Introduction: Faux Book Wallet

About: In which I turn the thoughts from my head into objects in my hands

I made a previous instructable called Vintage Book to Wallet and for that I had to take pages out of a book, leaving only the book cover for my purposes. Now, for old books whose pages are falling out, this is a perfectly great idea to repurpose a book. However, there's also temptation to remove the pages of your favorite book, which might be in great condition, JUST so that you can see your favorite book ever time you whip out your wallet. I'm the type who sees dog-earred pages as blasphemy so I don't even want to imagine what a crime that would be...

Anyway, I wanted to come up with a way to keep the image that you like AND avoid butchering good books for a materialistic reason, and this tutorial documents the process. It basically entails wrapping chipboard in fabric and decoupaging your chosen image/pattern.

Note: I reused parts of the previous tutorial because sometimes I forgot to take pictures but the process, after making the cover, is basically the same.

Step 1: Materials

  • fabric for the spine (You know how many hardcover books have a black or white spine like this? Choose a solid color fabric, preferably on the thicker side, that will go with your decoupage image.)
  • image to be printed out (could be a design, book jacket, etc.) or fabric with interesting desired patterns
  • fabric for lining
  • zipper (long enough to go around three edges of your book cover)
  • zipper for optional coin purse; must be at least as long as your cover
  • chipboard or strong, thin cardboard
  • hot glue
  • Mod Podge or similar glue
  • iron
  • needle and thread
  • paper and pencil
  • ruler
  • clothespins/clips

Step 2: Cutting Chipboard and Fabric

Decide the dimensions you want for your book wallet. I wanted mine to be large enough to fit whole paper bills but small enough to avoid being too much of a handful so the dimensions came out as 6.5" by 4.125" by 0.875" (based on my previous book wallet).

For the book cover, you'll basically have two covers, front and back, connected by a spine, and all three pieces are wrapped within fabric that is 1" longer and wider (if you can spare more fabric, 2" would be best) than the total dimensions so that you can fold and glue down the excess fabric. The covers and spine need about 0.25" spacing in between so that the chipboard has room to bend. See the first picture above for my diagram of the fabric and chipboard. Once you've planned out your dimensions, cut out your chipboard rectangles and fabric.

NOTE: I cut two of each size rectangle of chipboard because I felt that merely one piece didn't feel strong enough to match the strength of actual book covers. I glued the twins of each piece together for the additional strength, but you don't have to.

Step 3: Gluing Cover Together

Arrange your chipboard on top of the fabric (right side of fabric facing down) as shown above (front cover, spine, back cover; don't forget the 0.25" spacing between chipboard rectangles). When you're sure of your placement, brush Mod Podge or similar glue on the back of the chipboard before firmly pressing it into your fabric; use a book or two to weight everything down, and set it aside [as you catch up with your favorite TV series.] Make sure that you use a ruler or similar straight object to ensure that the covers are perfectly alined and parallel to each other. You should place a slick but hard surface behind where you're gluing because glue can ooze through the fabric. If you put newspaper to cover your workspace, the paper will stick to your fabric, which I've learned the hard way far too many times. I just used a plastic-wrapped hardcover book, but just improvise using whatever you have. Even with that, make sure you brush a light layer of glue; too thick and you'll have too much oozing, and although your work surface is protected, the oozing will show as dark spots through your fabric.

Once the chipboard is securely glued to the fabric, cut the corners at about a 45 degree angle like shown in the second picture and fold the four edges of excess fabric over the chipboard before gluing each of them down.

Step 4: Making This More Book-like

If you take any hardcover book near you and lift the front cover, you'll see a slight ridge where the front cover and spine are connected. This slim tucking of material is caused by the two covers' edges being pushed closer than the spacing provided by the spine (hard to explain; just open and close a hardcover book while viewing it with a bird's-eye-view to get a better understanding). I wanted to replicate this for my book-like wallet, even though it lacks pages, to give it a realistic touch.

To do this, apply a thin line of glue along both long sides of the spine and clip the covers together with clothespins. Set the book cover down on its spine for drying.

Now open and close your covers, watching with a bird's-eye-view to ensure that your cover is working as expected. See the tucking? ;)

Step 5: Auxiliary Piece: Fabric Version

You know how many hardcover books have a black or white spine like this? Well, the piece of fabric in the diagram of the previous step will be this background piece at the spine. If you want to use fabric, look high and low for some fabric that capture your heart.

