This month on the blog we’ve been sharing back to school DIYs for a creative start to the new school year. Emma Jeffery, author of Hello Beautiful blog, visits to share a design tutorial for cushion covers featuring your favorite book titles, perfect for your study nook! 

Since it’s back to school season, I started thinking about a design that might appeal to teachers and children alike. I came up with the idea to create a book spine image (made to look like books on a shelf) with the authors being the names of children in the class and the titles saying something about the child, their interests, personalities or hobbies. I wanted to make it fun and quirky since I imagine this design being used on cushions in a reading corner of a classroom. I think kids would get a huge kick out of seeing their name on a book cover (even just an illustration of one) and I hope it might inspire a lifelong love for books and reading.

book spine

I have been desperately wanting to improve my design skills so that I can make the most of the array of options and possibilities Spoonflower has to offer, but until now I’ve been hesitant at trying my hand at using professional design software. For this project however, I had a clear idea of how I wanted my design to look, and I figured that with its straight lines and simple graphics, it might just be the project that introduces me to the world of Adobe Illustrator.

I downloaded the trial version of Illustrator, available here. The following tutorial is an absolute beginner’s guide to some of the most basic tools of the software, written by an absolute beginner (me). But hey, if I can do it, you can too!

Creating a Book Spine Design

I started with the straight lines of the book covers. I used the ‘Line Segment Tool’ to draw a series of straight lines that become the spines of the books.

Designing Book Spine Image

I used a variety of thicknesses for these lines by increasing and decreasing the stroke.

Book Spine Illustration

Book Spine Illustration

To create the bend in the covers at the top and bottom of the spines, I added an anchor point to the straight line, and created a curve by pulling it out slightly. I think this helps to create a more authentic look to the covers.

Book Spine Illustration

To create the effect of the book pages, I drew some more lines and swiveled them askew with the Direct Selection Tool.

Book Spine Illustration

Next, I wanted to add some color to the spines so I used the rectangle tool, and positioned the rectangles where I wanted them. To send these rectangles to the back of the design (which brings forward the book cover lines) I used the Arrange option in the Object tab at the top of the screen.

Finishing Design

The fun part was to think of creative and imaginative book titles that would excite the kids and would be personal to each one. Once I’d gathered my phrases I simply added text using the Type Tool and selected a variety of fonts and sizes.

If you’re considering doing something similar and want to make it for a class of children, you may want to make more than one cushion and have different names on each, so that no-one gets left out.

Finished Book Spine Design

 To finish, I added small details such as the ‘VOL. 1’ tab to one of the book spines.

These would look great in a child’s bedroom or cozy reading nook and you could use the names of their best friends, pets or family members if you’d rather not do the whole class. For more back to school DIY ideas, check out our Pinterest board! 


Need more DIY projects? Check out our Back to School DIYs roundup for 41 awesome projects to get your creativity flowing!

About Our Guest Blogger

Emma Jeffery, Spoonflower guest bloggerHi! I’m Emma, and as well as working on the Fiskars Design Team, I blog over at hellobeautifulblog.blogspot.com/

I’m an obsessive sewer, often leaping into projects with more enthusiasm than talent, more bravado than skill and more good luck than anything else. This technique has worked well for me so far and more often than not, I make things I love, even if they’re not absolutely perfect. And though I’m no expert, I have a passion for fabric, color and design. I know what I like and what I like makes me smile.