Category Archives: Book purses

Tutorial: Fabric covered photo album

Last summer I had picked up a photo album at a thrift store. I used the hard cover to make over into a book purse.

Seaside Date Evening Bag

Seaside Date Evening Bag

Now I find I have a need for a small photo album, so I remembered that I had kept the photo sleeves and decided to make a new hardcover for the album. It was very quick (about an hour) and pretty easy. In fact, no sewing needed!

Find a piece of cardboard larger than you need. In my case, 8.5×11 was plenty big enough. I wanted some overhang on 3 sides to protect the edges of the photos.

Trim the cardboard to the size you need. Center the photo sleeves and mark the two fold lines to form the spine.

Use something with your straight edge to score the two fold lines. I used a regular screwdriver. The scored lines will be on the outside of the folds.

Choose your fabric. Cut fusible interfacing the same size as your cardboard. Center it on your fabric and press, leaving a margin for turning under.

Use a craft or tacky glue, and first glue the spine, or narrow center portion of the cardboard to the back side of the fabric. Then, in turn, fold one cover and glue to fabric, then the other. It is important to fold as you glue, so that the book will tend to stay closed rather than try to flop open.

Squiggle some glue around the edges, eyeballing the distance that your fabric will turn under. First, fold the corners at an angle, as shown. Dab the corner fabric with more glue, and turn the rest of the fabric.

Choose your inner cover fabric. Measure just larger than the cardboard cover. Fuse with interfacing on the reverse side, interfacing being a little less than the size of the cardboard. Turn under raw edges.

Center the inner fabric to the inside of the album cover. First, glue the center (spine) portion, then fold and glue each end. Glue the spine of the photo sleeves and press to the spine of your cover. Finished!


Catching up

Lately I’ve been catching up on my sewing. With the wall quilt completed, I started working on book purses. I’ve thought about sewing a couple of blouses for when school begins again. As a teacher, sometimes I treat myself to new school clothes, too.

Today, however, I knew it would be just too hot in the sewing room so I packed up a machine and a bundle of quilt blocks, and worked on the mystery quilt. I set up a second, temporary sewing room in the dining room, where the air conditioning is working fine. I caught up on 4 pages of directions for the mystery quilt, which is going too slowly for my tastes, and made some progress.

I realized I had made a promise, and I’m going to have to take steps to honor that promise. Our oldest is expecting in about 6 months, and I had promised to make cloth diapers for this baby. I have a pattern but I need to search for the fabrics and notions that I’ll need. Soon I’ll be posting about the diapers and the cute designs that I’ll be making.


New twist on an old favorite

I was pondering the making of a small book purse, of the style that opens at the top. It has always been awkward to me to glue the side pieces in and glue the straight piece into the book cover. I wondered if I could figure out how to sew it all together as one piece, then glue. I think I hit on how to do it.

Since I am using quilting cotton, I used two layers and even decided to have the outer layer a sky blue blender, and the inner layer as a lining, in white on white. For the main straight piece of the lining, I added interfacing to the middle. I’ve found that the craft glue tends to bleed through thinner fabrics. Layer the fabric in this order: interfacing on the bottom, outer fabric facing up, lining fabric facing down. The right sides are together.

For the side pieces, shaped like triangles, I omitted the interfacing because I want them to easily fold together inside the purse when in use. I sewed a straight seam where the top of the piece is, turned and pressed, and then topstitched with a decorative stitch that coordinates with the book cover.

I marked the outer edges of the book cover when open as far as I want the purse to open. To mark the second piece, I stacked the pieces, poked pins through at the points of the line drawn, and turned it over to draw the same on the other piece.

Mark on the straight piece the straight edge of the two long sides of the book cover, with marks for the edges of the cover and the spine portion.

Trim the triangle piece close to the stitching lines marked. Insert it lining side up between the lining and outer fabrics. Line up the marks for the spine on both white fabrics. Sew only that portion of the line.

Make a diagonal clip at the corners, on the side piece only. Pull one side of the side piece so that the stitching lines are lined up and pin like crazy. I was afraid this part would shift on me, but it didn’t. Then stitch just that portion.

Do the same for the other side of the same piece.

Of course, you would repeat for the side piece that goes on the opposite side of the purse. You may need to carefully maneuver the pieces as you sew. This part doesn’t show in the pictures, but trim the fabric close to where you stitched.

Reach inside and pull the side pieces out, turning the white lining fabric to the other side of the whole piece.

Now you have one piece, a complete purse liner! Time to finish the two upper edges.

I took short lengths of bias binding. Line up the stitching line on the binding with the edge where the side piece ends. Do the same on the other side, and pin between, making sure not to stretch the bias binding. Repeat for the other side.

After stitching, trim the excess fabric.

Pull the binding to the inside, pin in place, and stitch.

I chose to use a webbed belt for the handle of this purse. You would attach handles in the manner you choose. When I glue, I glue beneath the purse portion.

Use plenty of craft glue on the spine portion, carefully place your purse lining, and press into place. When it dries, you can glue the rest of the purse into place.

I’m posting this before the glue is dry enough to finish gluing, so I plan to update this post with the finished picture of the purse.


