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I’m trying to test out my limits with my book binding skills and am currently looking for an alternative to using leather. While I am not against using leather for my hardcovers, I am just looking for a more accessible alternative since finding and buying reasonably priced leather is a bit hard for me.

Has anyone tried this method? If so do you think the process of stamping, like you would with leather would give you a similar result in the texture of the fabric?

Any advice or insight would help!!

  • If money or sources for leather is the case, have you tried shops where they re-upholster furniture (or just the furniture before it goes to the dump)? The seats are likely quite thick but the parts where nobody sits on are thinner. – Willeke Jan 13 '18 at 21:58
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Yes, using upholstery vinyl for bookbinding is certainly a possibility. I got a large reem of it from my grandfathers and was curious if it would work.

I found my result to be satisfactory (see pictures below). The part that concerned me was the stiffness difference between my leather books and my new upholstered book. It still opens and closes fine but it does not sit open on a flat surface well (This book in question was bound several years ago so this could be an age thing). So, if this option is available, ensure you get a thinner fabric.

Pictures of my upholstered book

This book has been sitting around for a while so you will see some dust in the pictures.

The book sitting up

Still holding itself well.

Spine of the book

While the picture might make it appear like it, the book does not have any issues closing and opening.

Corner of bound book Normally with leather I can wrap the fabric around the corners just right so that the mill board is no longer visible. I found this very difficult with the upholstery.

Side note

I am just looking for a more accessible alternative since finding and buying reasonably priced leather is a bit hard for me.

Just in case this has not occurred to you, I wanted to mentioned my preferred method of acquiring leather for my binding and miscellaneous crafts. I get near all my leather from second hand stores. More specifically from women's skirts. Once deconstructed they will have large enough pieces that I can bind at least 2 books made of 8 1/2 x 11in. paper. I found this to be very wallet friendly.

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    Nice idea about thrift-store recycling! – Nothingismagick Jan 13 '18 at 14:50
  • Thank you very much for that! I was unaware if anyone else had tried it and I am glad you did! The upholstered vinyl I found had a very nice, supple texture to it, so I may buy a 1/4 of a yard to test it out and see if that thickness works well. If it does, I will be sure to follow up with you to give you the details on the brand I used, if you wanted to try it as well. – Heidi Jan 13 '18 at 19:39
  • Also, the vinyl I found is White, so I am going to try to dye it and stamp it (like you would with leather) and also follow up with that. Thanks again for your insight! – Heidi Jan 13 '18 at 19:40
  • When I woke up this morning and saw this question I thought it was addressed to me personally and went to find the book of the shelf. Glad to help and good luck. For sure share your results in Arts & Crafts Chat. – Matt Jan 13 '18 at 19:43

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