How to Make a Leather Strap Book Closure

Leather Strap Closure front detail

A leather strap closure to wrap a book or portfolio together is something I use all the time, on paper or leather covers. It is fairly easy to do and dates back to the 2nd century CE. Here are the steps, illustrated with photos:

Cut three slits in your cover paper, whichever side will be overlapping the other half of the front cover; the slits should be just slightly larger than the width of your leather strap. Cut both ends of your leather strap to be pointed. One one end, cut a slit about the width of your strap, at least 1/4 inch from the end of the point. Thread this end from the outside to the inside in the first hole, closest to the spine until the slit opening is fully through to the back.

Leather Strap Closure 1

Thread the long end of the strap from the outside to the inside through the second, or middle, slit, then thread it through the slit in the other end of the strap.

Leather Strap Closure 2

Then adjust the two to be as flat as possible, snuggling them down to the cover.

Leather Strap Closure 3

Finally, thread the long end of the strap out through the last slit closest to the edge of the front cover, to the outside of the cover. Use the long strap to wrap the book at least one or as many as three times, and tuck the end in to make a secure closure.

Leather Strap Closure 4

This is the finished portfolio, a scrap piece of paste paper I was using to practice some gilding with faux silver, and not exactly happy with the results, still saved it (never throw paste paper away, you never know when you might be able to reuse it, repaste it, or cut it up for collage projects). Later I plucked this piece out of the flat files and decided to turn into a long thin four-fold portfolio (also a form I use often) for some special scraps of paper from books made in the past, some of which have gone to other homes now.

Leather Strap Closure on tall portfolio

Here is one more view of this type of closure from the back, using a much narrower leather thong on a soft suede leather cover. For more views of this book, see A Goddess Alphabet in the gallery.

Leather Closure green leather_detail
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{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Andrew van der Merwe 05/18/2011, 12:00 am

    Those 3 bands together with the strap look so stunning!

  • Cari 05/18/2011, 7:31 am

    Thank you, Andrew! It’s nice when a practice piece comes out so nicely; gives me hope that it will carry over into the finished work. This style of closure looks best when the strap has some width to it so that it can lay flat. A little shiny bit never hurts either!

  • Lesmarjon 05/09/2018, 1:17 pm

    Thanks for the sharing this technique.

  • Dawn Kalies 01/24/2019, 10:48 am

    I just used your directions to make the closure of a leather long stitched journal. I love this closure and am so happy you shared it with the universe! Very nifty and flat-ish even with my 3/4 inch leather strap. I did have a bit of confusion as to where the 3 slits needed to go (probably because I couldn’t see the entire book) and to clarify, the slits go on the over lapping cover that wraps over the top. I am sooo happy you put the directions where I could find them! Take Care and Happy Bookmaking!

    • Cari 01/24/2019, 12:28 pm

      Thank you, Dawn! I am so glad you found this useful. It is probably my favorite closure and I use it all the time on journals, because I like to stuff loose material between the pages and need to wrap it all up securely. Thanks for writing, and happy journaling.

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