Monday, June 13, 2011

Book Straps on How About Orange!

Remember these? When I was in school in the 80's, these were the hippest school accessory after one-shoulder backpacks. We didn't have lockers in our schools, or desks within which we could stash textbooks, so we carried all our heavy books and notebooks to and from school each day. These book straps - also called them book bands - were lifesavers. For some reason (lockers, probably), they aren't as popular here in the US as in Asia and Europe. Which was why I was ever so pleased that so many of you guessed what they were from my vague clue and even less helpful photo in this post

The book straps we used back in those days cost about US$3 and had icky plastic buckles and lurid webbing straps. We thought they were cool, at any rate. Now, you can invest in the grown-up leather versions from Japan, or you could make your own, with gorgeous fabric and vinyl.

I am thrilled to be guest-posting today on How About Orange and sharing the tutorial for these book straps. Jessica, its all-around-crafty-and-funny author is the fabric designer extraordinaire behind the beautiful Outside Oslo fabric I used for my straps. 

I'll be showing you how to work with this lovely upholstery-grade vinyl,

how to sew these faux-leather buckles with their metal loops

by machine  

or by hand;


or left-

and how to use these nifty straps to keep your books and magazines together.

Now your favorite books can have a fashion sense all of their own

and -who knows - we might even start a new old trend!

Now head over to How About Orange to see how it's done!


  1. Soooo... not parachute straps, huh? But such PRETTY straps, indeed! Not that I'm prejudiced or anything.

  2. I have never seen those before! They do look very useful!

  3. In grad school here in Canada there was a woman from Singapore who mentioned that she used book straps - first I'd heard of them other than reading about them in an old story (a la Little House on the Prairie). This woman was telling me how her mom told her to use the buckle on her book straps to surprise attack a bully she'd been having trouble with when she was young - and it worked!

    When you used book straps, what about carrying your pencil case and lunch?

    Anyway, the book straps are very pretty.

  4. @Anonymous
    We carried our book-strapped stack of books AND our full backpacks (pencil cases within). We hardly brought lunch - we bought ours in the cafeterias.

    Whooo! They really do work on Bad Guys, then? Yes!!!!!

  5. oh my gorsh - I just saw a fantastic leather bookstrap on the Sartorialist and I even looked around etsy for one. I have NEVER used a bookstrap, but I seriously want one. I can't believe a tutorial will let me in on this!!!! You are the coolest, ever! Maybe I can even ditch the dorky cloth bags when I go to the library!

  6. Can you imagine making these with soft suede and using them on fabric stacks. You would need open shelves to display them right but how beautiful.
    Thanks for a great idea again.

  7. Hello from Barcelona, Spain. I love your work very well sewn, practical and fashionable. Congratulations for your work.

  8. The APA manual!!!!! Tee hee!

  9. I saw this on How About Orange and had to come over to tell you how much I love it. I'm new to sewing, so I'm going to put this in my "One day I will be talented enough to sew this" folder. For mine, though, I'll carry an MLA manual! :)

  10. Wow! I had no idea that bookstraps went around both directions like that! (Which answers my mental question of how the books stay in place) They're so so pretty!!!

  11. Back home I have a bookstrap

  12. They're really nice book straps. I was wondering if you are selling them and where can I buy them. Thanks.

    1. I would like to know where to buy them too!

  13. Replies
    1. Hi, I am not making any to sell, but I can sell you one of the samples I made for this tutorial - the grey one with the yellow and white straps. Please convo me

      or email me lier(dot)koh(at)gmail(dot)com.


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