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Do it yourself: faux leather-bound books

Updated November 21, 2016

Binding a book with real leather is expensive, but with faux leather you can create the same effect without having to fork over the extra cost. Also, it has the added bonus of being cruelty free to those who don’t like to use leather or other animal products. Faux leather-bound books can be perfect as a gift, or you can recover all of your books to give them a uniform reference-section look to make them more visually appealing in a home library.

Creating Your Cover

Decide what type of faux leather you would like to use. There are plenty of inexpensive and cruelty-free options, including vinyl, koskin, kydex and more. Vinyl is the most affordable and will probably work best for bookbinding purposes. Create a cover by cutting a thick piece of cardboard to the size of your book covers and spine. Your cardboard should be one large piece you can bend to take the shape of the spine. This cardboard is for use if your book or journal does not already have a hardcover. If you do have a hardcover for your book, you can simply choose to cover this with your faux leather material.

Gluing Your Cardboard

Lay your cardboard on a flat surface. Cover the inside of your cardboard with card stock. Try to make your card stock pieces as uniform as possible. This card stock will be seen when the book is open, so apply carefully and evenly by affixing it with glue. Avoid using beads of glue, but rather spread evenly with a butter knife.

Measuring Your Faux Leather Material

Place your cardboard on top of your piece of faux leather, card stock side up. Measure your faux leather material as one large piece. When measuring, account for the rise of the book off the surface by using a fabric measuring tape that bends easily. Add an extra inch around each measurement for folding over your piece. If you only have scrap pieces that will not fit the entire size of your cover, you can stitch pieces of faux leather together with a sewing machine. This will give your book a more weathered appeal.

Applying Your Faux Leather Cover

Cut your faux leather piece to size. Lay across your cardboard and cover evenly. Fold over the edges of your cardboard and affix with glue. You may need to cut small slits around the edges and spine of your cover so the faux leather looks even. Be sure to hold your material taut so there is no bunching or rumpling of your cover.

Attaching Your Cover to the Book

Glue the inside spine of your cardboard to the outer spine of your book. If possible, place in a vice to properly affix your glue. You may also want to add decorative stitches to further hold your cover to the spine.

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About the Author

Liza Hollis has been writing for print and online publications since 2003. Her work has appeared on various digital properties, including USAToday.com. Hollis earned a degree in English Literature from the University of Florida.