Fabric Bookmark Tutorial


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For this Mother’s Day, my mom specifically requested bookmarks for her gift. She home schools my baby sister, so they are in constant need of something to mark where they left off in their many textbooks and novels. I was going to get her some jewelry or maybe a purse, but hey, if it’s bookmarks that she wants, I’m happy to make it happen.

Sewing and Crafting Level: Beginner

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fabric- leftover fat quarters and scrap fabric will work just fine.
  • Elastic- the width is up to you
  • Sewing machine and thread

Step 1: Lay your fabric flat and iron out any folds or wrinkles. This will ensure accurate measurements and that your straight lines will actually be straight.

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Step 2: At this point, you need to decide what size book you are making this book mark for. Because of the size difference between larger textbooks and smaller paperbacks, one size does not fit all. The length of your fabric will vary depending on what you decide.

Using a ruler and pen, draw a straight line across the length of your fabric. Use that line as a starting point to measure two 1.5 inch strips. Now, cut out your strips. Or if you have a rotary cutter and mat, your process will be MUCH simpler than mine.

You should end up with two 1.5 inch thick strips- for paperbacks, they should be around 14 inches long and for textbooks they should be around 20 inches long. If they are a bit over or under, no problem. They will just ruffle more or less.

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Step 3: Pin your two strips together, with the pretty sides facing each other. Everyone’s pinning technique varies, so pin them which ever way works best for you. In my case, if I’m sewing something skinny in width, I just put a few pins down the center and remove them as I go.

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Step 4: Leaving at least a 2 inch opening near the center of the strip, sew around the edges of the strip. I used a 1/4 inch seam, but feel free to use whatever you’re comfortable with.

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Step 5: Turn your strip right side out by feeding it through itself and back down through the hole that you left open. I tend to get creative by using pens, dull point scissors, etc. to push the fabric down when my finger is too short or fat to reach. Once it is right side out, use something pointy to push out your corners. But be careful that you don’t push all the way through!

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Step 6: Iron your strip flat, paying careful attention to the part that you left open. You’ll need to give it some guidance in order for it to lay straight and flat.

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Step 7: Top stitch around your strip to close up the hole and give it a finished look.

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Step 8: Now it’s time to deal with the elastic. Cut it to the appropriate length: 22 inches for textbooks and 13 inches for paperbacks. Pin the two ends together so it looks like one continuous loop.

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Step 9: Sew the two ends of the elastic together. Go back and forth several times in different spots so that it won’t come loose later. This DOES NOT need to be pretty. In fact, you may find that it is very difficult to get the elastic to sit still while you’re trying to get it positioned. That is okay. We’ll cover it up later.

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Step 10: Ruffle your fabric strip by pinning it onto the elastic. To do this, pin down a fold every inch or so for the entire length of the fabric. Depending on the length of your fabric strip, you can to big folds or little folds, and this will correspond to how “ruffled” the fabric looks. Make sure that you are placing your fabric so that it covers up the elastic seam that we created in the previous step.

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Step 11: Sew straight down the length of the fabric. MAKE SURE YOU USE A ZIG ZAG STITCH. If you do not use a zig zag stitch, the elastic underneath the fabric will not be able to stretch and it either will not fit around your book, or you will tear your stitches when you try to stretch it. Also, be sure to back stitch on each end so they do not come loose.

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Step 12: Trim your stray threads and TA DA!! You should end up with something like this:

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