It’s a Book! It’s a Bag!

Holy smokes, it’s a book AND a bag!!!

For today’s DIY I’m gonna show you all how to make a book bag. Now, when I say book bag I don’t mean a bag to carry your books around in. I mean an actual book made into a rad and totally useable handbag. Sound cool? Here’s how it’s done!

You’ll need:

  • A hardcover book (preferably with a pretty cover). The one I used was this boring lavender color, so I went ahead and decoupaged it. There’ll be a how-to for that within the tutorial.
  • A piece of thick cardboard cut to fit the spine of the book.
  • Half a yard of fabric for lining.
  • Purse handles and some type of snap closure. I cut all the hardware off of a purse that I thrifted for a dollar. If you don’t have an old purse on hand you could just make straps out of your lining fabric.
  • Scissors.
  • An X-ACTO knife.
  • Sewing pins.
  • Fabric pen/chalk/some other type of fabric-friendly marking utensil.
  • Extra-strength glue.

Making the Purse Base:

1. Start by hollowing the book out. Run your X-ACTO along the binding of the book, between the first page and the front cover. Repeat this in the same area for the back cover and last page of the book. Do this a few more times until you’ve separated the pages from the cover.

2. Grab the pages of the book and pull them out. They should come out all in one bundle. The rectangular piece that you see on the left (the book cover) will be the base for your bag!

3. Now you’re gonna make a paper pattern for the sides of your bag. Take the book cover and open it up to as wide as you want your purse sides to be. For example, mine were five inches at their widest point. With the book cover open to your desired width, stand it up on a sheet of paper and trace along the inside of it with your pen. After tracing the inside area of the book, add a small seam allowance to all sides of the original tracing and cut it out.

Cutting out the pieces for the lining:

1. Fold your lining fabric into quarters and stick the side panel pattern you just made on top; pin it in place and cut around it.

2. Now put the book cover (your purse base) on the fabric and trace around it with your chalk. Cut that rectangle out. (You won’t need any seam allowances for this piece because you won’t be sewing it to anything.)

After cutting all of your lining stuff out you should have five pieces in all: one book-size rectangle and four trapezoidal side-panel pieces.

Assembling the side panels:

1. Arrange your side-panel pieces in pairs, and stick each pair together with the right (patterned) sides touching. Sew right along the edges of each pair with a straight stitch, all the way around the trapezoid, leaving a 1.5- to 2-inch gap between the beginning and end of your stitching. Stick your finger into this gap and pull the fabric through, to turn the pieces right side out.

2. Iron the side panels down flat.

Adding the straps:

1. On the inside of the book cover, mark where you want your straps to go on both sides. I just kind of eyeballed where I wanted mine to be. Marking them to be the same distance apart on both sides with a ruler would be ideal, though.

2. And glue them in place! This step is pretty self-explanatory. Just apply a good amount of glue to your straps and stick them to the inside of the book cover where you marked the strap area off. At this point you should also glue on any sort of purse closure that you want to use.

Also, if your straps are leather (or pleather, vinyl, or any other thick/heavy material), you’re likely gonna need to weigh them down with something (weights, heavy books, etc.) while they dry. Fabric straps dry faster and don’t need to be weighed down for a long time.

Making your book look less ugly (aka it’s time to get our deco on):

This part of the tutorial is for those of you who weren’t able to get your hands on any books with neat-looking covers. This problem can easily be remedied with image clippings and Mod Podge! Mod Podge is my answer to everything, if you haven’t already noticed.

For decoupaging you’ll need:

  • Something to decorate your book cover with! This could be image clippings, stickers, fabric, etc.
  • Matte-finish Mod Podge.
  • A large paint brush.

1. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to your book cover.

2. Place your desired image(s) on top of the Mod Podge and press them down. Run a plastic card over the images to smooth out any bubbles or creases.

3. Let the images set for 15 minutes or so before adding a coat of Mod Podge on top of them. This will make the outside of your bag waterproof and keep your collage looking pretty.

Putting it all together:

It’s time to start getting this thing looking like a real handbag! In these next few steps I’m gonna show you how to add the lining and side panels to finish things off.

1. Starting on one side of the book cover (it doesn’t matter which), line up the edges of your side panels with the side edges of the cover. Apply a layer of glue to the edges of the book cover and press the edges of the side-panel pieces down on top.

2. Apply a generous amount of glue to the rest of the book cover on the same side. Apply glue to the book spine area, too.

