A woman who works with her hands is a LABORER; a woman who works with her hands and head, a CRAFTSMAN; but a woman who works with her hands, her head and her heart is an ARTIST. ~ St. Francis of Assisi




Sunday, July 22, 2012



Welcome to my tutorial on how to cover a photo or scrap book in fabric.  If I break some rules and make up my own, this project can be done in one sitting.  Please excuse all my grammar errors I might have made.  This is not an English paper but instead this is a tutorial on how I cover photo books.    If something is as clear as mud please let me know and I will see if I can reword it to make a bit more sense.

Supplies you will need – the quantity listed is to cover the basic book 8.5x11 book.  It does not include materials for decorating ideas.
-- Photo book, such as a 3 ring binder.  It is best to get an office binder or a scrap book made specifically for 8.5x11 scrap book pages.   The old magnetic books (why do they call them magnetic, they had stick pages not magnetic pages) were for photos 8 X 10.  Sheet protectors hold 8.5 x 11.  So it is obvious your pages will stick out if you go with the old school.  Unless you want to use the sticky paged albums, they claim to be acid free now.
I prefer the binders with the tab that opens the book.  I will show why later. I also prefer the books with the rings on the spine and not attached to the back cover of the book.  This project is doable with either type of binder.   Just make the needed adjustments.
-- Fabric … the quantity is determined by the book.  A yard is plenty for a 8.5 x 11 paged book.  See instructions how to save on more expensive fabric.
 If you want to cover a 12x12 book then you will need more fabric.   I have seen 3 ring binders for 12x12 in the craft store.  Unfortunately for me the binding is on the back cover and not the spine.   -- 1 yard of ribbon
-- 2 yards of gathered lace or trim … read thru the instructions to see what I mean so you know which to choose.  You may choose none at all.
-- Quilt Batting (not the stuffing stuff, the stuff that rolls out)
-- 2 pieces of poster board or card board.  They should be about 1/2 smaller than the inside cover
-- Glue

Tools you will need
-- Scissors
-- Straight pins
-- Butter knife or flat object to tuck things into the crevices.  See the pictures in the instructions to get an idea what I mean.  I have dedicated butter knife just for this project.
-- ruler
-- Marker

Notes about measuring:
I put a ruler on the tools list.  I do not use it.  You may find a need too, I will note when measuring may be a good idea.  You can be as precise as you want.  You just do not have to because almost every edge except a very small part is covered up.  When I made my first book, I followed the directions.  I measured and marked and cut.  Then it dawned on me, I do not have to do all this extra stuff.  So I stopped doing it and the project has not suffered from it.

Steps to take
Iron the fabric (I am horrible at skipping this part.  This is the only time where you should do as I say and not as I do)
I taped the book up because I used a vinyl binder.  It might have been overkill.  I was not sure how the glue would adhere to the vinyl.  That is why I did not put tape on the supply list.


Lay the batting out and place the binder open on top of it.   With a marker, draw on the batting around the binder.
Cut that piece out.

Lay your fabric face down, lay the batting on top of the fabric and lay the binder down.  First double check for orientation and then go back and triple check the orientation, trust me you will thank me later.   Make sure your fabric print is going the way you want it to.  Nothing can be more annoying after doing all the gluing and pinning to turn it around and you got the fabric horizontal and it should have been vertical.   Some patterned fabric does not have a specific orientation.  The one I am using does.


Adjust the placement of the batting and the binder so there is an extra 1 inch of fabric around the binder.  If there is a certain bit fabric that is more interesting and you want it to be on the front cover, center the cover over that bit of fabric.  Just make sure you have at least an extra inch of fabric around the binder.    Take the marker and draw around binder + 1 inch.  Use your ruler if you want to measure or use it as a straight edge.  I once again eyeball it.  It doesn’t have to be a perfect inch.

It is important to note that you do not want an excess amount of material because it would be too bulky. You do not want to skimp on the inch because you will not be able to pull it around to the inside and glue it down.

Next we are going to cut out the pieces that cover up the fold inside the binder. Once again I eyeball it but feel free to measure.    You will need to cut 2 pieces out.  The height is the exact height of the book.  The width is about two inches.
Pay attention to orientation of the fabric before you do the cutting.

We are done cutting for a little while but we will come back to it. Now it is time to do some gluing.  Run glue along one of the folds in the inside of the book.  Take the strip of fabric and slide it so that it goes underneath the metal binding.  If you have a tight fit use the butter knife to squish the fabric under.
Repeat for the other side.


