Old Book Re-covering

Introduction: Old Book Re-covering

About: Lifetime tinkerer.

So, a couple of weeks ago I stumble into this amazing place http://diss-emporium.co.uk

There were about a billion things I could have bought. Lovely stuff from a really good range of eras. Priced like they want to sell them.

There is a basket of rolls of bright fabric. A quick inspection concludes that its rolls of Ralph Lauren tie silk. There are three designs, a black and blue stripe (with RLL shield), a red and gold stripe and a stars and stripes pattern. Not feeling the S&S vibe I ask how much 2 off-cuts would be of the black and blue and red and gold. There is 4 meters of each, and the price comes back £15...for both. At just under £2 per meter, I can't pay fast enough. But I paid over the odds, the bolt of Stars & Stripes was £28 for 18 meters.

Anyway, I was happy. I had a conversation with the shop owner as I was unsure of what I would do with it. I still might try to make a tie/bow tie. Five minutes later I was in one of Diss' fine selection of charity shops. and found two half leather-bound volumes of a book called 'BELGIUM THE GLORIOUS' for £5. They were a bit tatty. The leather needed some love, but worse was the cloth, especially on volume II. The pictures show the leather moisturised, but the cloth as it was bought.

At this point, I feel I need to point out that I am aware that Belgium has a much less that GLORIOUS history. Much like the UK. It is responsible for genocide of unimaginable levels in what was called the Belgian Congo. I am also a book lover and wouldn't ordinarily 'have a go' with a new skill with an important volume. However, this book wasn't that.

Step 1: Cutting the Fabric

When I cut the fabric it had a propensity to fray. I looked online. The proper way to make book cloth is to stick it to large sheets of Japanese rice paper using a bookbinders PVA glue.

The rice paper was extortionate, so that was out. The PVA was also quite pricey so I decided to work with what I had.

I cut rough book size pieces of the fabric. I decided to go with the logo fabric on the front and plain on the back. I made a card template of the area I needed to cover. I folded the fabric around it, ironed it, cut any spare fabric away.

I then used some fabric mending/fusing strips to glue the edges into the fabric so there were no raw edges.

I used this - https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B003X2KVBK/ref... but any fabric fusing would do.

I was then left with 4 hexagonal pieces of fabric, ready to stick to the cloth areas of the book.

Step 2: Sticking the Fabric to the Book

As I've already mentioned. I didn't have the right glue, so I experimented.

On the first cover, I used Copydex as I already had some - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Copydex-Bottle-Adhesive-1...

This was quite messy, although will probably hold better over time. The glue came through the fabric causing darker spots where it did. I wasn't a fan of this look. So for the rest of the covers, I used Pritt Stick - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pritt-Stick-Standard-10g-...

This worked really well. It was easy to apply, didn't leech through the fabric and dried pretty quickly.

To tension the fabric to get it to lay flat on the cover I used some thin sheets of ply and some clips to hold it under tension while it dried. I only left them on there for a couple of minutes and this seemed to work well.

Step 3: The Final Result

I was 8/10 happy with them.

I get the fabric might not be everybody's cup of tea, but I like it. My wife didn't!

The cover of volume I was rubbish! I had somehow managed to cut the corners at slightly the wrong angle and slightly too small. This didn't look good, but I will rectify this at a later date.

The fabric was also left uncovered on the inside. At a later stage, when I have altered the cover on volume I, I have some marbled paper from my recent trip to Florence which will cover this nicely.

Any thoughts on how I could improve my techniques, hints or tips from professionals, please pitch in.

My next project is going to be some A5 silk-covered notebooks like this - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ralph-Lauren-Crossbones-J... or this https://www.ralphlauren.co.uk/en/large-bandanna-no...


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    3 years ago

    Great work giving this book a new look!