Introduction: Sketchbook Necklace From Scratch

About: Art student pursuing a BFA in Illustration (Minoring in Book arts,) life for me is one crazy project after another, so I figured, why not help people with figuring out projects of their own? Techniques in the …

If you're anything like me, you'll find that when inspiration strikes, it's more important to have a scrap of paper fast rather than a proper sketchbook of adequate size but in a few hours. This tutorial is to help you make yourself a sketchbook which is the ultimate travel companion, one which won't weigh you down or get bent up in your bag, but is also functional enough to write or doodle those fleeting thoughts. I'm not the first to make these books, and I know I won't be the last, my hope is that this Instructable will help someone out there make one of their own.

On that note, I do sell these in my Etsy shop. Please do not sell instructions provided, and if used to make product for sale online, please alter your books to at least make them look at least a bit different. Thanks!

Materials Needed:

• Leather scrap
• Paper
• Cardstock scrap
• Thread - Linen or Embroidery
• Glue - Polyvinyl acetate (PVA)
• Decoration - optional
• 2x Eyelets
• ~30" chain

Tools Needed:

• Cutting surface
• Metal ruler
• Bone folder (or butter knife)
• Utility knife
• Sewing needle
• Pencil & Eraser
• Awl
• Needle nose pliers 2x
• Leather hole punch
• Eyelet tool (and tools required to use said tool, such as a hammer)

Optional Readings/Explanations:

There are certain things I wanted to mention before moving on to the next part of the tutorials, mostly about reasoning behind certain materials and when it's acceptable to use different things. I'll go down the list and make note of anything that can be replaced and with what, also listing any drawbacks I can think of, because you can be thrifty and use things you already have at home, but I've made some pretty bad books and I want to help you to know what the good stuff is so you can avoid my same mistakes.

Leather scrap: this is aesthetic, so as long as it folds, you can get it from a new hide or from something that's recycled or even vegan if you're that kind of person.

Paper: I don't mean to be sarcastic, but you don't need to use paper, even. If you feel like using fabric, photos or whatever, just make sure you account for the extra spring when you get to the gluing stages. I've seen people bind tea bags together, you can really use anything, but I'd recommend sticking with paper for your first one. There are other tutorials for single-page bindings, of which you could still use for this type of book, you would just replace the sewing step with the single-page binding tutorial. On that note, good luck.

Cardstock scrap: I recommend this mostly to give the leather a sturdy backing, but use whatever you want.

Thread: Traditionally, a linen thread is used, but lately I've used a lot of colored embroidery floss. You want to choose a string you cannot break easily with your hands, and is thicker than regular sewing thread, but fits into a sewing needle. If you really need to, you can layer about three threads together, you just don't want the string to rip through the paper, as it will more easily with thinner string.

Glue: this is a big one. Polyvinyl acetate (PVA) is a bookbinding specific glue which is basically liquid plastic. It's flexible and totally archival and is amazing in every way... Unless you're only making one single mini book, in which case, you may want to find an alternative. My first-choice alternative is E6000 for its permanence and flexibility, also it's waterproof and great to have around the house. After that, I guess I've used wood glue, but it isn't the same. Yes, it will bond, and yes, it is a PVA type of glue, but you have to be quite careful not to make a mess with it on the edges as it does not normally dry clear.

Decoration: I used lace for this, but you can use anything you can sew to leather, or you can entirely skip it, this is totally optional.

Eyelets: 1x or 2x, we'll get to that later.

Necklace chain: I like the length around 30", but it's your necklace. In fact, you don't even need to make this a necklace, it's an Instructable, not a cookie-cutter craft. Make any and all alterations you can come up with, you are your own person.

Cutting surface: Self healing cutting mats are super nice, they keep your working surface nice and not-cut into, but they also keep your blades nice and sharp, and to cut the leather your blade will need to be sharp.

