How to Make a Purse/clutch From a Book




About: I like to make stuff, from pretty to grotesque.

A purse or clutch for the librarian in you! 

(Disclaimer: as with a lot of stuff floating around on the interwebs, this idea isn't wholly mine.  I saw this ages ago somewhere and just came up with my own method of doing it)

If you make one of these, please please send me a picture!  I would love to see what people come up with.

More tutorials and other crap I make & do at

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Step 1: Prep Your Book

1.  Find a book with a cover you like.

Step 2: Take Apart Your Book

2.  Use a X-acto knife and cut out all the pages of the book.  You should now have just the book cover. I know, I know, this part is PAINFUL…  But you can maybe make some prettybookart from it.

Step 3:

3. Cut a piece of fabric the same size as the book cover, fold the edges in 1/2 inch and iron.   (uhh, sorry, I forgot to take a picture of this part, so here is a picture of some cherry blossoms I took during hanami in tokyo instead.  Purtty, no?? )

Step 4: Handles/Straps

If you are making a clutch, you can skip this step and go onto step 5.  If you want a purse, this is the time to dig out your purse handles.  You can buy purse handles in a lot of places nowadays.  Just google it.  These handles I have here, they each have a little slot for attaching it to a purse.  Your purse handles could be totally different, so you have to get creative by yourself here. But the basic idea is to use some of your fabric to create straps for attaching your handles to the inside of the book.

Sew the strips with the right sides facing each other, turn them inside out, fit them through the handles and sew the straps together.

Step 5: Gluing

Glue the fabric straps to the book (Of course, you don’t do this for the clutch).  And also glue the piece from step 4 onto the book.   I use E6000, which is like the mother of all craft glues for this.  Be warned though, it also smells like the mother of all craft glues.  Now set that aside to let it dry and we are going to make the insides of the purse.

Step 6:

Get out a large piece of paper, or just tape two together like I have done half-assedly here.  Trace the cover of your book on a large piece of paper, making sure to MARK both ends of the spine of the book on your paper.

Step 7:

Measure the width of one side of the book, and draw a line that is that same length about 75 degrees from where you marked the beginning of the spine.  This angle controls how wide your purse will open.    The smaller the angle the wider your purse will open.

Step 8:

Now you are going to duplicate the line to the other side by cutting out the line and the fold the paper over width-wise.

Step 9:

Now do the same lengthwise, so you reproduce the triangle on the other side also.

Step 10:

Cut two pieces of this out of the fabric for the lining of the purse.

Step 11:

Take one of the pieces of the fabric, with the right sides of the fabric facing each other, sew the edges of the triangles to the edges of the square.

Step 12:

Repeat with the other piece of fabric.  Turn one of them inside out, you should now have something that looks like this picture.

Step 13:

Put the right side out piece inside the wrong side out piece, and sew around the top edge.  You need leave a hole big enough for you to put hand though.

Step 14:

Put your hand through the hole you left, and turn the whole thing inside out.  Stitch down the hole.  You should now have something that looks like this.  (I also topstitched around the top edge for a cleaner finish)

Step 15:

Sew Velcro onto either side of the purse.

Step 16: More Gluing

The end is near, can you feel it?  Glue the insides to the book frame you created earlier.  Hopefully, the glue will be dry already from the earlier step (if not, you should really wait for it to dry, this is advice coming from the world’s most impatient person, so trust it!)

Variations: Some people find that the velcro doesn’t do a great job of keeping the purse closed.  I think it depends on the thickness of the spine of the book, but you could always make a clasp closure of some kind and glue it at the same time as the handles.  You can also obvious decorate the surface of the book if it’s too plain for you.



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31 Discussions


2 years ago

What a cute idea!


7 years ago on Introduction

Fun project, but I have to ask, long does it take before that glue doesn't smell any longer. Even though it is in a well ventilated area it still smells to high heaven. I want to be able to give it as a gift but not smelling like that. Does it ever go away?

