Introduction: Canvas Covered Notebook - Laser Cut and Hand Sewn

I had a piece of painted canvas left over from an earlier floor cloth project, and was curious to see how the laser cutter would handle it, so I designed a book cover to cut out of the canvas. While I was at it, I thought I would cut out the paper for the book and the holes for binding the book, at the same time.

Step 1: Materials and Equipment:

  • Painted canvas
  • Waxed linen thread and needle (or another heavy thread and a piece of beeswax)
  • 12 sheets of blank paper (8 1/2 x 11")
  • Access to laser cutter
  • Design files (CorelDRAW)

Step 2: Cut Out Your Canvas Cover and Paper

Using the CorelDRAW design file, set your print settings and cut out your cover. I used speed/power/frequency settings of 60/70/100 to cut the painted canvas on a 60 watt Epilog Fusion laser cutter.

I used regular photocopy paper, and cut 6 sheets at a time using speed/power/frequency settings of 100/40/50. Note: There is a separate layer for the line that will cut the paper to height an done for the stitch line holes. Turn off the frame and the spots layer, and turn on the paper cut line and the stitch hole layer when cutting your paper.

Step 3: Thread Your Needle and Assemble Your Book

Cut a piece of waxed linen thread, that is at least double the height of your book, and use your fingernails to flatten the end (photo 2). Thread the flattened end into your needle - do not make a knot in the end of your thread. Waxed linen thread, often used in leather working, gives the thread good grip and allows you to control it better.

Make your own waxed thread: If you don't have waxed linen thread, you can can make your own waxed thread, by using dental floss or another strong thread, and running it across a piece of wax (preferably beeswax).

Hold your thread against the wax with your thumb as you pull it across the surface, so that it digs into the surface and allows the thread to pick up a coating of wax (photos 4 and 5). Do this a few times to give your thread similar properties to waxed linen.

Assemble your book. Align the holes of your pages with the holes on your cover and get ready to sew.

Step 4: Bind Your Book

Starting at one end of the row of holes, begin to sew by going into the second hole from the end, traveling from the inside to the outside of the book (photo 1). Pull the thread all the way through to the outside, leaving an inch of thread on the inside.

Turn the book over and go back through the first hole, traveling from the cover side to the inside of the book, pulling the thread all the way through to the inside. This will create a stitch on the spine of the book (photos 3 and 4). Make sure your 1" tail on the inside has been not pulled through.

You are now in the first hole in the inside of the book. Sew down into the third hole, catching the tail on the way down (continue to do this when you are stitching on the inside, until you run out of tail). Pull the thread firmly to the outside, and snug the thread down over the tail on the inside (photos 5 and 6).

Return to the inside through the second hole, creating a second stitch on the spine (photos 7 and 8).

Skip the next hole on the inside, and go down through the fourth hole (catch the tail - photo 9) and return from the outside, through the third hole. Go down through the fifth hole, and return through the fourth hole and so on. Snug the thread on both sides as you work your way along the spine like this until you reach the last hole on the outside. Return to the inside in the second hole.

Note: Try bringing your needle up on the same side of the thread when your needle comes up the holes to the inside of your book, it will make the stitching look more even - this not critical, but it looks nicer :) (photo 10).

Step 5: Finishing the Binding

Once you are in the second to last hole on the inside of your book (photo 3), your are ready to bind off your thread. Working back towards the centre of your book, stick the needle under the threads between the 2nd and 3rd holes from the right to the left (photo 4) and pull the thread through. Repeat this between the 3rd and 4th holes, again, going under the stitching from right to left (photo 5).

If you are using waxed linen thread, this will be enough to hold your thread in place. If your thread is a bit slippery, you can repeat this step again to make sure your thread will not come undone.

Cut off any remaining tails and you are all done!

Step 6: All Done!

A beautiful laser cut, hand painted and sewn notebook for writing down and keeping track of all the other projects you plan to make!