Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

June 23, 2009

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.

Measure. 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,


  • 1.
    ria said…

    I love seeing a new technique… it inspires me because just when you think there can’t be anything “more”… there always is! Thanks!

  • 2.

    This is a great tutorial! Thanks! :)

  • 3.
    MichelleG said…

    Fabulous tutorial! Love this idea and can’t wait to try it. Thank you!

  • 4.
    Amanda said…

    So pretty! Can’t wait to try one. I’ll admit the mention of using fractions again scares me. But the finished product is too cool not to give it a whirl.

  • 5.
    Char said…

    I am sitting here with my Tea and about 10 windows(no kidding) open from your blog…archived posts and what not…I love opening your blog in the morning for an awesome and informative read…I’m adding you to my daily reads…you’re a MUST!
    Thanks for sharing about Jamaica and the fabric covered spined books…I think they’re a wonderful idea…I want to do a “week in the life” but make it a Summer series…School is out on Friday, so I have a week to prep(as well as finishing sketches to 3 murals I have planned!)
    Have a great day Miss Inspiration.

  • 6.
    Gale said…

    Thank you. This is a wonderful tutorial!
    I’ll be printing this blog post out so I have all the instructions handy. I will be trying this.

  • 7.
    Flo said…

    LOVE this tutorial! i’m always looking for new ways to make minis and this one is so simple but looks so fabulous! thanks jamaica!

  • 8.
    Nicky from Canada said…

    Love this one – but fabric is my number one love. Think I might be trying this on my december daily also.
    Thanks Ali

  • 9.
    Huyen said…

    Awesome project! Love the minibooks from Jamaica!

  • 10.
    diane reeves said…

    awesome, I love her mini albums and use of patterns.

  • 11.
    nicole said…

    this is a really great tutorial! i just finished putting a book together this weekend and thought, man, i wish there was a way to cover the paper on the spine. brilliant! this is such a great idea.
    ive made several journals and things (i work at paper source so im very comfortable with bookbinding), usually with an already put together text block, but this never crossed my mind for books with your own paper inside. love it!
    now all im torn between is using bookcloth and glue i already have or going for the book cloth tape and super tacky tape.!
    thanks for the ideas!
    where do you get black book rings?

  • 12.
    T said…

    jam’s my hero.

  • 13.
    Stephanie said…

    Thanks for sharing. Looks like fun!

  • 14.
    Jeni said…

    Great! I will definitely try this. Thanks!

  • 15.
    Kelly in Canada said…

    Ali and Jamaica!
    This looks great. Thanks so much for sharing. I can’t wait to try it.
    ps…I wish they would open a Paper Source in Canada!

  • 16.
    Paul Irwin said…

    My favorite in the series so far!
    I love jamaica’s clean graphic style and have been specifically curious about this technique.
    Thanks, Ali and Jamaica!

  • 17.
    Molly Irwin said…

    oops! the comment (above) is from me, not Paul. While he ‘gets ‘it’, he’s just not that enthusiastic. :)

  • 18.
    vee said…

    je is so awesome, love how she uses fabric! :)

  • 19.
    Sue said…

    Very cool! I’ve got a bin of fabrics and this seems like a great time to use it. Thanks.

  • 20.
    Nisa Fiin said…

    these books are AWESOME! great photos and instructions, too. stellar job, jamaica.

  • 21.
    jung a said…

    love this tutorial ali and jamaica!

  • 22.
    Cameron said…

    This is a great tutorial but am I the only one who feels like the photos are in the wrong places? I was scrolling up and down to look at the photos that went with each step. Great tutorial, though, I usually use book rings or formally bind it (by stitching signatures and then covering the spine) but this is a great in-between method!!

  • 23.
    Julie said…

    Very cool! This looks like a fun project.

  • 24.
    Patricia said…

    loving the variety of these tutorials!
    thanks for sharing!

  • 25.
    nic said…


  • 26.
    Theresa said…

    The downloadable file was a great idea. I saved it for a day when I have the time to actually sit down and figure this out. Thanks!

  • 27.
    Ali Edwards said…

    You know what? I think you are right – “score the spine” and “cover the spine” should be switched. Will fix that :) .

  • 28.
    Jaszmurka said…

    Thank you :* !!!! :)

  • 29.
    Manola Chong said…

    this is an amazing tutorial…I normally don’t make mini books for the very reason I don’t like rings….but I did complete the Daily Christmas Journal last year so I think this technique will finish the album off beautifully. Thank you for sharing your talent.
    Manola xo
    Townsville, Australia

  • 30.
    jamaica said…

    Oh no, it IS a little mixed up. I must have gotten my numbering out of whack. Eek! Everything is in proper order on the PDF though. Hopefully that will help it make more sense. : )

  • 31.
    jamaica said…

    hi nicole,
    the black binder rings are by kaiser scrapbook I got them at paper presentation in new york but I’m guessing you’ll be able to find them online too. 7gypsies also makes black rings as well.

  • 32.
    Marilyn said…

    This is an amazing tutorial. Mini books are my favorite things. You can go anywhere the moment takes you. Such freedom and I must admit I love the little things they usually pack a fabulous unexpected punch. Thanks

  • 33.
    MichelleS said…

    I really love this tutorial! Thanks so much!

  • 34.
    Cameron said…

    Hooray, thanks so much, you two! :)

  • 35.
    pam said…

    Thanks so much I can’t wait to try it.

  • 36.
    Cassi said…

    I really enjoyed this tutorial — thanks for taking the time to share with us!
    Ali — you’re awesome, this series is fab!

  • 37.
    Joscie said…

    wow, what a fabulous way to fancy up a ring bound mini. I love it! :)

  • 38.
    marsha said…

    where can you buy the book cloth tape? i love the tutorial.

  • 39.
    kelli crowe said…

    I can’t wait to try this – fantastic!!

  • 40.
    Ann said…

    After several readings, I think I finally get it – ready to track down some book cloth tape and get going!

  • 41.
    tab said…

    Tab said:
    I would love to be…free of the constraints of feeling my pages have to be “correct” and spending hours trying to figure out what background paper goes best and just enjoy the process.

  • 42.
    Ali MacDonald said…

    Amazing tutorial and fun little books! TY!!

  • 43.
    Navit said…

    I would like to thank you for the amazing tutorial.
    I implemeted the idea on my last mini album, and I would like to share it with you
    My blog is in hebrew, but you cam translate it using the translator on the left side of the blog.

  • 44.
    Best Craft Blog said…

    These are so adorable! Notebooks have become my newest obsession and I absolutely LOVE these! I can’ wait to try to make one!

  • 45.

    Am I the only one curious? Where is the paper from? I’m not a scrapbooker but I love this idea and the paper and colors used are awesome. Please let me know if the paper is readily available and where. Thanks so much!

  • 46.
    Beth said…

    hi im actually from the UK, but watchin the film “new in town” has inspired me to start scrappin as it looks a fun way to keep memories. I was wonderin how to start, where i get the resources from and how to do it?

  • 47.
    Amy H. said…

    I heart this SO much, I had to blog about it. Thanks so much for this!


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