Tutorial + How-to Book Purse. CC photo via Flickr user topekalibrary

Published on December 30th, 2009 | by Becky Striepe

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Crafty Reuse: Make a Purse from a Recycled Book [VIDEO]

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DIY book purse

Crafting with old books is a bit of a touchy subject. Why cut up a perfectly good book just because you have a project idea or it happens to have a rockin’ cover? That makes perfect sense to me. Still, sometimes we end up with books that are too damaged to read, and at that point why not turn it into something new and useful, right?

Over at Curbly.com, Chrisjob has a tutorial for turning a book into a super sweet purse! Check it:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/v/m4RFH0q0Osk&hl=en_US&fs=1&]

For more deets and photos of Chris’ book purse, check out his how to over at Curbly.

Green it Up!

It would be so easy to green this project up! For the fabric, you might raid your scrap bin, hit the thrift store, or use any ecofriendly Fab Fabric.

You might also use Ecoglue instead of the fabric glue, though I’d do a test run first with a tiny piece of your fabric and some scrap paper, since it looks like this project relies pretty heavily on the glue to hold things together.

He calls for pre-made hard straps, but you could totally pull this off with fabric straps you made yourself! You’d just glue the unfinished ends between the inside of the book cover and your liner fabric. To make the straps, cut two strips of fabric 6″ long and 2″ wide. Fold in half longways and press, then fold in the long, unfinished edges by 1/2″ and press again. Top stitch to close everything off, press one more time, and you’re all strapped up!

Want more projects for upcycling damaged books? Jamie’s got you covered with Making Old Books into New Treasures.

Image Credit:
Book Purse. Creative Commons photo by Topeka Library

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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • http://www.lilolu.net Jackie @ Lilolu

    Very cool! Thanks!

  • http://www.lilolu.net Jackie @ Lilolu

    Very cool! Thanks!

  • http://getstarted.nexyoo.me/ Kirsten@Nexyoo

    Nice idea. I agree that it’s better to cut up books that are damaged in some way, rather than ones that could still be read… Another fun project for old books is to make a secret box: http://tinyurl.com/qply7

  • http://getstarted.nexyoo.me/ Kirsten@Nexyoo

    Nice idea. I agree that it’s better to cut up books that are damaged in some way, rather than ones that could still be read… Another fun project for old books is to make a secret box: http://tinyurl.com/qply7

  • Kerry

    People wouldn’t complain about the repurposing, altering, or recrafting of books if they knew how many “perfectly readable” but unwanted books end up in landfills every year.

    Consider school textbooks – technology is racing ahead of us so fast, many in circulation now are obsolete! Bookstores won’t buy them, so what to do?

    As for non-fiction and other “leisure” books – check out the dumpsters behind your local used book store. The ones they cannot sell? Yep, in the trash. I’ve seen it first hand…

    I would so much rather know that someone used a book for a craft like this purse, or a secret box, or for furniture (google it lol), extending its life just a bit more than to know its rotting somewhere, totally unwanted…

    • anon

      When I worked at a book store we were required to rip the front cover off and toss them. I used to die a little inside every time we had to do that.

      The romance books that are published monthly, similar to a magazine, are gone through every month and ripped and tossed. Too bad the covers have to be sent back to the publisher – they would make cool craft for the romance lover.

  • Kerry

    People wouldn’t complain about the repurposing, altering, or recrafting of books if they knew how many “perfectly readable” but unwanted books end up in landfills every year.

    Consider school textbooks – technology is racing ahead of us so fast, many in circulation now are obsolete! Bookstores won’t buy them, so what to do?

    As for non-fiction and other “leisure” books – check out the dumpsters behind your local used book store. The ones they cannot sell? Yep, in the trash. I’ve seen it first hand…

    I would so much rather know that someone used a book for a craft like this purse, or a secret box, or for furniture (google it lol), extending its life just a bit more than to know its rotting somewhere, totally unwanted…

    • anon

      When I worked at a book store we were required to rip the front cover off and toss them. I used to die a little inside every time we had to do that.

      The romance books that are published monthly, similar to a magazine, are gone through every month and ripped and tossed. Too bad the covers have to be sent back to the publisher – they would make cool craft for the romance lover.

  • http://www.etsy.com Karen Brauer

    What a great idea. I’m going to try it right away.

  • http://www.etsy.com Karen Brauer

    What a great idea. I’m going to try it right away.

  • Lucille

    Becky this is brilliant! What a gift. You are an ongoing inspiration :) Thanks always for sharing.

  • Lucille

    Becky this is brilliant! What a gift. You are an ongoing inspiration :) Thanks always for sharing.

  • http://glueandglitter.com Becky Striepe

    Kerry, those are excellent points! I wonder if there’s a way to get ahold of those textbooks before they head to the landfill. The art on those things is probably full of amazing kitsch!

  • http://glueandglitter.com Becky Striepe

    Kerry, those are excellent points! I wonder if there’s a way to get ahold of those textbooks before they head to the landfill. The art on those things is probably full of amazing kitsch!

  • http://www.handmadeevolution.com/ Christine

    I have an old book with the center cut out. I use it to store passwords and other ‘secret’ things!

  • http://www.handmadeevolution.com/ Christine

    I have an old book with the center cut out. I use it to store passwords and other ‘secret’ things!