I wanted this auxiliary piece to be about 0.5" from the edge so its width is 4.125" (chipboard's width) - 0.5" (distance from spine) + 1.5" (I don't want the folded edges to overlap) = 3.125". Its height should be 6.5" (chipboard's height) + 1.5" (again, I don't want the folding over to overlap) = 8". Cut out two pieces of this, one per cover.

Fold one long edge down about 0.5" and iron it down to hide the unraveling edge . Then place the folded edge 0.5" away from the spine (or however far you want) on top of the front cover, right side up. Center everything vertically (precision not required) before applying glue to secure the auxiliary piece. Once that's dry, cut the corners at about 45 angles and fold the three edges before gluing them down.

Let everything dry and repeat with the other cover.

Step 6: Auxiliary Piece: Paper Version

The process is basically the same as for fabric pieces, but any ironing is not needed for paper, of course. If you used paper, I suggest brushing on a layer of Mod Podge or some sealant over the paper so that it has added strength and the design won't rub off.

Now, when you add the zipper via hot glue, the paper glued to the zipper can peel off, and thus the zipper can peel off the cover. To correct for this, cut out two rectangles of fabric slightly larger (about 0.5" per side) than each cover. Then fold the edges in so that the rectangle fits within the borders of each cover and glue that lining to the covers. This is extra support to which the zipper can adhere in place of the paper.

NOTE: If the auxiliary piece is the image of a book that you love and adore (as in my case: The Girl with Borrowed Wings), you could also use fabric paint or decoupage or iron-on lettering to put the title and author along the spine like most hardcover books do. I did this to make a more authentic look (or at least as authentic as this could get..).

Step 7: Attaching Zipper

The pictures above use images from my previous tutorial because the pen marks are easier to see for it.

Open up the pageless fake book cover. Use your hot glue to glue the end of the zipper to the bottom of the book cover's spine. Apply some more glue along the bottom edge of the inside back cover before lightly pressing one side of the zipper along the line of glue. Make sure that you're leaving enough fabric on either side of the zipper so that the zipper's head can easily slide between the book covers when done! At the corner, pivot the zipper to lie along the adjacent side and apply yet another line of glue before pressing the zipper down onto the glue again. Repeat until the entire length of the zipper is attached to the back cover before unzipping the zipper and repeating the process for the zipper's other side and the front cover.

To do the other side, make some marks on one side of the zipper and the part of the cover directly next to them and then the other side of the zipper DIRECTLY opposite to your first set of marks (see sixth and seventh images above). Then grab a ruler to measure distances and mark dots on the opposite, unzippered cover corresponding to the dots you just marked on the first cover. When gluing on the zipper this time, MAKE SURE THAT YOUR MARKS ON THE ZIPPER LINE UP WITH THE MARKS ON THE COVER. This is so that the zipper's teeth match up with you zip up the book. A word before you try this: good luck with this! It gave me a bit of trouble, especially due to hot glue's quick drying time.

NOTE: Make sure to premeditate so that your zipper ends and starts according to your preference (so you can unzip from top to bottom of the book, etc. -- I wanted the zipper head to stay at the top of the book when unzipped so I glued according to that desire.)

Step 8: Measurements and Cutting Fabric

Take your ruler to measure out the dimensions for your lining and miscellaneous innards for the wallet. You'll need paper and pencil too.

Open up the zippered book and use your ruler to measure a rectangle that will fit within the zipper's borders but also hide the fabric sides of the zipper where it's glued to the covers. For me, this was 6.25" by 9" (so it's the WHOLE length of the book cover, cover to cover plus spine). Add 1" or more to both length and width before cutting out one of these rectangles from your lining fabric.

Then set the book on its side and open it as wide as you want the purse to be. Trace the trapezoidal shape on your paper, lengthen the trapezoid by about 2.5", and add a 0.25" seam allowance along three edges -- not necessary for the long parallel side. Fold your fabric in half before cutting out the trapezoid (top part lined up with the folded edge) so that you have two trapezoids connected by a folded edge.

Decide the dimensions you want for credit card pockets, if you want them at all. I wanted a set of 3 pockets with a side pocket. My cards were 3.5" by 2.125" so I added 1" seam allowances (you'll understand later) and because I wanted 0.375" of the card to extend from the top of the pockets, insert-complicated-mathematical-formulas-to-get-a-rectangle-that's-9"-by-14". (or look at the fifth picture above to see what I did)

I also wanted a coin purse insert in the middle of the wallet so that I could put coins in that and fit paper money and cards on either side of it. The measurements for this consisted of two rectangles, one for the lining of the purse and one for the exterior. The length was just the same as the main rectangle's WIDTH (so 6.25" for me, and this encompasses seam allowance), and the height was the same as the ironed trapezoid's height (LOOK TWO STEPS AHEAD FIRST) X 2.

