Carpenters Record Album Purse

Carpenters Album Cover BagI am so going to Hell. The big thing on the Glitter discussion boards lately has been album cover purses. Basically you buy an old record album, cut up the sleeve, and fashion a bag out of it. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for suitable albums ever since. Friday I hit the jackpot. It’s the Carpenters’ “Now and Then” album. Saturday I collected all the other supplies and today I made my bag. Is it morbid to carry a fashion accessory emblazoned with the picture of pop music’s most celebrated anorexic? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Read on to see more pics and read how I did it.Album coverOkay, before you vinyl purists get all up in arms about the wanton destruction of this album, rest assured that it was a bargain basement, scratched-as-hell, one dollar piece of junk. (I plan to turn the record itself into a bowl, but more on that later.) Here’s what the front of the album looked like. As you can see, it was one of the big folded-type ones, not simply a cardboard sleeve. This was nice because it meant I had plenty of cover to work with. A lot of people make small handbag-type things, but I wanted a full-size messenger bag so I planned to use the whole thing.

InsideSo the car image is nice, but it was the inside that sold me. Check out this surreal image of Karen Carpenter. It looks even weirder in real life. She’s all Photoshopped and color blocked. I like it.

InsideAnd of course, on the opposite side we have Richard. Who looks like a vampire. He’s got really pointy eyeteeth!

Cutting the cover apartThe first thing to do is cut all the pieces apart. I discovered that two of the trifold sections (the parts that weren’t the record sleeve) were actually glued along a couple sides. So I had to use a knife to carefully separate them. Once I had all six pieces (the other inside piece was the song list), I planned how I wanted the bag to look. I decided to use the front cover (the car) as the front of the bag, and have the side panels continue the image and sort of “wrap around”. Then for the back, I’d use Scary Karen. Inside, I backed the front with the song list, Karen with Dick, and the side panels with some remaining cardboard. I also used a double thickness for the bottom. (The point of doubling the sides up is just to make sure it’s sturdy enough not to fall apart.)

Laminating DickThe next step is to laminate all the boards. I glued the double-thicknesses together and took them up to my local copy shop, but the woman there said they were too thick to go through her machine. So I went with my backup plan, which involved clear Contact paper (the kind kids use to cover their books). Basically I just wanted to waterproof and protect it. So here’s me carefully laminating Dick. I didn’t care so much about the pieces facing the inside, but I made sure that the outsides were perfect and air bubble-free.

Don't buy these! They suck!Okay, so to fasten all the sides together we need to insert “grommets”, which are little round metal eyelet thingies. I bought this package at my local hardware store. It even comes with a tool. (You push them through the hole from the right side and then bash the end down to keep it from pulling through.) Unfortunately this tool sucks. Don’t buy it. It broke within minutes and even when it worked it did a crappy job. So I went to the craft store and found another package that came with little metal bits that you pound with a hammer. These worked much, much better.

Snook pounding grommetsHere’s the Snook demonstrating the right way to pound some grommets. I spaced them so that they’d be staggered along each edge and therefore the lacing would cross and look cool. At least, that was the idea. I messed it up on the back side, but you can’t really tell. Anyway, punching holes and inserting the grommets is the worst part of the whole job. But if you get good grommets from the start, it’s much easier.

Side viewHere’s a side view so you can see the lacing that holds it together. I used some cheap (like twenty-five cents a meter) vinyl lacing that I found at my craft store. You could also use leather or ribbon or even fishing line. Whatever floats your boat. I went over every edge twice so that the lacing would be criss-crossed. It worked pretty well. Here you can also see that I’ve put one big grommet in the top of each side panel. This is where I hooked my handle, which was just a basic black nylon strap that I pulled off an old bag I had.

Front viewHere’s the completed bag from the front. Neat, huh?

Back viewAnd here’s the back, with Scary Karen grinning at you.

That’s it! As you can see, this made for a really big bag. It’s as wide and tall as a record and the side panels (and thus the depth) are about one-fourth of that. It’s really more like a cereal box than a purse. I like it though. Now it just remains to be seen whether I’ll actually have the nerve to carry the thing… 🙂


Add yours →

  1. That is… kind of weird and cool at the same time!

  2. Do I have the nerve to cut up one of my hubby’s albums? It is a triumph. My mother used to make these bags using old calenders and xmas cards. I’m off to search for the perfect cover right now but I might have to use a copy.

  3. Kris. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You are a bloody GENIUS! I would SO use Anorexic Karen for my bag – only because it’s a great conversation starter. “Hey, isn’t that Karen Carpenter?” “Why, yes it is!” “Wow, wasn’t she anorexic?” “Why, yes she was.” “Kick ass bag, man! Here’s a million dollars, make me one!” Well, you know what I mean. =P

  4. Hahaha! Thanks for that, guys. I feel bad taking the credit though, I didn’t really invent the thing. I think this chick had the original idea.

