Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Clutch-Style Handbag

Clutch (14)
Handbags are one of my passions.  Over the years, I’ve amassed quite a collection.  So, it was only a matter of time that I would start a RETROCRAFT handbag project.  To be honest, the inspiration for this project jumped out at me while perusing other recycle craft blogs and sites.  One of those blogs featured a photo of a child’s purse made from the cover of a classic children’s story.  I liked the idea of transforming a book into a bag but decided to take the craft one step further.  The inspiration piece was clearly made from a book cover and ribbon.  In conceiving my project, I decided that I did not want the recyclable to be so obvious.  The idea was to make a bag that would not be discernible as a recycle craft but would appear like any other off the rack evening bag.  The first attempt did not turn out as I had hoped but the second attempt was a smashing success.  Hopefully, you will think so too! 

Clutch (1)To get started you will need:
One hardcover book with at least a 2” wide spine
(my books had 3/4" spines so I cut out the spine, cut out a 2" wide piece from a spare book cover and taped it into place)
A craft knife
Wide masking tape
A hot glue gun and several glue sticks
A strong 2-part magnetic closure (I harvested mine from an old magnetic name tag)
Craft foam for fabric art or cotton batting
Clothespins or binder clips
Decorative fabric (enough to cover the outside of the book, with a 1” edge on all sides, plus more for the sides of the handbag)
Felt (enough to cover the inside of the book cover)
Handbag feet (optional)
A chain, ribbon or other recyclable that can be used as a strap and additional ribbon or loops that can be used to attach the strap to the handbag (optional)
A cardboard box
A ruler

1.  Carefully remove all pages from the book using your craft knife.  Recycle the pages and retain the book cover.  Fortify the edges of the spine with wide masking tape on both sides of the book cover if needed.

2.  Using hot glue, affix one part of the magnetic closure to the inside edge of the front cover. Make sure it is centered along the edge.  Affix the other part of the magnetic closure to the inside edge of the back cover, centering the same along the edge.  When the book cover is closed, the pieces should meet and have a strong bond.

Clutch (5)3.  Lay the book cover flat, with the outside image facing up.  Spread a thin layer of glue over the outside image of the book cover, covering the image almost entirely.

Clutch (7)4.  Cut a very thin piece of craft foam or batting to size.  Lay the foam on top of the glued book cover surface; foam should not overlap the edges of the book cover.   Using the clothespins or binder clips, clip the foam to the book cover.  Then slowly close the book cover so that the pieces of the magnetic closure meet.  Allow the glue to dry.

Clutch (8)5.  Cut fabric so that it will completely cover the foam, making sure that there will be an extra 1” of fabric around all sides.   Lay the fabric, wrong side up on a work surface.  Lay the book cover, foam side down, centering the same on top of the fabric.  Using your hot glue gun, fold the corners of the fabric over the corners of the book cover and adhere with hot glue.  Do not pull to tightly.  You will need a slight amount of give so that the book cover can still close.

6.  After adhering all corners, begins to fold the edges of the fabric over the edges of the book cover and adhere with hot glue.  Again, do not pull tightly but make sure the fabric is not too loose.

7.  Cut felt to cover the inside faces of the book cover.  Use separate pieces for the inside front cover, spine and inside back cover.  The felt should be ¼” smaller on all sides than the area to be covered.  Adhere the felt to each section using hot glue. 

ClutchOptional steps:  If you will add a chain or other strap, any loops that will be used to attach the strap to the bag can be affixed before adhering the felt.  Consider placing the loops so that it can be concealed by the felt.   Keep in mind you may need to attach the strap in the process of attaching the loops.  If you want to add feet to your handbag, you should also do so before adhering the felt.  This may require you to bore holes through the inside face of the spine.  I used my craft knife and a large nail for this step, being careful when poking through the foam and fabric on the opposite side.   Attach the feet according to the instructions. 

8.  Open the cardboard box to lay the cardboard flat.  Using your craft knife and ruler, cut two pieces of cardboard.  The width of each piece should be approximately the same as the width of the spine of the book cover.  The length of each piece should be approximately ¾” shorter than the width of the front flap of the book cover. 

9.  Lay each cardboard piece, blank side facing up.  Using the back edge of your craft knife or a fork, score straight lines down the length of each cardboard piece ¼” from both edges.  Score a straight line across the width of each cardboard piece ¼” from the bottom edge.  Cut out the corners where the scorelines meet.  Fold each cardboard piece along the score lines, turning the scored edges toward the back of each piece. 

Clutch (2) 10.  Lay each cardboard piece flat again, blank side facing up.  Find the center of the top width of each cardboard piece.  Score a line from the center to the opposite corners of the piece (at the bottom width, where you cut away the corners).  Fold the piece along these new scorelines, folding up (toward you and away from your work surface).

Clutch (4)11.  Lay each cardboard piece flat again, blank side facing up.  Cut two pieces of fabric to cover the blank side of the cardboard piece, making sure you will have an excess edge of ½” on all sides.  Spread a layer of glue over the blank side of each cardboard piece.  Center the fabric over the cardboard pieces and adhere, making sure that the fabric is smooth and free of air bubbles.  Let sit for a few minutes.  While the glue is not completely dry.  Fold the fabric covered pieces along each score line in the same manner as instructed in steps 9 and 10. Make sure the fabric stays smooth against the cardboard and use clothespins or binder clips to maintain folds.  Allow each piece to dry.

Clutch (6)12.  When the glue is dry, lay each cardboard piece flat, fabric side down on your work surface.  Turn the excess fabric over the edges and glue down with hot glue.  Make sure edges and corners are covered making sure that excess fabric is clipped away to avoid clumping.  Cut felt to cover the uncovered faces of the cardboard pieces, centering the same and making sure the felt does not overlap the folds (other than the two diagonal folds through the center of each piece).  Fold each cardboard piece along the score lines.  

Clutch (10)
13.  Apply hot glue to the bottom edge of one cardboard piece, along the ¼” fold.  Adhere to one edge of the spine of the book cover so that fabric faces outward and felt faces inward.  Repeat with the other cardboard piece. 

Clutch (12)14.  Return to the first piece and apply hot glue along one of the remaining ¼” folds.  Fold one flap of the book cover upward to meet this glued edge and clip together to adhere.  Repeat with the other cardboard piece making sure that you apply hot glue to the fold that will meet up with the flap of the book cover that is folded upward.    Return to the first piece and repeat with the last ¼” fold.  Then do the same with the other piece. 

Once you complete step 14 and all glue is completely dry, make sure that you can close your new clutch so that the magnetic closure works properly and stays shut unless gently pulled apart.  If the magnetic closure will not remain shut you may have one of two problems:  either the fabric wrapped around the book cover is too tight or the cardboard pieces you cut in step 8 are too long.  They should not meet the opening of the clutch but should start at least 1” below the opening.  Because this craft does require the use of hot glue, it is not appropriate for young children.  The project is complex and requires pre-planning and organization.  So, be sure you’ve gathered all your materials before starting.  I recommend also that you read the instructions several times and carefully examine the photographs.  Have questions?  Just post a comment!  Happy crafting! 

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