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Turn Board Games into Books- How to Make Book Cloth

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Turn Board Games into Books- How to Make Book Cloth

A few months ago, I came up with the DIY of how to turn board games to books. It’s been popular because it solves the problem that board games are ugly to look at and hard to store. I mostly use linen book boxes for the base of this project, but they’re expensive and only come in a few sizes. Here’s how to make book cloth to use cardboard book boxes to hold games.

how to make book cloth to turn board games into books

Let’s start with the video tutorial so you get an overview on what I did. Then, I’ll dive in with more details below:


If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. It’d mean so much if you’d watch the video! I’m trying to get better at my video skills so I can grow my YouTube channel. If you have a few minutes to watch this and/or subscribe, I’d so appreciate it.

the issue with paint

When I first did this project, I took decorative cardboard book boxes and painted them with latex paint. Well, the paint scratched off and the vinyl didn’t stick well to the paint. So I stopped doing that method and just used the pre-made linen book boxes. 

The problem is that the linen book boxes only come in 3 sizes and are expensive. So I wondered- how can I put linen over the cardboard book boxes to get the same look for less money and have the ability to cover lots of different sizes of boxes? People in other countries couldn’t find the linen book boxes, so I wanted to find a solution for them too.

The answer to my problem comes from the art of book binding. I’m really into the idea of taking paperback books and re-binding them with hard covers. I was watching a tutorial for how to do that, and I saw the idea of taking fabric and making book cloth. I thought I could take the same principle and apply it to this project!

When you make book cloth you take fabric and stabilize it so that when it’s glued to the cardboard, the glue doesn’t seep through. So here’s how to make book cloth!

SUPPLIES for how to make book cloth

While I was at the store, I took a picture of the exact fabric I used if you’d like to get the same thing. It’s from Joann and is in the apparel section called “Natural Hopsack Linen” made of 55% linen and 45% viscose.

step 1- dye the fabric

Start with a cardboard book box. I decided to take the vinyl off the one I’m reusing and all the paint came off really easily! So I scraped that first.

And now, continue by cutting the fabric at least 2″ larger than the dimensions of the book cover (measure the front back and spine to get the right size). Make sure to use linen or cotton fabric for this step. I like using linen because it dyes well and the texture looks really pretty on the finished book box.

Note, I’m cutting a much bigger piece so I can dye it one color and use it to cover multiple books.

Next, get the linen wet to prep for dying it. 

Note, you don’t have to dye the fabric, you can buy fabric in any color you want it. It also works nicely to buy patterned fabric for this project! I’m dying mine because I like the idea of buying a lot of linen fabric and then being able to use it on this project and dye it the color I need. I am picky with color and have a hard time finding exactly what I want.

Now, if you’re choosing to, dye it. Bring water to boil in a large pot on the stove top. Add dye, stir well, and put the fabric in. Mix it with a stainless spoon until the cloth is the desired color. I’m using Sunshine Orange Rit Dye to get my linen a nice orange color.

When it’s the color you want it, rinse the dyed fabric in cold water until the water runs clear. 

Then, I just threw it in my dryer so I can move onto the next step. And that’s the first step for how to make book cloth for this game board book look!

As a note, with the other method of making game book boxes, you have to dye the book box. That is much slower and it takes longer to dry than this way of doing things.

step 2- make the book cloth

Next, iron the fabric to remove any wrinkles.

Once it’s nice and smooth, trim the fabric to be 1″ bigger than the book box. After dying, the fabric gets some frays so it’s good to trim those off. (I cut mine 1/2″ bigger than the book box and it was too small).

Cut the Heat ‘n Bond to 1/2″ smaller the book cover. Heat ‘n Bond will stabilize the fabric and make it nice and thick. This prevents glue from seeping through the book cloth.

Iron the Heat ‘n Bond to the wrong side of the fabric. Set the iron to medium heat and press it for 2 seconds on every part of the surface. Flip the fabric and iron on the fabric side.

Let it cool. Then peel off the backing on the Heat ‘n Bond.

Cut a sheet of Tissue Paper to be the same size as the Heat ‘n Bond (or go slightly larger).