    I will, however, take full credit for putting Scary Karen on mine. 🙂

  5. Oh, and Khay, you might be better off just looking in Goodwill stores and junk shops. That way you don’t have to worry about cutting up a treasure.

  6. Kick. Ass. I want to make one, now.

  7. Thanks for giving me credit!

    Glad to see ’em going international!

  8. No problem, Diana. It was such a brilliant idea!

  9. I just bought one of these purses on Ebay and it was made terrible. I’m going to make my own!!!!

  10. Really, cmindy? What was bad about it? How much did you pay (if you don’t mind me asking)? I’ve seen a couple online too that didn’t look so great. Good luck if you go the DIY route! They’re really pretty easy to do.

  11. I paid $30.00 for the purse. The purses are also selling for $50.00 to $70.00 at a store near me.

  12. Awesome idea!

  13. Finally I have found someone else that knows about these. I bought one at a shop in Shreveport, except mine was made out of a comic book (they also had rolling stone covers) and wanted to try to make my own because it was about $50 for a small one plus I want Bon Jovi on the cover! (the album cover purses ran over $100) I knew I could make one because it looked easy but I just never got brave enough to try it. Now that I have the “directions” I am definatly going to try it! Praise God for vintage!

  14. A hundred bucks? Man, I really need to make some more and sell them. They’re so easy to do!

  15. As a Karen Carpenter fan, I must say I am saddened by the fact that you people are making fun of a troubled girl that had a one in a million voice. Karen was a good person and never had the chance to break free from the 70s bubble gum image A&M records blocked her into.

  16. Still that trembling lip, Steve. Read back through the comments. Nobody made fun of Karen’s voice or her music. We merely referred to her as “pop music’s most celebrated anorexic” (hardly novel, is it?) and the photo on the album as “scary”. You’re being overly sensitive. I take it you haven’t seen “Superstar”, the film made about her career using Barbie dolls? Now THAT’s a cause for “being saddened” if ever there was.

  17. Kris, you rock!!! I saw someone carrying one like yours (except with Olivia Newton-John), and loved it. Then, I saw one at a craft faire and bought it for $58. It is made pretty poorly, but the cool thing about it is that the vinyl record album itself is on the back, and the front of the record jacket is on the front of the purse. Kind of hard to explain, but whatever…

    Anyway, thanks! One question, though: did you put anything in between Karen & Dick (like cardboard or thin wood), or is the purse only the thickness/strength of the two pieces of the jacket glued together? Also, what about the edges? Did you overlap the contact paper onto the other side, or are the edges exposed? Am I making sense???

  18. Thanks for the compliments, Ronda! I didn’t put anything between the two layers on the side pieces, but I did reinforce the bottom with a third layer of cardboard. They still turned out pretty stiff. The contact paper does indeed overlap and wrap around the edges. I made sure that the front is seamless and then wrapped all the overlap to the inside where you can’t see it so much.

  19. Kris
    Great work! You’ve inspired me! I happen to have that same album in my garage (but have set my sights on another LP).
    As for places to take it to, an Overeater’s Anonymous meeting would be a definite stop (which is not to suggest you should go there, just an idea of where it would ‘work’….).

    And ditto on your advice to Steve…

  20. Love your ifo on the bag. Do you have info on making the albums into bowls?

  21. Yep, you can check out pics and directions here, Cathy.

  22. Kris, I made a bag out of the Saturday Night Fever album and it is awesome. I get so many compliments. I give all the credit to you because I followed your directions exactly. I have bought many other albums and have great plans for them. Thanks for a great site.

  23. Oh wow, that’s awesome Jody! Do you have a website where you can post a picture of it?

  24. No, but I can email you a picture. I got tons more compliments today.

  25. Hi Kris,

    Thanks for your directions. I’ve started gathering my materials and today I made a $1 purchase of my album covers–Andy Gibb for one side and Shawn Cassidy for the other.

  26. Hey–awesome idea!! As an 80’s product myself, I’m thinking of Bon Jovi too. Okay, how sick is this–I’m thinking of doing this with some girl scouts. Do you think they can handle it? Can you email more photos and directions for the girlies???? You rock!!!

