Making Your Book Cover (Case Binding)

The final step is making your own book is turning your text block into a hard cover book by making the cover and attaching it to your book.

I follow the directions from Sea Lemon, in her hard cover case binding tutorial.

Materials:

If your signature pages are made from standard 8 ½ by 11” paper, you will need fabric or paper about 14” wide, and 11” high. The thicker the book, the wider the cloth. The height will always be 11”.

In her video, Sea Lemon uses book cloth. This is fabric that is fused to tissue paper. I believe the fussing interface makes the fabric just a little stiffer and the tissue paper is to eliminate the stickiness. Sea Lemon describes making book cloth in another video. I found making book cloth easy but does cost the price of the fusible interfacing. The results are beautiful. I plan to try making a book with only standard fabric at the next opportunity to see the difference.

I have also used scrapbook paper for the cover.  Although scrapbook paper works for a cover, but you will need to glue sheets of paper together together a big enough piece. I think it looks nice to use a strip of paper in a contrasting colour for the spine glued to other decorative paper.

My husband has suggested that as the cover is a hinge, a paper cover may not last as long as a cloth cover. I am new enough to book binding that I can’t accurately asses this yet!

  • PVA glue. (My regular Elmer’s glue appears to be a type of PVA glue, and that is what I have been using.)

 Tools:

  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Cutting mat (This is helpful when you are cutting your cardboard, but not necessary. Just protect your table!)
  • Bone folder (very useful and inexpensive. Sea Lemon has a video to suggest alternatives if you don’t want to buy one.)
  • Utility blade
  • Scissors (or cutting blade)
  • Glue brush (an old paint brush for the glue works well.)
  • Weights (I used heavy books)
  • Book press. (Sea Lemon shows how to make a book press. It was cheap and easy to do and makes creating the book much easier. I highly recommend it. I bought two identical cutting boards and some stick on rubber feet at the dollar store and the carriage bolts and butterfly screws loose at the hardware store. Sea Lemon’s version only uses 2 bolts. I made mine with 4 because I think it makes it press more evenly. The book press can also be used as a flower press!)
  • Drafting triangle (optional – I have never used one, but it would help ensure everything stays square.)

Directions:

These are not full directions, only my tips and pointers based on my own experience following following Sea Lemon’s video to make several books. Please watch Sea Lemon’s full directions for making a hard cover book case binding on YouTube.

Cut Book Boards

The first step is cutting the board for the covers and the spine. Cereal box cardboard has worked well for me, but you can see Sea Lemon’s suggestions for finding book board in a video she made.

The cover boards are the width of the text block minus ¼” plus 1/8″. If you are using 8 ½ X 11 paper folded in half, that means you need a cover board that is 5 3/8″ wide. The height of the cover board is the height of the text block plus 1/4″ which for 8 ½ X 11 paper folded in half is 8 ¾” high. So I cut my 2 cover boards to 5 3/8″ by 8 ¾”.

The spine piece varies from book to book in width. It is the actual width of your text block, and the same height as you cover board (8 ¾” high).

Carefully measure and cut your cardboard.
Choose cardboard for you cover. I use old cereal boxes.
The two cover boards and the spine board ready for the next step.

Make Book Cover

Glue the boards to the cover material (paper or cloth). Don’t forget to leave ¼” of space between the cover pieces and the spine piece on either side. Make sure if there is any pattern that you are getting it lined up in the way you want!

If you are using paper, make sure that it is sturdy paper. As you need a piece about 11″ X 14″, you can cut a 12″ by 12″ piece of paper in half, then add a strip of paper in a contrasting colour to make the piece at the spine. For extra strength, you may want to have two thickness of paper glued together at the spine for added strength.

A contrasting piece of paper at the spine to cover my book.
I am overlapping the paper when I glue it together to make the finished book stronger.

When Sea Lemon glues her boards to her cover fabric, she starts with one of the cover boards. If you are using a special different coloured strip of paper for the spine, you will want to begin by gluing the spine board in the centre, then measuring out ¼” on either side before gluing on your front and back cover boards.This will ensure that the coloured strip in centered on your finished book.

Glue on the spine piece first and measure out 1/4″ if you have a clear middle that want to use.

Let the cover dry well before folding and gluing the flaps to finish off the cover.

After the board is glued to the fabric or decorative paper, it needs to dry under something heavy to keep it flat.
When it is dry, trim the corners.
Fold the flaps.
Glue down the flaps.
And your cover is done!

Attach Text Block to Book Cover

The last step is attaching the text block you made earlier to the book cover. This is done by gluing the cover pages to the inside of the cover boards. Notice that Sea Lemon glues the front and the back, but she does NOT glue the spine. The spine should not be glued to the text block for the finished book to open and close properly.

Spread your glue over the book cover and attach the text block.
Smooth it all down nicely with your bone folder.

When I glued together my first book together, there was some wrinkling in the text block after I attached the cover and left it to dry. To avoid this in my subsequent books, I put a piece of wax paper between the glued paper and the text block at the front and back to prevent the moisture from entering the text block as the glue dried. I also put a piece of regular paper right inside the cover between the two sides of the end paper to absorb the moisture from the glue. This has prevented any more wrinkly books.

The wax paper goes after the end page, between the cover and the book and the scrap paper goes farther towards the outside, between the two sides of the pretty end paper.

Let Your Book Dry.

Let it dry well in the book press, and you are done! Read, admire and show off your new book!

I have found that I can easily make a book in two days, with plenty of time to dry between steps when I am free to do other things.

Steps to Binding Your Own Book:

Step 1: Prepare or Select Text

Step 2: Print your Text

Step 3: Sew your Text Block

Step 4: Make and Attach the Cover (You are here!)

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