Paper-Bag Book Covers

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent
Fold the right side of the hemmed rectangle over the textbook.

While our regular columnist, Olivera Bratich, and her staff at Wholly Craft get settled into their new digs at 3515 N. High St., we here at Columbus Parent are stepping in with a Back-to-School craft project.

It seems like not many kids wrap their textbooks with Ye Olde Paper-Bag Covers anymore. But these covers are such an ingenious, environmentally friendly and cheap alternative to nylon stretchy covers - and loads of fun to customize!

  • One regular-size paper grocery bag (17 inches by 11.75 inches by 6.75 inches) per textbook
  • Scissors
  • Yardstick
  • Pencil
  • Drawing or decorating supplies (watercolor markers, gel pens, colored pencils, crayons, stickers: Sharpie markers and glue should NOT be used as they might bleed through the paper onto the book)

In order to get the most paper possible from a bag, gently peel the bag open along the seam in the center (it's lightly glued shut, so just a gentle pull will get it open without ripping).

Then use the scissors to cut the bottom panel off. Once done, you'll have a very large rectangle of material to work with.

Lay the paper rectangle (printed-side up, if anything is printed on it) on a flat surface (such as a table or the floor). Center the textbook on this rectangle so there is an equal amount of paper above and below the textbook's top and bottom. Use the yardstick and a pencil to mark straight parallel lines that are each about 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch above the textbook's top and bottom edges.

Remove the textbook and fold the paper-bag material inward along those marked lines, creating two "hems."

Place the textbook (cover-side down now) with its spine parallel to the vertical center of the paper-bag rectangle and centered between the two hems, leaving that 1/8-inch to 1/4-inch clearance on either side.

Fold the right side of the hemmed rectangle over the textbook, then, holding the paper to the back cover of the textbook, open the back cover and slip the hemmed paper onto the cover like a sleeve. Smooth the paper and close the book cover so that the paper cover pulls flat. You can tape the sides of this sleeve together for a more secure fit.

Use the scissors to cut off enough of the left side of the paper-bag rectangle to leave about the same amount of a fold that you just slipped onto the back cover. Then slip this "sleeve" onto front cover. Tape it together if desired.

Decorate your book cover and you are ready to head back to school!

OLIVERA BRATICH owns Wholly Craft, located at 3515 N. High St. The Clintonville shop features handmade goods from more than 100 crafters and artists, including clothing, jewelry, accessories, paper goods, home décor and more! Hours of operation: 1-8 p.m., weekdays except Tuesdays when they're closed, 12 noon-7 p.m. Saturdays, 12 noon-5 p.m. Sundays. For more information, go to or call 614-447-3445.