  27. dude that is so cool im going to make one out of the records taht i have (tupac and icecube) it should be very cute. Thanx for the idea

  28. I’ve recently made an album purse too, except I used the album cover on one side and the actual record on the other. I had to cut down the record into a rectangle and used fabric to attach the two sides. I too used grommit like thingys. Thank God I have a step dad with a lot of power tools and know how. The only thing is that I feel bad because I stole the idea from a lady who was selling them at a local festival for $56. I’m a college student who can’t afford to pay $56 for a purse plus she didn’t really have any albums I was willing to pay for. So I made my own. I’ve already gotten comments about it and many requests. Mine was pretty easy to make as well – you just have to have the right tools.

  29. Kris: Thanks for shring your ideas and pics. Anonymous: How in the world do you cut the actual vinyl album without it shattering?

  30. I know that one! The same way I make the record bowls. Just place one on a cookie sheet in a warm oven for a few minutes until it’s floppy. Take it out and cut it before it gets stiff! You may need to use sandpaper on the edges if they’re sharp afterwards.

  31. How do you tie the strings on all sides. All they tied inside the bag? Please let me know

  32. Yeah, I tied them inside the bag. There’s no big trick.

  33. I love this melting record idea! I was wondering if you could decoupage it to make it look more exciting?

  34. great idea. thank you. i saw a purse made with the real vinly record on the outside. any idea where to get one or how to make one?

  35. I don’t exactly know how to explain this, but although I LOVED your purse I saw another similar one at a funky store the other day and wanted to learn how to make it. It’s very very similar except instead of making it wider on both sides, extra cardboard or something was added only to the bottom so it had a sort of…triangle shape to it. I really liked it but am not quite sure how to make it…since you’re so good at it I thought you might have some suggestions. Thanks!

  36. So I’ve been making the album purses as demonstrated on this site, but my only frustration is that the edges do not meet straight on. Any suggestions so this doesn’t drive me nuts? (I was thinking of lacing thin polycarbonate rods into the corners on the inside of the purse.) Any thoughts would be appreciated.

  37. I just found one of these bags at a local store in Chicago. What a great ideal, I said to
    myself that I could make this as well. Today I searched on the internet and found your site and got more
    info. on how to make. But yesterday, just by looking at this purse I pretty much figured out how to make just
    by looking. Seeing your site today gave me more ideals and I’m going to love making this purse. Purse lovers
    as you know you can uncut others people prices, seeing that a small could cost $50 or more dollars as a large
    purse could go for a $100 depending on whose on it. The one I saw yesterday had the Jackson Five on it,
    Michael was about 10 or 12 yrs. of age. The bag was $58, what would you have charged?

  38. *Rans back to bedroom to find a record*

  39. I LOVE your purse! I found your site by accident and am glad I did since I’ve never seen these before. I’ve been making them out of beer and wine boxes with maribu around the top and they sell great. Thanks for the tips on laminating. I’ve been using spray poly and it stinks my work shop up.

  40. Great stuff — made some out of old Childrens LPS and bought a cheap small insulated lunch bag and velcroed a cheap insulated lunch bag on the inside and sold as diaper bags .
    Also — what do you think is better polyurethane, color contact paper or laminating??????

  41. has anyone actually cut the record? I want to use the record as one of the sides? any tips..I want to make a record cuff too..cut, melt, and shape it into a bracelet form

  42. I LOVE THIS PURSE!!!!!!!!! I need a 12 step program for purse-a-holics LOL. I’m gonna have to go to the local record store and stock up!

  43. It’s funny because I’ve only carried it outside of the house, like, three times. It was more the *idea* of a Scary Karen purse that I wanted, it seems. In actuality it’s a big cardboard box, and it’s not the most convenient handbag. Still, I’m glad I had a go at it!

  44. what size grommets did you use?

  45. A girl i know in Pittsburgh is selling her bags for $100 to $120. They’re not that great- cheesy ribbon glued around the top & a plastic bead & elastic for a closure. What’s everyone else using for a closure?
    I design bags for a living & use a lot of unusual materials ie; astroturf, cans, etc, I have industrial machines for the tuff stuff.

  46. i received one of these purses as a gift. i love it and am making my own. the one i got had some kind of piping along the top to prevent wear. i can’t find anything like it. any suggestions?

  47. I know that chick in the Burgh too, Suz. I went to the art show last year and i was like “Wow, she HAS to be kidding me!” I don’t know anyone who would pay that much for a low quality product.
    Kris, your’s is really awesome! I’m going to try and make a magazine purse, using Napoleon Dynamite pics!

  48. Thats really hot! I love it, thanks for putting this online, I ‘ve been waitting to make one.

  49. So I have a question – Where do you sell these?

  50. Kris, Like the idea of making your own record purse. Especially the idea about using the actual vinyl for one of the sides and the album cover for the other. I recently made one and have had several people wanting me to make one for them too. Since then I’ve sold a few. Great side business! Are you aware if there’s a patent on these types of purses, or can they be patented? Just curious. Don’t want to get in trouble.

