Monday, September 17, 2007

Book Purses

Book PursesWhat do you get for the intelligent, literary and stylish woman in your life? How about a purse made from a book? This summer after making placemat purses I found a book showing how to make all sorts of creative totes and bags, including a purse made from a hardcover book. Yes, yes I know I don't need another purse but this one was so cute I couldn't resist.

It's Designer Style Handbags by Sheri Haab and I've had fun making several of the purses it describes, including the woven ribbon purse that I mentioned in my "My Collections" post. If you can get past tearing up an old book then this could be the craft for you. No sewing skills required--well almost none, just three small straight stitches.

You will need:
* Fabric glue such as Sobo
* 1 yard of fabric as lining
* An old book, cloth bound and the thicker the better
* 1 yard of ribbon or chain for straps
* 4 "D" rings if desired (you can instead glue the straps directly on the purse)
* Any embellishments you'd like such as the wide grosgrain ribbon, bow and broach
* Paper, scissors, pencil, ruler, thread and a sewing machine

Book Purse Tutorial1. First pick the right book. I found irony in choosing Ulysees by James Joyce. First, because I think it's highly tragic that it was chosen as the best book of the 20th century, second because it's unintelligible and third because what is intelligible is junk. (Sorry, I'm sure there are other opinions out there but I'm just an old-fashioned, Edition Wharton-loving girl). But whatever book you choose, get one with a cloth cover. The other nice thing about my book is that it's long (ergo wide), in nearly-new condition and is a lovely cream color that matches everything.

2. Cut the book from its cover. Using a razor blade, gently cut the pages from the cover along the spine on the inside of the front and back cover, being careful not to cut into the cover. When you're done you'll have only an empty cover.

Book Purse Tutorial3. Make the pattern for the side panels. Measure the width of the cover (to be the height of the panel) and the width of the spine. Then for the upper width of the panel measure approximately four inches across and then give half an inch of seam allowance all around the pattern. See the photo at left.

Book Purse Tutorial4. Form the side panels. Using a piece of fabric that has been folded in half, wrong sides together, and your new pattern cut two side pieces on the fold by laying the top edge of the pattern along the fold. Sew each piece along the three open sides with 1/2" seam allowance then clip the bottom corners to make 3/8" notches on each side (see photo at right).

Book Purse Tutorial5. Reinforce the spine. Laying the book cover open in front of you, glue the 1/2" notched end of each fabric panel to each end of the spine. Cut a strip of cardboard that will fit inside the spine and glue it in the spine over the top of the panel edges (see photo at left).

Book Purse Tutorial6. Create the lining. Measure the exact dimensions of the book cover plus 1/4" all around. Press under 1/4" seam allowance and glue it onto the book cover at each end of the spine so it is still unattached along the rest of the cover (see photo at right).

Book Purse Tutorial7. Make the handle attachments. Fold four pieces of grosgrain ribbon over four "D" rings and glue the ribbon edges to the inside covers of the book in the spots where the handles should go (see the photo at left). You don't have to use handle attachments, you could use ribbon that is glued directly onto the cover where you see the handle attachment in the photo. The "D" rings merely give it a more professional look.

Book Purse Tutorial8. Glue the side panels and lining to the cover. Close the cover part way and glue the side panels in place along each edge. Use binder clips to hold things in place while they dry (see photo at right). Then glue the rest of the lining to the cover, making sure that it is glued all the way to the edge, and again secure it with binder clips at the corners until it is dry.

Book Purse Tutorial9. Add handles and embellishments (if desired). Attach the chain or ribbon handles and decorate the outside cover however you'd like. I made a bow out of matching ribbon and sewed an old brooch of my great-grandmother's onto the bow before gluing it in place with fabric glue on a wide strip of ribbon running around the cover. If you want to have that same ribbon strip on yours, you'll need to glue it lightly in place around the cover with fabric glue and glue the ribbon edges down over the inside cover before completing step 8.

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51 comments:

Kathy in WA said...

This is an adorable craft! My girls would love to try something like this. I can think of all sorts of books that would be perfect for a purse. :)

As always, thanks for stopping by the blog!

Duckabush Blog

Heffalump said...

Wow...I was pretty brave to make the placemat purses, and now I am going to be teaching them for Super Saturday next month...
I don't know if I can bear to rip apart a book. That is my main drawback.

Casdok said...

What an interesting idea!
And yes vegimite is the closest you will get to marmite!!!

Lynn / vigilant20 said...

That is a wonderful idea!

Babystepper said...

Ha! Love that you used Ulysses. I think I would use Of Human Bondage by Maughm. For about the same reasons.

This is a great idea, but it wouldn't work for me, because you can't cram a diaper or camera or one last handful of snacks in a purse with no stretch. I'll have to wait until my little ones can carry their own junk. What is that, 18? 20?

#2 said...

Such a cute bag! I love it!

Melissa Garrett said...

People who are this creative never cease to amaze me!

Shelby said...

beautiful :)

Robin said...

Gorgeous! Oh how I wish I was crafty, I've got a book or two just screaming to be "improved" that way.

Kendra said...

how creative and cute!!!

My Ice Cream Diary said...

I saw these for sale online and was wondering if I could make them myself. Now I can, thanks to you =) Although I am worried about my abilities to sacrifice a book just so I can look good...

mcewen said...

Sacrilege! I'll have you know that kind of behaviour is on a par with book burning.

However, at least you'll know the true size of the bag in advance.

Cream! Probably a little optimistic for this neck of the woods. Good point! Perhaps I can find a camoflage coloured boring manual of some kind - now that would deserve to be recycled in such a manner.

Cheers

SabineM said...

Very very adorable! I wish I had time for arts and crafts right now!
That would be something I would like to make! My oldest might like this!

