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Bookbinding

The actual making of books

Introduction to Bookbinding

I’ve become obsessed with making notebooks and had to save this simple set of instructions for making a notebook out of a sheet of paper. I foresee these small books filled with short stories, inspirational quotes, lists, or made as last-minute gifts. Words, art, paper crafts – three of my favorite things!

Handmades and Hardware

I’ve had a longtime Moleskine addiction, evidenced by the notebooks of all shapes, sizes and colors teetering atop piles and peeking out of drawers throughout my apartment. (As I write this, I can see seven–stacked, of course, in rainbow order–in my direct line of sight.)

I just can’t help it. I always need another one.

It’s hard to say exactly where the attraction lies, but  there’s something almost romantic about a fresh Moleskine: the endless possibility of empty pages ready for notes and nonsense. But at $12.95+ a pop, my Moleskine mayhem was breaking the bank.

And those who want, but can’t afford – MAKE! (or something…)


Enter SF Center for the Book! For $65, you’ll learn bookbinding basics and take home a 5 volume set of your very own baby books. Since Monday’s class, armed with a copy of Esther Smith’s How to Make Books, (available at the SFPL or Green…

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How to Open a Book

I have a very specific memory of my eighth grade History teacher becoming angry as we opened our new textbooks. I remember his booming voice saying “By God hasn’t anyone taught you how to open a book?!” We thought he was nuts, what did he mean teach us how to open a book? He then demonstrated the above method and said, “That is how you open a book! Now back to the lesson!”

I still think of him when I open a new book and gently ease the binding. I think he would appreciate the anecdote included in these instructions, how the book was ‘violently opened.’ I might not remember too much of the history I learned but I will always remember how to properly open a book.

Beginner Bookbinding – Pamphlet Stitch

Interested in bookbinding but not sure where to start? I can recommend this simple, well-explained tutorial for a Five-Hole Pamphlet Stitch which I had saved ages ago in my Pinterest bookbinding board and now am finally getting around to sharing. It’s easy (really!) and does not require any fancy materials or tools.

The materials I used:

  • copy paper
  • scrapbook paper for the cover
  • scissors (good sharp ones)
  • ruler
  • needle
  • mattress needle
  • pencil
  • embroidery thread

Here’s a few things I did differently from the tutorial while winging my first attempt:

  • I do not have a bone folder (yet) and while it is not crucial to making small pamphlets I can see why it would be necessary for larger projects with more pages or if you were going to do a lot of these. You need to make good folds and your fingertips will get sore. However if you’re just starting out, don’t worry about it just yet – just make one of these and see how easy and satisfying it is and then worry about proper tools.
  • I also do not have an awl. I used a needle to pierce the holes.
  • I do not have a bookbinding needle. I had a mixed pack of assorted needles and found the curved “mattress needle” to be the best suited for stitching this project.
  • I took three A4 sheets of paper and cut them in half, therefore starting the project with six A5 pieces of paper, reason being that I preferred a smaller size pamphlet. You can use any size paper, just make your holes equal distances apart.
  • I used scrapbook paper for the cover – this gets stitched along with the pages of the pamphlet.

Cutting and folding the paper was the most tedious part, and the stitching took about five minutes. I was really pleased with the finished product of my first bookbinding attempt! I ended up using my new notebook for planning this blog, jotting down ideas, words, lists etc.

My first attempt at bookbinding, the five-hole pamphlet
My first attempt at bookbinding, the five-hole pamphlet

Give it a go, get creative and get inspired to challenge yourself with other techniques.

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