Recently, I embarked on the exciting journey of making a handmade book. The finished product came out beautifully, but in my true fashion, I neglected to take pictures of various stages or document in any way what I did: you know, the sorts of things that would be helpful for a tutorial. But there are lots of good ones already on the web, so I’ll be linking to the ones I used and offering my own advice and suggestions along the way.
The first thing I did was tear apart my old phonebook and make the paper myself, but that’s definitely a post for another time.
Cut your paper down to be twice the size you want your book to be, so when you fold it in half, it will be the right size. Fold each piece in half, and stack them inside of each other in groups. Press the back of a spoon over the folds to make sure they are evenly creased. My paper was thick, so I had only 3 sheets inside each other, so when folded there was 6 pages that looked like their own little book. If you’re using regular printer paper, you could probably fold 5-8 pages together in a set, called a signature. Make as many signatures as you need to get your desired book thickness. Mine had only 3, again, since my paper was so thick.
Next, you’ll need to prepare your signatures to be stitched by poking holes in them. You’ll need either an awl or a hammer and nail as well as a piece of cardboard, and a phonebook. This site shows a great technique for getting the holes just right.
Once you’ve gotten the holes punched, then you’ll need to stitch them together. Most sites advise against using cotton thread or embroidery floss and strongly suggest linen thread. I used some kind of thread I had on hand from beading. It had the texture of thin, yet strong dental floss. I have no idea what it was made of, but it worked ok. I double-layered it, just in case. Actually, I imagine just waxed dental floss would be fine to use too. As long as you don’t mind a little mint-y scent in your book :). I used this site as a guide for stitching the signatures.
From here, I started following this tutorial. Put a layer of glue along the spine of your book block, to firmly hold the binding and ensure there are no large gaps between certain pages. I used tabs like in this tutorial, except I forgot to place them under the stitching, so they were glued on top instead.
That same tutorial site has helpful instructions for making your cover as well, unless you have an old hardcover book you are refilling with something new. I used an old shoebox and cut a front and back slightly larger than the inner pages, and a spine the width of my book block. To attach the three pieces of the cover, I used some sort of fabric tape I had around. I actually liked the texture of the tape so much I covered my whole book in it. You could probably use duct tape, and I bet it would be fine. Or glue pieces of fabric, as the tutorial suggests. And instead of coating the cover with one layer of the same paper, I decoupaged mine with brightly colored paper scraps, thin enough for the fabric texture from the tape to show through, so it looks like I used fabric pieces instead of paper.
Then, taking my finished book block and finished cover, I trimmed two pieces of cardstock to serve as the end papers. The cardstock gets folded in half, just like the book pages, except one half is glued to the inside of the cover, and the other half is glued to the first page in the book block. The other piece goes in the back, between the last page and back cover. Check out the pictures here in steps 4-5 for a visual.
And finally, the results of my work: a really cool homemade journal, made mostly with junk from my recycle bin.