3. It’s time to add the lining fabric! Well, partially. Place one side of your lining fabric—right (patterned) side up—on top of the glued side of the book and press it down. Make sure to line up the edges of the lining fabric to the corners/edges of the book so everything will be even.

4. Now it’s time to do the other half of the purse! This could get a little confusing, so just refer to the image above if my explanation isn’t making sense. First, fold the other half of the lining fabric (wrong side up) over the fabric you just glued down. Then fold the side panels in half, inward, on top of that.

5. Apply glue to the other half of the book cover just like you did in step two.

6. Close the other half of the book cover (the side you just glued) on top of the whole shebang.

7. Carefully open the book cover just the slightest bit, and go in and press the other half of the lining fabric and the side panels onto the cover. The bottom of the side panels will also need to be folded inward and pressed down to secure them.

8. Once you have your lining and side panels glued in place, let the bag dry for at least a day in this position, with the cover closed and the side panels pointing outward.

Here’s what the bag looks like on the inside after it dries and you can open it up! It’s actually a lot roomier than you would expect it to be. I suppose this will really depend on the size of the book you decide to use, though. I was able to fit my wallet, lipstick, a pack of gum, a couple zines, and a camera in mine. You know, the ESSENTIALS. You might also be wondering if it’ll fall apart once you stick stuff in it and wear it out—it won’t! I’ve used mine twice since I made it, and it’s held up just fine. It’s surprisingly durable for something made out of just glue, fabric, and an old book! ♦


  • MissKnowItAll March 2nd, 2012 7:11 PM

    Oh My Goodness! I’m having trouble breathing right now because this is so freakin awesome!!!
    I’m so in love with Rookie and Marlena and all things arts n crafts but this just heightened my love to a new level. I hope I can make this using an encyclopedia so I can make a bigger bag. OH MY GOD!!! So amazing.
    PS- I have a huge tub of modge podge just sitting in my closet. Now It has a purpose!

  • Luzi March 2nd, 2012 7:12 PM

    This is so beautiful! I’m going to do it as soon as possible :))

  • Kathryn March 2nd, 2012 7:34 PM

    this is so awesome!! I’m definitely doing this!!

  • Marie March 2nd, 2012 7:35 PM


  • Kristinini March 2nd, 2012 7:37 PM

    omg, I am so excited to do this. Thank you Rookie, you truly are the bees knees lmao

  • darksideoftherainbow March 2nd, 2012 7:38 PM

    this is so incredibly awesome! you guys always have the best diy stuff. thanks so much!!!

  • Marguerite March 2nd, 2012 7:38 PM

    Thats so cool! although i have a feeling mine will fall apart in two seconds…

    • Marlena March 2nd, 2012 8:37 PM

      Just use lots of glue and I promise you it won’t! :)

  • uvita March 2nd, 2012 7:46 PM


  • Caligirl March 2nd, 2012 7:53 PM

    I am torn. My dad instilled such a reverence for books that it almost seems sacrilegious. On the other hand, this is so very cool and I want to make one. Maybe if I use one of those hard bound books that the library gives away for free and it’s outlived it’s useful life.

    • Marlena March 2nd, 2012 8:40 PM

      Exactly! I probably forgot to mention it, but the whole point is to use an old book that you wouldn’t mind cutting up. Library book sales would be the perfect place to get one!

    • taste test March 2nd, 2012 11:20 PM

      I agree. this is such a cool idea, but at the same time, I know I would have several heart attacks cutting apart a book like that, no matter what it was. well, okay, maybe I wouldn’t mind if it was Mein Kampf or something… oh, christ, I’d definitely have to mod podge that book cover. :P

      • KinuKinu March 22nd, 2012 2:23 PM

        Yeah….I just bought a hardcover book from the thrift store.I just picked a random one off the shelf….It turned out to be one those overly romantic books…like a soap opera or something.My mother said I have to burn the pages when I’m done.

  • arepg March 2nd, 2012 8:04 PM

    This. Is. Amazing. When I walk through the streets with my Anne Rice purse, the world will take notice! Thanks for facilitating my wearing my nerd-dom on my sleeve . . . ahem, shoulder.

  • bookworm123 March 2nd, 2012 8:16 PM

    I want to do this sooooo baaad! Wicked cool:)

  • anisarose March 2nd, 2012 8:21 PM

    cute idea! but not very practical…

  • kittenmix March 2nd, 2012 9:01 PM

    So cute! Perfect gift idea for those of us who are loving, but not loving enough to shell out the skrilla for a real bag.

