Bind Your Own Book




Introduction: Bind Your Own Book

Things You Will Need:

Pad of sketch paper (May substitute other paper. I used 49 sheets.)
Quarter of fabric (I find this is just the easiest way to get it. Dimensions are 18"x21")
Cutting board
X-acto knife
Bone folder, or letter opener
Waxed linen thread
Tapestry needle
Any tacky glue/PVC glue. 
Medical tape or other small textured tape
Any wide tape other than duct tape (packing tape or masking tape will do)
Binding clips
2 Sheets of scrapbooking paper that match the cloth. (Oops, forgot to put them in the picture) 


Spray Adhesive. You can use the PVC glue for all of it, but for some parts the Spray Adhesive yields more aesthetically pleasing results

Step 1: Folding Signatures

First you'll be making the text block, which is the sewn pages of the book. 

Tear the pages out of the sketch pad. If you want a tidy edge, you can trim any of the glue off with your Xacto knife. Personally, I like how the rough edges look, so I leave it. 

Next you're going to be folding the signatures (sections) of the book. I used 49 pages, so I made 7 signatures with 7 pages each. The exact number isn't critical, but you don't want each signature to have too many pages, or else sewing them will be too difficult. I'd advise keeping the signatures to 8 pages or less.

Take your 7 pages (or however many you choose) and fold them in half, using a bone folder or letter opener to make the crease. Start in the middle and press outward. 

Step 2: Marking the Holes

Once you've folded all your signatures, stack them together and put clips on each end. Cut off two sections of your medical (or other textured) tape and place them over the spines of the signatures, making them equidistant from the edges. Precision isn't necessary, but you can measure it if you want. (If your tape is super sticky like my medical tape was, try to tone down the stickiness by sticking it to your shirt (or other cloth) a few times. You're going to be lifting and replacing the tape a few times during construction, and you don't want the tape to rip the paper.)

The tape serves two purposes. It holds the signatures together while you're sewing them, and it also increases the structural integrity of the spine of your book.  

Next you'll be measuring and marking the places where you're going to pierce the sewing holes. There will be 6 holes in total for each signature. One hole on each end, about an inch from the edge, and one hole on each border of the pieces of tape. 

Take off the clips and mark each one lightly in pencil on the top front corner. Even if your measurements are very precise, it will go together more evenly if the signatures are sewn together in the same order and orientation that you marked them in. 

Take the tape off and set it aside.

Step 3: Piercing the Holes

Open each signature and flatten it carefully against your cutting board. Press the awl down vertically on your pencil mark and twist it back and forth. You don't need a lot of force if you twist. Piece all of the holes, being careful to keep the pages from sliding apart. After each signature, check the inside to make sure your holes went through, and then re-fold them, and stack them back together.

Step 4: Sewing

Choose the signature at the bottom of the pile, the one that will be the last signature in the book. Replace the tape on it, pressing the tape down flat on the left side (the back of it) and leaving it loose on the right side (the front). 

Calculate how much thread you will need. The thread will run down the length of each signature between the two outer holes, so multiply that length by the number of signatures you have made, and add a few extra inches. For seven signatures, I pulled out my wingspan's length in thread and it was just right. 

Tie a knot in the end, and start by inserting the needle into the lowest hole. It will be difficult to pull through the first few times since the thread at the eye of the needle isn't compressed yet. Wiggle the needle back and forth and you wont have to pull as hard. Insert the needle up through the second hole, pull it over the tape and put it into the next hole, weaving it back and forth. 

Once you reach the last hole, pull the thread gently to tighten. DO NOT pull it straight out from the hole, pull it along the spine, so it doesn't put stress on the holes in the paper. (Shown in one of the pictures)

To add the next signature, lift up the loose ends of the tape and place the second signature on top of the first, securing the tape over it. insert the needle into the top hole of the next signature, and continue sewing down the spine. 

Step 5: Kettle Stitch

Once you reach the bottom of the second stitch, you'll be making your first kettle stitch. Since this one is tying onto the first knot you made, it'll be a little different from the rest in the text block. Wrap your thread under and around the knot on the first signature, then under the thread that's crossing between the two signatures. Then add the third signature (secure it with the tape) and insert the needle into the lowest hole and continue sewing as before. 

Once you get to the top of the third signature, you'll be making another kettle stitch. This one is slightly different from the first. Run the needle under the thread between the first and second signature (needle should be pointing towards the top of the book). Tighten gently and insert needle right into the top hole of the next signature. 

Rinse and repeat until you've sewn all the signatures. After the last kettle stitch, weave thread into the binding a few times to secure, and trim the thread, leaving a tail a couple centimeters long. 

Put on the binding clips and tighten the tape. Try to pull the tape tight enough so that the middle of the text block is the same thickness as the ends. (It's alright if it's a little wider.)

(Also, ignore any extra holes in the pictures, they were accidental)

Step 6: Glueing the Text Block

Apply a line of PVC glue down the spine of the text block. Sweep a finger or a brush over the glue to evenly spread it over the spine. 

Cut off a section of your fabric (At least 4 inches wide and as long as your text block) and press it to the text block. Lay the text block cloth-side down on newspaper or your cutting board, and prop it upright. 

Set aside to dry. 

Once dry, trim the cloth at the top and bottom of the spine off, and cut off the square edges of the flaps. (Shown in pictures in later steps)

Step 7: Making the Cover

You'll need to cut 3 pieces for the cover; the front, back, and spine. 

