Bookish Gift Bows

Just in time for the holidays! Because we all know that no matter how early we finish our shopping (or how late we start it), there's always the wrapping to follow. Modified from original instructions in Playing With Books, I've been trying my hand at some handmade bows made out of book pages:

Let me begin by saying this: I am not a particularly crafty person. I do not have a lot of patience for small, difficult things. Like knitting. I hate knitting. And anything that involves threading a needle. I like shortcuts. I like crafts that involve minimal steps, minimal supplies, minimal tools. If I can do this, you can do this.

To start, you'll need:

- Tape (preferably double-sided tape, but you can use single sided if that's what you have on hand. I did, and it worked fine. Just be prepared to roll lots of little tape circles so you can mimic double-sided tape.)
- Scissors
- A book you are willing to cut up (this is the hardest part, I promise).

Step 0: Take a deep breath. You are about to cut pages out of a book. My only recommendation for making this easier is to go to your local library and buy a book out front that you intend to cut up, which prevents forming any attachment to it. I chose The Naming of Names, a book about the history of plant names, because it had nice typesetting and a luscious, creamy paper stock, and is a subject about which I have zero interest. So.

Step 1: Cut 9-12 strips of book pages, approximately 3/4 in x 7-9 inches (you can be flexible in the size of your strips, but you'll definitely want them all to be consistent). If you cut longer strips, you'll most likely need more strips to fill in the bow. Longer strips = taller bow. Shorter strips = less required, but smaller final product.

Step 2: Place a small piece of double-sided sticky tape (or a small circle of single-sided sticky tape) in the center of the strip. Fold one end down, and twist end 180 degrees before affixing to the tape. Think of the twist in the Breast Cancer Awareness ribbons. Do that. Make sure that when you do this, you don't cover up all of the tape, as you need some to stick down the other end, too.

Step 3: Do the same thing on the other side. Note: If you don't think in 3 dimensions, as I don't, you might have to twist it a few different ways to figure out how to get the ends to align in the middle like this. You're not alone.

Step 4: Repeat step 3 over and over and over again.

Step 5: Place a small square of tape in the center of one of the loops, and place another inside it perpendicular to the first one. Place another piece of tape inside this next one, and keep layering loops on top of each other, varying the angle of the strips. They'll naturally push themselves up into a bow shape as you get taller and taller.

Presto digito! You have a book bow. Happy Wrapping!


As an aside, I'm counting this as one of my 100 lovely things on my 26 by 26 list

Playing with Books: The Art of Upcycling, Reconstructing and Reimagining Books | Jason Thompson | Quarry Books | 9781592536009 | $24.99 Paperback |152 pages | April 2010 | Buy from an independent bookstore near you


  1. Those are fantastic! I have some old books that were going in the donate pile, but I think I just found a new use for them...

  2. I saw these somewhere and bookmarked them. But did I do it? Noooooo. Yours sure do look cute, though, so maybe next year.

  3. These are beautiful and I love your step 0. It would probably take me a few deep breaths before I could cut up a book, even a book I didn't care about.

  4. Those look like you have way too much time on your hands kerry ....

  5. Dad - Hardly! I just do my wrapping well ahead of time. PS - That green package is yours :-)

  6. Wonderful! If I start making them now, maybe I'll have mastered them by next Christmas!

  7. Dawn - I promise it won't take you that long to master them. They're really easy!!

  8. Love it! I might try this with magazines, since the library's closed today! (& I still have presents - aka books - to wrap!

  9. Awesome! I love these. I'll look at the library sale table or the used-book store for a book to cut up.

  10. Now I know what to do with the books I was going to recycle as a blow for literacy.


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