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Learn how to bind your own hardcover or soft cover book!

I recently bought a book on bookbinding.* It was a valuable resource, I changed a few of the instructions to suit my needs. This instructable presents a a method of bookbinding using ribbon and thread to hold a number of small booklets (signatures) together.

*Real Life Journals by Gwen Diehn
 
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Step 1: Gather Materials

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Materials:
  Ribbon - 1/2 inch
  Thin hemp cord or thread
  Cover material
  Paper - for pages and concertina
  Glue stick

Tools:
  Needle
  Awl
  Ruler
  Weight
  Tape

Step 2: Making the Signatures

To make the signatures you will need the paper you are using for the pages of our book. Cut enough sheets of paper that when doubled, you have the desired amount of pages in your book (ex. you want 100 pages, so cut 50). Cut the paper to the desired height and twice the desired width of the finished page.

Then fold each sheet of paper in half, hamburger style*. Stack anywhere from 1 to 8 sheets together, depending on the thickness of the paper. Repeat until all sheets are used. 

*so the folded paper has the dimensions of the finished pages

Step 3: Making the Concertina (optional)

For this book, I decided to include a concertina. This is basically a longer piece of paper folded several times that your signatures are placed in. It gives you either stubs where you can glue in other papers or envelopes where you can put pictures, papers, and other small, flat things.

First, cut paper to the height of the pages. Then, add 2 inches per signature - 2 inches for stubs. Add (width of pages times 2) per signature - (width of pages times 2) for envelopes. If you need to use more than one piece of paper, add 1 inch to the total length for every seam needed (ex. if you use three pieces of paper, add 2 inches of length to the total). Glue separate pieces together by applying glue stick to 1/2 inch on each side of the seam and sticking them together.

After cutting the paper and glueing it, you need to fold it. Mark down where you will be folding using a ruler and the diagram (pic 2). Fold it like an accordion, alternating mountain and valley folds.

Step 4: Punching or Drilling the Holes

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For this step, you need an awl, your signatures, and your concertina if you have one. If you are using hemp cord, remember to make you holes large enough for the cord to pass through.

Cut a small piece of scrap paper to the height o your pages. Fold it in half, crease well, and unfold. Then mark the middle and center a small piece of ribbon on the paper. Mark where the edges meet the paper. Repeat once above and once below the original mark. Then add two small marks, one about 1/8 inch away from each edge (see picture 1).

Put one signature in its respective concertina fold and put the marked scrap aper on top. Use an awl or drill to make holes where you marked the paper. Repeat with other signatures and concertina folds.

Step 5: Sewing It All Together

This is the hardest step. First, cut three pieces of ribbon that are long enough to be able to wrap around your signatures. Tape these to the edge of a table, with a length of ribbon the width of the pages on the table and the rest hanging off of it.

Put the concertina top side down and put a signature in the first fold. Start sewing according to the diagram (pic 2). At the end of row three, follow the picture instructions about making the knot to hold the book together (starts at pic 9). Do this twice. Continue sewing, making the knot twice at the end of every row. When you have finished the last row, tie off by making the knot three times, not two, and secure it with a square knot. Cut off the excess.

Step 6: Making and Attaching the Cover

You cover should be made out of thick card stock or thin cardboard (not corrugated). First, cut the material according to the diagram (pic 2). Then fold it on the dotted lines show in that picture. Next, lay the sewn together signatures into the cover the way they will be placed when finished. Mark the spaces that the ribbons occupy (as shown in picture 5) and punch two rows of holes in each of these spaces.

To attach the cover, use a piece of tape to hold the ribbons in place while you get started. Tie a knot in the end of the thread and put the needle through the first hole, starting from the inside. Continue in the up-down-up-down pattern shown until you reach the last holes. Thread the tread back through all inner stitches and tie the two end together with a square knot. Trim the ends. Repeat this process for each of the ribbon pieces. Fold the cover inwards to cover up the ribbons and sew that shut using astitch that will look nice form both sides.

You just finished your book!

Any comments, questions, or constructive criticism are welcome!