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Making Your Own Book Cloth

by Syl Schulze

Busy Mind Bindery is a blog dedicated to providing instructional tutorials on book-binding while inviting readers to think about themselves and the world around them.

It is the time in a college student’s semester where they begin to lose motivation, but are also cramming for the final stretch. I am not exempt from that, which has lead my blog posts to become a bit neglected. Thankfully, my past self planned ahead of time, and took pictures for a tutorial that haven’t been used yet. Today, I’m going to show you a rudimentary way of making book cloth. Actual store-bought book cloth will differ from what we make here. Think of this as taking a piece of fabric with a pattern you like and using it as a book cover. Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that.

What you’ll need:

  • Fabric you want to use (not shown); enough to have two pieces an inch more than the size of your cover on all sides, and one piece the same height as your cover and 1.5″ wide.
  • Japanese archival quality paper (not shown); enough to be larger than the pieces of fabric you use
  • a plate of glass (I used some from a cheap picture frame)
  • a rubber brayer
  • Archival PVA Neutral PH Adhesive
  • a glue brush
  • a ruler
  • a pencil

1. Cut two pieces of fabric to be a inch larger than your cover on all sides. For example, my cover is 3.5″x 5″, so I cut the fabric to be 4.5″x 6″. Then, cut a piece as tall as your book and 1.5″ wide. You would ideally want to iron your fabric first, but you’ll see here mine is very wrinkly. That is because I am lazy and also a college student who does not own an iron.

1.1 The fabric

2. Cut your paper to be about an inch bigger than the fabric on all sides. So, because my fabric is 4.5″x 6″, I would cut my paper to be 5.5″x 7″.

2.1 The cloth and fabric cut to the appropriate sizes

3. Lay your fabric face down onto the piece of glass. Prepare your gluing surface!

3.1 Fabric on the glass, paper on the gluing surface

4. Slather the paper in glue. Don’t forget to spread it out with your glue brush!

4.1 The paper all glued up

5. Place the paper on top of the fabric on the plate of glass.

5.1 Paper on the plate

6. Roll the brayer over the paper and fabric to get out an air bubbles.

6.1 Using the brayer
6.2 The fabric the paper combined

7. Repeat steps 3-6 for all your pieces of fabric.

7.1 All pieces of fabric with paper backings

8. Cut off the excess paper from around the edges.

8.1 Excess paper cut away

9. Use your new book cloth to cover a book! My cover-making tutorial can be found here.

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