Are you looking to give your open shelving a cohesive look? These removable fabric book covers are a great option if you want to cover your books without damaging them. Fabric book covers are best for text books, school books or reference books. Hardcover books are easier to work with, but I did use them for several paperback books as well.
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I’ve been in the process of updating the open shelves in my office. I have several reference books to store on the shelves, but I wanted a neutral, cohesive look. After doing some research and a lot of trial and error, I think I’ve come up with a quick way to cover your books in a neat and tidy manner that will last.
If you are looking for a super quick update to your decor, but aren’t worried about the durability or protection of your books, paper covers are a better way to go. I chose fabric because of the durability and protection it offered. I also love the texture that fabric brings into a space. It just looks high end.
- BULAP OR DROP CLOTH
- HEAT N’ BOND
- FABRIC SCISSORS
- ROTARY CUTTER WITH MAT
- FABRIC TAPE RULER
- FABRIC CLIPS OR PINS
- HEAT PRESS OR IRON
- HEAT RESISTANT MAT
- MARKING PEN OR PENCIL
- METAL RULER (OPTIONAL)
- SILHOUETTE OR CRICUT CUTTING MACHINE (IF ADDING LABELS)
- HEAT TRANSFER VINYL (FOR LABELS)
MEASURE YOUR BOOK
Start out by measuring the width of your book. You want to measure from the edge of the front cover, around the spine, to the front edge of the back cover. Then add 8 inches to your measurement.
Next, measure from the top edge to the bottom edge of your book. Add 2 inches to your measurement. I found it helpful to write the measurements down. Especially if you’re doing multiple books.
CUT YOUR FABRIC
Cut a piece of fabric a little larger than your book measurements (including the extra 8 inches for width and 2 inches for height). I did a rough cut and then folded the long side of the fabric in half. Line up the fold on one of the lines on your cutting mat. Then you can square up the edges, using your fold line as a guide.
For instance, the fold line in the image below is at the top. I lined up the fold line on the mat line. Then I used the clear plastic ruler to cut a strait edge down the right side of the fabric. Then the bottom edge of fabric.
For the final cut, I trimmed off the fabric to match the height measurement (plus 2 inches) of the book.
CUT YOUR HEAT N’ BOND
You can purchase Heat N’ Bond in a 3/4″ roll, so you don’t need to cut it. I already had a large roll of the regular (bulk) material. So, I just decided to use my rotary cutter and mat to cut the Heat N’ Bond into 3/4 inch strips.
PREVENT YOUR FABRIC FROM FRAYING
The traditional method of making these book covers would be to fold over the edge of the fabric to make a hem. I tried this on the first book cover I made and wasn’t happy with the results. It left a lot of bulk fabric and the book covers didn’t lay flat.
The top book, in the image below, has a folded over hem. The bottom book has a flat edge, no hem. I’ll show you how to keep it from fraying further down. You can see how much smoother the bottom book is.
I didn’t want to leave a raw edge, because I knew it would fray over time. So, I came up with a solution. I put the 3/4″ strip of heat and bond on the edges and pressed them for 3 seconds. This prevented the fabric from fraying along the edge and also allowed the covers to lay flat.
Lay a piece of parchment paper under the fabric. If you are working with a pattern, be sure to put the Heat N’ Bond on the backside of the fabric. Line your 3/4 inch strip up along the edge and press it for 3 seconds. You could peel off the backing after it cools, but I just left it in place. You won’t see it when the book cover is done.
To create a really strait edge, trim it slightly after the Heat N’ Bond.
You can see how nice the edge turns out below.
ALIGN YOUR BOOK AND MARK YOUR FABRIC
Lay your fabric right side up. Then place your book in the middle and center it. I used book ends to support the book, so my hands were free.
For the next step, you’ll need to use pins, fabric clips or dollar store chip clips. I love these dollar store clips. They never break and I use them for so many things.
Fold the end of your fabric up and secure it with a clip. Then, using a marking pen or pencil, mark the edge of the fabric and the edge of the book. (see below).
