Sunday, January 31, 2016

I made another book

After posting about the book I made with Diane's help, Joanne asked if I could make a tutorial. Well...........I am a rank amateur, making my second book—hardly qualified to present a very knowledgeable tutorial, but I decided I would photograph my process, problems and successes of my second effort. We are going to Costa Rica and Nicaragua in a month and I decided I would make a little sketchbook/journal to take along. After several trips to the art and craft supply stores in my area I got most of the tools and supplies I needed, but came up short on some. I had to make some substitutions. The first was the cover. I did not find book board, so I used some mat board that I had on hand. I decided to cover it with fabric, instead of paper. I found a tutorial on YouTube showing how to make fabric suitable for covering books by fusing tissue paper to one side so glue doesn't seep through the fabric. It looked pretty fussy. I've glued fabric to lots of things and decided I could safely skip this step.

I cut the fabric about an inch wider on all sides, than the board and used Mod Podge for paper to glue the fabric to each cover piece. It worked great. I trimmed the fabric at an angle, leaving about 1/8th inch extending beyond the corners, then wrapped and glued that excess around each side, tucking that little excess at the corners to cover the corners of the board. Then I glued a piece of ribbon to use as a tie, to each inside cover before gluing down a sheet of paper to the inside cover. Nice and neat.

Then while all that was drying, I cut paper for the inside of the book. I used a pad of tan drawing paper. The paper is cut into a sheet that will be folded to make two pages. The folded size will be smaller than the cover size. The cover should extend about 1/8th to 1/4th inch on 3 sides, but not on the edge that will be bound. I figured out how many pages I wanted and cut all the paper, then used a bone folder and folded each, separately, in half, then organized the folded paper into signatures, by nesting three folded sheets together. I ended up with 6 signatures.

Now I was ready to bind all the parts together. I would be using the Coptic binding that Diane taught me. Before binding I needed to decide where to create holes to sew the binding through and make those holes, using an awl made for this purpose. I liked the looks of a book I saw online that was bound using a group of three, evenly-spaced holes on each end of the bound edge, with a wider space in the middle. I measured and marked a pattern on a piece of paper the same width as the signatures, then used it to poke the holes through each signature, using a handy little "cradle" that Diane made and gave to me.

The signatures almost matched!

Then the same pattern of holes needed to be made in the cover pieces, but approximately a half inch in from the edge.


After the first cover piece's holes were made I laid it on top of the other cover piece and worked the awl through the existing holes into the piece below, so they lined up perfectly.

Now I was ready to start sewing the book together, by sewing the first signature to the cover, then the next signature to the first and so on. The recommended thread to use is waxed linen, which I was unable to find, so I had to substitute. I settled on hemp cord, which I waxed by running it, several times, over a small beeswax candle. (Then I ordered some real waxed linen from Amazon—it hasn't arrived yet...)

I'm not going to try to explain or show the stitching steps. I found it a little difficult to wrap my head around and I made some mistakes. I think it will take more practice. There are some good directions for Coptic binding online. I liked these two.

Here is my bound edge finished.


I did a couple of things I have seen in other books. I added a couple of little, short pages, just to make the binding a little thicker so that if I want to glue some things into the book, the binding will accommodate the extra thickness. I also made the last page with a folded pocket at the bottom for other additions and souvenirs. I like how this binding method makes a book that lies flat.

Here's how the finished book came out.

Overall, I'm happy with it. The binding seems a little loose. That part was the most difficult. I made one big goof and ruined a signature by pulling the thread tight and tearing through the fold. I made a new one and learned not to do that again!

I think I'm hooked. My next book will be better!



  1. Beautiful book! Thanks for sharing the steps you used. I am sure the next snow day, I'll be desperate for something new to do and this is ideal. Thanks again.

  2. beautiful job, Terri! I've made coptic stitched books and they are a bit confusing to explain. (and yep, I've ruined a signature or two in my time)

  3. Thank you, this post was wonderful. I'm wondering if a product called KraftTex might make an attractive cover?

  4. Krafttex would be an interesting experiment! If you want some, I have a bunch. It is quite thick, but foldable, and can look very much like leather with a bit of effort. It can also be printed, stamped or dyed. It's paper, but you can get quite a nice weathered texture if you run it through the washer.
    I like your book. I made one with signatures once. From the book Micro-crafts, It was a teeny little book about the size of your thumbnail. The pages were stitched and it was cute as heck.

    Thanks for the look into your process. It's always fun to e-hang out in your studio.

  5. I think it looks great and what a good idea to add the short pages to accomodate add-ins.