Next we start to glue that 1 inch excess fabric that was cut inside the book.  Place a large glob of glue on one of the inside corners. .  Wrap around the corner and with a straight pin, pin it down.
Repeat for the remaining three corners.




I start on the left or right side first.  Run a bead of glue down the inside edge of the cover.  I would not recommend running a bead of glue around the whole book at one time because you will be making hospital or is it military corners?  I don’t know.  It may be neither but you will find you will need to go back and add more glue if you do it that way.
Pull the fabric on the side over and secure it with straight pins.  Pull it pretty taught.    You can pull out the corner pins and repin the corner and new layer of fabric with the same pin.


Repeat on the other side.  You can pull a bit taughter ( new word I just made up according to Word) on the other side

Now it is time to do the top and bottom.  It is the same technique.  Run the glue on the edge of the top or bottom.  Pull the fabric taught over the edge and pin.  The only difference is when you come to the spine you will need to pull out your butter knife again and tuck the fabric underneath the metal ring.
This is why I like the ones with the tabs that open.  If the rings did not have the tab the rivet is at the very end of the metal piece and there is no room to tuck any fabric underneath it.  You have to cut the fabric to go around it which causes the batting to shows and it’s less polished in my opinion.

You are now finished with the butter knife and can put it in the dish washer if it is not a dedicated art supply tool.


The next step I did not do for this project because I did not use lace.    This is when you would add the gathered lace trim.  (I hope the word gather is the right term, it is the lace that has finished edge at the bottom.)   I have some extra lace to demonstrate where it will go and how to fold it.
Run glue around the edge of the book (inside cover) and pin the gathered part of the lace down.  Decide where you want to start because that part will have a little over lapping.  I usually start before or after the spine.
I fibbed about the butter knife if you use the lace.  You will need to retrieve it out of the dishwasher and use it to squish the lace under the metal ring also.  
Let us see if I can explain how to do the corners.  I tried to take pictures but my camera would not focus and when I put it on manual focus it was blurry even after trying to focus.


When you get to the corner, you glue the lace down, you add a bit of glue on top of the already glued down lace, you fold over the lace a smidge. Now the lace is going in the opposite direction.  Then you add another dot of glue on top of the fold and fold it back over so you are now going in the correct direction.   Hopefully the picture will help.    

It is now time to put in the ties in for the book.  If you prefer a book without ties skip this step. Cut yard of ribbon in half.  Put a glob of glue at the inside edge of right or left side in the middle of the book.   (Putting the ribbon in the middle is a design preference and there is no reason why you would need to stick to it)  I use the middle ring as a guide.  I close the book so some of that glob of glue transfers to the other side.  This helps make sure the ribbons are centered on both sides.   Open the book up and make sure there is a generous amount of glue on each side and glue down the ribbons.  If there is a right and wrong side of the ribbon, the right side should be facing down.  I think.  I am pretty sure.  My ribbon did not have a right and wrong side.  I fold the book again to make sure my ribbon matches up.






We are now going to cover up all ugly edges on the inside of the book.  When I am at my laziest I will use card stock.  Card stock is really too thin but it still works. You can use large cereal boxes, poster board or any other thin chip board you recycled.  As long as the pieces are big enough to fit the space you need to cover.   In this case I used poster board so that is what I will use as I describe this step.  I still use a piece of card stock as a template.  Usually it is the perfect size.   I lay the stock on the inside front and back cover of the book.  I determine if I need it longer, wider or shorter.   You can pull out your ruler and do some measuring instead but I do not measure … I am a wild child.  Like I mentioned before, the size of the card stock is generally the right size anyway. I use the card stock as a template to cut out the poster board to the size needed.  The thing to remember is you want it to be long enough to cover the lace, the glued in ribbon tie and all the raw edges around the covers.   You will also cut out a piece of poster board for the back cover too.   Most likely, the front and the back are going to be the same size




 MONEY SAVING TIP… If you chose an expensive fabric for the outside of the book you do not have to use the same fabric as the cover up.  You can choose a solid color that matches your fabric and is less expensive.

Set your book aside and we are going to cover the cover ups in fabric.  Lay you fabric face down.  Once again be mindful of orientation.  Lay one of the poster board pieces down on top of the fabric and center it so there is an inch boarder.  You can measure or do the ole eye ball thing and draw around it.  Cut that piece out.  Do the same with the second piece.


Working on one cover up at a time, the fabric is face down and the poster board centered on top of it.   Just like you did with the book place a glob of glue in the corner and pull over the corner.  Do this with the next three corners.  The good thing is no pins are needed.  The glue will adhere to the fabric much quicker with this piece.   Next run a bead of glue down the sides and wrap the fabric around and glue.  Do this with the other three sides.
Place this cover aside and do the second one in the same exact way.









