Southern Mom Loves: Make a DIY Fabric-Bound Book!

Make a DIY Fabric-Bound Book!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

This post was sponsored on behalf of Zenni Optical via One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own. #SeeingIsForReading

We're lucky our kids are big readers, but I know not all kids enjoy reading. To keep them learning and reading over the summer, there are lots of ways to make it fun. You could take fun trips to participate in your local library's summer programs, create crafty costumes of your kid's favorite characters, or act out scenes from their favorite stories. You could also make a DIY Fabric-Bound Book for them to write down their own stories or illustrate their favorite books, and I'll show you how!

Zenni Optical, makers of on-trend eyewear for the whole family (including tinted and mirrored lenses!!!), wants to encourage summer reading, so I've teamed up with them to help with this fun book tutorial! They want to encourage families to enjoy their favorite books, whether it’s around the campfire, at the beach or pool, in the car for a family road trip, or reenacting their favorite book scenes during outdoor play.

Zenni offers (extremely) affordable, quality, prescription and non-prescription eyeglasses and sunglasses so families can see and experience the best of summer. Pick out your favorite styles here because there is a Zenni Optical gift card giveaway later in the post! [CLOSED]

And now I want to show you how to make this beautiful fabric-bound book for yourself. If you're a crafty person, you may have everything you need around the house already. I used a scrap piece of vintage fabric, embroidery thread (like the kind kids use for friendship bracelets), and plain printer paper. You'll also need office supplies like a ruler and pencil, a clean cereal box for the covers, and if you don't have Mod Podge, you can use school glue. :)

To help you make your own book, I've made a video tutorial below. If you need to revisit the instructions, I've also written them out below the video, along with a complete supply list of everything I used. Feel free to substitute materials for whatever you have on hand!

DIY Fabric-bound Book

  • 20 sheets of printer paper (or any paper you like)
  • pencil
  • ruler
  • an awl, or other pointed object to make holes
  • 30” length of embroidery floss, yarn, or string
  • a large-eyed needle
  • scissors, an Exacto knife, or a rotary cutter
  • cardboard or poster board (I used a cereal box)
  • at least a 10" x 13" rectangle of fabric, larger if you want to center a pattern
  • Mod Podge glue, matte finish (or white school glue)
  • an old paintbrush
  • binder clips
  • wax paper

Instructions for the inner pages:
  1. I’m starting with 20 sheets of printer paper. Folded in half, it will make a good-sized book, but still be manageable enough to pierce holes in.
  2. Fold them in half and make a sharp crease. I’m doing 2 sheets at a time to make it easier to align, fold, and crease them.
  3. Once you have all of your sheets folded, open and lay them inside of each other to form the book.
  4. With the ruler and pencil, make 3 marks on the inside crease. I made one 1.5” from each edge and one in the center.
  5. For this step, make sure your paper is as aligned as possible at the top and bottom of the pages. You can use a binder clip to keep them in place, but I didn’t find it necessary. Place an awl or other sharp, pointed object, over each mark, twisting and applying pressure until you make it through all of the pages. Push through and twist a bit to loosen the holes. Make sure to do this over a self-healing mat, piece of scrap wood, or other surface that can take a beating.
  6. Thread one end of the embroidery floss through the needle, and starting in the back, put the needle through the top hole and pull through to the front.
  7. Put it through the front-center hole and pull it out through the back. Unthread the needle.
  8. Thread the other end of the embroidery floss through the needle, and starting in the back, put the needle through the bottom hole and pull through to the front.
  9. Put it through the front-center hole and pull it out through the back. Unthread the needle.
  10. You will have both ends of the thread at the back of the pages now. One end of this thread can be your bookmark. If you don’t want a bookmark, just knot the threads firmly and cut. If you want the bookmark, slide your thread around through the holes until one tail of the thread is long enough to come up over the book and back down through the center pages. Tie and cut the short end of the thread.
  11. Knot the end of the long thread several times to that it doesn’t fray.
  12. You’ll notice your center pages come out farther than the end pages. You can trim this with scissors, and Exacto knife and ruler, or a rotary cutter and ruler…or leave it if it doesn’t bother you.
  13. You now have a functional little book. You can stop here or continue on to make the Fabric-covered binding.

