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Book Purse

Learn how to alter a book into your very own creative purse.

Altering in crafting seems to be the "in" thing these days, so that’s what we did to a book that was ready for the discard pile. Unlike other altered books I’ve seen, however, we did not paint the pages or glue them together or cut them in pieces. We simply removed them from the covers. The book goes wherever you want it to go. The cover is what we used to make a purse. Obviously the size of the book will determine the size of your purse, and the depth of the spine will determine the width of your purse.

Materials and Tools:

a book
vinyl for the gusset
clear elastic bead cording
hole punch or drill – 1/16" , 5/16
craft knife
button for fastener
27" length of chair tie cording for handles and button loop*
small piece of laminate

* This length of cording gives you a very short handle; you may prefer a longer length.

Figure B


1. Open the front cover of your book and lift up the flyleaf. You want to remove the page attached to it. This can often be accomplished most easily by gently pulling the pages apart and then inserting your craft knife between the flyleaf and the next page and cut toward the spine to separate the pages from the spine. Do this in the back of the book as well and all of the pages should lift out easily intact all in one piece.

2. Trim the flyleaf in the front of the book about 3/4 inch away from the spine of the book and cut the one in the back leaving it wide enough to cover the entire spine.

Figure C

3. Glue the narrow (3/4" strip) to the inside of the spine and glue the wider strip from the back cover over it. The entire inside of the book cover is now covered. In many cases it will be just white paper; in some instances the paper will be patterned, which is certainly more interesting.

Figure D

4. Cut a strip from the cut-out flyleaf wide enough to cover the spine on the outside of the book. If the flyleaf is plain white you may prefer to cut a strip of decorative paper instead. Cover this strip with a laminating sheet and glue to the outside of the spine. This step is necessary only if you wish to cover the outside spine of the book. If it has an interesting title you may prefer to leave it uncovered.

Figure F

5. With the flattened cover right side up on the table top, measure 1/4 inch in from one side edge and 1/8 inch up from the bottom. Mark an X at this point. Repeat on the opposite side edge. Repeat along the top edge of the cover.

6. Place a ruler along the top edge lined up with the two corner marks and make dots at 1/4-inch increments. Repeat along the bottom edge. Drill 1/16-inch holes at each dot.

Figure G

7. To make holes for the button, mark a dot in the center of the side edge 1/2 inch in from the edge on the front cover only. Drill two holes here for attaching the button. For the cording loop to go over the button, drill two more holes 1/2 inch apart in the middle of the side edge on the back cover 3/4" in from the side edge. These holes should be directly across from the holes on the front cover and should be made using a 5/16-inch bit to accommodate the cording.

Figure H

8. For the handles drill another hole 3/4 inch in from the side edge and 1-1/4 inches down from the top on both covers and another hole 3/4 inch from the side edge and 1-1/4 inches up from the bottom on both covers. These holes were also drilled using a 5/16-inch bit.

Figure J

9. To measure for the gussets place the book cover on a table top with the spine on the table. Lift up the covers to determine how wide you want the purse to open. Measure this distance. In our case this was five inches. Measure the width of the spine. Our book cover spine measured two inches. Measure the width of the book cover. This is the width when the book is laying flat. It will be the height of the purse. Ours measured six inches. On a piece of paper draw a horizontal line two inches wide or whatever the width of the spine is. Draw a vertical line six inches long (the width of the cover), positioning it exactly in the center of the two-inch line. Draw another horizontal line five inches long (the distance the purse will open) at the opposite end of the vertical line so the vertical line is exactly in the center. Draw a line from both ends of the top line to the ends of the bottom line. This will be the size and shape of the gusset at each end of the purse. Draw another line 1/4 inch outside the drawn lines on both sides and the bottom. This is the pattern for cutting out the two side gussets.

Figure K

10. Using the paper pattern (step 9) cut out the vinyl gussets. With the 5-inch line at the top and the 2-inch line at the bottom fold the piece in half vertically. With a sewing machine stitch a line 1/8 inch from the fold on both pieces. This will ensure that the vinyl piece will fold in when the purse is opened.

Figure M

11. Using a 1/16-inch hole punch or drill bit, punch or drill holes at 1/4-inch increments and 1/8 inch in from the edge along the two angled sides and the bottom. These should match up with the holes along the top and bottom edges of the book cover. Note: You might keep the piece folded when you punch the holes and do both sides at the same time. 12. Cut a piece of stretch bead cording three times the measurement of the flattened book cover. Stand the book cover up on its spine and insert a gusset in one end with the stitched middle seam facing inside the book. Starting at one top corner line up the holes. About one inch from the end of the cord make a knot and start lacing from the top point using an overhand stitch down the side, across the spine and up the other side. Knot and cut the cord an inch or so from the knot. Tuck the ends of the cords in the stitches. Repeat with the gusset at the other end.

13. Cut the 27-inch long chair tie cord into three pieces. Cut a 10-inch length from each end with tassel attached, leaving the 7-inch middle piece.

Figure O

14. Thread the button with stretch cording, insert into holes and knot on the inside of the book. In the holes on the opposite cover insert the 7-inch length of cording and knot on the inside of the cover. The loop should be long enough to loop around the button and hold the purse closed.

15. Insert one 10-inch length of the cording with tassel attached through one hole from the front to the inside of the cover and pull through so the tassel is touching the cover on the outside. Bring the other end around to the front of the cover and lace it through the other hole. Knot on the inside. Repeat the process on the other side of the cover with the other 10-inch length of cording.

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