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Friday, November 18, 2011

DI(fr)Yday: How to make a book clutch

I've been quite in love with Olympia Le-Tan book clutches for almost a year now. You've probably seen them on the red carpet, carried by Natalie Portman and Clémence Poésy.

Olympia Le-Tan book clutches on the red carpet - carried by Natalie Portman and Clémence Poésy
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I'm also quite partial to a similar style of clutch put out my Kate Spade. I particularly like the Emma one.

Kate Spade book clutch - Emma
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When you look up close, you can see that The Olympia Le-Tan ones actually have fabric covers and embroidered titles.

Madame Bovary book clutch by Olympia Le-Tan
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I wanted to make one of my own, to upcycled an old book (or, perhaps I should say recycle, since an old book is already quite a lovely and useful thing). But, when I scoured the internet for a good tutorial, I couldn't find a method that pleased me. There were suggestions to place a zipper where the pages would be, or to fasten the whole thing with a big button and an elastic loop. These are all convenient ideas for a DIY version, but I wanted my finished product to look almost exactly like a book from the outside with no visible zipper or other closure. So, I created my own method.

Outfit: gap jeans, gap top, Modcloth flats, DIY Heidi book clutch (tutorial coming soon!)

There are quite a number of supplies, but nothing you can't find on one trip to Hobby Lobby and one to Half Price Books.

You will need:
How to make a book clutch like Natalie Portman's Olympia Le-Tan Lolita one
- A book (though I doubt you can pick just one). The book must be a hard cover and should preferably have a pretty cover under the dust jacket. I chose books that I either had an affinity for, liked the cover design, or both. It's also important that the book be a good size for a clutch -- too thin, and it won't be able to carry your cell phone, etc.
- Fabric in a complementary color or pattern to the book (count on about 1/2 yard.)
- An iron
- Metallic gold paint (You didn't think I was done with it, did you?) See here and here
- Newspapers
- A saw
- Plywood or a yard stick
- Measuring tape
-Fabric glue
-Wood glue
- Pen or marker
- Craft knife
- Magnetic strips
- Sewing supplies

Part One: Preparing the framework

How to make a book clutch like Natalie Portman's Olympia Le-Tan Lolita one

Step 1. Measure the length and width of the book's pages (not its cover). You will want to cut one strip of wood the length of a page and two strips of the the width of a page minus the thickness of the wood -- i.e., if a pages is 4 1/2 inches wide and the wood is 1/4 inch thick, the two strips should be 4 1/4 inches long. If this is confusing, have no fear; it will all make sense soon when you see the wood lined up.
Step 2. Cut the wood to desired length. You may also need to cut it to the desired width if it is too wide. It should be about the thickness of all the pages stacked together, but it doesn't have to be exact.
Step 3. Check that the wood is the right length by lining it up on top of the pages to form three sides of a box.
Step 4. Laying down newspaper first, spray paint the strips of wood taking care to get the thin edges painted as well as the surface. Don't worry about the bottom side, as it will be hidden by fabric.
Step 5. Using your craft knife, carefully cut the pages free from the cover.

You will be left with the cover (the only part we'll be using), some lining pages (if decorative, these could make cute stationary), and the majority of the book (which can be salvaged with a new cover made from a cereal box, brown paper, etc. if you wish). But those are projects for another day.

How to make a book clutch like Natalie Portman's Olympia Le-Tan Lolita one

Part Two: Making the lining

How to make a book clutch like Natalie Portman's Olympia Le-Tan Lolita one

Step 6. To make the pattern for the lining, trace around the open book cover on a pice of newspaper, leaving enough room for a seam allowance.
Step 7. Set the cover upright on another piece of newspaper, as shown, opened as far as you'd like the clutch to open. Trace the shape it makes, leaving a half inch to an inch of space to the edge of the cover.
Step 8. Using the triangular pattern, cut a quadruple layer of fabric. Cut a single layer of fabric with the rectangular pattern. Also, cut a strip of fabric the width of the gold-painted wood strips (plus a seam allowance) and the length of the three of them together.
Step 9. Sew two of the triangular pieces of fabric together (rights sides facing each other). Cut a few notches in the seam allowance, turn the piece right-side-out, and iron it smooth. Do the same with the remaining two triangular pieces.
Step 10. Sew a hem around all four edges of the rectangular piece of fabric. You needn't bother turning the hem under twice, as the raw edges will be hidden by fabric glue later.
Step 11. Sew the short edges of the triangular pieces to the long sides of the rectangular piece, centering them as shown.
Step 12. Sew each long edge of the triangular pieces along the sides of the rectangular pice as shown.
Step 13. Hem the long strip of fabric all the way around making sure that, once hemmed, it's exactly the width of the wood strips.

Part Three: Assembling the clutch

How to make a book clutch like Natalie Portman's Olympia Le-Tan Lolita one

Step 14. Using the wood glue, attach the wood strips to the back cover (and to each other at the corners) with the gold sides facing out. Let dry before proceeding to step 15.
Step 15. Using the fabric glue, attach the thin strip of fabric all the way around the inside of the frame made by the wood stripes.
Step 16. Still using the fabric glue, attach the lining to the inside of the book cover as shown.
Step 17. Using the wood glue, attach the remaining edges of the wood frame to the book cover as shown.
Step 18. Cut the craft magnet to desired length (and width if needed) and glue a strip to each edge of the clutch as shown. I used hot glue here, but wood glue would work as well. My craft magnet strips came with a peel-away adhesive side, but it wasn't strong enough.
Step 19. Enjoy your new book clutch!

Outfit: gap jeans, gap top, Modcloth flats, DIY Heidi book clutch (tutorial coming soon!)
Outfit: gap jeans, gap top, Modcloth flats, DIY Heidi book clutch (tutorial coming soon!)
Outfit: gap jeans, gap top, Modcloth flats, DIY Heidi book clutch (tutorial coming soon!)

I hope you like the technique for making book clutches that I've shown here and that you find the tutorial helpful. When you make your own, please do send me a link.

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  1. Ill trade you a starry night skateboard for a book clutch.

  2. That is so clever! Thank you for sharing this DIY :D

  3. Fabulous tutorial! I love the finished look of the book clutch.

    Congrats on making it to the IFB links a la mode too. You really deserve it. That post much have taken a lot of work to create.

    The Style Confessions

  4. this is STUNNING. seriously, stunning. i'm going to send this to my sis, with the hopes that she will do this for me for christmas. awesome!


  5. Found you via Penny Dreadful - what an amazing result - thank you for sharing your incredible skills!! xo

  6. This is genius! Honestly I don't keep up with what people are wearing or carrying all the time, but this is one of those times I wish I did because this is sooooo cute!

    I may have to try this myself soon ;)

  7. This is a great idea! Who would have thought that old books could be so useful in a fashion sense :)

  8. Woow ao nice DIY dear :oo

    C s 1 9 9 3

  9. Wow, this is a really lovely post, nice DIY, yours is definitely my preferred version.

    L. Figment

  10. GREAT post and lovely DIY book clutch.
    I'm in love with it. Really creative.
    I'm gonna find THE book and try that next week if I have time and send you a link =) I'm excited !

    Absolute B. of Incognito

  11. Great post! I love how you innovated the whole book clutch idea, I'm quite scared to cut out a book itself so this is a breather for me! 

  12. still my favorite

  13. This is just great! I was looking forward to find such a good tutorial! Thanx1

  14. Thank you! I'm excited to make one for my sister-in-law (and maybe one for myself as well!).

  15. This isn't exactly what i am looking for but i must say really a nice post to read for..
    thanks a lot for that..

    Some information about China Bücher