Thrift store score, and 2 more purses done

The exotic book purse was almost complete yesterday, and I decided I needed a much different strap for it. While my mind was on other things, it occurred to me that a gold chain would be the perfect strap. I could even weave a colorful ribbon through it. Among my errands for this morning would be a stop at the local thrift store to see what I could find.

I should have taken a photo of the store, it’s totally crammed with goods. I pawed through the belts hanging on 6 large nails on the wall, but knew it would be nearly impossible to find the location of the correct belt to pull it out of the mass. I considered taking every belt down so that I could take what I wanted and put the rest back, but I happened to glance downward. Under a rack of pants I saw a tub of belts. I pulled it to a spot out of traffic and pawed through that instead.thrift store belts

I like the webbing belts for straps, and the bonus of two D rings is very helpful. I scored these 4 belts for $2. The chain with the scarf woven through it was just what I imagined.

book purse

This is what I had when I quit working yesterday.

book purse

This photo shows how well the chain and scarf go with the book cover. I decided to use it as is, and not replace the scarf inside the chain.

In this case, I glued the ends of the scarf to the inside of the spine of the book, then I glued the rest of the book purse over it. After the glue dried, I tied a knot to the end link of the chain using each end of the scarf. I think it’s gorgeous!

book purse

book purse

Moving on, I wanted to get another book purse complete. I thought the lavender/teal paisly web belt would go great with this book cover:

book purse

I can see in my imagination that the purse part needs a great design on the fabric, such as burgers and shakes, or maybe something similar to Steak-N-Shake decor that patrons would immediately recognize. I set it aside to work on another time.

I pulled out the Labrador book. This has been a favorite of mine, and I am finally ready to work on it. I found a few belts that I thought would make great straps for this one, and I decided on the narrowest, tooled leather one. Looked like a leash or collar to me.

Labrador book purse

The chocolate brown fabric behind makes up the box portion of the purse, and I got so “into” the working of it, that I forgot to take a photo showing the inside cover fabric. It’s a great tan color, rescued from a man’s shirt. Here’s the book purse after concentrated work (and a little bit of sweat!).

Labrador book purse

Needless to say, these purses will both be listed on Etsy and also for sale at a boutique in Kansas City. I did a great day’s work today!


Etsy success!

I just made my first sale on Etsy today. I love that I have to learn the whole process of acknowledging the sale, sending out the product, confirming payment, and all that. It’s a great feeling, and makes me want to make more and list it all.

Today I worked a bit on this book purse.

book for purseI chose a burgundy/gold upholstery fabric for the inside cover of the book, and a silky burgundy fabric for the box part of the purse. I edged the top of the purse in gold trim and lined it with white cotton. I added a magnet catch to the top of the inside cover and the very bottom of the purse, so it’ll stay closed. Sewing stalled when I wasn’t happy with any strap choices I had on hand, and could not easily come up with what I want to use. When I get back to working on it, all that is left to do is attach the strap and glue down the fabric to the covers.


Free for a limited time!

A tutorial for my book purses (my own design) has been requested, and those of you waiting for it have been rewarded. For a limited time, you can download a FREE copy of the pattern for my top-opening, box-style book purses. Click the link below to open a window and you can then save to your computer or print yourself a copy. Please note that the pattern gives you permission to create these purses for yourself or to give as gifts, but not to sell.

Book Purses

If the link no longer works, you may go here to purchase the pattern in my Etsy store.

When the room gets messy…

When the sewing room becomes a mess, it means I have been working hard. It also means I’m not paying attention to my environment. I know that organization makes the sewing go so much faster. Take, for example, my search for a zipper for the pillow I made last week. I knew I had a small box with several zippers in it, hoping to find one long enough to use for the pillow cover. I ended up making it a fold-over instead of a zipper closure. Sure enough, the next thing I did was to come across the zipper collection.

I spent about an hour to begin with today, moving, sorting and putting supplies away. I have a great start to fantastic organization, but somehow I just don’t keep up with it by putting everything away between projects. Not cool.

Afterward, I got the urge to complete the seashell evening bag I started yesterday. I had glued the side gussets to the book cover, and needed to figure out what I was going to do about the handles. I finally came up with three holes in the book cover. I threaded gold-covered thread through the hole twice, and dangled a gold-tone teardrop bead at each site. The thread then looped over the wooden handle and tied near the hole in the back, to be covered by the final fabric part of the purse. With all the wet glue that needs to set, I found an appropriate sized book to insert in the purse, closed the cover, and laid heavy books on top. Now set, here is how it looks, for sale in my Etsy store.

Seaside Date Evening Bag

Seaside Date Evening Bag

I wanted to start another book purse, and got this lovely specimen out.

book for purse

I adore the patterns and colors on the cover. I started cutting away the pages and I lost all interest in continuing. I will, another day, but today I was already done for.

I have an appointment with a boutique owner in a little over a week, and I hope to have plenty of lovely book purses for her to stock her shelves with. Can you imagine coming across the collection in a retail center? I have about 12 purses at this time, and hope to have at least 4 more by then.