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Make It : A Simple, Recycled Textbook Cover!

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It's back-to-school time and in celebration of this yearly event, I thought I would share a simple and eco-conscious way to cover all those textbooks. When I was a high-schooler, it was always one of my least favorite things to do (I actually got detention once for failing to cover my geometry textbook by the teacher's given deadline!), but this method, passed on to me by my ever-resourceful mother, created covers that seemed to last much longer than those of my peers and did a fabulous job at protecting the books from the wear and tear of lockers and book bags.

All you need is a paper grocery bag, a pair of sharp scissors, and a little bit of tape.

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Start with a paper grocery bag and a sharp pair of scissors.

1 Start with a paper grocery bag and a sharp pair of scissors.

Cut out the bottom panel of the bag, and carefully remove any handles. Then cut the bag straight up its side along the seam.

2 Cut out the bottom panel of the bag, and carefully remove any handles. Then cut the bag straight up its side along the seam.

Open the bag completely, and position any details or graphics facing upward, toward the book you are covering.

3 Open the bag completely, and position any details or graphics facing upward, toward the book you are covering.

Open the front cover of the book, and use one of the natural folds in the bag to create the first side flap.

4 Open the front cover of the book, and use one of the natural folds in the bag to create the first side flap.

Secure the flap with the book itself, and open the back cover. Trim any excess, and then fold the bag to create the back flap.

5 Secure the flap with the book itself, and open the back cover. Trim any excess, and then fold the bag to create the back flap.

Close the back cover to secure the flap, adjusting the bag as necessary for a flush, tight fit.

6 Close the back cover to secure the flap, adjusting the bag as necessary for a flush, tight fit.

Use the book as a template by pressing gently along the top and bottom edges...

7 Use the book as a template by pressing gently along the top and bottom edges...

...to create a visible crease.

8 ...to create a visible crease.

Remove the cover from the book, and fold along those creases.

9 Remove the cover from the book, and fold along those creases.

Now fold along the initial side fold to create the flap/pocket for the front cover.

10 Now fold along the initial side fold to create the flap/pocket for the front cover.

Insert the front cover into the front pocket, making sure that it is snug and secure.

11 Insert the front cover into the front pocket, making sure that it is snug and secure.

Carefully do the same thing with the back cover, adjusting the positioning of the cover as necessary.

12 Carefully do the same thing with the back cover, adjusting the positioning of the cover as necessary.

The cover should fit snugly and cleanly against the book.

13 The cover should fit snugly and cleanly against the book.

For added protection, use a piece of tape to secure the front of the cover to each pocket.

14 For added protection, use a piece of tape to secure the front of the cover to each pocket.

A perfectly covered book!

15 A perfectly covered book!

Was this method helpful to you? What techniques do you use?

Comments (13)

  • Ahh, my mom always covered my books like this when I was a kid! I could never figure it out--they never stayed on when I tried. I guess that's what moms are for. Thanks for this!

  • We used to do this too! And we also used old calendars w/ pretty pictures, for a smoother (tactile-ly speaking) finish.

    :)

  • This is easier that what I used to do so I am thinking of trying in on some well worn cookbooks with wall paper scraps.

  • Nice! I am old enough to remember when schools actually issued textbooks to students and required them to be covered. I had looked forward to teaching my son and daughters how to cover books (and then DECORATE!), but schools don't issue books out anymore. So no covering them. :(

    But maybe we can find other books to cover.... :D

  • That's how I covered mine when I was in school, but I didn't use tape, I think that might have made it better. My kids are required to cover theirs because they hardly ever come home with them. I still actually cover the current book I'm reading.
    Nice to remember!

  • Useful skill!I went to a Catholic grade school and learned how to cover my books at age 10...And, low and behold, my kids went to Catholic Grade and High schools...I am still covering books with paper grocery bags! It's a good way to start ZENTANGLE art skills...(profound doodling) on these books! I used to reinforce the spine with clear packing tape...would almost get through a full school year with paper bag covers!

  • [...] A Simple, Recycled Textbook Cover! – 1 freebie(s)? [...]

  • [...] A Simple, Recycled Textbook Cover! – 1 freebie(s)? [...]

  • Yes I remember this, this weekend I did some of my craft books like this. I made them personal by stamping them with a few of my favorite stamps. Used my letter stamps to place titles on the binded edges. They look so creative on my shelf. then on the inside pockets I wrote a list of the items I use most and page for reference when sharing with someone. I also did a few in contrasting wall paper that I just loved. Did not glue to book , just folded like the Love it Martha

  • Love seeing someone else using the old school method. Since stores don't really offer the paper bags anymore, I ask if I can have some for book covers & they are happy to give them away! I use this method for my kids' books. If I'm really motivated I've also used clear contact paper on top to waterproof. Who'd have known what was 'old' would be not only 'new' but part of the recycling movement.

  • That's how I cover books too, except I reinforce the creases/corners from the underside with some tape. My mom used to cover my books a bit more elaborately with mitered corners and a tab tucked into the book end so that all exposed parts were covered.

  • We did this every year... I am now amazed they lasted all year looking at the construction

  • We did this too. We could also get some from McDonald's with the McDonald's characters on it. They always ran out really quickly though. If I really enjoyed how I decorated it, I would put a layer of clear Contact paper on top of the entire thing.

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