How to Make Canvas Covers for School Books

Jonathan Fong

Things You'll Need

  • Cotton duck cloth (canvas) - two colors
  • Cloth ribbon
  • Fusible web
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Fabric tape measure

They say you can't judge a book by its cover. But with this easy-to-sew canvas book cover, you might enjoy the contents of what's inside more, even if it's a (gasp!) school textbook. The book cover also features a handy pocket for pens and a coordinating ribbon bookmark.

Measure the dimensions of the book
Jonathan Fong

To determine the width of the book cover, wrap a tape measure around the book from the right edge of the back cover to the right edge of the front cover. Also, measure the height of the book. Then add an inch to both the height and width to take into account a half-inch seam allowance all around.

Cut the fabric
Jonathan Fong

Cut two pieces of fabric to the dimensions you measured. (Remember to add the half-inch seam allowance on all sides.) This book cover features two different colors – one for the front and one for the inside. You can keep it one color if you wish.

Cut two smaller pieces
Jonathan Fong

Now cut two smaller pieces of fabric for the inside flaps. These should be the same height as the larger fabric pieces, with the width about two inches shorter than the width of the individual front and back covers. Select the color you intend to use for the inside of the fabric cover.

Sew a hem on the smaller pieces
Jonathan Fong

On each of the two smaller pieces, sew a half-inch hem lengthwise.

Cut a small rectangle for the pocket
Jonathan Fong

Cut a 4-1/2" x 5-1/2" rectangle, which will be the book cover's pocket. Using fusible web and an iron, hem all four sides of the rectangle so the edges are finished.

Sew the pocket
Jonathan Fong

Wrap the large piece of fabric that will be the outside cover around the book. Position the pocket in the center and pin it into place. Sew the sides and bottom of the pocket to the fabric, leaving the top open so the pocket is usable.

The first layer
Jonathan Fong

It's a little bit of a puzzle how to stack the various fabric pieces to sew, as everything is sewn backwards and turned inside out. Just follow these directions and the book cover will come out perfectly. Start with the large fabric piece with the pocket. The pocket should be on the left, with the pocket upside down. Place a ribbon vertically in the middle (where the spine will be), with about one inch extending past the edge. Pin it into place at the edge, but let the remainder of the ribbon lie freely in the middle. If the ribbon has a pattern, place the ribbon upside down.

The second layer
Jonathan Fong

On top of that first layer, align the two smaller hemmed pieces to the left and right edges with the seams on top. The seams should also be on the inside, facing the seam.

Pin all layers together
Jonathan Fong

Then place the second large piece of fabric on top and pin all three layers together. Rotate the stack of fabric 180 degrees so that the ribbon is now at the top. At the bottom right or bottom left (it's up to you), make two marks 4 inches apart to indicate where you will not sew. Sew a straight stitch on all four sides of the fabric stack with a half-inch seam allowance, leaving the 4-inch opening at the bottom.

Turn the cover inside out
Jonathan Fong

Using the opening you left, turn the book cover inside out so the pocket and flaps are on the outside. To close up the opening, place a piece of fusible web between the two seams and iron them together. Fusible web is recommend here instead of sewing so that stitches do not show.

Slide covers into the flaps
Jonathan Fong

Slide the front and back covers into the flaps, and you're done.


  • It is better to make the book cover bigger than smaller, as your book will still fit in a larger cover, but will not squeeze into one that's too small.

About the Author

Jonathan Fong is the author of three books: "Walls that Wow," "Flowers that Wow," and "Parties that Wow." He currently hosts the web series "Style With A Smile."

Photo Credits

  • Jonathan Fong