Tuesday Tutorials : Jamaica Edgell : Fabric-Covered Spines



This week Tuesday Tutorials welcomes Jamaica Edgell. Jamaica has been inspiring me for quite some time with her little books, projects, sense of humor, and overall style. Read on as she walks you step by step through creating a fabric-covered spine for your next album project (there's a bit of math involved so take a deep breath as you go back in time to remember how to add fractions). This is a very cool technique that I hope to use to create a cover for my December Daily album this year. 

As a cool bonus Jamaica has included a PDF of the instructions featured below. Download the file here.

Here's Jamaica:

I'm a compulsive futzer. I'm always re-doing projects or moving on to the next one before the last one is finished. I get distracted thinking of ways to do it better, to do it differently, to make it fancier or to use some new product. Which officially, makes me a futzer.

I love making minibooks but was tired of using plain old rings over and over. I wanted to make a mini without rings. Once I figured that out I decided to try fabric and rings. Same fancy look but with the functionality of rings - perfect! Sitting on a shelf or piled in a basket the covered spine makes the same little book look more polished. It just adds an extra something. I hope mine will inspire you to try something new. Have fun!


Materials: Book cloth tape, patterned paper, chipboard, Super Tacky Tape
and a glue stick.

(Under)cut the Covers.
Cut the covers of your little book ¼” smaller than the final size. If it’s going to open on the side, make the covers ¼” narrower. If it opens along the top, make the covers ¼” shorter. That way, the binding on the spine will be visible from the front and back.

Once you have your covers cut to size, you’ll need to figure out how wide the spine should be. It’s much easier when you’ve already made the inside pages, just stack them up and measure the width. When attaching your covers to the book cloth tape, you’ll need to leave enough fabric showing to cover the width of your spine plus and additional ¼” for both the front and the back. (For example, mine is ¾” + ¼” + ¼” = 1¼” wide.)

Attach the spine.
Cut book cloth tape a bit longer than the length of your book. Lay the tape flat, fabric side facing up, with the ruler at the top to help keep the covers lined up. Center the covers over the tape, carefully measuring the distance between them. Flip them over one at a time and run Super Tacky Tape along the edge all the way to the top and bottom. Then, peel off the backing and flip back over, pressing down firmly. Repeat on the other side.

Cover the inside. Once both covers have been taped securely to the front of the book cloth tape, you can add the paper that will appear on the inside of the covers. Trim the paper so that it’s slightly larger than your open covers, then turn it over so that the pattern is facing down. Peel off the backing on the book cloth tape and apply adhesive liberally to the covers. Make sure to cover the entire area, especially around the edges. (I like to use a glue stick.) Carefully flip the gluey covers over onto the paper pressing down firmly, then turn over again and smooth the paper over the covers to make sure there aren’t any bubbles. Let sit for a few minutes to dry. Once the glue has set, trim the off the excess paper.

Score the spine. Use your ruler to measure ¼” from the edge of each cover and score with a bone folder (or rub-on tool). Press down firmly while scoring and check to see that the marks are visible. Then gently fold along the scores and press firmly to crease. A heavier paper inside will result in a firmer spine with sharper creases. Using a lightweight paper or book cloth tape on the inside will give you a softer, more rounded spine.

Punch holes. Make a quick template, the same size as your little book with the holes punched where you’d like them to use as a guide for the cover and inside pages. Because a portion of the cover is the fabric covered spine, you’ll want to make sure your holes are set further in. Mine are set just over a ½” from the edge, that way there is a ¼” of spine and ¼” of cover before the rings. This also means you’ll need to use larger book rings so that it’ll open fully. Once you’ve marked the spots, carefully punch your holes. If you’re using heavier chipboard for your covers you’ll need to use something stronger than your regular hand-held hole punch. (Mine requires a bit of hammering.) After the covers are done, use the template and your regular hand-held hole punch to punch holes on the inside pages.



Experiment. Once you’ve gotten a hang of this technique you can begin experimenting with different materials and styles. Two alternate ideas--have your book hinges at the top, reporter style, or use your fabric on the outside of the covers. And, the spines don’t have to be made using book cloth tape (it’s just easier since it’s already sticky on one side!). You can also use fabric, ribbon or contrasting paper.


Variation : opens at the top.

To make a mini that hinges at the top, follow the same steps as above, simply binding the short edge rather than the long one. And, depending on the size, use one ring rather than two.

  1. Apply Super Tacky Tape to the back of both covers along the very top edge.

  2. Measure carefully when you adhere the covers, remembering to add ¼” for both the front and back side to your desired spine width.

  3. Trim excess fabric and/or paper all the way around.

  4. Score the tape ¼” from each cover.

  5. Using a template mark and punch your hole(s).

  6. Add binder ring, inside pages and embellish.


Variation : fabric on the outside.
The only significant difference in creating a little book with the fabric, or ribbon, on the outside is that the covers should be the same size as the inside pages. And, you don’t need to add the extra width to the spine measurement. Here the fabric wraps around atop the covers, rather than showing beneath.

  1. Iron the edges of the ribbon under so the edges don’t fray.

  2. Cover the back, edge to edge, with Super Tacky Tape.

  3. Adhere to edges of covers, being careful to leave room for your spine. I made small pencil marks on both covers to help line up my ribbon.

  4. Cover the inside--this time using book cloth tape.

  5. Trim excess, fold and you’re done!

  6. Because the inside pages aren’t attached to the cover use a ribbon or elastic band to hold it all together.


Jamaica_headshotJamaicamakes_logo Jamaica Edgell has been crafting her entire life. From paper dolls and tiny stamp books to little houses made of twigs and pebbles on camping trips, she's always made things. When a co-worker introduced her to rubber stamping it 2002 it quickly led to scrapbooking. A contributer to We Dare You, Jamaica now crafts weekly with the Dare girls and spends her spare time honing her sewing skills and making paper goodies for her ETSY shop. You can follow her crafty adventures on her blog, jamaicamakes.com.

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