Making book covers is something that my family did a lot of through Eric's and my Jr. High and High School years. We attended a small Christian school where textbooks were used over and over, and the students were required to have covers on their books to help them last longer. Most of the covers I remember from school were either made from paper bags or from heavy duty paper the school sold for that purpose.
Today I made covers for the Bibles our children got for Christmas. No paper sacks this time! I recently acquired several discarded books of wallpaper samples, and one of the projects I had in mind when I requested them was making book covers. If you'd like to acquire some wallpaper sample books, just visit the home decor department of your favorite home improvement store and ask for them to save some for you when they next get new books.
On to the cover making! If you're nervous about cutting into pretty paper on the first try, you can always use a brown paper bag for your first try. Or you can do them all with brown paper - it has it's own charm and I'm not knockin' it.
Measure the height of the book and add 4-6 inches.
Measure the width of the book (both covers and spine) and add 4-6 inches.
Due to the width of the Bibles I was covering and the width of the wallpaper, I opted for adding 4 inches, 2 inches overlap on each side. If I had larger paper or smaller books, I would have chosen to have 3 inches overlap. But the 2 inches looks like it will be sturdy enough.
Cut the paper according to your measurements.
Center the book on the paper, pull the paper snug and fold over the sides.
Mark the top and bottom of the book, a smidge away from the book itself, and going up the side just a bit (click to see a larger picture if the mark is too hard to see in this one).
Now you'll have your sides folded in and the top and bottom marked.
The step I don't show here that I highly recommend is to go ahead and unfold the sides and use your mark to fold the top and bottom edges all the way across, being sure you fold evenly (it should square up on the sides). This will give you a helpful guide for later.
Unfold the top and bottom again and cut up to your mark at an angle.
Fold over your isoceles trapezoid (yes, I had to look that up) at the top and bottom.
Place your book back on the paper, wrap the sides over, and check to be sure you've measured, cut and folded correctly. The folded edge should come to just below and above the spine of the book.
The next few steps are easiest if you have a helper hold the opposite cover and the pages upright while you work on one cover at a time.
To reduce bulk, trim off a triangle from the side fold-over.
Fold over the corner as if you were wrapping a present. Note that there is space for the existing cover; this may vary according to the thickness of your book's cover.
Now fold the flap over and tape or glue. The fold should line up with the folded-down piece on the spine. This is where folding the top and bottom all the way across helps, because you already have a crease.
Repeat this for the other corner on that side.
Repeat for the other side and you're done!
Here are the covers I made this afternoon. I didn't think to time it, but was a pretty quick project.