How to Make an eReader Cover with a Handmade Book-Binding Technique

The preponderance of e-readers and tablets like the iPad have many people declaring that book makingthe kind with pages and coversis dead. Furthermore, “real” books that have already been printed are obsolete.

How to Make an eReader Cover with a Handmade Book-Binding Technique
Leilani’s mixed-media e-reader or tablet sleeve, using book covers and a book-binding technique.

My opinion is this:

1. There are advantages to both print books and digital media.

2. As long as people like book arts, there will always be a use for the old-fashioned printed book.

Take, for example, this project by mixed-media and fiber artist Leilani Pierson that uses book covers to make an e-reader or tablet sleeve.

Not only does this project upcycle an old book, it offers a glorious irony: an e-reader protected by book covers.

Leilani uses a Japanese stab-stitch book binding technique to join the two covers together.

There are many variations on this book-making technique. Leilani chose a simple style; there is a diagram of a more elaborate stitching design shown below.

Mixed-Media E-Reader or Tablet Sleeve
By Leilani Pierson


  • Fleece fabric
  • Needle/thread or sewing machine
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Rotary cutter and mat
  • Old book covers
  • Acrylic paints in 3 colors
  • Foam brush
  • Old credit card or cardboard scraper
  • Scrap fabric pieces
  • Found words
  • Decoupage medium
  • Nylon cord or waxed cotton cord
  • Large tapestry needle
  • Heavy-duty hole puncher/leather hole punch (I use a Crop-a-dile puncher)


  • Eyelets to match the holes punched
  • Ribbon for insert
  • Button


How to Make an eReader Cover with a Handmade Book-Binding Technique
Leilani uses a simple Japanese stab binding
method for these handmade “books.”


1. Find 2 old, matching book covers. Be sure they are about ½” larger around the perimeter than your e-reader or tablet. Cut the covers off these old books, carefully. If you have book covers that you like but that are too large, carefully cut them down to size with a rotary cutter and mat. (If you don’t have book covers or can’t bear to cut up a book, you could substitute matte board.)

2. Grab your first color of paint. Slather this on to the outside of both covers. Let dry. Scrape in a few more colors of paint. Let dry.

3. Take some soft fleece fabric, fold it in half, and measure it to the size of your electronic device. Cut it so it is slightly larger than your e-reader. Sew up the side and the bottom of this fabric, making a large pocket. Turn it inside out. The pocket should fit snuggly around your e-reader.

4. Decide which covers will be the front and back. Seal your painted book covers with decoupage medium. Add in bits of fabric scraps or found words, if you’d like. Scrape some texture into it. Let this dry.

5. Keeping the boards side by side, use a ruler and pencil to mark out ½” increments away from the edge (perimeter) on the tops of both covers. It does not have to be exactly ½” increments, but a small width to create the “lip” of the sleeve. Now go around the sides and bottom of the covers and mark about 1″ increments with a pencil along the 1/2″ line you just made. Do each book cover separately, but make sure the front cover and the back cover’s holes match up.

6. Use your sturdy hole-puncher (I use a Crop-a-dile.) to punch your holes out all the way around both covers ½” away from the edge of each side. Be sure not to go over the edges.  Once the holes are punched, you can add eyelets to each hole if you’d like.

How to Make an eReader Cover with a Handmade Book-Binding Technique
An example of how to bind a book with Japanese
stab stitching, by Joan Ragan Kallay.

7. Sandwich your book covers and lining all together, including the e-reader or tablet inside the lining. With your threaded needle, carefully whipstitch around the lip of the sleeve, going through the felt lining and the holes all the way around. Tie off.

8. Choose a scrap piece of book cover or cardboard which is the same size as your e-reader. Insert this scrap piece into the lining with the e-reader. This will help you not to over-tighten when you bind up the sides.

9. Starting with the edge of one side, take the end of your thread and make a slip-knot. You will begin by sewing into both holes (not the fleece) with the needle and into the slip knot to secure the beginning of your binding. Stab-stitch down one full sidedo not sew the fleecetie off. Do this to the remaining side and the bottom, tying off each time, so that each side is separately bound.

10. Voila! Your sleeve is finished. To remove the e-reader from this kind of sleeve, just push up from the bottom of the fleece to release it. But perhaps this is too cumbersome for you …

11. Sew a ribbon end to the top front edge of your fleece. Push the e-reader onto the ribbon, while pushing it fully into the sleeve. You will have the tail of the ribbon trailing at the back of your sleeve. Cut this off leaving a 1″ tail, then sew on a vintage button. Pull this little tab to release your e-reader or tablet whenever you’re ready to read, watch, or play.

A creative cover like this for your iPad would inspire you before you even turned the tablet on. As for what to put inside your iPad, I have a inspired suggestion: why don’t you visit the Interweave store to download our interactive eMag Art Journaling Exposed?

P.S. Do you own an e-reader or tablet? If so, does the device help you with your art? In what ways?


Blog, Handmade Books


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