Jytte's Tulip Book
To make the complete book and wrap, you will need: - 
  • Cardboard – quite thick
  • Any kind of paper to use for pages
  • PVA glue
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper
  • Paint brushes – a large, wide one will be useful
  • Paint – acrylic, guache or poster paints are fine
  • Small scraps of calico or plain, pale cotton
  • Linen thread and needle to fit
  • Awl
  • Hammer
  • Heavy books or items to use as weights
  • Rule
  • Cutting mat
  • Clips – I have discovered that the plastic clips on shop hangers for trousers are great. They usually have a soft ‘pad’ on the inside, and are fairly strong. Snap the hanger and slide the clip off. Clothes pegs or paper clips can be used too. Bulldog clips are ok, but can leave sharp marks.
  • Magic tape

Starting the cover

  1. Measure two pieces of card ½ cm larger than your glued stacks from top to bottom Measure it ¼cm larger from side to side. There should be a slight overhang on 3 sides, but none where the spine is, as it needs to be glued inside the covers flush at the back. The card should ideally be quite thick, as it will be covered in watered down glue at a later stage.
  2. Decide what you would like to do to cover the book. If you want to cover it with paper or a piece of fabric which you might have embellished or quilted, then skip the next stages and go straight to Assembling the front and back cover, before covering with the fabric or paper.
  1. If you want to decorate it as shown, then continue here. Using slightly thinner card, decide on your shape. Draw your shape onto the card, then cut out using a craft knife. It can be a bit difficult to cut rounded shapes, so to start with you might like to use just strips and squares as shown. It doesn’t matter if the edges are a bit rough, the whole lot will be covered with a layer of tissue later.
  2. Glue on the shapes in the way you have chosen, leave to dry for a few hours. You might need to put something heavy on top to keep the shapes pressed firmly to the card. The photos show some different shapes.
  1. When making your design, either leave a space on the edge where the fabric strip (see following step) will be glued, or add the strip to the front bit only before applying the shapes.

Assembling the front and back cover.

  1. Cut a strip of the calico or cotton, about 4 cm longer than the spine of the book, and about 7 cm wide.
  2. Place the two pieces of card on the mat with a gap as shown on the photograph. Tape down the corners. Add a strip of glue on the edges by the gap on each card, and place the fabric piece on top.
  1. Leave a 2 cm overhang at top and bottom and smooth down.
  2. Carefully make sure the gap you leave between the card pieces is big enough for the stacks you have sewn and glued together, otherwise the book will be hard to close.
  3. The photo shows stacks of two different kinds of paper. They both have 3 stacks each, made up of 5 pages, folded and sewn together.
  1. Turn over the cover, fold over and glue the overhang to the inside of the cover. Leave it somewhere to dry. I have been known to put the cover, opened flat, on a radiator to dry!! But before proceeding with the next stage, make sure it is bone dry.
  2. If using fabric or paper, make sure your fabric or paper is large enough to be about 2cm larger on all sides of your cover. To make the cover sit tightly, add glue to the front and back, lay the fabric or paper on top and smooth down. Leave to dry.
  3. Turn the book cover over.
  4. Add glue to the inside edges, fold the corners over to form a triangle, press down, add more glue to the small triangle then fold over all the edges, pressing down.
  5. Leave to dry.

Adding the tissue layer

You don't need to do this if you are using fabric or paper

  1. Roughly tear a piece of white or pale tissue 2 inches wider than the front and back.
  2. Crumple the tissue and then straighten it out again, leaving it a bit crumpled. This gives the tissue a bit of ‘give’ so it is not applied too tightly and will fit better into any small dips and grooves in the pattern. It also gives the finished cover a nice, slightly rough look, and helps to cover any uneven bits!!
  3. Water down some PVA glue, it should be fairly thin, slightly thinner than pouring cream.
  4. Apply a layer to the whole of the cover, let it dry a bit to seal the card, then add another layer of glue.
  5. Place the tissue over the cover, and using the paint brush, working from the middle to the outside edges, gently brush/push down the tissue. You can add more glue to the brush as you go, so the tissue doesn’t dry out. When brushing over the patterns, ease the tissue down into all the grooves and gaps.

TIP! If you find the tissue tears, you can add a little piece and glue down.

  1. Turn the cover over, and fold the tissue over all around the cover, gluing it down as you go. Leave the cover to dry, until bone dry. Or, again, if like me you are impatient, dry flat on a radiator. It can bend a bit, but I find when the next stages are worked, it gets a bit straighter anyway.
This is where the fun bit starts! I don’t particularly want to tell you how to do this, but here are some suggestions. It really is up to you.

Painting and embellishing the book cover.

  • Paint; acrylic, gouache, poster paint, children’s readymade paint, glitter, that stuff that expands, any other paint available.
  • Buttons
  • Shapes of any kind
  • Decoupage
  • Bits of fabric
  • Foil
  • String and ribbons

Actually, anything you like, this is where you can let your imagination run riot!!

Using acrylic paint.

Before you start, you can practice on a spare bit of card which you have covered with tissue as described.

For the tulip cover, I mixed a deep orange, green on the leaves. I then very, very lightly brushed some gold over the whole cover. If you choose to do this, the gold really should be almost not there unless you want it heavily golden. Use circular movements with the brush. Use a large brush. Be very light handed, barely touching the book. Keep going over it until you have the level of cover you like. You should be able to see the colour underneath. You can ‘over brush’ with other colours too.

You can see on the photos just a few of the different kinds of painting.

Buttons, and other items.

If you want a button to be part of the system holding the book closed, it should have a shank. The photos show the method for a button and ribbon system


Punch a hole where you want the button.

Thread a bit of wire through the shank.


Pinch together, then feed through the hole. Spread out the wire, flatten as much as possible

Cover with some strong tape. This will eventually be covered over.


Punch a hole on the back cover to correspond with the hole on the front

Measure the ribbon, or other cord, a long bit if you want to wrap it round the book and enough to twist round the button, or a short bit if you just want to twist round the button.

Add the bead or other item – could be a tassle, another button or anything else you like.

From the back, thread the ribbon through.

Cover at least 2cm of the ribbon with tape as shown.

If you just want buttons to be part of the decorations, they can be glued on either before painting the cover if you want them the same colour, or glued or sewn on after painting.

If you have covered the book with fabric, and you want to use a button and ribbon/cord to hold the book together, then follow the method above now.