Tuesday, February 21, 2012

DIY - How to Make a Wedding or Birthday Card Book

or, How to Corral that Pile of Cards You Just Can't Throw Away.

Mr. Official Taster and I got married last year, and one of the perks of doing so is that your friends and family give you well-wishes and love in the form of cards (newsflash: sometimes they even come attached to a present). I wanted to keep these cards, and now that they have survived a couple moves, it seemed like a good time to do something with them more exciting that keeping them in a pile on top of the card catalog. Clearly, this concept isn't limited to wedding cards - birthdays, graduations, or any other special event might deserve a special book.

First, decide what you want to use as your book cover. I chose fabric, because we have a history of moving and because I thought it would be more durable than paper. BUT. Pretty paper also works, and might be somewhat easier to work with. Try here for some good paper instructions. If you're using fabric, be sure it's washed and dry, and iron it so it's nice and smooth.

Now, find your biggest card. In my case, the widest one and the tallest one were different, so I pulled out both. Using scrap paper, measure out a rectangle that's about 1/4" bigger on each side than your biggest card. So if that card is 5"x7", your template will be 5.5"x7.5". This is the size your book cover will be. 

Next, you need to trace that template onto whatever sort of cardboard you are using. We have had a lot of boxes hanging around lately, so I used part of one. You could also use foamcore, or the cardboard that comes on the back of note pads or legal pads. Cut out your cardboard rectangles - these are the book covers.

Lay out your fabric of choice, and decide how much you'd like to have to wrap around the cardboard. I probably could have used slightly less, but it doesn't really matter too much. At this point, you should also consider the pattern of your fabric and how you'd like that oriented, vertically or horizontally. For example, my fabric is striped, so I could choose to have the stripes going up and down, side to side, or even diagonally on my book. I went with vertically.

Now, you're going to cover the cardboard with your fabric. Make sure the fabric is face down on your work surface, and center the cardboard on top of it. I used Liquid Nails to adhere the fabric to the cardboard, and it worked well. It's also what I happened to have on hand, so there are certainly other options out there. The downside of using Liquid Nails was the looong dry time, so something like hot glue would be way faster. Start by glueing the long sides. (this process is a lot like wrapping a present, if that helps) Then I actually used some packing tape as an additional hold-down, which you can see better in some photos a little further down.

Just like wrapping a present, once you have smoothly secured the long sides, fold in the edges on the short side.

You want to make these folds as tight and flat as you can. Here's another angle to help you visualize all this.

Put some glue in the middle of the short side, and then fold the fabric up and over. Again, keeping it as tight and flat as possible. Repeat with the last side, and then I taped down the edges of the fabric as part of my flattening. 

Allow your glue to dry completely, according to the package instructions. I left mine under some heavy cookbooks for a while to help things stay flat. Depending on the type of glue you use, this step may or may not be necessary.

Next up: making the pockets. I looked at the inside of the book cover (where all the folded fabric is) and determined how much of it I should cover with the paper pockets. In my case, the original cover template was a pretty good size, since fabric had increased the overall dimensions of the cardboard. That also meant I knew the cards would all fit. So I traced what would become the back of the pocket on a piece of scrap paper (the one on the left, below). I measured to between 1/2 and 1/3 of the way up from the bottom to determine how high I wanted the pocket to come. (There wasn't enough room on the original piece, so I ended up making the pocket on a separate piece of paper and then taping them together.) Make sure the total length of the back+the pocket is not longer than the piece of paper you are using to create the pocket. I used a 12x12 piece of cardstock, so my total length was 12 inches. Finally, use your ruler to add on tabs to the back of the pocket. These will be what connect the back and the front. If you angle the ends, the finished product will look neater.

Cut out your template and double check that your largest card(s) will fit inside the pocket.

Trace your template onto your pocket paper. As I mentioned, I used a 12x12 sheet of cardstock. They are available in about a million colors and are in the scrapbooking section of craft stores. I bought three sheets- one each for the front and back pockets, and one extra in case I totally screwed up.

Once you've cut out your pocket, you'll need to decide how to glue it all together. I used these adhesive dots rather than glue, and I'm glad I did. They were easy, no-mess, and they don't have a dry time. There are a few different brands and sizes available.

Scoring the cardstock along the fold lines before you actually fold it will make those folds both easier and crisper. I don't have an official scorer tool, but a table knife and a ruler or other straight edge work quite well.

Place your adhesive on the "wings" and press the front of the pocket down firmly. Repeat those steps for the second pocket. If you are using glue, pause here until the glue is completely dry.

Almost done! I used thick ribbon (1.5" wide) to connect the front and back covers. Place your two covers side by side and lay some ribbon down. Don't attach it yet!

Put all your cards in the pockets. Place the pockets on top of each other. Then, to see how big to make your book, place the pockets on top of the laid out ribbon. Figure out how much ribbon you need to reach around the books, and how far that means the covers need to be apart.

Cut two pieces of ribbon to that length. Lay out your book to make sure it all works before glueing things down.

Firmly attach the ribbon to both covers of your book. Then, attach each pocket to the cover (yes, on top of the ribbon).

Technically, you're done! You've made a book! I, however, wanted to make my a little more secure, so I opted to basically make a ribbon belt for my book. I used the same ribbon I used to bind my book and D Rings from the sewing section of the craft store. Make sure the width of your ribbon matches the width of the D Rings you choose.

Measure out and cut enough ribbon to wrap around your book. Sew two D Rings into one end of your ribbon. I tucked the very end under to make it look slightly more finished.

Finally, wrap the ribbon belt around the book and tie off.

Now you really are done!

I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. If I was fancy, I could embellish the covers with our initials, or wedding date, or something, but, for now, I'm happy with it as-is. 


  1. I found your blog through YHL. This project is genius! I got married 4 months ago, and all of our cards are sitting in a little basket on the floor. But this would get them up and off the floor and display them properly. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

    1. welcome! and thank you! We got married last year (we kind of had two weddings...) ANYWAY so we had a stack of cards that started in July and grew a lot more in October. I wrapped the whole thing up and it just kept moving from flat surface to flat surface around the house. This is much better :) I'd love to see your final product!

  2. This is such a great post. The ideas are great and the procedures are easily to follow. I thinks it better for me to considerate one of this for my mother-in-law's birthday. thanks for sharing. :)


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