. Made with charm pack squares, material and fusible web or iron-on adhesive.
Features a sewn-in bookmark (made of cotton tape or ribbon) & the inside is adjustable on one side for a custom fit…the other side is a pocket.
This is pretty clever & it’s a neat way to get crafty with patterned duct tapes. The end result is a removable slipcover that provides great protection to textbooks, cookbooks, whatever you like!
Supplies: Calico or Cotton Duck, Heat-n-Bond Iron-on Gloss Vinyl, thread. Simple pocket style slipcover that is suitable for all types of books.
Designs are created using computer software, printed on cardstock & then applied with Mod Podge. Finish binding with complimentary washi tape. The idea to use her friends’ blog headers for each of their personalized gifts was very creative!
- How To Remove Library Plastic Sleeves: If you’re an avid shopper at annual library sales, you’ll inevitably come home with an old treasure or two that requires some TLC. Here’s how to get rid of that tired, dull plastic.
- Protective Plastic Techniques: Three Methods, Con-Tact Shelf Adhesive.
- DIY Farmhouse Decor Stack: Here’s how to make some charming decor pieces using thrift store volumes, decorative paper, antiquing wax & Matte Finish Mod Podge.
- Fabric Sleeves How-To: Includes a top tab closure to keep the volume from slipping out.
- Book Bags with Waterproof Lining: Another nice project to protect treasures while out & about.
- From one bookworm to another: 35+ Free Bookplate Printables & Templates and 90+ Ways To Make Your Own Bookmarks. You might also be interested in Journaling Freebies & Resources Collection.