Iron the tissue paper onto the Heat ‘n Bond with an iron on medium heat. Essentially. I’m making a Heat ‘n Bond sandwich- there’s fabric, than the Heat ‘n Bond in the middle, and then the tissue paper. The Heat ‘n Bond adheres through ironing on both sides of it.

This step provides additional stiffener and a paper backing that will bond well with the glue in the next step.

Iron on the fabric side. And now you have a DIY book cloth!

Note, if you’d like to skip this step on how to make book cloth, you can buy pre-made book cloth online. It comes in a variety of colors too. 

step 3- glue on the book cloth

And now it’s time to glue the book cloth onto a Decorative Book Box.

Start by marking center on the tissue paper where the book cloth will touch the top and bottom of the spine.

Cut off the corners of the book cloth. I’m using the Book Binding Tool for this, but a speed square would work just as well (as would eye-balling it).

Put some Elmer’s Glue on a paper plate. Use a Foam Paint Brush to brush the glue lightly onto the spine of the book. 

Then, on top of the glue, place the book cloth and press it into place with a Bone Folder. Add glue to the cover and press the book cloth in place. Repeat for the back cover. 

I’ll be honest, I was worried about this step. This is the make it or break it step and I really didn’t want to mess up! It wasn’t that hard. The trickiest part was the edges.

Next, add glue onto the inside lip of the book box. Fold the edges over the front of the book box onto the inside lip and press down. Use the bone folder for this step as well.

Also! I learned this the hard way- trim any loose threads as they will show under the card stock.

I had a hard time getting the book cloth to stick so I used glue on my finger to press the edges down. Having glue on the top and bottom helped it adhere.

Note, on my book box you can see that I cut the linen fabric a little too small so on the inside lip it doesn’t look great. I gave instructions for cutting it bigger so that can be avoided. 

step 4- card stock end page

Inside the front cover, it looks rough when you open the book box. To clean that up, cut a piece of card stock to cover the edges of the book cloth.

Use Elmer’s glue to adhere the card stock to the book box. Press the card stock down to the book box with the bone folder. 

I missed this step, but it’d also be good to put a book on top of the inside of the cover so the card stock will dry flat.

The rest of the steps are the exact same if you use this method or the linen book box method.

step 5- design the book cover design

And now, begin designing the cover for the book boxes. For this step, I am using inspiration from the Penguin Clothbound Classic books. They have a simple rectangular border on the cover and the spine, text with the name of the book (which will be the name of the game), and a repeated motif to represent the book subject.

To design my version of the inspiration, I’m using the software PicMonkey. It can also be done in Cricut’s Design Space. I personally use PicMonkey all the time, so I can make the designs faster in that software. After adding the elements and getting the design down, I save it as a PNG (a Jpeg works too).

I love this step because it’s when you can really visualize how the book will look! It’s fast, but super fun!

To design the covers, I first measure the spine and cover so the design will fit nicely. Then I make the rectangular border a little smaller than the cover or spine size. I type the name of the game in caps. Last, I find an image that represents the game. Like a hippo for Hungry, Hungry Hippos

If you want to use the designs I came up with, I have them available as a free download.

To download the game covers, just put your name and email in the form below. You’ll get an email right away with how to download. Plus you’ll be subscribed to my weekly newsletter! If you’re already subscribed, go here to download. I’ve just updated them to create all the board game cover files including this one!


Note, if you don’t get an immediate email after filling out your information above, check you spam or promotions folder. If you still don’t see it, send me an email to [email protected] and I’ll get it fixed for you asap.

step 6- cut the book cover

Now that the designs are complete, it’s time to use Design Space (Cricut’s software) to cut the vinyl that’ll make the covers for the board games.  For each game, I matched the color of the iron-on or vinyl to the color of the book box. I find this best fits the look of the Bookshelf Board Games

Open Cricut Design space and start a new project. Click upload and choose your game board design. If you’re using one of the free designs from the download above, take a screen shot of it and select that.

Next, select the image type. Choose the top “simple” option. Press “continue.”

