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Curbly Video Podcast: How to Make a Handbag out of a Recycled Book

created at: 03/29/2013

I have a penchant for purchasing stuff that’s cool, but for which I don’t have specific plans or use. Case in point: I have piles of pulp and sci-fi novels from the 40s-60s. The art and colors are amazing, and the language provides for ridiculous quotes for ages. But after I slice out the illustrations, and force my way through the first and last chapters so I can say I ‘read’ them, these dime store masterpieces don’t escape from their cardboard homes often.   



Make this cool handbag from an old book

Thus, enter this project: an adorable handbag featuring the incredible art of ‘literature’.

Click play, or go here to watch the video.

Materials

  • A hardbound book with an appealing cover
  • Fabric (1/2 yard or so)
  • Sewing machine or needle and thread
  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Craft glue
  • Store-bought [or handmade] purse handle
  • Colored markers
  • Polyurethane finish, Mod Podge, or watered-down white glue

Step

Use the utility knife to cut the pages away from the binding. Be careful if you’re using an old book (especially a initially inexpensive one); don’t cut through the cover. Make several light passes if necessary.

Step

If your book is worn, color in any white areas with matching markers.

Step

Stand the book vertically on a piece of paper, opened as wide as you’d like the handbag to open. Trace its shape on the paper. Cut out the shape, adding a half inch (for seam allowance) on each side.

Step

Cut the triangle in half along its height. Copy each half of the triangle onto the fabric twice, adding another half inch for seam allowance along the height. You’ll have four triangles, two of each shape.

Step

Pin one of each of the triangles with right sides together, and sew along the height. This will recreate the larger triangle that you traced from the book. Sewing a seam along the middle helps to encourage the sides to fold inside the handbag when closed.

Step

Copy this larger triangle onto a fresh piece of fabric. Pin the sides right sides together, and sew along all three sides, leaving a tiny opening at the bottom to invert. There’s no need to sew the opening, as it will be glued on the inside of the book.

Step

Repeat steps 5-6 to create a second triangular side panel.

Step

Cut four 2x3” (or whatever will fit in the slots of your handles) strips of fabric, fold along the length, and sew right sides together. Invert them (it’ll be difficult) to create four 3” tabs.

Step

Lay the book cover flat on the fabric, and cut out the shape, adding an inch on all sides. Fold this extra inch over and iron to make a lining panel.

Step

Attach the handles by gluing the tabs to the cover. Then, glue one side of the side panel onto the edges on one side of the book.

Step

Dot that half of the book with glue, and glue one half of the lining panel to the side glued in step ten.

Step

After the glue dries a bit, glue the other long side of the triangle end pieces to the other half of the book, and cover with the lining panel. This will take a little patience and finagling, but it will come together. Press down to secure the glue.

Step

Add any embellishments, such as buttons, beads, etc, if you wanna give your bag a little additional flair.

Step

Finish with a protective coat (either glue or polyurethane based).

Step

Fill with the essentials (or, in my case, give it to someone with impeccable taste), and be on your very stylish and recycled way

Recycled book handbag


Like repurposing old stuff? Then you'll want to check this out...

created at: 03/29/2013

Comments

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Anonymous on Feb 11, 2015:

I'm having a heart attack watching you use a rotary cutter with no ruler....those poor fingers.......please get one!!  

Great tutorial, btw.  : ) 


Anonymous on Sep 16, 2013:

what a great GRADUATION gift this would be!


DECOdeniquo on Jul 27, 2012:

I wanted to make my own book clutch, but just studying the photos of Olympia Le Tan's clutches did not seem to do the trick for me... When it came to the details on how to make it functional your video helped me so much! ! I've used your technique -well at least part of it- and created my version... Thought you you'd like what i made of it :) http://decodeniquo.blogspot.com/2012/07/secret-garden-kitap-portfoy-book-clutch.html


(Oh and i linked to your page, in case people would like to see your video that inspired me so much. I hope that's ok!) 


DECOdeniquo on Jul 27, 2012:

I wanted to make my own book clutch, but just studying the photos of Olympia Le Tan's clutches did not seem to do the trick for me... When it came to the details on how to make it functional your video helped me so much! ! I've used your technique -well at least part of it- and created my version... Thought you you'd like what i made of it :) http://decodeniquo.blogspot.com/2012/07/secret-garden-kitap-portfoy-book-clutch.html


(Oh and i linked to your page, in case people would like to see your video that inspired me so much. I hope that's ok!) 


David E Martin on Jan 04, 2012:

Interesting idea. I've been hollowing out books for storage hideaways for decades.
But, um.... THE INVADERS??????  A Quinn  Martin Production??????????
Couldn't you have found a Trixie Belden or Annette or any of the other Whitman Books that might lend themselves a buit better to a purse?


Olivia Tejeda on Feb 05, 2011:

This is a great project! Thanks for posting it.  I linked to it on my blog today and have gotten a great response.


Ashley on Nov 06, 2010:

I did mine slightly differently, but here you are!

Tulle is NOT an ideal fabric to work with, just FYI.

http://i10.photobucket.com/albums/a117/ashleymouse/IMG_20101106_004852.jpg


Anonymous on Mar 07, 2010:

i love that!!! so totally getting another potter book and doing that!!!


deebs on Jan 01, 2010:

Great project.  You could eliminate the handles and use a snap/velcro closure for a gender friendly pouch.  I think I may have to try that. 


dragonlady on Dec 14, 2009:

Love the idea! I will have to try this for my nieces with books of things they love.


Spesh on Aug 18, 2009:

I know I'm digging this up from ages ago, but I wanted to ask a quick question. I'm definitely planning on making some of these, just because they're so awesome and I have about five copies of all my favorite books in hard cover. My question is this: is the final product very sturdy? I'm not familiar with working with fabric glue, but I was wondering if the book bag could hold a bit of weight, or if I should go easy on it. I'm sure it'd be easy to fix any accidents that might happen, but I figured I'd ask just to be safe.


jeans919191 on Jul 14, 2009:

That is a lovely handbag. I can't believe a boy can do that.


FANNY GIL on Apr 28, 2009:

I LOVE THE HANGBAG VIDEO AND WANT TO THANKS TO CRIS BECAUSE I MADE ONE WITH MY LOVED BOOK : ALGEBRA DE BALDOR I AM A MATHEMATICS RETAIRED TEACHER AND I GAVE IT FOR A GIFT TO MY NIECE. SHE IS FINISHING ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING AND SHE LIKES MATHEMATICS SO MUCH AND APRECIATES CRAFTS MADE FOR ME. I AM FROM VENEZUELA ,I AM 61 YEARS OLD AND MY HOBBY IS CRAFTS.I VERY HAPPY BECAUSE I LEARNED TO MAKE THE HANDBAG. GREETINGS, FANNY


Anonymous on Apr 19, 2009:

I just finished making one of my own. It has a swirly orange cover with back binding and handles. And a orange, purple and green floral fabric from the 60's as the lining. I love it sooo much, thank you for this design!


sweetez on Oct 04, 2008:

Very, very cute... and your a guy!!!  =) You make it look so simple to create.  Well, we'll see if I can!  LOVE IT!!!


TerryLuv2Hack on May 05, 2008:

I love it! 


jrsjewels on May 03, 2008:

Well done! This is fantastic!


recycleit on Apr 14, 2008:

Yes!  Recycle it! What a great use for science fiction art, and one-of-a-kind gifts.  Unfortunately, I will not emulate your feat, but I certainly do admire it.


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