Making a Canvas Book Cover

Working with postcards means you have to eventually figure out how to store them. Right now, I’m exploring using small 3-ring binders and creating interesting pages to hold them. The 3-ring binders come from a used book store. They were cookbooks first. For now, I’m keeping the pages so I can use them as templates for holders.

Front of slip cover, fit over binder.

To make the cover, I wanted to use a photographic print on canvas. Because I didn’t want to put the canvas through too much stress, I purchased a canvas remnant to practice.

Friend Rosaland Hannibal had found a slipcover video by Lyric Kinard, made a sample, and offered to teach me.

Rosaland is brave. She knows about my sewing history (failed three classes, can’t cut straight) and promised me this would be easy. What was wonderful about making the cover is that we could use the straight lines on the fabric as guides. Rosaland laughed at my fussy lining up of the print to make sure it was even.

Inside flap of slipcover fits close to rings to hide the original cover color that I didn't find appealing.

The slip cover demands sewing only two straight lines. I got the first one, but the second one, despite the fact that I measured and Rosaland approved, was off. The cover didn’t fit into the carefully measured pocket. Neither one of us knew why. I measured the seam a quarter of an inch larger, and it still didn’t fit. Rosaland showed me an excellent and easy way to rip open a sewn seam without tearing the fabric.

The important thing was not that I proved to Rosaland that I can’t sew, the important learning was that if you screw it up, it doesn’t matter. You rip it open and do it over until it works. I had to put down the story (“I can prove to you I cannot sew”) for the bigger accomplishment (“Let’s make this cool slipcover.”)

The third time was the charm. The slipcover fit. I still don’t understand why the

The stripes don't match, but the slipcover is a good fit.

stripes didn’t line up, as I had wanted that to happen, but over all, I am pleased with how it turned out. Now I can work on the photo canvas.

A new project sometimes requires beginner’s mind–the willingness to see what happens and deal with what shows up–everything from failure to success. That was one important slipcover. And I can’t wait to see how the postcard journal progresses.

–Quinn McDonald is the author of Raw Art Journaling, published by North Light Books. It is available from through Quinn’s website.

7 thoughts on “Making a Canvas Book Cover

  1. I think I know what happened. The clue lies in the cover fitting even if the stripes don’t line up.
    When you sew on a machine, the feed dogs move the fabric. They “eat” 1/4 inch on average, when sewing. Which is why putting in a zipper is such a pain. In order to avoid the problem you can’t just keep going.
    You need to know it wasn’t you, it wasn’t evil, it was feed dogs. . .

    • Hah! Now I can blame the feed dogs! Actually, I snuck out and bought a free-sewing foot and now I can also release the feed dogs–which is a LOT of fun, but not for making covers, of course.

  2. The cover looks wonderful. Congrats on creating it! I also knew you could sew! Silly girl, it might not be perfectly straight lines, but you CAN sew! And, who wants perfectly straight lines all the time anyway? I think it looks better with the stripes not matchy-matching.
    If you keep up with all this sewing, you’re going to force me to clear off my table and drag out my sewing machine and give it a workout… that’s what I call it when I make the attempt to sew… I give the machine a workout! And usually my patience also!!

  3. WOW That was easy. I am a quilter and quilters’ would have made it much harder than that. It was nice to see an easy version of a book cover. thanks!

    • The “easy” credit goes to Lyric K, who created the video for the book cover. Ripping out a seam twice did not make it seem easy to me, but I see another one in my future!

  4. Congratulations on a successful sewing project. It looks wonderful. I knew you could sew!
    To have the stripes match on the inside & outside of the cover, you would have to cut 3 separate pieces : outside cover, inside right and inside left and you would have to “fussy cut” them. That is a lesson for another day!

    • The stripes matched when I pinned it, but not when I sewed it. I can see the benefit of cutting separate pieces to make sure the stripes line up. I LOVE the name “fussy cut” –I can see me being fussy all right! But I’m pleased with how this project turned out–finally.

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