  • Lydia March 2nd, 2012 9:02 PM

    I love this! Although I don’t know if I can bring myself to ruin a book haha… sigh.

  • Laia March 2nd, 2012 9:29 PM

    you are the queen of crafternoons!

  • Lascelles March 2nd, 2012 10:03 PM

    Yeah… but which book? Seems like that’s half the fun :D Natalie picked Lolita. How about Drew or Alice? A book that you owned and loved would probably be the most fun, I think. I might try this for an MP3 player and a paper back… I have to buy an sharp knife. Probably a button or something?

  • zoesaysrawr March 2nd, 2012 10:17 PM

    Oops I think I’m in love with Marlena. Hehe.

    Anyway, I loveeeee this and really want to try it; Goodwill is an excellent place to collect books that are cheap enough to sacrifice but still often pretty and in good condition.

  • summertimefuntime March 2nd, 2012 10:23 PM

    ah this is a wonderful idea.

  • nutellacube March 2nd, 2012 10:26 PM

    oh my god. I used to make stuff with old books (bought at secondhand shops or libraries)) but this one takes the cake.

  • Gabrielle March 2nd, 2012 10:35 PM

    I love this, except i’d probably hesitate because I become emotionaly attached to my books ;)

  • paigemoe March 2nd, 2012 11:12 PM

    Do you think this will look good with longer straps? I really want to try it!

    • Marlena March 2nd, 2012 11:48 PM

      Yeah! Long straps would work too.

  • Susann March 3rd, 2012 1:11 AM

    Wow, this is an absolutely amazing idea!

  • ivoire March 3rd, 2012 1:11 AM

    AMAAAAAAAAAZING. are there any other alternatives for mod podge?

    • Libby March 3rd, 2012 5:01 AM

      It’s impossible to buy modge podge here so I mostly substitue PVA glue for that. It generally works in most DIYs and if not, tacky craft glue is amazing.

      • ivoire March 3rd, 2012 9:36 PM

        marlena says pva isnt good. help

    • Marlena March 5th, 2012 10:00 PM

      Do you have access to acrylic sealant? That works, too!

  • Besu March 3rd, 2012 3:22 AM

    This is such an amazing idea todays project I think! x

  • Dayzee March 3rd, 2012 6:09 AM

    i can’t quite get my head around how clever and cool your diy’s are.

  • sttefaaa March 3rd, 2012 6:42 AM

    This looks really good, but I was born with both left hands :D anyhow, wicked!

  • benjamin March 3rd, 2012 7:34 AM

    You could totally keep the cover as it is if it has a cool one and make a cute bag like the Olympia Le-Tan bags that Michelle Williams has been carrying around recently –


    • ivoire March 3rd, 2012 9:34 PM

      omg the red cookbook one? freaking out of it!

  • Tabea March 3rd, 2012 8:41 AM


  • naeheeee March 3rd, 2012 10:09 AM

    woooooow, this would be sooooo useful, thanks.

  • puny weakling March 3rd, 2012 10:21 AM

    could you rip the pages of the book into strips and layer them instead of doing decoupage?

    • Marlena March 3rd, 2012 11:53 AM

      Of course! That would still be considered decoupage though! ;)

  • Lo March 3rd, 2012 11:09 AM

    do you think PVA would be an acceptable substitute for mod podge? (i do not have any nor the money to buy it )

    • Marlena March 3rd, 2012 12:00 PM

      Isn’t PVA glue basically just regular old elmers glue? It might work for putting the lining and straps in, but I don’t think it would work well for sealing off any decoupaged areas.

  • Lo March 3rd, 2012 11:19 AM

    i think i’ll turn mine into a pencil case

  • Narita March 3rd, 2012 11:42 AM

    I am doing this right now and it is perrrfect. Or at least it will be. I am using a belt (it’s too small… since when to medium skirrs come with extra small belts?) to hold it together an ld it’ll be cool.

  • VanyaTheDinosaur March 3rd, 2012 11:54 AM

    What in the world did that poor book do to you?!

    (I get extremely worked up about books, sorry.)

  • katieeleanor March 3rd, 2012 1:47 PM

    marlena, you are a queen. i am so excited to do this!