Metal ruler: Metal. I cannot stress this enough. My recommendation lies upon the cork-backed ones, they don't slip around as much as other ones, and if you ever find yourself using a dip pen with your work, the raised-up ruler works with ruling pens. Plastic rulers are closer to being dangerous than helpful, if your knife snags on the plastic indents and cuts into the ruler, you may find yourself with shorter fingers than before.

Utility Knife: With a sharp blade. You'll be cutting paper and leather, an X-acto won't cut it. (Get it?)

Sewing needle: Typically I use a curved needle, but use whatever you're comfortable with. Make sure it is the smallest needle that your thread fits into, as to not gouge larger holes in your paper.

Pencil and eraser: Writing a description for this specifically is a joke. A joke to keep this typed section unified and not skipping things. I hope you realize this.

Awl: It's a pointy thing meant to stab holes into things. A thumbtack will suffice for the paper portion, but if you have a leather awe for some reason, it works quite a bit better, especially if you plan to sew anything into the leather, like lace in the example. A half decent leather awe will not only poke a hole into the leather, but slightly cut it so it stays open. This makes sewing worlds easier, but again, if you're only making one tiny book, it may not be worth it to buy an awe. A thumbtack works, or even a thin nail with a hammer (although for the hammer/nail method, I'd have a scrap piece of wood underneath) Also, I misspelled the word "Awl" like "Awe" when I first posted this Instructables, so if you see the word "Awe," know I mean "Awl."

Needle nose pliers: You'll be undoing one single link of chain and closing it onto another chain link. If you can do that with anything other than tiny pliers, you're amazing and I applaud you.

Leather hole punch: It's for the eyelets, I actually sometimes use hole punches intended for paper crafting, but with them I use a hammer.

Eyelet tool: Unless you leave out the eyelets, you'll need a tool which works with your eyelets.Now that I've given you a speech about the materials, we can move on.

Thank you for your patience, now onto the tutorial!

Step 1: Cutting Paper

What's needed:

  • Cutting surface
  • Utility knife
  • Metal ruler
  • Paper
  • Pencil (optional)

Start by getting the above ready, you can jump to cutting by lining your paper up with the grid on your mat or by measuring to cut 1.5" x 2.5" rectangles. The long side can be trimmed, but the short edge is nearly impossible later on. These pages will be folded in half, so you can stop cutting when you're at least half-happy with your stack of paper, since it'll be doubled.

Step 2: Fold Pages

What's needed:

  • Paper stack
  • Bone folder

Real simple: fold your paper in half.

Complicated translation: line up the corners of the short ends of the paper together and use your bone folder (or butter knife or nails or credit card etc...) to crease the paper so you've got a nice, flat book.

Next up, stack your pages together into sections. To do this, stack 2-3 folded pages together and collect them until you're happy with the amount of book to your book block.

Step 3: Prepare for Sewing

What's Needed:

• Folded paper
• Bone folder
• Awl
• Thread

Designate a "first section" and punch holes into this about 1/4 of an inch from the edge. Use this first punched section to punch holes in the same spots for the rest by nesting them together and poking through the example pages.

Make sure your punched holes line up, if they don't, you'll have to make some new ones, or poke extra holes in the bad sections. Measure your thread by wrapping it around the long edge half as many times as you have sections. For example, I decided to keep 10 sections, each 1.5", and the thread ended up being 22" long.

If you're hoping to trim your pages to be thinner on the short side, you may now do that. If you're trimming to an exact measurement, you can use your grid, otherwise mark it up with your pencil.

To prevent the finished piece from trying to fan out to the extreme, use your bone folder along the flat edge of the spine to crease it more flat (see picture).

Step 4: Sewing

Here's the difficult part, but as you go ahead and try it yourself, you'll find it isn't as difficult as it seems.

First two sections:

You're basically tying these together in a loop. You start by poking into section 1 from the outside, leaving a tail sticking on the outside. Exit through the other hole and poke into section 2 from the outside. Tie a knot to the tail end, then enter section 3.

