How to Make a Paper Bag Book Cover? Instructions with Pictures

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Are you looking for a cheap and cheerful way to protect your books from wear and tear? Nowadays, many people turn to plastic to cover their books, but it’s much more eco-friendly to use recycled materials, like a paper bag. Plus, using paper gives your books a rustic touch and makes it easier to add decorations, doodles, and other personal touches too. 

This project is super quick, easy, and the results look fantastic. So let’s get to it; here’s your step by step guide to making a paper bag book cover.

Step 1: Flatten Out the Paper Bag

Flatten Out the Paper Bag

You can use a paper grocery store bag, a paper lunch bag, or even a large brown paper envelope for this project. 

Whichever type of bag you are using, it will most likely be glued at the seams, so the first step is to gently peel back the glued edges and flatten out the paper into one large sheet. By peeling back the edges, you have a larger surface area to work with, but if it’s tricky to do this without tearing the paper, then you can cut along the folds with scissors too. 

Once you’re done, you will be left with one large flat sheet of brown paper.

Step 2: Trim the Paper

Trim the Paper

You can use a ruler to measure the exact size you want the paper to be, or simply take the book that you will be covering, open it flat, and line it up so that it’s central against the edges. 

There’s no need to be super accurate; just draw out a rectangle that allows around 2 inches excess at the top and the bottom and approximately 3.5 inches of excess at each of the sides. The extra paper on the sides will allow the spine to open and close comfortably. 

Now use scissors or a craft knife to carefully cut out your rectangle. 

Step 3: Start Folding

Start Folding

Close your book and place it back onto the center of the rectangle. Use a pencil to mark a line where the upper and lower edges of the book touch the paper. 

Now, place the book to one side and neatly fold the paper all the way along the pencil lines so that the surface area is now the same height as the book, with a flap at the top and bottom. 

Step 4: Fold the Paper Around the Book

Fold the Paper Around the Book

Place your book face open on top of the folded paper rectangle. At this point, the rectangle should be the same height as the book, with excess paper on each of the two sides. 

Fold the right-hand edge of the rectangle around the back cover first, leaving around 2 inches of excess paper flush with the inner cover. Create a gentle crease where the paper folds over and close the book against it. 

Now, wrap the remaining paper around the spine and across the front of the book while it’s still closed. Repeat the same fold around the front cover, making sure it looks even with the back cover. 

The paper will be completely covering the book at this point. Apply pressure to the crease lines to create defined folds. 

Step 5: Slide the Book Inside the Cover

Thanks to the folds you made in Step 3, there will be two small flaps at the top and bottom of each side of the paper sleeve. Begin by tucking the back cover gently inside the flaps on the right-hand side, and slide it into place so that it’s completely secured inside the sleeve. 

Now, wrap the paper around the spine and the front of the book and do the same thing with the front cover. Try to be as gentle as possible to avoid stretching and tearing the paper. Your book should now be completely covered. 

Step 6: (Optional) Apply Adhesive

If you are using a hardback book and the paper feels like it’s firmly secured in place, then you are good to go. 

But if you feel like your book cover needs some extra strength and rigidity, you can apply a small amount of Elmer’s glue, or double-sided tape, to the inside of the folds at the top and bottom. 

Step 7: Decorate! 

Decorate book cover

Here comes the fun part! You can use all kinds of things to decorate and personalize your new book cover, including rubber stamps, stickers, collages, ribbons, etc. You can even let your inner artist loose and draw a design using pens, pencils, color pencils, etc. Just try to avoid any mediums which are too wet, such as watercolor paints. These will weaken the paper and cause it to split and tear. 

Other Creative Book Cover Ideas

Now you know the basics of covering a book with a paper bag, you can experiment with other materials too.

Wallpaper is an especially durable option, and there are so many vibrant prints and designs available these days that will help your books to stand out from the crowd. A simple square foot wallpaper sample will be enough to cover at least one, if not two, books.

Wrapping paper is also a good choice, and it’s a great way to reuse and recycle gift wrap that’s too pretty to throw into the trash. 

But to really take your book wrapping game to the next level, why not incorporate some fabric? First, follow the tutorial above to cover your book with a paper bag. Then, use textile glue to adhere the material directly onto the paper. Fabric is more durable than paper alone, plus it’s so much fun to pick out various patterns and prints to adorn your books with.  

You can buy fabric swatches in all kinds of patterns and designs from most craft stores, or why not stick to the recycled theme and cut up an old item of clothing that you no longer wear?


This simple paper bag book cover project can completely transform your books, not to mention it will protect them from wear and tear so you can enjoy them for longer. 

Do you have any fun and creative book cover ideas you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below! 

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