Make Spectacular Books Class Plan

by Sue Astroth

Class Description: Skewer Books
Combine basic sewing with the creativity of papercrafts to make an adorable skewer book! In this fun 3-hour class, you'll learn how to make fabric book cloth and transform it into a skewer book - a stunning way to scrapbook! Plus, you'll learn ways to use your leftover scraps to make smaller books or cards.

Instructor Supply List

  • Required text:Make Spectacular Books, by Sue Astroth
  • A variety of class project samples, various sized books and assorted cards as ideas for leftover fabric book cloth
  • Provide assorted tools for students, such as screw punches, personal paper cutters, and bone folders
  • Make a hole-drilling guide for each student - I make mine from plain paper. While a centering ruler is a great tool for this, the guide makes the students feel like they will be successful and finish.
  • Optional: Pre-painted skewers to match your book sample. They can then be supplied for class, or you could have the students bring a small bit of paint and paint them at the beginning of class so they will dry while you make your fabric cloth.

Student Supply List

  • Required text: Make Spectacular Books, by Sue Astroth
  • 2 fat quarters 100% cotton fabric (watch out for directional prints!) OR one 1/2 yard piece 100% cotton
  • 6 sheets of 12" x 12" cardstock to coordinate with fabric colors
  • 2 yards of waxed linen thread
  • Assorted ribbons and charms to attach to spine
  • 1.5 yards fabric adhesive
  • One 24" x 36" sheet of vellum finish paper (I get this from the local paper store)
  • Two 6" - 6.5" skewers (available in the kitchen accessory section of most grocery stores)
  • Sewing machine, size 12 or 14 needle - must have zigzag or overlock stitch
  • Scissors (paper and fabric)
  • Personal paper cutter - this could also be a tool the teacher supplies for student use
  • Seam ripper - just in case!
  • Rotary cutter
  • Clear acrylic ruler
  • Self-healing cutting mat
  • Japanese screw punch - this could also be a tool the teacher brings for students to use
  • Large-eyed tapestry needle, size 18-20
  • Curved sewing needle
  • Bone folder - this could also be a tool the teacher supplies for student use

In the Classroom

  1. Begin by showing students the completed sample, finished book size of 6.5" x 6.5". I like this size because it is easy to find cardstock for the pages.
  2. Making the fabric covers - follow the instruction on pages 15-17
  3. Selecting the papers to fit inside your book-follow the instructions on pages 48 - 50; be sure to cover the two cardstock options:
    • For those using graduated cuts of cardstock
    • For those using two stacks of 6" x 12" cardstock
  4. Demonstrate how to make the center pocket - follow the instructions on page 50 or page 54.
  5. Demonstrate how to attach charms, ribbons, etc.

Marketing Tips

  • This project lends itself to a series classes. In the first, you'll make the book then if you will use the book as a small scrap or memory book, you can decorate the pages every week for say a month - just select a theme for the book. The store could even kit the project and the students would only need to bring their tools.
  • In a fabric store you could make a "my sewing room" book (at a paper crafting store it could be a "my art studio" book). For each, students could bring photos of their workroom, their stash of fabric and treasures, the most favorite thing in their room, pictures of some of their finished projects, and pictures of loved ones or pets.
  • Partner with a local scrapbook or paper crafting store in your area so it will be extra easy to have all the supplies available for the projects.
  • For those quilters who make keepsake quilts, they could make a book that keeps track of the quilt's creation, the story it has to tell and the journey it may take. It would also be a great place to keep some fabric scraps from the actual quilt.
  • Have each of the employees in the shop make a book and see if the customers can match the book to the right employee.
  • If the store has a special event - birthday or anniversary sale, or special guest teacher - make a book about the preparation and daily activities then keep it in the store for your customers to enjoy.
  • Some variations on the class project could include a group scouting project or summer memories, prepared in a "mommy and me" session. The mom would make the larger size and the child would make a smaller one - this would make a great shower, wedding or birthday keepsake...even a great coach, troop leader, or teacher gift!
  • Making fabric book cloth could be a great demo. Familiarize - and tantalize! - customers with pre-made samples...displayed next to a class sign up sheet. Feature samples from Make Spectacular Books and Spectacular Cards! to show how fabric book cloth can be used in many projects.

Shop Owners Could Also Sell
Whether you are a paper crafting store or a fabric store you will probably already have a good selection of tools to use for this project. Consider how your existing tool supplies can do double duty:

  • Skewers, double-ended knitting needles
  • Waxed linen thread
  • Fusible adhesive
  • 24" x 36" vellum finish paper
  • Xacto knife - could be used with sewing tools instead of personal paper cutter
  • Assorted charms
  • Fancy threads for a special occasion book
  • Centering ruler - very helpful for even placement of the holes in the cover and book pages
  • Fabric paints and fabric stamps can be a fun addition to the various embellishment options your students can have.

Teacher's Tips

  • A note about special fabrics: While I usually start the students off with an all cotton version of the book first, you can use silk, linen, decorator fabric and even denim to make a fun and interesting book. Just make sure to match your iron temp to the fabric when fusing the adhesive to the fabric.
  • The class usually runs about 3 hours to make the fabric cloth and basic book. You may want to add another hour or two - or make it a two-session class - if you want to include how to decorate pages or make something with your leftover fabric cloth pieces.