We are now moving back to the main album.  I go ahead and remove the pins now.  The original instructions said to let the glue dry completely.  Why?  The glue has dried enough that the pins are not needed.  I want this album done in one sitting! What can I say; I am a rebel and a rule breaker.   Make sure you pull out all the pins. Some can be hidden behind tucks and folds of the fabric.  You do not want to poke yourself or the gift receiver with a stray pin.
Take one of your covers ups and on the back side apply a liberal amount of glue.  Get the edges real good.  Once again remember orientation.  Yeah getting a funny feeling that I learned the hard way about orientation?
 Then place the cover up onto the inside front cover.
Repeat for the second cover up and glue it on the inside back cover.

I chose outside trim so I flipped the book over and applied the glue and put the trim down.  This trim will unravel if you do not put a piece of tape around the edge so keep that in mind.   I then added a flower to the book.  I had to snip the green tip all the way off after I pulled it from the stem.  The flower would have fallen apart if I did not put some glue on each layer of the flower as I reassemble it.






Decorating Ideas… Remember to adjust the amount of fabrics and trims you will need if you use these decorating ideas.
Use fabric stiffener and stiffen flowers.
Feathers
Have the tie on the outside.  Instead of two pieces you will use one large piece. Wrap around the center or off center it by placing it a little higher or a little lower than the center.  Glue on an ornament onto the ribbon, like an old jewelry broach, a Christmas ornament, flower, polymer clay piece, blocks, toys, the list goes on and on.
Sew on beads… just sew on the beads before you glue the fabric to the book.  Remember to be careful to make sure your beaded work is on the front cover where you want it to lay.
Use image transfer techniques.  Once again I would do this before I glue the fabric to the book.
Make a frame for the front cover.  This works well with non-print fabrics.    You probably have enough fabric to do this if you have a whole yard of fabric to work with.  You will need extra lace.  I would say another 2 yards should be enough.
I did not make one for this album so I have no pictures.  Hopefully you can follow along without them.  I personally need pictures, but basically it is repeating steps with one additional step so maybe you can visualize it.
First of all I like to have a panel of fabric for the frame to sit on.  This is done in exactly the same way the inside cover ups are made.  Cut a piece of poster board that will be a good size for the front panel.  Cover it with fabric like the cover up.  If you used lace on your book, you will want to glue lace around the edge of the cover up.   The glue is placed on the back of the panel around the edge.  Place the bottom of the place into the glue.   Make the corners like I showed earlier.
Glue the panel onto the center of the front cover.
The frame;   Oh I cheat, I am a cheater cheater pumpkin eater.   Well that is not 100% true only 50% true.  I do cheat, I just don’t eat pumpkin.   Wal-Mart and other stores, especially craft stores with a frame department, sell pre-cut photo mats.   If you want to measure and cut out a mat then go for it.  The pre-cut ones are cheap and already perfectly cut.  If you do cut your own and make a mistake remember it will be covered with fabric and with a little masking tape magic it will be good as new.
The original book that started me down the path of covered photo albums used batting around the mat.  So cut out the batting with the window cut away for the frame.
Lay the fabric down.  Lay the batting on the fabric with that 1 inch border and lay the matt on top of batting.  Add glue and cover it exactly like the cover ups and the front panels.  Trim off excess fabric that is wrapped around if it too long and meets the center.
The center needs to be cut out.  Poke a hole with your scissor in the middle of the fabric where the cut out section of the frame is.  From that hole you carefully cut at an angle to each of the four corners inside the frame.   Run a bit of glue one side where it is cut away for the picture.  Pull the fabric into the hole and glue to the back.
Do this with the rest of the three sides.  Trim if the fabric wraps past the frame edge.
Add the lace like you did with the panel.  This is a preference to leave the top without the lace so it will make it easier to slide a photo in.   So you will glue the lace in a U shape on the back of the frame.

Let the frame completely dry before you adhere the frame to the panel.
This one I do not skimp on.  Hee hee I learned the hard way too. The reason is the glue from the frame may seep onto your panel and hold fast and then you may not be able to slide a photo into the frame.
After all the glue is dry, run a thin layer of glue down the left side, along the bottom and up the right side.  Do put glue on the top edge.  Center it onto your panel and place down.   So another U of glue.  After it dries, slip a piece of acetate inside the frame to protect it.  I use an old copy transparency or recycled plastic from a package.

Here is the pretty wrapped up package for sitting on the receivers desk. 

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