When finished measuring, just cut out all those required pieces of fabric.


1 X lining rectangle, see second paragraph above for measuring
2 X trapezoidal shapes, see third paragraph above for measuring
1 X long rectangle, see fourth paragraph above for measuring
2 X rectangles, 1 for exterior and 1 for interior of coin purse insert, see fifth paragraph above for measuring

Step 9: Lining Rectangle

Take the rectangle of lining fabric. Fold and iron down the edges such that the resulting rectangle is the size you determined for the lining. Cut the corners at an angle (see above) so that no fabric peeks out behind the edges. Make sure that this ironed rectangle fits within the zippered borders of your book by gently placing it within the borders of the zipper.

Step 10: Trapezoids

Unleash your needle and thread; they'll be seeing action now! Take your trapezoidal pieces of fabric and sew along the three unattached edges with the 0.25" seam allowances. Leave a small gap anywhere for turning inside out.

Turn the fabric inside out using that small hole when you're finished sewing, and close the hole in any way you like. I prefer the ladder stitch because it looks neat, but you could also just stitch really close to the edge if you're lazy. Iron your trapezoid flat, and repeat with the other trapezoidal piece of fabric.

Measure the vertical height of a trapezoid; you'll need this for the measurements for the optional coin purse.

Step 11: Credit Card Slots

Fold the rectangle you cut for the trapezoids lengthwise and sew along the three unsewn edges, remembering to leave a hgap for flipping inside out. After sewing, turn the rectangle inside out and seal the hole however you like. Iron the rectangle flat.

Fold the rectangle widthwise a couple times and stagger those folds so that you get something like the fifth picture in step 7. Then sew along the top edge of each pocket to secure the fabric. Sew through all layers along the THICKER left or right side (you'll know what I mean); this is to secure the fabric, allowing for the side pocket.

Position this on your rectangle of lining fabric before sewing down three edges (top, bottom, and left or right--the edge you didn't sew along yet) to that lining fabric. Check the positioning of the pockets by gently placing it within the zipper's edges BEFORE sewing.

Step 12: Coin Purse Insert

Get your rectangles cut for the coin purse and the zipper ready! Place the rectangle of exterior fabric right side face up, and then put the zipper along the top edge (this should be the "width of your lining fabric" edge) with the flat backside of the zipper face up. Put the rectangle of lining fabric right side face down along the top edge and finally sew along the top edge so that all three layers are sewn together. It may be easier if you sew the zipper and exterior fabric together first before adding the lining on top.

Now open up your sandwich and flip the zipper to the other non-sewn side. Place the other edge from the rectangle of exterior fabric along this side of the zipper's top edge before sewing it down. Flip over and put the other edge from the rectangle of lining fabric along the zipper's top edge and again, sew it down. Unzip the zipper and arrange the rectangles so that the lining faces itself and same for the the exterior rectangles. Sew along both non-zippered and non-folded edges of the rectangles, but for the lining rectangle, leave a small 2" gap for turning everything inside out when you've finished sewing.

When you've finished sewing, use the gap you left to turn everything inside out and seal the gap however you like.

Push the lining fabric into the exterior pouch, and sew around the zipper so that the lining and exterior don't come apart or jam the zipper.

Step 13: Attaching Coin Purse to Trapezoids and Ironing

Fold a trapezoid in half widthwise and tuck a side of the coin purse into that fold. Sew along the edge so that the trapezoid becomes attached to the coin purse's side, and repeat for the other side and trapezoid.

Fold the rest of the trapezoids into a W-like shape (see second and third pictures above; read the notes!) and iron the folds flat.

Step 14: Putting Everything Together

Start by brushing glue onto the spine to glue down the middle part of the lining rectangle. Then glue the tab parts of the trapezoids attached to the coin purse to the back of the lining rectangle. Finish by gluing down the two sides of the lining rectangle, making sure that its edges cover the zipper's edges.

Step 15: Ta Da!

Now you have a book wallet that required no removal of pages!

I'd love to see any variations that anyone makes; what's your favorite book? ;)

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