  • Adrienne March 3rd, 2012 3:02 PM

    WOAH. That is so awesome and original! Thanks for the tutorial Marlena. :)

  • LittleMoon March 3rd, 2012 4:00 PM

    I love this idea but I don’t know about ruthlessly murdering a book…

  • Coconut Bible March 3rd, 2012 4:23 PM

    Marlena! Your diy ideas are so cool :)

  • carolineyall March 4th, 2012 1:08 AM

    Marlena, where’d you get the cool images from? (The space/astronaut pictures)

    • Marlena March 5th, 2012 9:58 PM

      Try taking a look around google images. I found mine while doing a nebulas and galaxies search. :)

  • raggedychick March 4th, 2012 1:49 AM

    oh my god this is the NEATEST THING

    I’m not sure if I could bring myself to cup apart a book like that
    but if I could this would be so cool to do

    • CeciliaCecilia March 4th, 2012 9:42 AM

      yeah! all my hard covered books are really nice books! :(

  • thunderbolts March 4th, 2012 5:33 AM

    AHH OMG I REALLY WANNA MAKE THIS PURSEE but I’m LOVE books as well so.. gotta steal dad’s! lol

    but, where could you buy purse straps, beside the thrift store? I don’t really know if there’s a thrift store near my place.. :(

    btw, is that okay to use cutter instead of X-ACTO knifes?

    • Marlena March 5th, 2012 9:54 PM

      A box cutter would work fine, too! I just like using an x-acto knife because it’s smaller and there’s less of a chance of stabbing yourself with it.

      Like I stated in the tutorial, you can just make straps out of your lining fabric if you don’t have access to an old purse! They also sell pre-made purse straps at places like JoAnns and Michaels, but they can be a bit pricey.

  • gaia March 4th, 2012 7:00 AM

    I’m trying this right now with my copy of Breaking Dawn (my mum bought it for me, I didn’t want it) and old leather bag straps, looks really fun :D

  • CeciliaCecilia March 4th, 2012 9:41 AM

    bookmarked this page so i can go back and show my friends so we can have a “book bag party” and have matching purses! so cool

  • Mirae March 4th, 2012 12:14 PM

    OH MY, this is breathtakingly amazing! Definitely on my number on “to-do” list for the spring break!

    Thank you, Marlena for such amazing DIYs!

  • LeavesThatAreGreen March 4th, 2012 1:44 PM


  • Olivia March 4th, 2012 2:07 PM

    omg so rad!!

  • Krista March 4th, 2012 2:39 PM

    OOOOMMMMGGGG cancel everything, this is my Sunday.

  • rayfashionfreak March 4th, 2012 2:57 PM

    I love this! Can’t wait to go try it out myself, all your DIys are fantastic Marlena <3

  • tallulahpond March 4th, 2012 4:22 PM

    Amazing! Fantastic idea.

  • Anna March 4th, 2012 5:01 PM


  • Anna March 4th, 2012 5:02 PM

    also, omg i love your striped trousers

  • KinuKinu March 4th, 2012 6:36 PM


  • mariaantoniavs March 4th, 2012 9:09 PM

    This is such an awesome idea!!! SO EPIC!!!

  • grizzlytales March 9th, 2012 3:58 AM

    This is probably the best thing I’ve read in ages. Definitely going to make a few of these for me and my favourite people.

  • Selle March 23rd, 2012 1:39 AM

    Just finished making one myself :D

    Keep these awesome crafty posts coming!

  • lavendersparrow March 25th, 2012 4:46 PM

    I love it!!! I have alot of vintage children’s encyclopedias whose covers could look really cool on a bag like this.

  • sarahhh March 26th, 2012 7:59 PM

    I wanted to do this but wasn’t sure if gloss-lustre Mod Podge would work the same as the matte kind… I think it’s the same except the gloss one is more shiny, as implied. Would it look weird? Help is appreciated :)

  • LaModeDuJour April 24th, 2012 4:00 PM

    i need to try this! it’s awesome!

  • DashPacimo June 4th, 2012 8:53 PM

    I JUST made a bag out of my old broken Harry Potter book and it really isn’t as easy as it looks lol But I like the way it looks! It’s very raggy and messy and very, very punk rock, so I”M IN LOVE!! Thank you for putting this up! It was very fun (and dangerous i.e. my burning finger-tips!)!

  • nerdfightergirl June 8th, 2012 3:09 PM

    I love this! ALSO, I’m using the twilight books because they’re just bad literature and for some reason I have them. Use horrible books such as these and instead of feeling guilty you’ll know you are taking a horrible book out of the world!!!! ;) and getting a cute purse in the deal

  • ueno54 May 29th, 2013 6:08 AM