Julie Pippert said...

This is SO COOL but oh no can I *cut a book???*

Julie
Using My Words

Joyful Days said...

Have you set up that Etsy shop yet???

Julia said...

That is awesome!

Summer said...

It's definitely a cute and creative idea. I could never get past the tearing up the book part though.
Well, unless it was a math book. :)

Cheri said...

Oh - how cool looking! I'm so not crafty (just ask my cub scouts what a disaster craft projects turn into) but I love shopping for new things!

Wonder if I coudl convince one of my friends to make this FOR me?

An Ordinary Mom said...

OK, you are officially super woman :) !!

(((((HUGS))))) sandi said...

TOO CUTE! Going to check out the placemat purse.... (((((HUGS))))) sandi

Megan (FriedOkra) said...

Very clever. Your pictures and directions are always SO crystal clear. I feel like I could just whip one of those together in no time!

Mommahbear. said...

I am so going to do this! Thankyou!!!

JAM said...

I like it. If I carried a purse, that would be a great addition.

I don't blame you for the choice of material. Any book that so many critics name to be great has to be mind numbingly boring. I don't trust critics of any type of art, AT ALL.

We read a couple of Joyce's smaller works in college and it made me wish I were taking another calculus or physics class instead.

Give me a good thriller, spy novel, or science fiction any day.

I do take an Israeli Paratrooper's Briefcase because of it's toughness and book carrying ability to work. Of course Lovely Wife and daughters refer to it as my purse. Oh well, I'm cool with that. Payback is fun anyway.

phyllis@imabima said...

how cute is this....for those who consider it sacrilege (i do love books so i'm almost in this category) i recommend an old cook book...less of a profanity than tearing up literature, i suppose...

Daisy said...

Cool, very cool. I recommend finding a big book of little worth at a thrift store. Then you will feel no guilt in cutting it up. Pefhaps an old Readers Digest Condensed Books collection -- they're huge and perfect.

Amy said...

What a great craft. It looks like a purse from the 50's. I love it!

SingForHim @ Real Life said...

Oh just what I need! Another adorable craft to start and never finish! I used to make placemat purses, but these are even cuter! Thanks!

Kim said...

What a great idea! I love this, I am just going to HAVE to make one of these. Thanks for the run through on how to do it. Sounds like a great weekend project!

Kim @ TheBitterBall

soccer mom in denial said...

I have a friend with a bag like this. She got it from someone we call "the skirt lady" because she makes terrific, well, skirts.

I. Just. Love. This. Purse.

LOVE IT!!!!

The Preacher's Wife said...

you are so cool.

that's all i have to say.

:)
Lisa

Jthemilker said...

Oh wow - this is just TOO cute!!! And how perfect for a gift for the bookworm in ones life. I love it!!!

kailani said...

Are these the ones that you made? If not, I'd like to see your creations! How cool!

Michelle A. said...

Wow, these are really neat! I'm not sure I have the articulate patience to put this together though! Thanks for sharing!

Amber said...

How cute!!! What a GREAT idea! thanks:)

God Bless,
Amber

Laura @ Laura Williams' Musings said...

O my gosh! How cute!!!

Kristin said...

that is just so cute! but, as my husband was quick to point out when i showed him this post, the only thing i need less than another purse is another book!

clearly, he is W.R.O.N.G!

Julie Q. said...

What? So you're telling me you don't like un-punctuated rambling paragraphs that go on for 45 pages??? (How sick is it that I had to go look in my copy of Ulysses to count the pages so I could get it right? And how telling is it that my bookmark - from when I bought the thing in graduate school, determined to read the all-mighty Joyce to the very end - is still stuck about mid-way through that dang last chapter?)

Write From Karen said...

Wow Michelle, your creativity never ceases to amaze me. What a "novel" idea. (waits for collective groans to die down.

My heart actually hurt when you said, "Cut the book from it's cover." ACK! Poor book. But it's okay, I'm over the shocking visual now. *grin*

And I KNEW I liked you - Edith Wharton ROCKS. Dude.

chelle said...

That is too cute. Really the perfect gift for a book lover!

Lei said...

Oh my goodness, I just love it, M!

AmyG said...

Oh my goodness, I MUST make these for gifts!!! How adorable! I have three sisters-in-law that would appreciate these bags.

Thanks for a great idea!

tegdirb92 said...

absolutely gorgeous!! Wow, what a great idea!!

cindy said...

Wow that is a cool project! Thanks so much for sharing a wonderful MIFS craft.

O said...

Man, that looks so awesome...but I don't think I can tear up a book... =(

blowfly said...

I saw these a few years ago at a crafts fair and wanted one, but they were $50 and up, which I thought was too high. Thanks for the instructions; I'm thinking Xmas presents for all my female relatives. Bravo on slamming the overrated mess Ulysses, and I'm with you on Edith - House of Mirth is one of the best books ever.

Anonymous said...

You know, the original and best book purses can be found at www.rebound-designs.com. Hers sell for over $100, but judging by the time she puts into each one (10 hours!) and the quality of the construction, I think they're well worth it. I've had one for 3 years, and I use it every week, it has held up extremely well.

Abbey said...

I just made one of these today after my LP record purse cracked by accident. But instead of taking the jacket off, I hot glued it on. I love it, but I used Peace Breaks Out and well I can't really fit a whole lot in it. Only some Pens and two softcover books(yep, I'm a reader.

Anonymous said...

I notice that there is no indication of a fastener. How is it held closed?

Scribbit said...

There is no fastener, though you could make one with a button and loop of ribbon if you wished.

Anita H. said...

Thanks for this wonderful post...even though I am reading it a couple of years after you posted it. =) Google searches....wonderful!

Great gift idea!

woman said...

Your work is wonderful! Absolutely love it!