Tuesday, January 27, 2015

DIY Tips: Make Your Own Bookcloth

Ever wished you could make your own bookcloth out of some of the many wonderful cotton fabrics out there?  Then you could use that cloth to cover your own art journals and sketchbooks.

Perhaps even more fun than making books for yourself is making them as gifts for friends and family.  If you know how to make your own bookcloth, you can pick out cotton fabric that really matches the personality of your loved one.  That makes the handmade gift even more meaningful.  You crafted it and you crafted it with them and their passions specifically in mind!

Here is a book I recently finished for a friend for Christmas.

The paper measures 8.5 x 5.5 inches and it is bound in horizontal or landscape format.  This one contains Aquabee Super Deluxe paper, which is one of my favorites for multi-media work.

The super cool part is the bookcloth:  this is a batik cotton fabric that she brought back from a trip last year.  I asked for a scrap of it (about 11 x 21 inches) and used it to cover the book.

But I could only do this because I knew how to make my own bookcloth.

Did you know that you can't simply glue cloth to book boards--or else the glue seeps through the cloth and makes it look very yucky?

That's why you generally need bookcloth--the cloth has a paper or impermeable backing that allows you to glue it to book board without any seepage!

So how do you get that sort of on a fabric you just love?

All you need to make the bookcloth is some lightweight cotton fabric, a product called Heat 'n' Bond Ultrahold, an iron and some scissors.

I didn't figure this out on my own. I learned by using the wonderful tutorial YouTube videos by SeaLemon.  She provides clear instructions for everything she presents.  I recommend them highly.

However!  What I have figured out on my own are a few tips to streamline the process of bookcloth making.

1.  A "fat quarter" piece of fabric (a cotton piece pre-cut to 18 x 22 inches and sold in most craft and fabric stores in dozens and dozens of colors and patterns because people use them for quilt-making), will cover two books based on 5.5 x 8.5 paper.  You just have to bind the books with the same horizontal or vertical orientation.

2.  Most people like the 8.5 x 5.5 size book.

3.  Though you can buy Heat 'n' Bond in pre-packaged amounts, I buy it at the local fabric store, where they sell it on a bolt.  That way I can get an amount to match the number of fat quarters I'm planning to work with.  Nothing is more frustrating than trying to make bookcloth and running out of one of the two most important components.

4. Cut the Heat 'n' Bond to match the fat quarter.

5.  Iron the fabric so it is nice and smooth.

6.  Carefully align the Heat 'n' Bond and start ironing it on.  Important tip:  go very slowly and pay particular attention to the edges.  The instructions say each portion needs 2 second of heat to bond well, but I find it needs closer to 5 seconds, especially on the corners and edges.  You'll know it is bonding because you will start to see the pattern of the fabric showing through the paper backing of the Heat 'n' Bond.

7.  When it is all bonded, but before you turn off your iron, peel back a bit of each corner to be sure the bond is strong and the paper peels easily.  When you are all done, you'll have a new piece of fabric with a nice, strong backing, ready to be glued to your bookboard and made into a book!

8.  Cut the newly-backed fat quarter in half to create the cloth you'll need for two books.  Here I cut it for two horizontal books.

9.  When the time comes to actually cover your books, remember to peel the paper portion of the Heat 'n' Bond off!  Then you'll apply your PVA glue and the cloth will stick beautifully to your cover board without the glue bleeding through!

I will often do this to several pieces of fabric all at once, so the bookcloth is made and ready to go whenever I have time to put a blank book together.

Check out the SeaLemon videos, add on the tips I have here, and you'll be making your own bookcloth in no time.  Then, when you use it to cover blank books, art journals and sketchbooks just waiting to be filled, you'll have meaningful gifts to give to friends, family, and even to yourself!

No comments:

Post a Comment