Quite often in my case, necessity truly is the “mother of invention”. My crumbling Bible spine needed some help, and I finally quit procrastinating the project and came up with this Easy Sew Partial Book Cover design.
I don’t know if you have any books that you’re attached to, but I really have enjoyed the handy size and the readable font of this New Living Translation Bible. I’ve loved the feel of the leather-like cover. Rich leather browns and blacks are cozy, and I regretted covering these up with any sort of cover.
But I was getting tired of little black pieces littering my lap.
Bible and Book Covers
Now sure, there are lots of Bible covers available. Some are quite handy with zippers and pouches and pen pockets. I’ve even sewn one before with a cute button flap that I liked quite a bit. But I was not looking forward to that inherent flap extension.
Do you know what I’m talking about? Maybe I’m being obsessive, but I was hoping for a remedy that didn’t include that extra length of cover that extends beyond the width of my book when it is laid open. Just like a paper jacket, the cover doesn’t usually curve into pages like the book’s spine does because of its binding.
And, as I said, I enjoy that leather feel. I know the trimmed brown edges won’t last forever either, I didn’t want to cover them up quite yet.
Really, it was just the spine that was crumbling. So I created this book spine cover or partial book cover instead.
Why I Chose Elastic
I’ve made other book covers. I have a video on making paper ones for school books, and I’ve sewn my own like the one I’ve mentioned and the other one pictured above. I could have easily sewn two strip of fabric to hold my partial book cover in place on the flaps of the book, but then I considered elastic.
Since my Bible cover was already black and I had wide black elastic, I thought this would save me a step. And where fabric strips had the slight chance of gapping, I felt the elastic would be a nicer, snugger fit.
Consequently, in the finished product, the elastic holds nicely so that the fabric actually curves into the spine as you open it, just as you would expect with a bound book!
I’ve recorded my steps so that you can create a partial book cover as well if you’d like to protect your book spine without covering the book completely.
Making My Partial Book Cover
For this project, you will need a tape measure, fabric, 1″ wide elastic, scissors, pins, thread and a sewing machine. I also used a pencil to draw my pattern directly onto the fabric.
Decide how many inches you’d like to allow for a seam allowance. Many patterns allow for a 5/8 inch seam, but 1/2 inch is easier math, so that’s what I used.
Measure the length of your book cover. My Bible measured 7 inches. To my length, I added the seam allowance (1/2 inch) to both the top and the bottom which meant I needed an 8 inch length for my partial book cover.
Next, with my book closed, I wrapped my tape measure over the back, spine, and front. I positioned the tape measure to my desired size. I made sure I had 1 1/4 inches to compensate for my elastic (1 1/2inches might be better) and then added that extra seam allowance on both ends. That made my partial book cover width 5 3/4 inches.
To cut the fabric, I folded it and laid it out so that I would be cutting through two layers. I used a piece of paper as a guide to make sure my piece was square; then I measured the piece to 5 3/4 inches by 8 inches and traced the outline with a pencil. For dark fabric like this, chalk is also a nice option for marking. I added a couple pins to keep the fabric from moving, and then cut out my rectangle. Which was really two rectangles as I cut through two layers.
Next I laid out my elastic and cut two pieces to match the length.
Then I pinned the two pieces, right sides together, with the elastic sandwiched between. I measured 3/4 inches in from the edges for the placement of my elastic so that it would be completely clear of my stitches. You can place it closer if you like as long as there is room for your 1/2 seam allowance.
Sew the pieces together all around three sides, leaving the fourth side unsewn between the elastics. Cut the corners on an angle. Pull the fabric through the hole so that the elastics are free and all the fabric is right facing. Push the corners out entirely, I used my scissors tip for this.
You can now stitch your opening shut with hand stitching or a top stitch on your sewing machine. I was lazy and left it open. Ironing your rectangle will help everything lay flat.
Open front and back covers on your book and slide the elastic over the edges and down into position. Close the book covers.
The Rest of the Story
This project should only take about an hour. But lest you think I’m a sewing whiz, let me tell you how this went for me.
First, I created a different design. My first attempt had the fabric too small.
Second attempt would have been okay, I guess. But I was having trouble with my sewing machine. In the process I decided I probably need to take it in to get it serviced.
Third times the charm! But you will notice that my stitches include some red thread and some black thread; that’s because the black thread kept breaking on me.
Here’s me ripping out stitches. Seam rippers are a good investment!
Finally Sweet Success!
At first I was wondering if I should have made my partial book cover a little wider. So that just the brown edge was showing. But this width is actually working pretty comfortably, and I believe, better. You can, of course, make yours any width you would like.
Are you loving any of your books to pieces? What did you think of this design? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!