DIY: Bookbinding by Super Duper Things

This week’s blog post has been written by London Local Team member Louise Evans, owner of Etsy shop Super Duper Things where she sells original artwork, prints, posters and notebooks. She’ll be guiding us through the steps to show us how we can make our very own notebook!

Have you ever considered learning to bind your own books? I find it an immensely rewarding craft, perfect for making special gifts and using up all those bits of nice paper one might have been hoarding for years (or is that just me?!). The good news is that you can get started with the most basic type of bookbinding in just an hour or so with no particularly fancy equipment. Sound good? Then lets get started!

You will need:

– a piece of card for your cover

– a few sheets of paper for your pages, I’d recommend starting with 7-10. This can be any kind of paper you like, though it’ll be a bit easier for starters if it’s not too thick.

– some quite thick thread, ideally waxed, but embroidery thread will work

– a sharpish needle with an eye large enough for your thread

– a craft knife

– a cutting mat

– a ruler, preferably a metal one

We’re going to do what’s called a three-hole pamphlet stitch, which is lovely and easy and once you’ve got the basic theory you can go on and make all sorts of things.

We’ll start by cutting our cover and pages all to the same size, and then folding them in half to form a loose book. I’ve got a piece of one of my Azulejos prints for the cover, some coloured and white paper, and a piece of graph paper.

If you suspect that bookbinding might be your calling, I’d encourage you to invest in a bone folder for the future. The kings of bookbinding equipment Shepherds Falkiners have some nice ones, and it’s always fun to poke around their shop! [LINK:]

When all your sheets are folded, take your ruler and use your knife to mark three equally-spaced holes along the folded edge – sometimes it’s easier to do this in batches. Use your needle to make sure that all the holes go right through (this’ll make the stitching go more smoothly later!)

Now stack all your sheets in the order that you want them to be in the finished book, with the cover on the outside, and all the folds going the same way so that the pages are nestling (spooning?!) correctly. Open them out and lay them flat in front of you.

Right then! We’re ready to stitch. Thread your needle and here goes. Don’t worry, its easy! Have a look at the image below. Now take your needle and thread, and starting from the outside (of the cover), we go:

– in at point B

– back out at point C

– round the outside to go in at point A

– back out again at point B.

Hurray! That’s it – that’s the hardest part over with. Pull the ends of the thread that are sticking out the centre hole as tight as you can, then tie them together in a knot. It’s best if each thread is on a different side of the centre stitch when you knot them together so that it holds it firmly in place.

Now, give the fold a bit of encouragement – you can open it up and rub the fold at random points throughout the book to help it hold a little bit more ‘shut’ if you like. Admire your excellent stitching as you go.

You’ll probably notice that some of the pages, especially the ones in the middle, are sticking out of the cover a bit. This is called ‘creep’ (yes – official bookmaking terminology!).

You can by all means stop here and consider yourself done, your book is bound after all. But I like things neat (at least in bookbinding, if not in housework) so I’m going to trim my edge.

With the book shut, place your ruler against the cover’s edge and, holding the rule very firm, use your craft knife to trim the excess paper that’s peeking out. It’s safer to do several lighter, more controlled cuts than to try and cut them all in one stroke. It also really helps if your knife is as sharp as can be.

Ta-dah – we’re done! Not so complicated, huh? Now that you know how it works, you can pretty much bind any simple book you like. You can even go on and try 5, 7 even 9 hole stitches – the principal is the same. Feel free to cover the cover in stickers, fill it with Winnie-the-Pooh fan fiction, whatever floats your boat.

Louise x

You can find kits with paper, card, thread and needle ready to go at Louise’s shop here so you can get started easily!  

DIYLondon Local Team