On the background remover screen, click on the grey section of the book cover- anything that is negative space. Click once to choose the background, and then click again for the inside of letters like A, B, D, O, P, Q, and R. Push “apply and continue.”

To select the upload type, choose “cut image.” Then press “upload.”

Follow the same steps to repeat the upload process for the spine of the game board book box as well. Then, select both the cover and the spine image and click on “add to canvas.”

This will bring them into the canvas for the project.

Open the design of the cover and corresponding spine in Cricut’s Design Space. Make sure the size is the correct for them both. To make them the correct size, change the height and width under size. On the app, click edit to be able to change the size. When that size is correct, click the “make it” button in the top right hand corner.

Choose how the material will load. For smart materials, choose “without mat.” For other materials, choose “on mat.” 

Next, you review the artwork. There is where it’s really important to turn the toggle on “mirror” for the design since it will be ironed on. 

Then you set the base material. There’s a short list of the most popular items. If what I’m using isn’t on that list, I click “browse all materials” to find what I’m using. I usually select “Iron-On.”

Now all that’s left to do is load the material and press go! The machine takes it from there and cuts the design. Note, whenn using iron-on make sure that it is loaded shiny side down.

When the cut is finished, push unload.

step 7- attach the book covers

Since the book cover is cut, let’s attach it to the book boxes.

To prep the material, take the weeder tool and remove the excess vinyl or iron-on from the cut material.

For the next thing, you want to MAKE sure to double check what is the front and back of the book. That way you can place the cover right sides up on the front. I know this sounds like a silly step, but speaking from experience, it’s needed. Especially since the front and back of the box look the same, but the back section is attached to the “pages.”

Then, take the weeded material and place it on top of the book. Make SURE to line up the cover so that it is parallel to the book box.

On the spine, it’s really easy for the iron-on to get crooked. So I make sure to use heat resistant tape to keep in in place during the next step.

step 8- iron-on the cover

To iron-on the cover, take the Cricut Mini Heat Press and set it to the highest temperature. Put the vinyl plastic side up on the book box. Then, place a piece of cotton fabric over the vinyl, and iron over each section of the book for 60 seconds. Let cool down for 10-15 minutes. 

Once cool, the plastic sheet should easily lift right off and reveal the beautiful book cover!

Note, make sure to read the instructions for the type of HTV vinyl being used. Some will peel off when warm and some need different temperatures and length of time ironing the material on.

I find the Mini Heat Press easier for this step rather than the larger Easy Press. The cardboard book boxes are more rounded on the spine so a smaller iron works better there. On the cover, the cardboard is a little more flimsy so the smaller iron doesn’t push it in as much. I found it to work better to flip the cover open and put it on the top of the table. Then iron on top of that.


Here’s the finished board game book. Isn’t the texture so pretty from the linen?!

I love how it turned out! It’s really exciting to me that I found a pretty way to use cardboard book boxes!

l will definitely be trying this again as this opens more book sizes for me to use! I don’t have the project down perfectly because I need to work on the edges, but It looks so cute on the shelf I can live with it and get better on the next one.

price breakdown

For this project, I thought I’d add up the costs in case you want to make this too. This is exactly what I spent, but doesn’t include costs for items I already have on hand. Note, I did buy extra of everything so I can do probably 10 books with this method. Which raises the cost.

For the Linen Fabric I spent $13. The Elmer’s Glue I bought a big bottle and it came to $9. The Tissue Paper is $3 for a pack and a roll of Heat ‘n Bond is also $3. Because I want to get into book binding, I bought a Tool that works for this project for $10. Last, I bought the travel size of Hungry Hungry Hippos for $15.

I had everything else on hand- Rit Dye, Card Stock, HTV Vinyl, Bone Folder, Decorative Book Boxes, Foam Paint Brush, Cricut Mini Heat Press and the Cricut Cutting Machine.

The total I spent on this project comes up to $53. Which is a lot for one book box, but I have the supplies to make 10, so I’m not mad about it.

In conclusion, now you know how to make book cloth! I’m using this book binding method for making boxes for my board games. It is a great way to affordably to make beautiful book boxes for games and use a variety of sizes of cardboard book boxes as the base. If you have questions, please let me know in the comments.

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