White-on-White Bible or Book Cover

Julie O. Yonge © 2006

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I made this particular cover for a special sister-in-law to cover her Bible. First and foremost, you will need the measurements of the book you will cover: height, width, depth and/or width of spine. I also took measurements of the book open laying face down, outside edge to outside edge and closed from front edge around the back of the book to the back edge to get an idea of the "ease" I would need and add appropriate seam allowances to include "this ease".

My book measurements were:
height = 9.5 inches
width = 6.5 inches
spine = 1.5 wide
face down outside edge to outside edge = 14.5 inches


Measurements of supplies determined by book size
Crazy quilted foundation piece in white and creams for outside cover
Fabric for interior lining and pocket sleeve fabric
Binding fabric for pocket sleeves (this can be wide bias bind tape or a self-made bias binding of silk dupioni or similar fabric)
A piece of tissue paper, stabilizer, or other template material
Low loft cotton batting (I used warm and natural)
Bias binding fabric, cording or other appropriate trim for finished book edge

Cut and fuse stabilizer to muslin for the foundation piece, mine was 17.5 inches by 12.5 inches add 1.5 inches all the way around to allow for shrinkage during embellishment and plenty of seam allowance and fitting room.

A piece of stabilizer material was used to made a template. Laying the book down on the template material, opened and face down, mark where the finished edges of the book will be and shape in the curved corners. Then turn the book over, still opened and mark where the spine of the book will be, confirm the placement of the finished edges and mark seam allowances, stitching lines, etc., making notes on your template regarding design for CQ pieces and how to construct the cover. Then carefully cut around the outside edges of the template as you would any pattern.

Transfer the layout to the foundation piece including the placement of the spine and final stitching or finished size. This will aid in determining your CQ piecing. Make sure that the cover will bend easily when done and not have heavy seams or embellishments on a fold area of the spine or the underside of the exterior cover where it would get the most wear.

You should also wrap the foundation piece around the book, folding in the ends where marked, open and close the book making sure you have ample seam allowance and the markings are as they should be with reference to the spine and finished seam lines. I did this quite often as I worked on the cover, making sure that my seams and embellishment were falling where I planned and that I had plenty of fabric to be sure of a great fit - I sure didn't want to wind up with less fabric than needed toward the end of the project.

Gather all sorts of white and cream items from your "stash"; fabrics, ribbons, laces, lace motifs, threads, antique buttons, charms, handkerchiefs, beads, and piece the foundation, keeping in mind that at least 6 or so different pieces or individual areas on the front and back of the cover for embroidery and embellishment purposes would look best. I place some laces and pieces of handkerchiefs in seams as I pieced my foundation fabrics for added texture and interest. Once finished piecing and with the placement of seams confirmed again that the cover was falling around the book where expected, machine stitch around the outside edge of the pieced foundation.

Ok, now the really fun part - embellishment. Have fun - use beads, charms, embroidery, lace motifs, SRE, etc. Once your CQ'd exterior foundation piece is embellished, fuse a piece of warm and natural cotton batting to the wrong side using a temporary spray fabric adhesive, and set aside. The batting is not absolutely necessary depending on fabrics used and personal preference, but I find it gives the cover a little loft and softness, which I personally like.

I decided that I would use a cream damask upholstery fabric for the interior lining and the fabric pocket areas/sleeves of the book cover. I cut a piece of interior lining fabric the same size as the exterior cover and set that aside to work on my pocket pieces.

I wanted my inside fabric pockets to be rather deep to fit the book snuggly. The measurement for each of my pocket pieces I decided on was 6.5 inches wide x 12.5 inches high which would end up a 5 inch deep finished pocket sleeve. Here you need to keep in mind whether the outside covers of your book can bend enough to be put into such deep pocket sleeves and plan accordingly. The Bible I was covering had a very flexible outside cover, but a hard bound book would probably need a less deep pocket sleeve at least on one side.