The spine should be exactly as wide as the widest part of the spine of the text block, and about half a centimeter longer than the spine on each end. (One centimeter longer total) The front and back should be the same height as the spine piece you've cut, and half a centimeter wider than the text block (a half centimeter total, since it only needs to be longer on the outside edge) If you're not sure about the measurements, just cut the pieces a little big, you can always trim them down later. 

I find it's easiest to measure and cut one cover piece and use it to trace the second. 

Once they're all cut, lay the pieces out with the spine piece in the middle. Arrange them so that the space in between them is the same width as the thickness of the chipboard, and then tape each end with the masking/packing tape. Fold over the pieces like a book, with the tape on the outside. If the pieces make an even seal against each other, unfold the cover and run a strip of tape along the length of the spine. If they don't, take the tape off and rearrange the pieces until they fit together neatly. 

Before moving on, place the text block in the cover to make sure it fits, and that the edges are the length that you want them to be. If everything looks good, move to the next step. 

Step 8: Glueing the Fabric

Cut your cloth so that it is a couple inches wider than your cover on each side. The edges wont be visible, so it doesn't need to be exact. 

Lay your chipboard cover on newspaper, tape side up. Spray it evenly with the Spray Adhesive (if you use the PVC, coat the cover in glue, and spread it out as thinly as possible with a brush or fingers) and lay it on your fabric. Press firmly, and turn over to cloth side to smooth out any wrinkles or bunches in the fabric. If you use the spray adhesive, have another piece of newspaper ready to cover the first as soon as you finish spraying, since it's VERY sticky and you don't want to lay your cover or the cloth on the gluey newspaper. 

Next, you glue the edges of the cloth down. Start with the corners, using the PVC glue. Run a line of glue along each edge and spread it thinly with a brush or finger, and fold over the edges and press firmly. (Try not to get any glue in the crease of the spine) Give special attention to the corners, making sure they're fully glued down. Optionally, you can cut little squares out of any extra chipboard and clip them to the corners with a binding clip as they dry. This isn't necessary, but will help the corners be as flat as possible. Don't leave the clips on for more than a few minutes, as they can leave dents in the cover. 

Step 9: Attaching the Text Block

Once the text block and the cover have dried, trim the medical tape all the way down. Position the spine of the text block over the spine of the cover. Close the cover to make sure the text block is exactly over the spine. Spread a thin layer of glue under the flaps of fabric on the text block. DO NOT put any glue between the spines. The text block needs to be able to flex when the book is opened, so you only want to glue the flaps to the chipboard. 

Prop the text block up and let it dry. 

Cut the scrapbook paper to the same length as the pages in your text block. You shouldn't need to trim the width. Fold the paper in half with the pattern on the inside. Identify the side that will be glued to the chipboard, and spray it with the spray adhesive. (You can use a thin layer of PVC, but it makes the paper ripple when it dries). Press the crease of the paper right up to the corner of the text block and press down. Before glueing the other side to the text block, lay some newspaper over the side of the scrapbook paper you just glued. Then spray the other side and press it to the first page of the text block. 

Repeat for the back of the book. 

Once both sides are done, close the book. If there are any gaps or ripples in the paper lining, smooth them out with the bone folder and close the book again. 

Step 10:

Huzzah, the last step!

All that's left to do now is to stack your favorite heavy books on top of your journal, and let it dry for a couple hours!

Congratulations, you're done. =D

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2 years ago

I finally get the point of "The Fountainhead".


5 years ago

When I rinsed and reapeated, it god soggy :b great 'ible!


Reply 5 years ago



6 years ago

I think I might add a strip of ribbon as I glue down the inside decorative paper to the front and to the back. That will make it easy to keep closed, and I think add more "authenticity" to the journal. Aka: it's private.


6 years ago

Wow! I've always wanted to bind my own book! Thanks!


7 years ago

I made a journal book with white birch bark covers once, and what I learned from that experience was, rather than using an awl, it is much easier and more accurate to using an electric drill with a small drill bit. The thread I used on my birch bark journal was hemp twine, and that journal will last practically forever.


7 years ago

I was looking exactly for this, thank you! great job


7 years ago on Introduction

Fan-freaking-amazing job!!!!
Thanks so much for doing this. I have a friend who was asking me to help her learn this (I used to sell these back in college, exact same process) and I was like "hold on, someone wonderful must have already done this on instructables. And sho'nuff... here it is.

I would add just one tiny idea. I used to have problems with the books staying shut properly until I found an old book that called for clamping the finished spine so that just a tiny bit was outside the vice (say like a 16th or 32nd of an inch short of the edge of the spine) and lightly tap all down the spine with a hammer... LIGHTLY... so that it slowly turns into kind of mushroom shape if you look at it from the bottom or the top of the book. Then you glue it and do everything else you said.
The slight bend at each end of the stacks prevents the paper from having that annoying open floppiness that books get.

The clamping would look something like this very silly picture I've uploaded.


9 years ago

Followed this model and my book turned out better than expected. Superb!!


Awesome Instructable! Thank you so much for your time on this one! Cannot wait to try!

Much appreciated and totally inspired!!!!

That looks amazing and the instructions are so easy to follow! I will have to try this out some time!


11 years ago on Introduction

This is great! One of the best book binding tutorials I've seen. :)