  • Kerry

    Becky – A great source to acquire old books of any kind is to put a call out on Freecycle.org or check the freebie section of Craigslist. I haven’t tried it myself, but I have heard of people scoring free books from thrift stores – talk to a manager and ask to be called if old textbooks come in because they will throw them away.

  • Kerry

    Becky – A great source to acquire old books of any kind is to put a call out on Freecycle.org or check the freebie section of Craigslist. I haven’t tried it myself, but I have heard of people scoring free books from thrift stores – talk to a manager and ask to be called if old textbooks come in because they will throw them away.

  • http://glueandglitter.com Becky Striepe

    Freecycle is a great idea! And I love the idea of contacting thrift stores.

  • http://glueandglitter.com Becky Striepe

    Freecycle is a great idea! And I love the idea of contacting thrift stores.

  • http://www.jofabrics.com Ask Netfah From J&O Fabrics

    Becky, I come across creative and inventive craft ideas all day here at J&O Fabrics, and I must admit, though I probably wouldn’t make a purse out of recycled books for myself, the idea is awesome! If nothing else, it gets the mind wondering what other nifty crafts can come out of the marriage of a good novel book and some beautiful fabric. A great idea to share with our customers. Thanks!

  • http://www.jofabrics.com Ask Netfah From J&O Fabrics

    Becky, I come across creative and inventive craft ideas all day here at J&O Fabrics, and I must admit, though I probably wouldn’t make a purse out of recycled books for myself, the idea is awesome! If nothing else, it gets the mind wondering what other nifty crafts can come out of the marriage of a good novel book and some beautiful fabric. A great idea to share with our customers. Thanks!

  • http://www.everythinggreenweddings.blogspot.com Wenona Napolitano

    I hate defiling books but I agree about the old textbooks, also I think old encyclopedias might be nice to craft with.

    You figure new ones come out every year with updated info. So many (like I found boxes from the 60s in my basement)are outdated but they look fancy. They look like old leatherbound books with fancy gold lettering. They would make some nice box book purses. I’ll have to dig them out I just stuck them in a corner before not knowing what to do with them yet hating to throw them away.

  • http://www.everythinggreenweddings.blogspot.com Wenona Napolitano

    I hate defiling books but I agree about the old textbooks, also I think old encyclopedias might be nice to craft with.

    You figure new ones come out every year with updated info. So many (like I found boxes from the 60s in my basement)are outdated but they look fancy. They look like old leatherbound books with fancy gold lettering. They would make some nice box book purses. I’ll have to dig them out I just stuck them in a corner before not knowing what to do with them yet hating to throw them away.

  • jamie ren

    it’s a burse! I would love to do this with some of my favorite classic authors.

  • jamie ren

    it’s a burse! I would love to do this with some of my favorite classic authors.

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  • E.M.C

    Hi,
    My ICT GCSE coursework concerns Upcycling. I must put together a profile of possible Upcycling demos, fundraising activities, refreshments for the event

    With your permission, I would appreciate being able to use your idea in my project. It is for coursework purposes only and therefore will not actually be used in an real Upcycling event. Generally the only observers of my work will be my teacher and an examiner.

    If you are able to respond to my request quickly I would be very grateful. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Yours sincerely

    E.M.C

  • E.M.C

    Hi,
    My ICT GCSE coursework concerns Upcycling. I must put together a profile of possible Upcycling demos, fundraising activities, refreshments for the event

    With your permission, I would appreciate being able to use your idea in my project. It is for coursework purposes only and therefore will not actually be used in an real Upcycling event. Generally the only observers of my work will be my teacher and an examiner.

    If you are able to respond to my request quickly I would be very grateful. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Yours sincerely

    E.M.C

  • Julie

    Fantastic! I have a client with a set of old encyclopedias and I would have never thought of this. Wonderful website!

  • Julie

    Fantastic! I have a client with a set of old encyclopedias and I would have never thought of this. Wonderful website!

  • Abigail

    hello
    my I.C.T course is based on upcyling is it ok for me to use your idea, because i need three demonstrations to put in a word document.
    yours sincerly a.e.s

    • Steph

      me 2……=)

  • Abigail

    hello
    my I.C.T course is based on upcyling is it ok for me to use your idea, because i need three demonstrations to put in a word document.
    yours sincerly a.e.s

    • Steph

      me 2……=)

  • http://www.renewsalvage.org Nanci Bern-ReNew Building Materials and Salvage

    What a great idea! This would be a great addition to our used building materials store when we get donated books.
    Might we put this link on our facebook?

  • http://www.renewsalvage.org Nanci Bern-ReNew Building Materials and Salvage

    What a great idea! This would be a great addition to our used building materials store when we get donated books.
    Might we put this link on our facebook?

  • Abi

    Hi, this is a great idea!
    My ICT GCSE course is based on Upcycling. Would it be OK for me to use your idea as part of one of three required Upcycling demonstrations in a spreadsheet and a word document?
    I hope this will not be a problem,
    Thanks,
    Abi

  • Abi

    Hi, this is a great idea!
    My ICT GCSE course is based on Upcycling. Would it be OK for me to use your idea as part of one of three required Upcycling demonstrations in a spreadsheet and a word document?
    I hope this will not be a problem,
    Thanks,
    Abi

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