Photos and Post By Emelie Sanders.
When Momma takes us to the bookstore we each get a book; sometimes two–it depends on her mood, really.
Usually, I take the longest time. I quickly scan the fiction area, then turn to the small nook of craft books. This recent visit I found How to Make Books: Fold, Cut & Stitch Your Way to a One-of-a-Kind Book by Esther K. Smith.
I have already made just about every book except the “Cake Box Book”. I don’t make cake from cake mixes so I used a TLC granola bar box instead.
I highly recommend reading all the way through before starting. It’ll kill minutes of confusion.
First, we need supplies. Loads of them. As in:
» a box of some kind (take into consideration the size)
» paper (I used 100% recycled, lined paper I tore from an old notebook)
» a ruler (a foot long ruler is long enough, I assure you)
» a pen
» thread (waxed linen is the best, but I used floss due to a shortage of waxed linen)
» an envelope (this is optional, I like using it as a pocket inside)
» a hammer
» a thin nail
» some kind of banging platform (piece of 4×4 or just a piece of wood)
» graph paper
The first step is the only step I messed up on.
Open the bottom and cut a slit on the side you do NOT want as your spine.
Do not do what I did. I simply cut the spine off, making a clever book for lefties. So let’s just pretend this book was made for my father or brother.
Then, cut off the leftover pieces. I also highly suggest you recycle the pieces.
Take the graph paper and cut out a piece exactly the size of the spine. This is our lovely stencil/template type thing. Using the picture above and below, estimate where the dots should go. Where you place them does not matter, but the proportions somewhat matter.
The dots are where we will make the holes in the spine. Each column of dots is where a single signature will be sewn in.
A signature is a group of papers folded in half, collected together for sewing.
In this book I will have six signatures gathered together to create my book. Each signature will have about eleven papers folded in half. This should be thought about before determining how much paper is needed for your book.
Now, using the “banging platform”, hammer and nail, we’ll make holes where the dots are!
If the template is jiggling around, you can use paper clips or alligator clips to hold that sucker down.
Cut out a piece of graph paper as large as the cover. You will use this to create a template for the pages that will be bound inside.
Then, from this template, trace an outline of it on another piece of paper. Then, flip it right over and trace it again–parallel to the first one, creating a long rectangular sheet of paper that will be folded in half later.
Once traced, cut-out the whole rectangular piece of paper! It should look like this.
After you’ve done one sheet, use this paper to do the same to the rest of your papers! Simply throw away your square template and use your first cut sheet as your new template.
After the paper is cut, go ahead and fold it in half. Do the exact same to all the papers. Having a system helped me, it might help you as well. I traced the rectangle on every sheet, then cut every sheet and then folded them!
Sometimes it helps to have a bookbinding guardian. Usually, I’d choose a monster because they don’t talk often, but today I chose Finn; he simply stared at me while I took pictures of my progress.
At this point, I was relieved to finish the repetitive folding.
Divide your papers up into piles to be made into signatures.
Remember, I planned to have six signatures, thus the six piles. Just stay true to your number of holes in the spine.
Lay the folded pieces on top of each other and try to match their creases the best you can. Clamp them together so they are secure and prepare to use your banging platform again!
As you can see, Momma is still working through her crap clips.
Using your very first template, line it up next to the crease of your first signature. Make small dots all the way down the crease, matching the template.
Use your hammer and bang the nail into the paper at each dot, making holes. This is repetitive, but do the exact same thing to every single signature.
Now for the sewing part. In the beginning, this was truly befuddling. So don’t tie a knot at the end of your thread, make it long and try to keep up!
Take your box that is now a cover and spine! Place the first signature on top of the cover, making sure your holes match up! Keep the three holes that are closer together at the top, okay?
Start sewing from the outside of the box into the first top hole, and leave a tail of thread about five inches (I promise you will benefit from the length), which will eventually be tied and hidden in the book.
Now sew down into the second hole!
Come back up again through the third hole and down the fourth hole. Easy enough, eh?
This next part caused a bit of confusion at first, but it’s a pretty simple concept.
Take your needle, which should be coming out the bottom hole from the back, and thread it right through the hole next to it. Sew it through the bottom hole of that next signature.
You’re going to use these steps again and again until every single signature is sewn in. For the next signature, you’re going to be going up. Which would be kind of backwards.
You’ll get the jist of it as you hold it in your hands and work at it. If push comes to shove, just take the needle off the thread and change where you have already sewn!
With it all sewn, it should look a bit like this. Now you just have two strings to deal with! Let’s make them disappear.
In “How to Make Books” it explained how to do this last step, but I improvised. Let’s just say I like the simplicity and look of my way better.
The last thread your needle was attached to – stick that puppy back on if you took it off.
Sew into the hole next to it at an angle; your needle should appear on the other side NEXT to where you sewed the signature in. Not through the crease of the signature.
Do that once more, but from the inside. Leave that thread dangling and thread the OTHER thread. The five inch one. You’ll be thankful for how much length you graciously gave it.
Sew into the hole next to it at an angle. Again, your needle should appear on the other side NEXT to where you sewed the signature in.
You might need to do this multiple times, just make sure when it meets up to the location of the other thread, stop sewing.
Ready for this last step? You will seriously feel successful and might want to do a few fist pumps.
Just tie it. Or you could make a bow. Whatever floats your boat.
This is optional, I tell you. Go ahead and cut the envelope. Glue or tape the sides together again so your things don’t fall out of the pocket.
Not to ditch on Elmer’s Glue, but do not use it to glue this on. Unless you want little, damp hills all over your pocket.
Now close it. Admire it.
Drool over it.
My mother says, “You can never have too many notebooks.”
This is a fact.
I’ve made several other books using many different materials. I’ve used bubble wrap, cardboard, recycled magazine subscription cards, manilla folders, envelopes, and my own personal illustrations photo-copied on paper. Have you made books? If so, what materials have you used?