Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quilted Paperback Book Cover - Part 4

This post is a continuation of
To close your opening, you are going to fold your fabric to the inside of the cover so that the folded edges are facing out. We will sew a 1/8" seam all the way around the cover to close the cover and set the pockets in place.

Pin your opening closed
I just leave them sticking up and pull them out before they touch the end of my foot but pin perpendicular to the seam you're sewing if that works better for you.

Sew 1/8" seam all the way around the cover, starting with your open edge
You cover can now be done if you want it to be! That's right folks, if you want to be done at this point your cover will work just fine.
If you would like to add some additional quilting by hand (anywhere), machine quilting,  embroidery, embellishments, etc. you can do so at this point. Just be careful not so sew the pockets to the cover as that would prevent your book from sliding in.

I ended up adding a bit of embroidery using Valdani perle cotton size 8 thread (from but I'm not quite finished yet. 
You can see in this picture that I've finished my covers several different ways: very thinly spaced straight line quilting, straight line quilting spaced further apart, hand quilting, or nothing at all.
The following are pictures of individual covers I have made recently. As you can see, they're all a little different:
string pieced cover, no quilting
machine appliqued hexagons, echo hand quilting with variegated valdani perle size 8 thread
single cut of fabric, variegated valdani perle size 8 stitching in all the light green lines
And here's another showing the outside and inside of the cover in more detail:
My plan is to add some hand quilting in the solid gray areas to finish this cover off.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial! These paperback book covers would make a great gift for the holidays to a fellow book lover. The measurements I used in the tutorial are for mass market paperback books and will fit most books in that category.  The covers also work well for keeping the book you are reading private so that, as my friend recently mentioned, you can read smutty romance novels and no one will know! You could also use the same method to make a cover for a journal or notebook.

I'd love to see your creations! I hope you will add them to the Threaded Mess flickr group. If you do, I might just show your work off on this blog!

Happy Quilting

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quilted Paperback Book Cover - Part 3

This post is a continuation of
Today we will be sewing together all of the pieces we cut yesterday.

The first step is to make your pockets. Layer your batting, outside cover piece face up, and inside cover piece face down. If you have a directional print, make sure you are layering and sewing so that your finished pieces are symmetrical. If you forget the order and layer the two fabric pieces in the wrong order, like I did below, it's won't be able to tell the difference. 

Please note that you should be using a 3/8" foot (not a quarter inch foot) to piece your cover!
My 3/8" foot has a handy seam guide on it which is pretty helpful but not required.

Finger press your pocket fabrics open so that the batting is on the inside of the two fabrics. Both prints should be showing face out.
Sew down the seam side of your pocket 3/8" from the edge

 Repeat steps for both pockets
Trim away excess batting
Layer you cover with the batting on the bottom, your outside cover fabric face up, and your pockets  face down (the inside pocket fabric should be face up) so that the seams are on the inside and the raw edges are lined up with the outside raw edges of your cover fabric. If your fabric is directional, make sure to put each pocket so that the direction of the print is the same of the cover! I made this mistake doing this tutorial.

At this point, I go ahead and add a couple of pins to ensure my pockets stay in place
Then layer your inside cover fabric face down covering your other layers and lining up the edges with the other fabric layers
I also pin this layer into place around all edges to make sure it doesn't shift while I'm sewing.

You are going to leave a gap on the bottom edge of your cover so that you can turn your cover right side out. For me, 2.5" works well and is the size I would suggest. If you find you are having trouble with that small a hole you can unpick your stitches.

Sew a 5/8" seam along all 4 sides (except for the area you are leaving open to turn your cover)
I back-stitch at each corner on both sides of the corner to make sure it stays nice and strong.

When you are done sewing around all 4 edges (except for your opening) Trim off the excess batting
 And clip your corners at a right angle (being careful not to clip the threads too close) so there's not so much bulk when you turn them right side out
Take out your pins. Don't forget the ones that are on the inside of your cover!

