Turn Fabric Scraps into Beautiful Books and Binders

Sketchbooks and binders are essential for quilters, but they don’t have to be boring and utilitarian. You can make them yourself–and make them custom–using fabric scraps and quilt pieces you already have.

binder covered with fabric scraps
Fabric-covered binder by Jeannine Stein.

Using techniques learned from two great new DVDs from Erin Zamrzla, Upcycled Fabric Books and Colorful and Custom Three-Ring Binder, my colleague, Cloth Paper Scissors Editor Jeannine Stein, will explain how easy it is to make fabric covers for one-of-a-kind books you’ll love using.

Fabric Binder Covers
Jeannine Stein 

For quilters, making a three-ring binder makes sense. You can make it any size, use any fabric for the cover, and when you’re done you have a book to store patterns, sketch ideas, store coupons-anything you want!

I made this binder with instructions from the video Colorful and Custom Three-Ring Binder, which takes you through every step of the process-and there’s a kit available too , so you can get started right away. I decided to use fabric for the cover of my book, and I’ll show you how to turn any fabric scrap into custom book cloth in just a few minutes.

1. Gluing fabric to chipboard can be messy. Since fabric is porous, any kind of wet glue will seep through. To make fabric into paper-backed book cloth, cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than the finished dimensions needed for the front and back covers of the binder.

2. Cut a piece of Pellon Wonder-Under® slightly smaller than the fabric. Iron it to the wrong side of the fabric, following manufacturer’s instructions. Peel away the backing and iron a piece of acid-free tissue paper, cut to the same size as the fabric, to the adhesive. Use a press cloth on top, and iron both sides to make sure all the wrinkles are out.

upcycled fabric scraps to books
Fabric books by Erin Zamrzla.

3. Trim your book cloth to size using a quilt ruler and rotary cutter.You can use this technique with a pieced or appliqued scrap as well. I added a strip of rickrack to my cover to give it an extra punch.

I can’t wait to use my binder to stash patterns, fabric scraps, and sketches of some lap quilts I want to make.

~ Jeannine

I love this idea for personalized fabric three-ring binders–they’d make great gifts! You can always find fabric projects like these plus mixed-media art techniques in Cloth Paper Scissors Magazine. See a sneak peek and get a special subscription offer.

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