Make a hand bound journal with elaborate side stitching for yourself or as a gift. The stitching is a lot easier than it looks and is so much nicer to hold than a spiral bound edge.
Supplies and Equipment
– sharp utility knife and cutting surface BE VERY CAREFUL WITH THE SHARP BLADE
– drill with 1/16th inch bit OR a small paper punch BE VERY CAREFUL WITH POWER TOOLS
– fancy cover paper – I used Cavallini Vintage Tickets Wrapping Paper – 20″ x 28″
– 1 sheet of 8.5×11 for endpapers (this can be fancy or the same paper as your pages)
– 10 sheets of 8.5×11 paper for pages
– 3 yards of embroidery floss
– mat board – I used Crescent No. 33 White & Cream Smooth Mat Board
– Yes Stikflat Glue or other archival glue that leaves paper flat
– heavy object to use as a weight
– waxed paper
– cutting/hole punch template – click here to download
– thin cotton or linen fabric (optional)
– needle with an eye large enough to fit embroidery floss
– brush for glue
I made sure all of my materials are archival so that I don’t have to worry about the book aging. This is, of course, up to you, but archival materials have become much more common than they used to be.
Cut 2 each of your cover paper, your mat board, and your end papers.
Cover Paper: 6.25 by 7.5 inches
Cover Board: .625 by 5.5 inches AND 3.5 by 5.5 inches
End Paper: 4 by 5.25 inches
Lightly mark the back of the cover paper 1 inch from the edge on all sides.
Feel free to skip this step, it’s done to help keep the fold on the covers strong through lots of use. Cut down the fabric to about 1 inch wide and 5.5 inches long. Fray the edges as shown on the right.
Use the YES paste to glue the fabric to the cover paper where the hinge will be. Place the fabric on a piece of waxed paper and brush the paste over it. Then apply the fabric to the paper.
Cover the fabric with waxed paper and put something heavy on it to let it dry flat. I use my copy of Gardener’s History of Art (Tenth Edition). It is the heaviest book I’ve ever held. Use books to make books!
Apply paste to the pieces of board and stick them onto the cover paper. Be sure to leave a .125 (1/8) inch gap between the boards. Cover with waxed paper and weight until dry.
Fold the corners of the cover paper back over the board, paste them in place. Make sure they’re folded back neatly.
Fold the paper all the way around, making sure to work it gently to ensure a neat finish all the way around. When everything is creased the way you’d like it to be paste it down, cover in waxed paper and weight until dry (noticing a trend here?)
Paste the end paper down, then waxed paper, weight and dry, one last time. Once dry, double check that everything is really stuck down well, and re-paste anything that’s loose.
Cut down your pages to 4.25 by 5.5 (1/4 of an 8.5×11 sheet.) I cut down 10 sheets, which gave me 40 sheets/80 pages. I used a 65lb heavy paper/light card stock and my book is about 1/2 inch thick.
Planning to add pictures, ticket stubs, or other things to your book pages?
You can adjust for adding stuff to your pages really easily! For every sheet of paper going into the book, cut at least one piece that is 5.5 by .625 inches. These will stack in with the pages at the spine so that the spine is thicker. That way, when you add things to the pages the book won’t flare open. If you want a sheet of something (photo, print, ticket, etc) on every single page you’ll want 2 shim pieces per page. If you want to add thicker scrapbooking things you’ll probably want more shim pieces, just measure the thickness of what you’ll be adding and keep stacking shims until you have that much thickness. Alternate pages and shims when you punch your holes and bind them into the stitching.
If you’re drilling your book stack it together the way it will be finished, then add a couple of scrap sheets of paper to the outside, then the hole template. Clamp in place very carefully. Aligning and clamping the book was the hardest part for me!
Make sure the drill/dremel is at a perfect right angle to the book. Drilling faster worked better than drilling slowly for me. You should obviously be using eye protection, hand protection, lots of caution and any other precautions you can think of for this. And, not to be overly dramatic, but try not to set the book on fire. You are spinning hot metal through it, so just give it breaks to cool off and be prepared to deal with it if the book does start smoldering. I saw one tiny puff of smoke when I drilled this book.
If you’re not drilling then use the template to punch holes through the whole thing, probably a few sheets at a time!
The book needs to be stitched to look like this. The stitches should be pulled very snug for maximum book durability.
Thread the needle with the embroidery floss. Stitch up through a hole near the center, and leave a few inches of tail (don’t tie a knot.)
Stitch down through the next hole.
Stitch down through that same hole again, wrapping the thread over the edge. This picture doesn’t show it especially well.
Stitch up through the next hole.
Then down through the next hole. Around the edge again, another stitch over until you get to the end.
In reality, if you have stitches between all the holes and around the edge from every hole you win, it doesn’t matter too much how you get there.
At the end stitch over the side of the book.
And over the top of the book.
Then diagonally back to the next hole.
And around the top again.
Then work back, through the next hole, then over the edge.
When you get back to the center point repeat the whole thing over the rest of the holes.
You’ll end up back at the center, with a tail to the back and the thread you’ve been working at the front.
On the back, tie the two threads together with a very secure knot as close to the book as possible.
Thread the needle onto the shorter tail, then stitch through the hole. Pull gently until the knot pops into the hole. Add a drop of glue for security if you’d like, then trim the threads from both sides.