Turn your cover right side out by pulling the insides through the hole you left
Flip the pockets over so that the outside pocket fabric is showing face up on the inside of your cover
You will have to push your finger into the inside corners of your pockets so that the layers line up correctly
Iron your cover and press the unfinished edges of your opening to the inside of the cover

Your cover is now almost ready!! Tomorrow I will give instructions for closing your cover and discuss some finishing options. Your homework is to construct your cover up to this point!

Happy Quilting

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quilted Paperback Book Cover Tutorial - Part 2 Update


I just noticed a couple of typos to the earlier instructions and made updates. Blogger was on the fritz over the weekend and I think some of my edits didn't save before I published my post. I apologize for any inconvenience!!

Happy Quilting

Quilted Paperback Book Cover - Part 2

This post is a continuation of

Welcome back quilters who also enjoy reading books, particularly paperback books. Today I'll be explaining how to measure your book to determine what cuts you'll need to make.

I purchased this book used, and it already had a little damage to it. The cover was starting to break away from the bound pages and there's clearly some wear and tear.
I used rubber cement to glue the cover back to the pages and secured the book with some fabric strips I found in my trash around all the edges to keep everything nice and tight while the glue dried. My librarian friend suggested rubber bands but I couldn't find any so I improvised. I am sure there's information out on the web on how to repair books so go research if your book is already falling apart.

Let everything dry.

Now that your new or used book is in as good condition as possible, we can measure it and start making our cuts.

First, measure the short side of the cover:

I recorded this measurement as 4". It's definitely OK to approximate within 1/8".

Second, measure the long side of the cover:
I recorded this measurement as 6.5".

Third, measure the depth of the book:
I recorded this measurement as 1.5".

I draw out my measurements like so:
This shows the cover as a 2 dimensional object so I can add up all the parts and pieces.

I then add 1.5" to my total length and 1.5" to my total width. My new measurements are 8"x11" (previously 6.5"x9.5"). Your measurements may be different from mine so we'll now call the length A and the width B.

The next key measurement to record is the width of the pockets. You get this measurement by taking the length of the short side of the cover (4") and subtract 1/2". My new measurement is 3.5". Your measurement may be different from mine so we'll now call the pocket width C.

The finished sized pieces you need are as follows:
  • One A"xB" rectangle for the outside of the cover
  • One A"xB" rectangle for the inside of the cover
  • Two C"xA" rectangles for the outside of the pocket
  • Two C"xA" rectangles for the inside of the pocket
  • One approximately A+1"xB+1" rectangle of batting for the cover (slightly bigger than your fabric cuts to trim with scissors later)
  • Two approximately C+1"xA+1" rectangles of batting for the pockets (slightly bigger than your fabric cuts to trim with scissors later)
How you get to these fabric cuts is completely up to you!

You can be scrappy, paper piece, English paper piece, make blocks, applique, or cut all of your pieces from a single cut of fabric. In this tutorial I go into details for using 2 fat quarters but feel free to personalize the cover and the outside of the pockets to your hearts content. I will say that there's not much use in piecing the inside of the pockets or the inside of the cover as they are the parts of the cover which will come into direct contact with the book and should be as smooth as possible. Plan to cut those pieces from a single cut of fabric.

Fat Quarter Method
This method works for mass market sized paper back books but not for the 'Opra' sized. You need slightly more fabric for the larger books.
I received an adorable fat quarter set of Lizzy House's 1001 Peeps line as a thank you for pre-ordering her book. Thanks Lizzy!

I pulled the print out with all the peeps and paired it with a print from Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush line

Fold your fat quarter along the short side of the fabric so that you are cutting along the long side of the fabric
Cut at A (for me this was 8")

Open the cut you just made and cut B (for me this was 11")
From the same piece of fabric, cut two Cs (for me this was 3.5")
You should now have 3 cuts and a little piece for your scrap pile
Repeat these steps for the Cover (AxB) and two outside pocket pieces (CxA).

A word of caution, if you are using a directional fabric, make sure your cuts are going in the right direction and modify steps accordingly!

To cut my batting, I laid my pieces out on my batting and trimmed around

Tomorrow we will be learning how to sew all of the pieces we just cut together. You homework is to get all of those pieces ready and make any repairs necessary to your book!

Happy Quilting