Intro: How to Sew a Softcover Pamphlet
Want to learn how to make your own notebooks instead of buying them? This type of bookbinding is simple and easy, and you can apply these techniques to numerous other types of books!
Step 1: What You'll Need
You're going to need:
-an X-acto knife
-an awl (or anything sharp like a pin)
-a bone folder (or other flat object)
-bookbinder's thread (or any thicker thread can be used)
-several sheets of paper of your choice (I used 8 pieces of 8.5"x11", but anything will work the same)
-a larger sheet of decorative paper or cloth for the cover (You can use newspaper, cut up old sheets, as long as its large enough to be 4x the length of your chosen pamphlet size).
Step 2: Getting Started
First, fold your stack of paper in half to make what is called a section. Don't use too many sheets of paper for one section because your crease will be chunky and the ends won't match up right. I used 8 sheets of 8.5"x11" but anywhere up to 10-12 sheets should work, depending on the size of your paper. Try to be as precise as possible when folding; match the corners to each other and then firmly press down. Use your bone folder or other flat object to flatten the fold you just made.
Step 3: Measure and Cut Out the Cover
Mark your cover paper to be 4x the length of your section, plus one extra inch to tape together. Cut out using your X-acto and a straight edge; put aside for later.
Step 4: Marking the Holes
Mark out an odd number of holes on the crease to sew into later. I use 5 here but 3, 7, 9 and so on will also work. Make sure to leave at least 3/4" on either side of the crease. Place one in the center of the crease.
Fold your cover paper on the extra 1" mark. Then line up this fold with the rest of your folded, marked paper. Once the creases are all lined up, use your awl (or other sharp pin tool) to poke through all layers of paper on the marks you made. This step will make it easier to sew through later.
Step 5: Sewing
Measure out bookbinder's thread to 3x the length of your folded pamphlet. You can really use any kind of thicker thread, but binder's thread is usually waxed and stronger and will lengthen the life of your pamphlet. Once you thread your needle you can begin to sew it all together!
I will label the holes 1, 2, 3, 4,and 5, reading from left to right for clarity.
Start in the middle hole (3) either from the inside of your pamphlet or the outside. Whichever side you choose to start from will be the side your knot will end up in; if you want your knot to be unseen, start from the outside of the fold (the side with the cover).
Go into the middle (3) as the starting point, leaving at least 2 inches of thread out of the hole, and go left, going in through the next hole (2) in the paper. Come back out on the other side and go left again into the last hole (1) on the left. I started in the center (3) and went out through the outside of the pamphlet, back in through the 1st hole to the left (2), back out through the last hole to the left (1). Now we start to come back through the 1st hole to the left (2), back through the center hole (3) and move on to the 1st hole to the right (4) of the center. Then we go back out through the last hole on the right (5), and back in through hole (4).
At this point you have done all of the sewing and should be left with the extra 2 inches of string that you kept from the center hole (3) in the beginning, and the extra string from hole (4), with the ends on the same side of the pamphlet you started on. There should be string connecting all of the holes on the outside of the pamphlet, and all of the ones on the inside except for the space between hole (3) and hole (4), which is where you will tie the knot.
Double knot to be sure your sewing doesn't come undone! Cut off excess string.
Step 6: Folding the Cover
Now that your sewing is done, you are ready to fold the cover of your pamphlet!
The 1 inch flap should be on one side of your folded pamphlet, with the long sheet extending on the other. Fold the longer side over on itself, matching your fold to the edge of your pamphlet, so that the loose end of your cover is coming back towards the center of your pamphlet. Use your bone folder or flat object to flatten this crease.
Then fold the loose end back over the center of the pamphlet, over the stitching and 1 inch flap, towards the other edge of your pamphlet. Flatten the crease.
Next fold the last part of your cover back over itself to match up with the crease where your stitching and extra flap are. Flatten crease. You will be attaching this last part of the cover to the extra flap.
Step 7: Finishing the Pamphlet
Measure out a piece of double stick tape to the length of your pamphlet. Place tape down on the extra 1" flap and place cover flap over it, hiding the 1" flap on the inside of the cover. Flatten. You can use any type of adhesive that is available to you but double stick tape is quick, easy, and mess-free.
If your pamphlet is not completely flat and you want it to be, you can clamp it between two stiff boards or leave it under heavy books for a few hours.
Now you are finished constructing your softcover pamphlet! You can apply these techniques to other types of pamphlets or combine pamphlets into one large book!