First DIY: Not Your High School Paper Bag Book Cover



In observance of this feisty and fantastic month dedicated to the arts and crafts pursuits, I’ve decided that I really shall talk more about my crafting endeavors alongside my writing. It’s a hand-in-hand topic, especially since these are two things I’m really passionate about. Writing was the main pursuit; crafting just happened incidentally in part to a bored summer and change of scenery. I’m indebted to paper because it’s given me that boost and determination to do things in life that matter– that make me happy and benefit me in experience.

So I pass on one of my pioneering tricks of simple paper crafting for this month, and further on I hope to bring into the spotlight more featured DIYs for my readers. For now, I’ll start with what started it all: book covering. Remember your high school days? Using the paper bags mom nabbed at the grocery store just to wrap your math or history textbook in. Well, these paper bag covers aren’t meant to rip in a few weeks, and they’re not meant for protection, either. They really give a twist to your favorite book, especially if it’s a paperback edition and could tear easily (but more so because the paperback cover is ugly, admit it!). I had a handful of paperback books whose book covers did not do them any justice at all! And from my determination, you can see those books here at this post.

Today I finally got around to covering another one of my treasures, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. It took me awhile to find the right embellishments for this book because the story isn’t exactly bells and whistles sort of expressions. In the end, I found some unique ways to make this paper bag look inspiring and still not over the top.


This was a relatively tame look to create, but just for 101 reasons I documented how I made this little bad boy from the start:

– paper bag/ roll of craft paper (though paper bags are more sturdy if that’s what’s your aiming for)

– sheet of printed paper, in this case a sheet of polka dots on teal and also an extra sheet of off-white paper

– double-sided sticky tape, or foam square

– glue, and/or tape


– about 2 yards of ribbon of your choice

– sheet of alphabet stickers


1. Cover the book. It’s pretty self-explanatory how to go about covering the paperback. Take a paper bag or general roll of craft paper and just cut and adhere it to snugly fit around the book. The insides should have excess paper to fold inside the cover and tape down (or glue down).


2. Once you’ve covered the book, go forth! Take your  next essential, ribbon or string, to make the strip on the spine that gives off that old-world binding.


You can see where I’ve taken the scissors to snip off the rest of the ribbon. Only have the length long enough so on both ends they can be taped/glued on the inside of the book cover.


3. Then go ahead and glue the ribbon to the inside.


4. Now we’ll get fancy with embellishments! For the Grapes of Wrath, rosettes, silk bows, and fancy letters need not apply to this cover creation. I wanted to capture something more vintage and rugged, but nice enough for the front cover. I came up with pennants, generic but better than the pretty bowties. Plus, something about pennants portray a sense of boundary and territory; a belonging that the Joad family in The Grapes of Wrath strive for as they make their way into a Depression-era California.


Draw a pennant from the sheet of paper, in my case the polka dot teal sheet, on the underside. These craft sheets that are usually 6″x6″  will have a blank white backside that’s easier for following traces once you’re ready to cut. I cut towards the edge because I want to be able to use the rest of the paper for some other crafting time without compromising any scraps of paper left over. Do the same for the cream sheet as well. In this case, I free-handed drawing the pennants but for bigger proportions you’re welcome to measure and trace with a ruler!


Once you’ve traced, go ahead and apply to the back of the pennants the double-sided tape. I wanted to give a 3D feel to the pennants as if blowing in a wind, so I used 3D foam squares. The squares are too big for the sizes I cut, so I trimmed then down to fit on the back.

How awesome are they?? Once you’ve got them on go ahead and give the book life and meaning, using the alphabet letter stickers to spell out your book and author on the front. I even had extra ribbon left to strap over the outer corners on the front for more of that old-world book-bound effect!

And there’s your newly-covered paperback! Makes reading more enjoyable now since the book can be uniquely judged by its cover. Let me know what you think! I shall definitely keep on posting more of my paper craft works and musings and techniques from now on.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s