Friday, January 10, 2014

How to Make a Book Purse

I thought this might make a nice gift - a book converted to a purse (or clutch if you remove the handles). I had given one as a gift off of Etsy in the past for $51 and I thought, "I could make one of these for a heck of a lot cheaper!" Little did I know, this would be  one of the largest projects I've ever tried to undertake. I followed this post I found on Instructables and the list of things you'll need is a bit long:

* A book (hardcover with a great cover!)
* Needle/thread or sewing machine (HIGHLY recommend a sewing machine... I don't have one and the sewing took forever)
* X-acto knife
* Ruler
* Tape
* Scissors
* Glue (I used the same as what the original post recommended - E6000)
* Fabric
* Velcro
* Paper
* Pen or marker
* Handles (optional - if you're making a clutch, you won't need them)

Step 1: Take your book and your x-acto knife and cut out all of the pages of the book. In my case, it was a new book so the glue holding down the pages was still fresh and easy to rip off.

Step 2: Take your fabric and cut out a piece the size of the book. Once it's cut out, measure 1/2" around the borders and iron them down.

Step 3: If you're making a clutch, you can glue the fabric to the book and let dry. If you're making a purse, grab your handles and some extra fabric, put the fabric through the handle slits, and sew the bottoms to create straps that will be glued to the inside of the book.

Step 4: Glue the straps to inside of the book

 and then glue the fabric you cut and ironed to the inside of the book as well, on top of the straps.

I put something heavy on top of the fabric and let it dry overnight, just to make sure there wouldn't be any problems. The original post doesn't call for it to dry overnight but they do emphasize not moving forward until it's completely ready.

Step 5: Next, you need to make a template so you know how to cut the fabric for the inside of the purse (all you've done is cut the fabric for the lining underneath!). Using four pieces of paper taped together to make a giant square, put your book in the middle and trace around it, making sure to mark where the spine starts and ends.

Step 6: Measure the width of one side of the book (mine happened to be 5 3/4") and "at a 75 degree angle" (which of course I eyeballed), draw a line of that measurement from where you marked the beginning of the spine. The smaller the angle, the wider the purse will open.

Step 7: Cut out the bottom of the square and the line you just drew and fold the paper over width-wise. By doing so, you're creating a duplicate line on the other side. Make sure the squares line up and trace the line created by the triangle. Once traced, unfold and cut out the top of the square and the line you just drew.

Step 8: Now fold the pattern over length-wise, trace the line created by the triangle, and cut out the bottom of the square and the line you just drew. Make sure to make the triangle on the other side, just like before.

Step 9: Once your design is completely cut out, it will look like a rectangle with two triangles attached. Put the pattern on top of your fabric and cut out two of these.

Step 10: Take one of the designs you just cut out and with the right sides facing each other, sew the edges of the triangle to the edges of the square. This is going to feel awkward but trust me on this. You're going to be doing this 8 times - twice for each triangle. This is where a sewing machine would really come in handy. If you don't have one, like me, get ready to do a lot of sewing! If you don't know how to sew, take a look at this post I did, as this is the same exact stitch I used this time around.

Once you're done, flip one of the patterns inside-out.

Step 11: Take the pattern you just flipped inside-out so the right side is facing out, and put it inside the wrong-side out piece. Sew around the top edges, but leave a hole big enough put your hand through, as you'll eventually be flipping this inside-out.

If you find that your sides (the triangles) came out much longer than the joining sides, you can trim them down and sew them together.

Step 12: Once all the sides are sewn together, place your hand inside the hole you left and flip the pattern inside out. You'll need to fold it on top of itself to make it the appropriate size. Sew the hole together.

Step 13: This is where I not only love the invention of velcro, but the invention of adhesive as well. I found this stick-on velcro at the store and I'm so glad I did, because otherwise I would have had to sew the velcro to the inside and I was not having that!

Step 14: You're almost done - just grab the book and some glue and adhere the pocket you sewed to the book. Again, I'm giving it some time to dry before putting anything inside, just to be safe.

And there you have it kids! Your very own book purse!

TOTAL COSTS: About $32 (still cheaper than what Etsy offers!)
$10 book from Wacko's
$7.99 for fabric from JoAnn's Fabrics
$5.75 for handles on Amazon (but now they're on sale for $4.19!)
$5.80 for glue from Michael's
$2.75 for velcro from Vons
Paper, scissors, pen, tape, ruler, needle and thread already on hand

TOTAL AMOUNT OF TIME: About 4 hours plus 2 nights to let glue dry
30 minutes to pull pages, cut fabric, and iron
20 minutes to make and sew strips
15 minutes to glue strips and fabric backing to book
(dry overnight)
20 minutes to make template
25 minutes to cut out fabric from template
22-24 minutes/triangle to sew by hand (and there are 4 triangles = about an hour and a half)
35 minutes to sew two patterns together along top
15 minutes to sew hole, add velcro, and glue to book
(dry overnight)

EASY-PEASY SCALE (1 super easy - 5 very difficult): 4 out of 5
If I didn't know how to sew, it may have been more difficult but as it was, I had no idea there were going to be so many steps involved! Overtime and with practice I'm sure they turn out better but for a first go, the results aren't too bad! Just find a hardcover book that has a great cover, grab some fabric, and make something unique!


  1. I think I might try this with a dictionary, just so the purse would have room in it to carry a few things! But, seriously - I think I'd be so depressed cutting out the pages, I'd never finish...

    1. I'm going to the thrift store or goodwill to get books to experiment with

    2. I'm going to the thrift store or goodwill to get books to experiment with