two favourites in one

Early this past spring the ever-blogworthy Jake sent me this Remodelaholic link for how to make a book bag. That's a purse made from a book, as opposed to a bag made to carry around books. I've been looking at versions of these at various art and crafts shows for ages, so the instructions for how to make my own were like being handed the question for life, the universe, and everything.

Since then, I've been collecting all the odds and ends required to make the bag. I even caved in and bought my own glue gun (more on the immediate mischief that caused around the apartment in a later post). I also found some variations on the instructions on other sites, like this Country Living version, but in the end I stuck pretty close to Remodelaholic's version. It seemed the most structurally sound and usable.

Last weekend I was finally ready. The fabric was washed and ironed, the pages were cut out of the Canadian Oxford Dictionary I'd selected for sacrifice (common enough not to be a heavy loss, but pointedly an Oxford dictionary, not one of those Webster-wannabes), and the glue gun was warmed up. Here's how it all went down:

Here's the book cover after the pages have been cut from it. At this point, the spine is fairly fragile, since it was designed to be flexible when the book was being used. This was the part where I took all the measurements I'd need later to cut the fabric to size.

I followed Remodelaholic's lead and reinforced the spine with duct tape. Fortunately, I had white duct tape handy, because the lining fabric I'd chosen was a print with a white background. The duct tape reinforces the spine and makes it sturdy enough to be the bottom of a bag. I added a second, lengthwise layer after I took this shot.
Some instructions say to glue-gun the handle ribbons in place; others say use duct tape. I did both.
After that, it was a case of measuring, cutting, and pressing the fabric, then gluing the pieces into place. I am a glue-gun newbie, so I wound up having to re-do some steps and didn't do as neat a job as I'm used to managing in other media. Things still turned out presentable enough, though, and I got away with only light first-degree burns to my left index finger.

Next time (I've already decided there will be a next time) I'm going to use a bigger book. The spine on this book was about the minimum width I'd want to contemplate for a purse — it just fits my wallet  — but the length and depth could be greater, or else the purse handles could be smaller. Even still, I'm pretty happy with it, and will definitely be using it!