Make This:

Stab Bound Journal

by Kris | 37 responses | 8 minute read

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
– rulers
– 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.

That’s all!


About Kris

I use Twitter, I have a personal blog/portfolio, and I've recently started using Instagram, mostly for inspiration images and upcoming HDYMT projects.


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Forums Stab Bound Journal

This topic contains 37 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  allina 1 day, 13 hours ago.

  • Author
  • #15873 Reply


    Lovely! And not that difficult… ;) Very good tutorial!

  • #15874 Reply


    I really loved this tutorial! The information about the spacers that you added is something that is often forgotten in the Japanese spine binding. Such a beautiful stitching- I might have to try that soon!

  • #15875 Reply

    Marilyn Hughes

    Thanks for the tutorial. I’m a little confused about the stitching, but can probably figure it out once I’m actually doing it.

  • #15876 Reply

    Sage HRMS

    That is too cool! I’ll have to give it a go!

  • #15877 Reply


    Is there a cheaper alternative to the mat board?

  • #15878 Reply


    Nevermind! I just found chipboard on dickblick.

  • #15879 Reply

    April Klich

    Thanks for going into detail about how to sew this edge pattern. I’ve always wondered how to set it up and the step by step.

  • #15880 Reply

    It is really easy once you get started, and if you make a mistake you just undo your stitches and try again!

  • #15881 Reply

    Chipboard is cheaper, but it might not be acid free. The listing should say for sure if it is. If you want the book to be a long term keeper acid free is a good idea, but if that’s not important than chipboard is a great choice!

  • #15882 Reply


    Thanks! :)

  • #15883 Reply


    great tutorial. I could not wait, so I used a wrong type of glue, and wrong paper, anyway, it was fun.. here are picture

  • #15884 Reply



  • #15885 Reply


    I don’t see the template for holes

  • #15886 Reply


    What’s a book?

  • #15887 Reply

    There is a link to it in the Supplies and Equipment list –

    Comment again if you’re still having trouble!

  • #15888 Reply

    That looks so great! The glue/paper/etc. list is really just the materials I’m pretty confident will give a good result, using what you have on hand obviously worked out awesome, too!

  • #15889 Reply

    Organic Aspirations

    Great idea! Your tutorial seems very thourough!

  • #15890 Reply


    I made one about twice the size of yours and it worked out great until the end. it wont open :/ . and i was sure to leave the space between the two pieces on the cover.

  • #15891 Reply

    I’ve been thinking about this a LOT since you commented, and I even played around with some stuff to try to troubleshoot it. Assuming none of your stitches crossed the fold line on the cover (I know they probably don’t, but just in case) my best guess is that either your cover board was substantially thicker than mine, or that the paper covering it was very thick or strong. My cover board is almost exactly 1/16″ thick.

    If you have any scrap around you could try gluing small pieces of cover/board/end paper in the order you did before but with a bigger gap to see if that folds.

    Let me know if any of this makes sense, I’d really like to figure out the problem!

  • #15892 Reply


    I think the problem is not the thickness of the paper, but the stretch of it. I did use 1/16″ mat board for the cover body; the cover paper was just regular scrapbook paper, and the end paper was card stock. The book was 100 pages thick using normal type-weight paper. So I think what’s happening is, when glued, the cover and paper and everything was flat; if bent before the glue, the paper would have to slide in order to accomodate the bend, but since it can’t slide around after its glued the paper has to stretch and it doesn’t really want to do that. I have been able to get it open now after some muscle, the cover just sticks a bit. So it doesn’t want to close all the way and can stick open at a right angle. I’m thinking of adding a clasp type thing onto it to troubleshoot that. Also I’m making another for a friend using burlap fabric as the “cover paper” instead of scrapbook paper or wrapping paper, so maybe that will bend a bit easier. I can comment again once that’s done and let you know.

    edit: The one with the fabric bends much easier but still sticks up because of how the end papers fold.

  • #15893 Reply

    Dorcie Gabrielle

    This is beautiful! I want to make a couple for my friends and myself. We are travelling to Nepal in a couple of week and I have two questions. How long do you think it takes to make one and what ply was your mat board? I want to make them 100 pages thick!

  • #15894 Reply


    If you drill in candlewax first it’s easier to drill through the pages without burning them!

  • #15895 Reply


    Hi, So I was attempting to make this and when I tried to cut out the board, it was a weird size, kind of short and fat, nothing like what yours looked like. Are the measurements under the first picture in the instructions wrong? and could you tell me the real sizes?
    Thank you!

  • #15896 Reply


    Lol I tried and failed! Not that it was a bad tutorial just me being crap at this sort of thing. My girlfriend had a better attempt!

  • #15897 Reply


    Brilliant!! Thankyou So much for sharing this :)

  • #15898 Reply


    Here’s mine :) Just one question: what’s the use of waxed paper ? Because I didn’t have any, so jumped on that step

  • #15899 Reply

    Gifts In 24

    This is a wonderful project. Your in-depth tutorial is so helpful to the community. You really sell the idea of making this journal with your beautiful pictures. Very cool! (

  • #15900 Reply


    Is it 8.5 x 11 inch or cm?

  • #15901 Reply


    I had the exact same problem. The measurements simply do not seem to work!

  • #15902 Reply

    What measurements are you using for the board? There should be one piece that is .625 (5/8) inch by 5.5, and one that is 3.5 by 5.5. I’m trying to find the error but I must be missing it, someone help me find it so I can fix it!

  • #15903 Reply


    What is a rough estimate of how much this cost to make? If you don’t have any of the materials.

  • #15904 Reply


    I recognize this pattern from beccamakingfaces. She’s the queen of Japanese stab bindings.

  • #15905 Reply


    I’m almost to the drilling part and the template link I saw above doesn’t seem to be there anymore! The one posted below in comments also links to a “page not found” … any suggestions?

  • #15906 Reply


    Hi there thankyou so much for this tutorial – I was just hoping to access the template for the holes as both links aren’t working! :)

  • #15907 Reply


    When you print the template, do you have to size it correctly or anything? It just seems too small to fit my book (the book is the same exact size as the instructions).

  • #15908 Reply

    Katie Lupien

    I can’t believe you made a hardcover-bound book. I always thought they were much harder to make. I’m trying to find cute and creative notebooks to make for my kids. I will have to experiment with this.

  • #17688 Reply


    I just want to confirm… the larger size book idea. If I make this hook but in a roughly 8 1/2 x 11 size, unjust need to make sure my cover paper isn’t too thick? I can’t wait to try it!

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