Cut a piece of the cotton batting to the size of each pocket piece and fuse the batting to the pocket using the temporary fabric spray adhesive. I used a wide cream cotton bias fold tape to bind the inside edges of each of the inside pocket pieces as you would a quilt. Sew bias tape to pocket edge, right sides together, fold bias tape around to inside/wrong side of pocket, press edge under matching folded edge to inside seam, either hand stitch in place or machine stitch making sure to catch the underneath edges. I did a nice decorative machine stitch for added interest. At this point, if you would like to embellish your pockets, now is the time. Be sure to stay within your finished seam stitching lines. I personalized this project by printing pictures of our 30+ years together as friends and family onto silk.

The edges of the silk prints were burned to keep them from fraying and because I like the look. They were then stitched in place using a feather stitch on the inside cover pocket sleeve with Yenmet Metallic gold thread. I also added a text block with the sentiment, "Sisters of the Heart". (A funny note here: as with most friends and family that you have known over your lifetime, each of us has had various hairdos and various sizes; you know the pounds come and go, go and come. Well, I knew my dear sister-in-law would not enjoy seeing this one particular picture of us that I just adore, but where she had a few extra pounds. Well, I removed those extra pounds before printing the picture - aren't editing programs wonderful! Besides, she lost those extra pounds not long after that picture was taken, so my version was more accurate and politically correct, and she was delighted.)

OK, back to constructing the book cover. I found a lovely cream pleated rayon trim with a cording already in it that would serve very nicely for the outside finished edge of the book cover. Get your embellished outside cover piece with the fused batting that you had set aside and now pin the trim to the right side of the embellished outside cover piece all the way around just a smidgen from the marked finish/stitching lines. The trim or covered cording should lie toward the inside of the piece, notching the corners if necessary to get nice rounded edges. Make sure to overlap the ends of the trim about an inch or so, removing some of the trim's stitching and cord if necessary to blend the ends neatly together or tucking one end inside the other for a nice finished look…similar to the way you would add a fringe or trim when constructing a decorative pillow top. I basted the trim on first, then again laid the piece around the book to make sure all was well. I then machine stitched the trim to the embellished outside cover piece. Once stitched, trim the batting as close to your stitching as possible to eliminate bulk and finger press the trim to the lay to the outside edges of the piece.

Using your template again, mark the finished/stitching lines onto the wrong side of your interior-lining piece of fabric for reference. Take each pocket sleeve piece that you have previously prepared and pin them, wrong sides of pocket sleeve to the right side of your interior lining fabric, bound edges to the inside. At this point it is a good idea to once again confirm your book will fit comfortably into the pockets and close easily, make any adjustments necessary. It is better to give a little ease in your seams rather than to have the cover too tight. Machine stitch the pockets to the interior-lining piece only at the outside edges, top and bottom, about ¼" to the outside of the indicated finished seam lines (so that this will not show later) and then trim the batting as close to the stitching as you can to eliminate bulk.

Now you have two pieces. The exterior embellished cover piece with outside trim and the inside lining piece with pockets. Lay the two pieces wrong sides together. Fold under the edges of the interior-lining piece with the pockets against the stitched seam where the trim is stitched to the embellished outside cover and then slip stitch in place. I used a heavy thread such as Silamide or Nymo for this to make sure it would be very durable. You could even use upholstery thread. You may need to notch the corners to get the nice rounded fit as you stitch them in place or you can turn out your sleeve after stitching it in place and notch the interior corners and trim any excess bulk fabric that would hamper the book sliding into place.

Test the fit as you go all throughout this project, making sure you have allowed plenty of room for the book to open and close comfortably or snugging-it-up if necessary. The fabrics you choose for the project will make a difference in their give and take.

For great inspiration and ideas on fabric journals, I recommend Pam Sussman's book, Fabric Art Journals, Making, Sewing and Embellishing Journals from Cloth and Fibers. I had already put together some ideas and patterns on making a crazy-quilted Bible Cover as a gift and happened onto Pam's book. It provided lots of great information and is a great resource to have in your personal library.

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