How to DiY a book purse (quick and dirty version)

Have you ever been *:・゚✧ inspired *:・゚✧?

Because Rachel Maksy’s latest DiY video Recreating this 50’s “Book Bag”! || One Day Make has *:・゚✧ inspired *:・゚✧ me. It just looked like so much fun and I knew that it would be a cute/dumb edition to my general aesthetic. So I gathered some materials and took a crack at my own version of Rachel’s bookbag!

First, a disclaimer: Rachel’s DiY is infinitely better and more involved than mine. She has a legit art degree and years of practice in cosplay crafting. I am but a hotglue gremlin cutting as many corners as I can to get a passable finished product before my hyper-focus re-focuses. This is a quick and dirty DiY using materials you will find quick easily at a craft store or Ikea. Like most of my DiYs, this purse looks best from a distance, and you can of course take extra steps throughout the process to pretty it up or make it your own! This is also my first attempt at this DiY, so…

Step 1: Gather materials.

For this DiY, you will need:

  • Two fake books (the kind that are hollow inside that you can hide things in and then sit on the bookshelf so that no one will ever know)
    • Make sure that they are not too thick. Remember, this is a purse. You’ll need to be able to carry and manoeuvre this thing with ease, and wear it on your hip without giving yourself bruises.
    • Rachel painted hers. I didn’t, because I’m doing the quick and dirty DiY and also I don’t have her skill. You can do whatever sparks joy.
    • I chose one book that was smaller than the other so that my ‘purse’ can have a small front pocket.
  • Craft twine and a needle
  • Wood glue and hot glue
  • A drill
    • I got this one from ikea for about $30
  • Purse hardware
    • two little half-moon thingys and a purse strap in the colour of your choice
  • Lining fabric
  • A belt (optional – assuming you don’t fuck up)

Step 2: Smoosh the books together.

Rachel used epoxy. I am using wood glue. I knew that the glue wouldn’t hold forever, but I also didn’t want to go to the trouble of getting super-heavy-duty glue to keep the books together, so I ended up going in with the drill and making holes in the books, then sewing them together with the twine. Depending on the types of books you get, you might be able to achieve this without the drill, but mine were made of wood and my sewing needle would never have gotten through without the help.

Rachel carved out the sides of the books so that the purse was just one big box, but I chose to make it a purse with a front pocket. So all I had to do was secure the front pocket to the purse.

Line up the books the way that you want them to sit. Try and position the books so that their flaps don’t have to take too much strain (ie, set them up so that their backs are touching and the flimsy hinge that opens the box is on the outside). You should end up with a kind of big box that can be opened on one side, and then flipped over and opened from the other side as well. Once you’ve got them lined up, drill holes through the pieces of the books that touch each other.

Use glue to smoosh them together, then use the twine to sew them securely. Add glue into the holes as well for extra security.

Note: you could use proper hardware like nails or screws. I did consider that. But a) I’m using craft store supplies here, and b) I didn’t want anything that could potentially snag on something that I’m carrying. The twine will be covered in the end with purse lining.

Step 3: Wait.

… for the glue to dry

Step 4: Get bored waiting and move onto the next task before the glue has dried.

Step 5: Drill holes into the books and secure little half-moon thingys.

Rachel secured her straps to the bottoms of the books for support, but I decided to use the top corners because I want to be able to remove/change the length of the straps as needed.

I drilled holes and used twine to secure the little half-moon thingys, then added glue to make everything sturdy. Are there more appropriate methods and tools to make this happen? Yes. Is this the part of the blog post where I remind you that this is a quick and dirty DiY and I’m not particularly good at doing things the ‘right’ way instead of the ‘fast’ way? Also yes.

Step 6: Realise you fucked up and use an old belt to keep the purse closed.

So yeah the right way probably would have been better in this case. If I’d paused for half a second to really reflect on what I was doing, I might have realised that the books close with magnets, and that adding twine in the places I did made the magnets sit too far apart to be effective…

Never mind. This is a thought experiment, not an etsy side-hustle. It’s rustic chic, and belts to hold books will just make me feel more like an old-timey school boy on his way to the library. This way, the books will close and stay closed.

Step 7: Secure the belt.

Welcome back to drilling haphazardly into things without thought or consequence! After playing around with the belt a while and realising that it would just fall off and encumber me as I used the purse, I drilled two little holes into each side and secured the belt to the bag with black elastic that I have left over from making my own masks. Then, I put glue in the holes to secure it.

Now, when I open the belt straps to access the inside of the purse, they just flop to the side instead of falling off, and it’s much easier to manage.

Step 8: Add a lining to cover all the hardware inside of the book purse.

I recently moved and bought new curtains because my new apartment has two and a half windows instead of one. I was left with one curtain left over. Since my mother raised me to never ever discard textiles, it has been sitting in storage waiting to be used. The black-out fabric is perfect for purse lining because it’s shiny and hides my mistakes!

I tried to use the wood glue for this, then realised that it would take forever to dry and also that I’d be holding the lining the entire time to make sure that it didn’t slip while it was drying. Enter the hot glue gun! I cut enough material so that the insides of the book would be covered – both the box itself and the cover. Turning the raw edges in, I glued the bottom of the lining down to the bottom of the box first, then did the sides with the hot glue. I recommend keeping a glass of cold water nearby for the inevitable burns.

Step 9: Wait.

… for the glue to dry. But I’ll admit, I got bored and skipped this step too.

Step 10: Add a strap.

Like Rachel, I wanted mine to be cross body so that I can use my hands. Unlike Rachel, my strap was really thin because I bought it before I found the books. It seems sturdy enough, though. It’s really the little half-moon thingys that are doing the bulk of the work in holding the strap to the bag, so make sure to go in and triple-reinforce those with glue (hot or wood, player’s choice) so that they don’t go anywhere.

And there you have it! One DiY book purse that, admittedly, looks better from a distance but is super *:・゚✧ aesthetic *:・゚✧ and looks very cool. Do yourself. a favour and regulate the weight of whatever you put in it. The books themselves are stuck together pretty securely, but the little half-moon thingys are wildcards.

Final step: Enjoy your new cute/dumb accessory!

PS – I love writing and I love eating! If you want to help with the latter (and ONLY if you want) you can maybe buy me a coffee?  🙂

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