Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tutorial: no-sew book clutch

Hello everyone,
So since procrastination is my middle name, instead of writing my BA thesis like I should, I decided to try and make a no-sew version of the book clutch tutorial I made last fall.

I have a bunch of books that I bought last fall just because they were pretty (I'm totally judging books by their covers, hahaha :D).

Among them was this Finnish edition of Tolstoy's War and Peace.

In case you want to make your own book clutch, you'll need:
- A hardcover book that is quite thick (because you can't fit much stuff in a very narrow book) and not super small. I'd go for something that's like 15x23x4 cm (or 6x9x1.6 inches) in the minimum. The bigger and thicker the book, the more stuff you can fit in once it's finished.
- Craft glue for the pages.
(- Optional: Some decoupage glue (something similar to ModPodge) to protect the insides.)
- Some E-6000 or similar glue that would glue an elephant to the ceiling.
- A piece of plastic, such as a sturdy plastic bag or a clear plastic sheet protector.
- A ruler and a pen.
- An X-Acto knife or a similar one that you can use to cut straight lines through paper.
- A narrow (leather) belt with a buckle, or alternatively some strips of leather / fake leather and a buckle if you want to assemble the closure yourself.

So, let's begin!

Start by placing a piece of plastic between the back cover and the last page. This is so you don't glue the pages to the back cover during the first step.

Open the front cover so it's not in the way either, you want to work with just the pages at this point.

Spread craft glue onto the sides of the pages at the top, bottom and right-hand side. This glues the pages together into a single block that's easier to work with once we get to the cutting part. Don't spread the glue on top of the first page so your weights don't get stuck on it in the next step.

Keeping the front cover still open, put some weight onto the glued book and let dry. If you don't put any weight on the pages while the glue dries they will dry all wavy and crooked.

I let the glue dry just for a little while, but my craft glue was very fast-drying. Let it dry until it feels dry when you touch it. Once the glue is dry, it's time to begin chopping away the center of the pages. Use the ruler and the pen to mark a rectangle onto the first page that's about 2 cm (0.8 to 1 inches) away from the edges of the page on each side. If your book is bigger than mine you can make the lines further away from the edges if you like.

With your X-Acto knife, start cutting away the center of the pages following the lines of the rectangle you drew. This takes a lot of time, so be patient. The knife usually cuts through two to three pages at a time, and getting the corners sharp especially once the hole in the middle gets deeper is kind of difficult.

So cut, cut, cut away. Try to cut down as straight as possible so the resulting rectangular hole in the pages looks neat.

Once you get near the end of the pages, slip a cutting board or some thick cardboard between the back cover and the last page so you don't accidentally cut into the back cover.

So after you've cut through all the pages, you have something like this:

Now take your craft glue and spread it onto the sides at the inside of your cut-out hole. This secures the pages together from the inside of the cut-out as well. Once you have glued the inside of the cut-out, spread some glue onto the last page of the book and press it into the back cover.

Again, place some weight onto the book with the front cover flipped open and allow to dry for a couple of hours or overnight.

Then if you want to protect the inside of the back cover (visible through the cut-out hole) and the inside of the front cover as well as the topmost page, spread a thin layer of decoupage glue on them and let dry.

Next, take your belt (or assemble your buckle-and-strap into something that resembles a belt). Close the book and put the belt around it to measure how long you need it to be so it's tightly around the book but it still buckles. If needed, punch a hole in the belt strap in the right spot. Cut the belt to the right length. Leather or fake leather doesn't fray so the end doesn't have to be sewn. If you use a fabric belt or strap you may have to hem the edge in some manner to prevent fraying.

Now, I happened to have this assembly ready at hand:

It's from the black fake-leather corset I tore apart for the Cinderella style dress a few days back, so this was yet another piece of that corset salvaged for making something new. (Yay for recycling!) But really any kind of narrow belt with a buckle will work. (If you want to add a ring into the strap like mine had, that needs to be sewn in.)

Place the strap around the book to see where you want the buckle to be. I did this, and then opened the buckle still holding the strap against the book so it stayed in place. I took my UHU Power glue (it's similar to E-6000) and spread it onto the back of the strap on the backside of the book.

Press the strap onto the back of the book and hold it there for a while so the glue dries.

Then you just need to flip the book around, add glue onto the strap up to the buckle (I recommend leaving an inch or so beneath the buckle unglued so it's easier to buckle and unbuckle the strap) and press that into place.

Like so:

And that's it! Your no-sew book clutch is done and ready to be used!


So yeah, this is a very easy DIY project to make for yourself, but note that "easy" doesn't mean "quick". Making the cut-out hole in the pages will take a lot of time. But in my opinion, it's totally worth the effort. :)

If you decide to make one for yourself, please send me a picture or a link, I'd love to see your versions of this no-sew book clutch!

Satu / Sew Scoundrel


  1. That is something that Rory Gilmore would love! <3 P.S. Mäkin tykkään!

  2. So cool! Love it and the idea!

  3. I totally want a book bag, but I can't manage to cut books :(

    1. I don't really have a problem with that. I mean yeah, it kind of feels awful to cut books, but I only cut books I've found for like 1 euro at a secondhand store, so I figure it's better the book gets at least SOME use, even if it's not reading... :)

    2. With my rational part I completely agree, but there's something deeply irrational in my relation with books (and I'm not even a paper fanatic, I love e-books the same!).