Simple Bookbinding Notebook DIY

Learn a simple bookbinding technique to create your own notebooks or sketchbooks!

Simple Bookbinding DIY Tutorial

I always carry a notebook or sketchbook with me and when I was at art college I often made my own. In fact a lot of my artwork during that time was based around the idea of artists books. I had pinned a few bookbinding tutorials from the web on Pinterest and noticed they were getting a lot of re-pins.

But I couldn’t find any tutorials for my favorite type, soft bound binding. So I decided to make my own. Soft bound binding combines stitching and gluing pages together, with a flexible card cover. I also decided to add a decorative touch with some patterned washi tape!

Simple Bookbinding DIY Tutorial

You will need:
-3 sheets of A4 paper, you can use any type, but a nice cartridge works well
-card for the cover
-washi or paper tape
-thick thread like a linen
-large eye needle
-craft knife and cutting mat
-PVA/white glue and paintbrush
-pencil and ruler
-binder clips
-bone folder, awl,

Preparing the Paper
Simple Bookbinding DIY Tutorial

1. Take one sheet of A4 paper and cut into four equal postcard size pieces
2.Stack them on top of each other and fold them in half. I use a bone folder to make a really crisp fold.
3. Repeat steps 1 & 2 with the other two pieces of paper.You will now have three small booklets, known as signatures in the bookbinding world
4.Take one signature and using a pencil and ruler, mark 2 holes along the inside of the fold, 3cm from each of the edges.To make sewing easier, use an awl (or your needle) to punch holes at the pencil marks. Do the same for the other two signatures

Simple Bookbinding DIY Tutorial

5.Thread your needle with approx. 50cm of linen thread and tie a knot at the other end. I’m using black to make it easier to see, but white generally looks better. Take one of your signatures and take the needle from the outside to the inside
6.Sew through the other hole back to the outside
7. Sew back down the first hole so you are on the inside again.
8.Take the needle under the thread, pull the thread tight so it lies flat against the paper and tie a knot
9.Pass the needle through that same hole, back to the outside and gently pull the knot through the hole so its sits on the spine. Don’t cut the thread at this point
10.Using the same piece of thread (which is still attached to the previous signature) repeat steps 6 – 10 with the other two signatures

Simple Bookbinding DIY Tutorial

11.Tie a final knot and trim off the thread tails.
12.Use the binder clips to hold the three signatures together. I like to use some scrap paper to stop the clips from scratching the paper.
13.Spread a generous layer of PVA glue on the spine and leave until its tacky.
14.Add another layer and repeat one more time. PVA glue is flexible, making it perfect for bookbinding.

Washi Tape Binding
Simple Bookbinding DIY Tutorial

15.Cut the card for the back and front covers to size and use the binder clips to hold everything together. Again, I’m using scrap paper to prevent the clips from marking the cover. Cutting a piece of tape the length of the spine.
16.Attach it, making sure you have an equal amount on each side.
17.Smooth the tape down, making sure it is securely attached.
18.Cut a piece of tape for the cover, this time leaving an overlap of a cm at each end. You can either stick this alongside the edge of the spine tape or overlap with the spine tape like I have. I’m using a paper tape from Paperchase (similar here) that is slightly more opaque than standard washi tape, meaning I can overlay them without seeing the one underneath.
19.Repeat for the back.
20.An optional step is to use a corner rounder paper punch (like this one from X-Cut) to round the corners, Moleskine style!

Simple Bookbinding DIY Tutorial

Simple Bookbinding DIY Tutorial

Simple Bookbinding DIY Tutorial

12 thoughts on “Simple Bookbinding Notebook DIY”

  1. Hi there! I just made my first one tonight and it was so much funnn! 😀 I was just wondering, if I made some changes to the technique, if you would be alright with me selling them in my Etsy shop? I haven’t decided whether or not to, as I would need to get better (my first was a bit sloppy, haha!), but wanted to check with you first before even entertaining the idea for long. Absolutely no worries if you’re not alright with that! Thank you so much for the tutorial! ^.^ I’ll definitely be making many for myself and for friends. 😀 Hope you’re having a wonderful day!
    ~ Hannah <3

    1. Hey Hannah! I have no problem with you selling notebooks on your Etsy, just mention it’s based on this tutorial. Let me know your shop name on Etsy so I can favourite you! Emma x

      1. Thanks so much! 🙂 My shop isn’t open yet, but I will let you know when it is. 🙂 <3 Thank you again!

  2. Pingback: Washi Tape-ideeën | 100 creatieve manieren om Washi Tape te gebruiken - My Blog

  3. What kind of cards do you use for the cover? Is it just a type of cardstock paper? Also, what else would you suggest for covering the binding area other than washi tape? Thank you so much for this great tutorial!

    1. Hi Andrea! I used a general craft card that I already, but any thicker paper or card would be fine. If you wanted something more durable you can use a tougher card. If you don’t have washi or paper tape, you could use a strip of fabric along the edge, then cover the front and back covers with either more fabric or a nice paper!

  4. Hello.
    Welllll..thank you for sharing your enthusiasm. For some reason I found the instructions to be so confusing …. I will need to read it through a few more times to see if I can figure it out. I , admittedly ,have a very hard time when it comes to these kind of instructions. I have not made books like this before., so that may be part of the problem. It is frustrating to me …because …..I really would like to be able to make these cute booklets. Do you have any suggestions for a VERY beginner project.
    Thank you!!!!!! Theresa

    1. Hi Theresa, is a particular part that you are confused by? If it’s the measurements, you really can just eyeball it! You aren’t going to see from the outside anyway. As for the stitching, it’s just a simple stitch, nothing special, and again if you do it slightly differently, it won’t make a difference. Sometimes instructions only make sense when you are actually making, so have a go and you might surprise yourself! Hope this helps, Emma

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