Introduction: Faux Leather Book Cover From Paper Bags

About: Park Ranger and married to a musician. I love making things and forcing my 2 boys to admire them

Brown paper bags treated to look like leather. This project can be personalized by color, texture and embellishments, Very inexpensive! If you are like me and have paints, glue etc. this project will be as close to free as you can get! Looks professional and sharp. I'd love to see the paper bag leather used in other applications. Let me know if you try this and make something cool.

Step 1: Gifts for the Best Park Rangers in the World!

•I work with a lot of great people and I wanted to give them all gifts for the Holidays but the cost of nearly 20 presents was overwhelming. Paper and pen are some of the most important tools that we carry as Park Rangers so I created these small pad covers that look like leather but are recycled from paper bags. The treatment has the additional bonus of making the cover somewhat waterproof. Because of the way I made it the cover can be put on a new book when the original is used up. I used very inexpensive paint, I already had the Mod Podge and tools and I bought the pads in packs of 10 when school supplies were on sale. These cost me less than $3.00 apiece and two yeasr later most of my co-workers are still using them!

•I was inspired by this Paper bag book cover Instructable:

Which reminded me of covering textbooks in school.

Many thanks to Inglesia777 for the inspiration.

Step 2: Materials and Tools

•Brown paper bags

•Acrylic Paints – dark brown, ocher, burnt sienna – other browns, brown/reds

•Mod Podge


•Thin cardboard (old cereal box etc.)



Book to cover

Step 3: Cut Open Your Paper Bag and Cover It With Paint

I cut open the paper bag and lay it flat. I mix 2 or 3 colors of paint and I paint the paper using plenty of water. I want the paint to "stain" the paper fibers a little. You can get very different textures if you crumple up the paper before you paint. See the dark brown paper.

Step 4: Mod Podge

Paint Mod Podge over the painted paper. You can add as many layers of Mod Podge as you like. I use at least 2 but I have added as many as 5. Just make sure you dry completely between layers.

Step 5: Measure the Book to Be Covered

Since I am going to make several covers I made a blank from thin cardboard. I can just trace the form on the back of the painted paper.

I measured the cover and added 1 ½” for
the front cover for folding inward, then added 3” for the back cover. Later I will add a business card holder to the inside back cover.

Add at least ¼” on the top and bottom for folding in and creating finished edges.

Very Important:

Do not forget to account for the depth of the book (about ¼” on this one)!!!

So my blank is:

Height of book + 1/2” X 2(Width of Book) + depth of book + 4 ½”

Step 6: Cut Out the Paper and Fit to the Book

At first I tried to pre-cut all of the trim and flaps for the covers but there are minor variations in size /depth etc. I found it better to individually fit and build each cover with it’s book. Wrap the paper blank around the book and center as well as possible. Use your fingers to enhance the creases.

Remove the paper and use good scissors to cut short slits at the creases.

Step 7: Cut, Trim and Build

Once I like the fit I trim away some

corners to reduce bulk. Fold in on the crease and glue down the edges that will be against the actual face of the book.


In order to create the pockets for fitting DO NOT GLUE DOWN THE TRIM FLAPS FOR THE INSIDE FLAPS YET!!

Step 8: Create the Pockets for the Cover

Note the placement of the glue – glue your cover together to create pockets for book cover. Make sure edges line up and are neat before gluing.

Make sure that you are gluing flap to flap. It is better to make this a little big than too tight as you will see in the next step when you fit the cover over the book.

Step 9: Slide Back Cover of Book Into New Cover

Slide the back cover in first then fold the book somewhat inside out to fit on the front part of the cover

Step 10: Use Some Scrap Paper to Make a Pocket

Make a pocket to hold business cards. Once cut out glue the edges together and then glue the pocket inside the back cover of the book. If you wish to add a cord to wrap around the book glue it down under the business card pocket

Step 11: Now Go Make a Bunch!!

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