4 replies

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Hi Clummus: It definitely does go away, as my purses don't have the smell anymore. However, I never kept track of how long it took. I bet if you left them out in the sun a little bit, it would help. The intertubes say mostly in a couple of days. Would love love to see pics of your finished product!


Reply 2 years ago

Try cat box litter in an open container. That absorbs almost every smell.


Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

Thanks for the reply. I live in the Pacific NW so we do not get to much sun this time of year....however today is a sunny day so I will be gluing and sunning my project today in hopes that I do not gas myself out of my apt. I will upload a pic when done. Thanks again.


Reply 3 years ago

I wonder if you put a dryer sheet in it?


3 years ago

Thanks for the tutorial! In steps 10-12 I see the side, triangular pieces are longer than the rest of the insert. Do you cut these to match, or does that just fall into place when you turn right side out? And if so, does it fall nicely into place or add bulky, bunchiness? Is there a purpose to those sides being longer? Also, how do you put/glue the insert into the fabric lined book without any bunching - or is there a trick to having it all line up neatly while still being glued securely?


3 years ago

This is one of the most enjoyable how-tos I have read! LOL. Thank you...for both the instructions, and the entertainment! Your photos are clear and the explanation understandable. :) Also...nice cherry trees! ;)

Thanks for the great Instructable! I've seen these on Etsy for $60.00 and up so I'm definitely going to try to make my own for Christmas gifts. I'm really sad that I got rid of a bunch of books about a year ago, but I have this big leather bound photo album that I think will make a great purse with lots of room inside! Also, I wanted to suggest adding a plastic 'book cover' to protect the finished purse. They make thin, self-adhesive plastic for fabric that should work great!

One question: Have you ever tried sewing the purse lining to the fabric before gluing it into the book cover? I was thinking that might make it a bit sturdier and save some glue.

This is definitely for the Librarian in me! Thank you so much for this great idea and something that I can cherish as personal to me. Beautiful work..God Bless.

Madd Tatter

5 years ago on Step 16

I would add inside pockets before stitching the two pieces together, going to make it for my daughter for Christmas and she is a college student. A pocket or her cell and for a pen would be very helpful. I may put a magnetic closure on her's as well. I am also thinking about finding a way to support the spine and maybe put purse feet on it as well. Great instructable.


6 years ago on Step 11

Hmmm I'm having fun making the purse, but wonder about the seam allowance for this part...standard 5/8 inch??


6 years ago on Step 5

2 reasons: 1. I found I was able to do more complete coverage of the book with a flat piece than with the lining that was sewn. 2. The flat piece also laid down flatter for me than the lining.


6 years ago on Step 5

Why glue the piece from step 4 on if you are just going to (SPOILER ALERT) glue the lining over the top of it in step 16? Does it have to do with how the edges would look?


6 years ago on Step 16

OMG I LOVE This idea!!!! Thank you for such a great instructional post!


7 years ago on Introduction

When she was too little to know what she was doing my daughter ripped up an antique book. I kept the pieces in case I ever found a good use to put them to.

Thanks to your instructable I have, after over a decade, now found one.

I'm gonna do another book-bag first, from an old poetry book, for practice. When I'm sure I can do a neat job I'll upcycle the cover of the torn antique into a new bag for her. I intend for the torn old book to have a silver lining, both literally and metaphorically!

Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

1 reply

Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

That is the sweetest story! I am glad I was able to help a little in it. I have a 2 year old myself, so I know all about things being ripped apart :)


8 years ago on Introduction

I'm in the process of making one right now. The glue takes so freaking long to dry and my sewing machine is 500km away so it's my only hope. I bought a couple of floral hard-cover address books from the dollar store for this- they're the perfect size to hold my iPhone and lip gloss...not sure if my keys will fit, too.

Instead of Velcro, I'm using magnets. I think they'll keep it closed well enough.