Instructions for the binding:
  1. We first need to cut our cardboard covers out. For clarity, the edges of the book are called the head, face, and foot. We need to add 1/8” to each of those sides, but not the spine. So, if you used 8.5” x 11” paper, your page measurements should be 5.5” x 8.5”. Adding 1/8” to those three sides results in a cover measurement of 5-5/8” x 8-6/8”.
  2. I’m using a clean cereal box for my cover, but you could also use cardboard or poster board.
  3. If you start measuring from a corner, you won’t need tools like a T-square.
  4. Measure out your first cover and cut it out. Use that cover to measure and mark a second cover. Cut that one out. You should now have your 2 cardboard book covers.
  5. Place one of these on the back side of your fabric, towards the left side. This will be your front cover, so align any design elements in your fabric as you’d like them to look on your cover, making sure to stay at least 1/2” from the edges. Mark your cover placement on the back of the fabric.
  6. Using a matte Mod Podge and your paintbrush on top of a piece of wax paper, apply a thick layer covering the back of your cardboard piece, all the way to the edges.
  7. Place your cover, glue side down, on the back of your fabric inside your markings. Smooth with your hands.
  8. The width of my pages is just over 1/8”, so I’m using 3/16” as the width of my spine fabric. Place your back cover down 3/16” away from your front cover and trace with a pencil. Paint with glue and place it on the fabric just as you did with the front cover.
  9. Mark the fabric 1/2” away from the cardboard edges and trim. That will leave you with 1/2” of fabric all the way around your two covers.
  10. Trim the fabric corners close, but not up to the cardboard corners. This will reduce the bulk of your fabric at the corners.
  11. On top of a sheet of waxed paper, squeeze your Mod Podge liberally around all 4 fabric edges and use your brush to spread it all the way to the edges. You want the fabric soaked with the glue.
  12. Fold the fabric edges up over the cardboard and smooth into place. Don’t worry about the ragged edges; We’ll cover those up later.
  13. Allow to dry, but if your cardboard warps, sandwich it between wax paper sheets and weight it down with a heavy book. You can check it periodically, and if it’s stable (dry and not buckling anymore), you can go ahead and add your pages.
  14. Fit the pages snugly inside of your cover, making sure to place the bookmark up and out of the way. 
  15. You can use a couple of binder clips to keep the back pages in place while you glue down the front cover.
  16. Paint the inside of your cover with a thin coat of Mod Podge up to and just over the fabric edge.
  17. Bring the first page over the glue and smooth down.
  18. Repeat with the back cover.
  19. Allow the glue to dry completely. You can weigh it down under your heavy book while it dries to keep the inside cover smooth.
  20. You now have a fabulous little book! You can use this as an illustration book, journal, or storybook. You can use sketch paper, calligraphy paper, and even insert sheets of tracing paper inside. Enjoy!

This custom book can get kids excited to fill it with their own stories and illustrations. It's a great way to bring their reading adventures to life!


Zenni Optical wants to give one of my readers a gift card so they can get a brand new, on-trend pair of glasses! They carry eyeglass and sunglass styles for men, women, and kids, so the whole family can get their prescriptions filled online, for less than at an Optician's, without having to leave home. This giveaway is a great way to try out their service on a new set of specs so you can see their quality for yourself.

One winner will receive a $50 gift card to Zenni Optical. Enough for a new pair of glasses with all the extras!

Giveaway begins on 7/16/16 at 1:00 am CST and ends on 7/22/16 at 11:59 pm CST. Must be 18 years or older, open to residents of the US only. Once confirmed, the winners will be added to the Southern Mom Loves Winner's List.

Disclaimer: Southern Mom Loves was compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. All entries will be verified. Void where prohibited by law. Winner will be contacted by email; Please add to your whitelist. Zenni Optical will be responsible for prize delivery to the winner. This giveaway is in no way administered, sponsored, endorsed by, or associated with Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest, or any other social media platform.

Contact Holly at if you have any additional questions or comments, or would like Southern Mom Loves to organize your next giveaway.

What are some of the ways you keep your kids reading over the summer? I love to read your comments!

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