Alternatively, this post could also have been called How To Make A Book Sleeve: A Step-by-Step Guide as this is a written tutorial but that would have been SO boring. I don’t do boring.
If you’re a fellow bookstagrammer you would know the appeal of a thing such as this. Book sleeves are all the rage these days and have the book community at large going nuts, even though I personally find them unnecessary. Never make this case in front of a book nerd, though. They’ll only think you have gone mad. About 80% of the book merch subscription boxes or any other shop offers IS unnecessary. But the thing is, we DON’T care!
However, if you are an avid reader who does not use Instagram and has absolutely no idea WTF I’m even talking about, lemme help you out.
What, in the name of papyrus, is a Book Sleeve?
A book sleeve is just a rectangular pouch you put your book in to “protect” it.
At least, I think that was the initial idea behind its creation. Now, it’s just another cool thing a bookworm can brag about.
The funny thing is, if you search Google Images you will not find the book sleeve I’m talking about. There are a couple of other terms like Book Jacket and Book Buff for it but save for Instagram, no where on the Internet does it show you the right one. Instead you’ll get fabric covers much like a book’s cover jacket, the one you can take off.
Why, from a practical reader’s perspective, book sleeves are pointless:
I came across it on Instagram myself and while I thought it was a rad idea, I found it to be, you guessed it, unnecessary. Why do I think so? It’s simple really. Just like virtually anything can be used as a bookmark, so can anything be used to cover your book while you’re not reading it. The end. Wasn’t so difficult now, was it? (Also, since we’re on the subject, bookish candles. Like, what? We’re past the dark ages, ladies and gents. We have electricity now, well, some of us do more than the others. They only serve to be props for bookish posts which then allow the bookstagrammer to get more candles and post more photos… It’s a funny business, bookstagramming.)
Another thing is, if you’re traveling and you do that a lot, you might want to take a book or two with you. You can use a book sleeve to cover one book inside your travel bag to make it feasible, might make it easier to spot it and fish it out if you have a lot of luggage. But if you carry more books than one, then what? Would you put all 5 books in 5 book sleeves? If it was me traveling (which I don’t) and I had taken books to read with me (which I wouldn’t) I’d just stuff ’em all up in a tote bag or something. Problemo Solvedo.
Add it to the fact that I live in Pakistan where things like these are expensive, my personal opinion as someone who can only buy things she needs is that you can do perfectly well without buying a book sleeve.
Now, I advise you to put all of that aside as gibberish and read on because… IMMA SHOW YOU HOW TO MAKE A BOOK SLEEVE! YAY!
I told you, we book nerds don’t care. Our rational sides surface once in a while unfortunately but we recover real fast because TEMPTATION. Also, I said you could do without “buying” a book sleeve. I never said anything about making them yourself. Pay attention. If you happen to be a fellow bookstagramming bookworm who also happens to be a fellow sewist, you will get me a hundred percent.
I make tons of projects that I don’t need at all but just because they’re fun to make and offer a challenge, I take them up. Not helpful are the insanely gorgeous and awesome fabric prints which just beg to be used. The book sleeve in the picture above is the first ever I made, it wasn’t the last.
You won’t find any Youtube tutorials on this. Trust me, I checked. Just as well because this isn’t rocket science. It’s probably the easiest thing you can make. The only thing that I wanted to watch the tutorial for was the measurements. I made the first one on guesswork and the size turned out to be correct. I’ll stop rambling now and give you the measurements I found later while rummaging through book sleeve posts. Someone running a book sleeve account very helpfully posted a picture describing them (dear Lord, I talk too much):
Large (Hardbound) 9″ x 11.5″
Medium 7.5″ X 11″
Small (Paperback) 7″ X 8″
- Keep in mind that these are not the finished sizes. You have to cut pieces according to any of these measurements.
Book Sleeve in simple steps:
This is perhaps the most straight-forward and easiest way to do it.
- Choose a pattern size then cut two pieces of the outer main fabric (cotton is recommended) and two pieces of the inner lining fabric (this can be cotton, silk, georgette, whatever you want, just bear in mind that it will show up on the inside).
- Lay both main pieces right side facing up and then adjust the lining pieces on top of them right side facing down. So the right sides of both sets should be together and the wrong sides should be facing upward.
- Pin the upper edges together so that their sides match exactly.
- Using a half-inch seam allowance, stitch the top edge of the rectangle. Do the same with the other set.
- Turn the seam ‘inside-out’ and press.
- Now you should have two pieces instead of four. Each with an outer fabric and a lining fabric and both of these fabrics should be right side out after pressing them flat.
- Put the pieces on top of each other, again, right sides together so that the lining fabrics are showing up and the outer fabrics are inside facing each other.
- Pin the sides in place.
- Again using a half-inch seam allowance, stitch the two long sides and the bottom. Clip the corners.
- Without turning the sleeve inside out, fold the upper edge of the sleeve about a half inch inside the lining and sew along the edge of the fold.
- Turn it inside out. It’s ready!
- Just FYI, there are legit hundreds of ways you can tinker with and tweak your book sleeves. The way I do it the inside seams are completely hidden but that is a teensy bit more complicated. You can add pockets, you can reinforce it with fusible interfacing, you can embroider it or add other flourishes, zippers, straps, the point is; once you know how it’s done, it’s all up to you.
So, even if I don’t think they are a big deal as a reader, the sewist in me holds them in high regard. And for good reason! When I posted this picture on my Instagram account in April, within minutes I was contacted by a local book subscription box business and was given an order to make 10 book sleeves for them. It was THE most squeal-worthy thing that ever happened to me. I may be wrong, most of the times I am, but I think I’m the first person here who’s ever made a book sleeve for a bookish box and I am PRRRRRRR-AAAA-OOOOOUUUUD! Even useless things have uses. That’s the lesson in this, children.
I hope you enjoyed my take on book sleeves; their usefulness, uselessness and making.
P.S: I would like you to know that I am open to custom orders. If you want one made just drop a message on my Instagram account @burqabelle and let me know. We’ll sort out the details there. Until then, cheerio!