Exit section 3 through the other hole and before entering section 4, loop your needle through the string which connects sections 1 & 2. Do this with every section, looping through the string that connects the previous sections before going to the next one, and tie a knot at the end.

If you need further reference, this is done like the end rows of a coptic stitch binding.

Step 5: Endpages

What's Needed:

  • Book block
  • Cardstock
  • Bone folder
  • Ruler
  • Utility knife
  • Cutting mat
  • Pen/pencil

Summary: Cutting cardstock to serve as the endpages.

First, use your ruler and bone folder to score and fold the cardstock once so that it's a bit longer than your book block. Line up the spine with this edge loosely and score/fold another edge so the cardstock can fit loosely around the book block.

Set your book block inside of it and mark it up to trim so it's as tall as your book block. (Image 2) Hold book block next to cardstock copy and mark where the coptic stitching is, as you need to trim the cardstock so it fits more snugly. Take your blade and carefully cut these slits out.

Apply glue to book block along spine and place cardstock back over. Use your bone folder to scrape cardstock deeply into spine. Allow the book block to dry with something holding the pages down, this will help prevent it from fanning out later on. When this is dry, you can trim the cardstock on the edge away from the spine to line up with the rest of the pages.

An alternative to gluing this part is to sew it into place, for this, you loop around what you've sewn and through the gaps of the cardstock.

Step 6: Preparing Cover

What's Needed:

  • Leather scrap
  • Book block
  • Box knife
  • Cutting surface
  • Metal ruler
  • Eyelets/tool
  • Leather hole punch
  • Thread
  • Decoration
  • Awe
  • PVA glue
  • Chain

Start off by measuring your book block's long edge, this is the first measurement you'll cut the leather. Instead of cutting that to perfectly match your block, you'll want it somewhere between 1/4 and 1/8 of an inch wider, so there's a little overhang on the edge.

Next up, and this is easier if you line it up on the grid of your cutting mat, but you're going to cut one of the short ends so it's two squared corners, right angles, 90 degrees. Line this edge up on your book block so it's about the same distance from the edge as the top and bottom. Wrap this the rest of the way around the book, leaving a bit extra so the spine isn't tight, and then trim the other end the same way.

Measure your halfway point and add your eyelets by punching the holes equal distances from the edge towards the center and add the eyelets with your fancy eyelet tool. After you've added your eyelets, you can mess around with the decorations, unless it makes better sense to switch the order of that, but that's aside from the point.

The way I added the decoration in the pictures was I lined up the lace to where I wanted and I found "contact points," places that it made sense to be attached at. I used the awe to poke a hole underneath said contact point, and used the thread to attach lace to the leather from the suede side. With this flower design, it made more sense to start with the center and attach petals outward. Once the flower was sewn on, I tied the ends and glued them down with PVA. After that's dry, you can loop the chain through the eyelets, otherwise you can use a wire to string the chain through after the book is finished.

Step 7: Finishing It Up

What's Needed:

  • PVA glue
  • Book block
  • Cover
  • Pliers
  • Bone folder
  • Wax paper (optional if you're super clean)

Use your pliers to open up a link in the chain of your necklace, and connect it together into being one single loop.

Set a piece of wax paper between the front of the end pages and the first page, use a paintbrush to put glue onto the outside part of the end page. Line this up with your cover and press it down, replacing the wax paper as needed to keep things clean. Use your bone folder to work the cardstock into the leather's suede side, nice and evenly. If you don't have a bone folder, you may want to consider using a metal spoon for this part to keep things as even as possible.

Repeat for other side of the cover, keeping in mind your spine should have room to breathe, since it will fan out worse if it's too tight. Allow the book to thoroughly dry with a slight weight on top, like a book or a bowl. Once it's dry, you've got a gorgeous new necklace, Enjoy!