  51. Melanie – I don’t. This is the only one I’ve made.

    And Anonymous, no idea. I don’t think you an patent a design like this though.

  52. Love your version of the purse!! What did you end up using for the handle?!?

  53. I dig the Carpenters.

  54. Wow!!! What a great idea! Don’t laugh, but my friend’s neighbor just gave me that exact Carpenters’ album. He had all of their albums, and that was the only one I didn’t have myself, so he gave it to me.

    I have lots and lots of vinyl record covers to cut up. 🙂

  55. Just saw a similar idea using old board games (Candyland, Clue, etc). They look awesome.

  56. I have been obsessed with Carpenters since February 05. I am in Australia and have been searching for just one vinyl LP since then – do you think I could find one? Doesn’t anyone here part with Carpenters LPs? Lo and behold last weekend I found Now & Then! I was beside myself! It is not in the best condition, but I am going to try making your bag! I am so excited I can’t describe! Thanks for your ideas! I will let you know the outcome! Karen ROCKS!

  57. Lots of different people do these lots of different ways IU’m going to try them all. I like yours and I lucked out a nieghbor just moved and gave me 300 records. Some really cool and old. Do you know where I can find out thier value?

  58. Hey, Anonymous, you might try doing some Google, Froogle, and Ebay searches. Sometimes you can get a good idea of what something “goes for” on the market from the latter. And if something is especially valuable, you should be able to find reference to it via Google.

  59. Thanks for the tip. I’m a retard and spelled neighbor wrong.

  60. cute, a friend and i made one for another friend, i will not do it again. maybe i’ll buy one instead. i don’t have the patients, but good idea anyway, and our friend loved it

  61. does anyone else share directions for the album purse?

  62. I saw the bags made from old games and for handles they had used old leather belts and attached them to the sides with some sort of hardware thingie. The different sides were spiral bound together like a notebook. Some of the game pieces were used as embellishments on the outside of the bag-very fun. Anybody know where I can see some more of these close up so I can try to do it myself? I also want to make a very funky diaper bag, any ideas?

  63. I sell purses kind of like this in my Ebay store (Blujay Way) but if you want to see an awesome record purse..go here…
    Got to be the coolest record purses Ive ever seen!

  64. Very Cool Idea! Thanks for the intructions!
    I noticed people saying that they used the actual record. What if someone was to make a purse like you showed above but added a clear sleave of sorts to the back or inside of the purse in which you would insert the actual record? lol. If not the lp maybe a 45 from the album? Then if one sold these.. The customer could take the old record and play it if they wanted? lol.

  65. Way to go! I love this idea. I’m going to give it a shot. I saw the bowl purses in a shop in Sarasota, Florida (but they were actually made elsewhere). I’ll send you a link to the site when I locate it.

    Happy holidays from a fellow Hoosier,


  66. so i saw this on other sites but yours is the easiest to follow. one thing i liked about a different one i saw was they got plastic tubing and filled it with beads for the handle. they then stuck a gromet through each end and clipped it to the bag, pretty neat. i am going to attempt this but im going hippie style with pressed flowers in the lament and a songs of woodstock album. i am wondering about making the sides a thick canvas so the bend and the top closes any suggestion ?

  67. ok, I just got back from memphis and they had the large album for $90 and the 45 records for $40 on Beale street……. I am looking for instructions on how to do one like I have pictured (yes they use the actual album on one side) here
    I love yours that a fellow freelancer sent to me, wonder if yours can be modified? hmmmmmmmm THANKS!

  68. You could easily use the record on one side, Anjie. I’ve used one as a book cover before. That link has pictures and info about cutting the shape and drilling the holes. Let me know if you do it!

  69. I have albums to trade for a purse–50s thru 80s Email me.

  70. I’m all for recycling, and this is just the coolest! I make clocks using old record albums with a cd center and used bottle caps for the “numbers”. They are really cool too *smiles*

  71. lee from the U.S.

    January 8, 2009 — 3:30 pm

    Oh. My. God. That is SOOOOO cool! Thank you, thank you, for showing us how to do this. I need a new purse, but the ones I like I can’t afford, and the ones I can afford, I don’t like, so I thought why not make something unique? And I found your site. Thank you, Web Goddess!

  72. Cool post. The most unique craft projects are always the most interesting. By the way, I agree Karen is kinda creepy. Freaky looking image but very cool at the same time.

  73. I got to see The Carpenters live in concert. It was 1973, and I was in fourth grade.
    That is all.

  74. Take a look at She has been making them since 2002

Comments are closed.