Repeat this step for all four corners and then remove the book.
Using your iron or heat press, crease the fabric at the folds.
SECURE THE POCKETS FOR YOUR BOOK COVER
Remove the clips and open the two flaps. Measure from the fold to your pencil line. Cut one of your strips of heat and bond and lay it in place. Repeat this step for all four corners. The strips should be 3/4 inches in width. If you line it up along the edge of your fabric, it will allow just enough wiggle room for your book cover.
Press each of the strips for 3 seconds and let cool. Then remove the paper backing.
Fold your flaps back in and press each of the four corners for 25 seconds. The time and temperature will vary based on the type of fabric you are using. Refer the instructions on the Heat N’ Bond for your fabric.
It’s very important to let the Heat N’ Bond cool before moving on to the next step. When the glue is warm, it is not as durable.
FLIP FABRIC RIGHT SIDE OUT AND PRESS WITH HEAT
Working on one side at a time, flip the pocket right side out.
Then press the fabric flat. See image below.
INSERT YOUR BOOK
Slide your book into the cover. Now you can move on to labeling the books.
DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE LABELS AND SVG CUT FILE
To download your file and receive instant access to my free library, just subscribe at the top sidebar or at the bottom of this post. You will be sent a welcome email with the password to the library. Go to the library page and enter the password, then download any of the designs you would like.
Heat Transfer Vinyl needs to be cut on an electronic cutting machine (e.g. Silhouette or Cricut). Therefore the labels for your book spine are available in SVG AND STUDIO3 (Silhouette File) formats. I wanted to share them in an editable format and the only version that worked was the .studio3 version. If you have the Silhouette Studio software, you can open the .studio3 file and directly edit the words. For everyone else, the SVG file can be opened and ungrouped, but you will have to delete the word and create a new one. I used a common font, so it should be available to you.
The depth of the book spine is on the left hand side and all of the labels are approximately 9 inches long.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR LABELS
I used Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) to make the labels for my books. It adheres well to most fabrics. HTV varies by different manufacturers. You will want to refer to the instruction sheet that comes with your vinyl for the cut and temperature settings.
Open the file in your Silhouette software. You will be working in the Design tab of your software. Click on each of the titles and enter your own title in the box. When your done, save the file again.
The cut side of your HTV is covered with a white plastic film. This side should be facing up when you place your material on the cutting mat. The bottom of the HTV has a clear carrier sheet. Peel off the white film (top of vinyl), before sending it to cut. Load the mat into the machine.
Go to the Send tab in the upper right corner. Your cut settings for the Silhouette Cameo are Blade: 3, Speed: 8, Force: 4, Passes: 2, Material Heat Transfer Vinyl, Smooth. Always do a test cut to make sure your vinyl is loaded right side up. When you select send, it will ask if you want to mirror your image. Select yes.
When your cut job is done, weed out the perimeter of your vinyl, so it looks like the image below. Then you can go back and weed one box at a time until your words are the only thing left. Don’t forget to remove the extra vinyl on the inside of your letters.
APPLY HEAT TRANSFER VINYL
I used book ends to hold the books, to keep my hands free.
Make sure your book is facing in the direction you want, so your vinyl placement is facing the right direction.
Position your words so the sticky side of the clear transfer sheet is facing the fabric. I measured an inch from the top of the book. That way, all of my titles were in the same position.
Next, place the Teflon cover sheet or a piece of parchment paper over the book spine. Then press it with your preheated heat press or iron. The instructions for the vinyl say to preheat your heat press to 305 degrees. Press with light to medium pressure for 10-15 seconds. Let the fabric cool. Then peel the carrier sheet cold.
I know it sounds like a lot, but once you cover a couple of books and learn the process, things go much faster. I like to give you detailed instructions to take the guesswork out of the process. Since these book covers are made from fabric, you will be able to enjoy them for a long time.
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Fabric comes in so many colors and patterns. Hopefully these fabric book covers gave you some inspiration to get started on your own . Thanks for stopping by.