How to Make a Purse From a Book

Book Purse

If you love to read or are often channeling your inner librarian, then a purse made from a book might just be your favorite new accessory. Scour your local thrift stores and yard sales for beautifully covered, hard-backed books to create a bag that will most certainly get you noticed.

Things You Will Need

  • Hardcover book
  • Craft knife
  • Wrapping paper or brown craft paper
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • 1/3 yard light- to medium-weight cotton fabric
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Purse handles with rings, slots or holes for attaching (use recycled handles from an old purse, or purchase new ones)
  • E6000 adhesive
  • Craft glue
  • Paintbrush

What To Do

Since books come in such a variety of sizes, you'll need to create a pattern specific to the book you're using for each purse you make.

Making Your Custom Pattern

  1. Open the front cover of your book. Using a craft knife, cut between the spine and the paper on the inside of the cover. Be careful to not cut through the cover or spine. Cut along the spine at the back of the book in the same way. The complete bundle of pages will lift out easily. Save the pages for a future project.
    Cut the pages away from the cover.
    Cut the pages away from the cover.
  2. Place the open cover on a sheet of wrapping paper. Trace around the edges. Add 1/4" to each edge for seam allowance. This is your custom pattern for the body/lining of the purse.
  3. Stand the cover on a scrap of wrapping paper with short sides down. Open the book approximately 5". Trace the triangle shape inside the open cover. Remove the cover. Add 1/4" to all edges of the triangle. This is the custom pattern for the end panels of the purse.
    Trace your pattern pieces.
    Trace your pattern pieces.

Making The Purse Body

  1. Cut two body/lining pieces and four end panels from your cotton fabric.
  2. Lay one body/lining piece on your work surface with the right side facing up. Find the center of one long edge. With right side of the panel facing down, center and pin the shortest edge (bottom) of one end panel to the center of the long edge. Repeat with another end panel on the opposite long side. Pin the remaining end panels to the other body/lining piece in the same way. Sew the pinned edges using a 1/4" seam allowance.
  3. Pin the side edge of one end panel to the edge of the body/lining that is adjacent to the same panel edge. Pin the other side of the panel in the same way. Repeat with the remaining end panels. Sew all of the pinned edges using a 1/4" seam allowance. You now have one body pouch and one lining pouch.
    Sew the body/linings together.
    Sew the body/linings together.
  4. Turn one body/lining pouch right side out. Insert the right-side-out pouch inside the wrong-side-out pouch. Match the seams and pin the top edges. Sew around the pinned edges using a 1/4" seam allowance and leaving a 3" opening. Turn the body/lining pouch right side out and press.
  5. Top stitch around the top of the body pouch 1/8" from the edge. This will finish off the top edge while closing the opening used for turning.
    Top stitch to finish the edge.
    Top stitch to finish the edge.

Attaching Handles

  1. From the same fabric as the purse body, cut four 2" x 6" strips for the handle tabs. (6" lengths of ribbon with an approximate 3/4" - 1" width can be substituted for the fabric tabs.)
  2. Fold and press 1/4" to the wrong side of the tabs along the long edges. Fold the tabs in half, matching the long edges. Press the folds. Top stitch the long matching edges of each tab.
    Make the handle tabs.
    Make the handle tabs.
  3. Insert one tab through each slot or ring on the bottom of the handles. Fold the tabs in half, matching the short, cut ends. Apply a dot of E6000 between the layers on the short ends to hold them together.
  4. Lay the book cover with the inside facing up. Center one handle outside one short edge. Lay the bottom 2" of the tabs on the cover. Apply E6000 between the tabs and the cover to secure. Repeat on the other short edge with the remaining handle. Allow the adhesive to dry.

Attaching the Body Pouch

  1. On the inside of the book cover, apply a layer of craft glue to the spine with a paintbrush which will help to distribute the glue evenly over the entire spine surface. Stand the body/lining pouch on the spine. Using your hands, press and smooth the bottom of the pouch into the glue. Allow the glue to dry before continuing.
  2. Apply a layer of craft glue to the inside front cover of the book. Lay the pouch over the glue. Press and smooth the fabric into the glue, adjusting as necessary to match the pouch edges with the edges of the book cover. Note: The cover will no longer be able to lie flat. You will need to close the book during drying time. Allow the glue to dry.
    Attach the body to the cover.
    Attach the body to the cover.
  3. Apply a layer of craft glue to the inside back cover of the book. Lay the remaining side of the pouch over the glue. Press and smooth the fabric into the glue, adjusting as necessary. Allow the glue to dry.

Making Each Purse Unique

Every book will spark a creative purse idea. Use these tips to give each bag a unique and personal touch.

  • Old classics often have beautiful vintage covers, but don't overlook the books with quirky titles or interesting artwork.
  • Embellish a plain book cover with an applique, silk flower or old brooch.
  • Take your recycling a bit further by using old belts for the handles. Cut each handle four inches longer than is needed to allow for two inches on each end to be glued to the book cover.
  • To give your purse a simple closure, cut two pieces of ribbon approximately 12 inches long and glue them to the cover, between the handles, before attaching the body pouch. Tie the ribbons into a bow to close the top of the purse.

Book Purses For Everybody

Whether you love classics, romance, mystery, biographies, or another genre entirely, you can create different handbags to show off your varying tastes in reading material. Share your newfound fascination with book purses for friends, family or members of your book club.

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