Home > Get Creative > How to Make a Bag from an Old Book

How to Make a Bag from an Old Book

By: Sarah O'Hara BA (hons) - Updated: 19 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Handdbag Old Book Hardback Book Fabric

Book bags make unique fashion statements and great gifts, and they’re a great way to keep books out of landfill. Have fun with the book covers you choose. Look out for kitschy novels and old encyclopaedias. Through your choice of book, your bag can make a really personalised present.

Look on your bookshelf if you're having a clear out and check out charity shops too.

For this project you’ll need:

  • An old, largish hard-backed book (paper back books won’t work).
  • Scissors
  • A craft knife
  • Cardboard – e.g. the type which brown cardboard boxes are made from
  • Co-ordinating fabric
  • Fabric starch (optional)
  • Sewing machine
  • Thread
  • Glue
  • Bag handles
  • Ribbon

Step one

Using scissors or a craft knife, cut the pages out of your book. Cutting along the crease line is the easiest way to do this.If it’s relevant, keep the pages in your craft box. The images could come in handy for other crafts such as collage, decoupage or card-making. Even if the book is all text, the letters could be used in future projects.

Step two

Take some ribbon or fabric loops and loop them through your handles and glue the loop to the inside of the book. You can buy plastic or bamboo handles from most craft shops or online.

Step three

Iron your chosen fabric – using laundry starch can make the fabric sturdier. You can double layer the fabric (right sides out) with interfacing in between for strength.

Open the book flat and trace the shape onto your fabric, adding a half-inch seam allowance. Cut the shape out – this is your lining. Pin the seam allowance down all the way around.

Step four

Stand the book on its end at a 45º angle and trace the triangle onto some card, adding a half-inch all the way round.Fold another piece of fabric in half and place the triangle on the fabric – with the base along the fold. Cut the folded triangle out. Repeat so that you have two triangles.

Step five

Pin a half-inch hem under all the way around your fabric triangles and then glue the points to either end of the inside of the book spine.

Step six

Cut two strips of cardboard the same size (fractionally smaller) than the spine of the book. Glue one of the strips onto the spine, over the triangle points.

Glue the triangle to the short sides of the book (on the inside). Unpin the triangle hem and use this fabric to attach to the book.

Attach lining you made earlier. Take the seam allowance pins out and glue the lining all around the edge of the book. Glue in the remaining strip of spine cardboard – you could cover it with fabric beforehand for decoration.


  • Experiment with different bag sizes, handles and fabrics.
  • Choose a sturdy book for a strong bag.
  • Don’t use an expensive book until you have definitely mastered the technique.
  • Get involved in blogs and craft forums to troubleshoot any problems and offer tips to others.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word: