How To Make A Reversible Book Cover with Pen Holder and Bookmark–Beginner Sewing Project 2

Reversible Book Cover Tutorial

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It’s was time to think about Christmas gifts for my children’s school teachers and also about getting a move on making the next sewing tutorial.  Again, I completed both tasks in the one go.   

This is very similar to the Project 1 pillow in that it uses straight stitching only and requires turning corners at a 90° angle. The main difference between the two projects is that this one requires accuracy with stitching straight lines, turning the corners, and using proper seam allowance. It is easy to stuff a pillow into a not-quite-square case, but not so easy with a book.

Once you’ve decided on the book you’d like to cover then it’s time to prepare your materials.

First you must get two measurements from your book to figure out what size to cut the fabric pieces. Using a flexible plastic or fabric measuring tape…

The first measurement is your book’s height—you will get this by measuring top to bottom of your book.

The second measurement is your book’s overall width—you will get this by measuring your closed book across the front cover, around the spine, and over the back cover. All is measured except the non-bound, exposed pages side of book.

bookcover and house 006

first measurement

bookcover and house 012

second measurement

Take these two numbers and add one inch to each and there is your cutting size; example, if book is 8 1/4″ tall x 12″ around, cut your fabric 9 1/4″ x 13″. Take notice if the fabric is directional and be sure to cut it correctly. Also, choose non stretchy fabrics. I used cotton quilting weight fabrics. When cutting measurements are determined, cut three of these rectangular pieces from coordinating fabrics. One is the outer cover with pen holder, one is the inside cover, and the third is cut in half to become the two end pockets that hold the book snugly inside the cover. You will also need a 12″ x 3/8″ piece of ribbon for bookmark, a 5″ x 1 1/2″ felt strip for pen holder, and coordinating thread.

materials and supplies

materials and supplies

Cut the fabric rectangle in half that is to be used for end pockets. Iron each piece in half. In my example, each piece would be 9 1/4″ tall x 6 1/2″ wide after cutting and 9 1/4″ x 3 1/4″ after ironing.

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end pockets–cut in half then folded and ironed

Pin and then sew pen holder strip 1 1/2″ in from both bottom edge and right side edge of front cover fabric panel using 1/4″ seam allowance. You may choose to alter this placement if your book is much bigger than the book I used in the example, in which case, do what you think looks best.

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V-notch or chalk mark centre top of front cover fabric and pin book mark in place. Pin end pockets to right side of front cover fabric, aligning raw edges.


V-notch and/or chalk mark at top center


pin head facing off fabric will be helpful when stitching all the layers together


fabric is folded over to show the raw edges aligned and the end pocket folds are facing into center

Place inside cover fabric face down, sandwiching end pockets and bookmark between the two cover fabrics. Pin in place marking stitch stop and start points with X pins 4 1/2″ in from either side of bottom edge. You will not stitch between these pins to allow for turning right side out.

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inside cover fabric face down, sandwiching end pockets and bookmark

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X pins 4 1/2″ in from either side of bottom edge

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a close-up of above pic 🙂

Stitch together using 3/8″ seam allowance. Trim corners and turn right side out. Carefully point corners using point turner or tips of rounded scissors.


Stitched together


Trim corners—maybe a little less than this!


carefully point corners

Before going any further, try book in cover to see if you are satisfied with the fit. If so, iron smooth, folding opening evenly with the rest of the stitched edge. Machine topstitch the opening closed using 1/8″ to 1/4″ seam allowance.

completed outside cover

completed outside of cover–bookmark anxious to get to work 🙂

completed inside of cover

completed inside of cover

another look at the finished covers

another look at the finished covers

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the reverse sides–no pen holders but still nice.  besides, pens are easy to find!

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and the inside flaps


Voila!  Your new book cover is cool and groovy and so are you. Xx

Teaching Tips     Ideas     Alternate Choices     Bloopers

It would be nice if all students practiced at home.  Most of my beginners don’t own their own machines yet, understandable that parents want to insure interest before making the investment.  So at the start of each of their classes I have them practice on paper with unthreaded machines.  Here is a link to two printable sheets to use just for that purpose–(sorry, you have to cut and paste it)     One sheet is straight and slight curved lines, the other is straight lines and 90° corners.  They are great to show the children if they are tugging the “fabric” because the paper will show tears where they did so.  And they do not have to remove any stitches if too crooked.  It’s a great warm-up, a chance to remind them of posture, and for them to refamiliarize themselves with the machine.

In this tutorial, beginners may want to stitch the bookmark on immediately after pinning.  A couple of my students pulled the pin out (so as to not stitch over it, good for them) but in doing so, the ribbon slipped out of position.  Oh, and speaking of bookmarks, did you notice the blooper?  I switched from lavender to red in the tutorial.  It was too late in the process to reshoot the pics.

On the students machines I tape colored electrical tape at the required seam allowance.  It really helps them to have such an obvious line to align fabric with.

tape marking seam allowance

More in my ‘How To’ series of tutorials and worksheets…

*How to Make a Picture Pocket Pillow–Beginner Sewing Project 1

*How To Make A Drawstring Backpack–Beginner Sewing Project 3

*How Well Do You Know Your Sewing Machine?–Beginner Sewing Worksheet 1

*How to Worksheet 2–Basic Tools for Beginner Sewing


  1. Pingback: Basic Tools–Beginner Sewing Worksheet 2 | The Aran Artisan

  2. Pingback: Beginner Sewing Project 3–Drawstring Backpack | The Aran Artisan

  3. Pingback: Basic Tools–Beginner Sewing Worksheet | The Aran Artisan

  4. Pingback: How To Make A Lined Zipper Pouch–Beginner Sewing Project 4 | The Aran Artisan

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