How to make vintage bookmarks

Discover a new use for an old tatty book with our wonderful vintage bookmarks, they’re super simple to create

How to make vintage bookmarks - landscape

Give old books a new lease of life by making sure past classics will never be forgotten. Not only do these quirky bookmarks make a great present for a book-lover, but they can also be personalised to suit the person you have in mind. Making a bookmark from their favourite novel would be a wonderful gift to give. Or, you could theme the book to their personality – how about Indiana Jones for your friend who loves action, Treasure Island for the explorers we all know or Pride and Prejudice for all those hopeless romantics out there.

Searching flea markets and second-hand shops can be great fun and extremely satisfying when you find that one book that you know will make someone smile. But waste not, want not! Once you’re done removing the spine from your book, turn the remaining book into a work of art in itself by folding the pages – check out our round-up of the best free book folding projects.

We have plenty of other upcycling projects for more inspiration, including this brilliant nautical-themed how to upcycle a mirror, or how about making your own DIY birdhouse? Why not give your wardrobe a revamp without splashing the cash? We’ve got all the best upcycling clothes ideas here on Gathered.
We love seeing what you make, so don’t forget to share your upcycling or craft projects with us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, too!

You will need

  • Selection of old, hardback books from charity shops or flea markets
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • PVA glue
  • Craft knife
  • Bias binding
  • Ruler
  • Ribbon (we’ve used gold)
  • 6mm drill and bit
  • Cutting board

How to make vintage bookmarks


Step 1

Carefully peel the leather covers away from the text pages of the book, making sure not to rip the lining if the books are really old.

Step 2

Open out the cover, spine and back so they are lying flat on your cutting board and, using your ruler and scalpel, cut along the natural fold both sides of the spine.

Step 3

Place the cut-out spine onto of the back pages of the book making sure to line the top, bottom and one side up with the edge of the back page. Using a ruler draw a line on the back cover of the book using the spine as your width guide. You will now have a backing piece for your bookmark the same height and width as your spine.

Step 4

Using a glue gun run a couple of lines of hot glue around the perimeter of the spine (on the inside) lining up the sides. Carefully place the backing board (rough side in) on top and press together. Put aside to dry for about half an hour.

Step 5

Measure the height of the spine, add 1cm (¼in) to this measurement and cut two lengths of bias binding (our designer has used colours that complement and blend with the leather of the book spines – red, green and dark blue). Measure the width of the spine and add 1cm (¼in). Cut two lengths of this measurement for the top and bottom of the bookmark.

Step 6

Place the first height length of bias binding on your cutting mat and brush with PVA glue to coat the inner side of the binding. Fold the binding over the left-hand side of your bookmark and smooth out any wrinkles with your fingers. The binding should be of equal width on both the front and back of your bookmark. Repeat on the right-hand edge. Trim off any excess. Now do the same for the top and bottom. Using a damp cloth, wipe any excess glue from your bookmark and set aside to dry. Your bookmark should now be lined on all edges hiding any jagged paper and cardboard.

Step 7

Once dry. Place your bookmark onto a workbench or piece of old wood and drill a hole in the top centre.

Step 8

Thread a length of gold ribbon or cord through the hole and settle down to read your favourite book.

How to make vintage bookmarks - landscape

We hope you’ve enjoyed these upcycled vintage bookmarks. If you’re looking for more easy upcycling projects, why not make these (super easy) wine bottle lights or these (equally easy) herb pots. Check out our upcycling projects for more brilliant inspiration!