Handbound Journals

by curiouslycrafty on 21/08/2006

in Paper+Mixed Media

This tutorial has been brought to you by Steph Hung of Curiously Crafty. With a compulsion for creative wonders, she has her hands in too many cookie jars…

Welcome to the wonderful world of journalling! I promise, if I can make one then you can too. The following instructions will make a journal that is 5 3/4″ x 4 1/2″.

(All of the pictures have also been posted at flickr.)



  • 60 – 70lb. paper (I use 20 sheets per journal)
  • one sheet of white paper for the cover guide, cut to 5 3/4″ x 9 1/2″
  • decorative paper for end papers (I used scrapbook paper. You will need 2 papers that measure 5 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ each)
  • cardboard
    • covers are 5 3/4″ x 4 1/4″ each
    • spine is 5 3/4″ x (width of pages; to be discussed later)
  • fabric (1/2″ wider than cover guide on all edges)
  • pencil
  • scissors
  • glue
  • wax paper
  • clothespins/paperclips
  • ruler
  • sewing needle
  • strong thread (you can buy bookmaking thread, or just use hand-quilting thread)
  • bone folder (*optional)
  • awl (*optional)


Part 1: Sewing the pages

  1. Cut pages in half, leaving you with 40 – 8 1/2″ x 5 1/2″ papers.


2. In groups of five, fold papers in half.

bone folding.JPG

Each group becomes a signature.

3. When all the papers are folded, squeeze the signatures together at the fold. Measure this width; measuringcoverspine1.JPG

You can now cut the spine cover at this width.

4. With a book this size, you will need 4 sewing holes. Mark a vertical line 1/2″ in from either end of the page, and then mark 1 1/2″ from those lines.


5. Punch holes through the signatures where they have been marked.


6. Now comes the sewing. This is what you should have at this point:


Write “top” on the top page to help keep your orientation of the signatures when sewing. Thread up your needle, knot it 2″ from the end, and here we go:


Go into #1, come out #2, go into #3, come out #4. Go down to #5, come out #6, go UP into #7 (also hole #3), come out #8 (also hole #2), go DOWN into #9, and out #10. At this point tie a knot with the string end that is hanging at #1.

*the blue lines indicate which sewing lines will be visible to you.

Go into #11, come out #12, go UP to #13, come out #14, go DOWN to #15, and come out #16. String the thread through the loop that was created between #4 and #5, and carry on as before.

**remember: you are only ever working with 2 signatures at any time. Try and keep the thread as taut as possible.

7. When you are finished sewing, you should have something like this:


8. Apply a layer of glue to the spine, wrap in wax paper, and clip in place with paperclips/clothespins.


Allow this to dry for at least 1/2 hour.

Part 2: Making the book cover

* try to use a medium weight fabric such as cotton, as a heavyweight fabric will be difficult to glue down and a lightweight fabric may show glue seeping through. you don’t need to iron the fabric (see below).

1. Lay out your covers, spine, and cover guide.

covers and coverguid.JPG

When the covers are laid on top of the cover guide, there should be 1/8″ space between the covers. measuringcoverguid.JPG

If not, trim your cover guide.

2. Glue the covers to the guide.


3. Now glue the covers to the fabric, with the cover guide UP.


Pull the fabric taut underneath to stretch out any wrinkles.

4. Glue down the corners.


5. Glue down the edges of the fabric, trying to make precise corners.


6. Allow the cover to dry, pinning in place if necessary.


Part 3: assembling your book

1. With wax paper underneath, apply glue to your first page.


2. Press it to the front cover, leaving a 1/8″ margin on all 3 sides.


3. Repeat steps 1&2 for the last page. Push the signatures back into the spine.


4. Fold your endpapers in half.


5. Apply glue to the inside of the front cover, and the inside edge of the adjacent page.


Smooth endpaper on top.


Repeat for the last page.

6. With wax papers between covers and pages, place your book under a heavy weight and allow to dry for at least 24 hours.

7. Tada! Admire your freshly made handbound book.


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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leah August 21, 2006 at 12:18 pm

Wow! Your instructions look straightforward, and I’m itching to get started.

Thanks for both inspiration and instructions!


2 craftapalooza August 21, 2006 at 1:25 pm

Hey – excellent tut, thanks!


3 beverly August 21, 2006 at 6:33 pm

I can’t wait to try this!


4 esther August 22, 2006 at 12:18 am

I always wanted to know this so much thank! wonderful, wonderful! I have to work tonight…. But tomorrow i’m making my one book!


5 allena August 22, 2006 at 2:27 am

that’s wonderful thank you so much i’ve always wanted to make journals!


6 Dawn August 22, 2006 at 3:50 am

This is a great tutorial!!!
…just finished my own journal today for the {21} day journal challenge over at Rhonna Farrer’s {dreamy} blog…..I used the tutorial from Teesha Moore..


7 Tsoniki August 22, 2006 at 9:53 am

Thank you!! Straightforward and easy to follow instructions, I’m going to make one asap!


8 Marla August 22, 2006 at 6:01 pm

Thank you for a great tutorial! I’m going to make one in the near future.


9 Mimi September 2, 2006 at 1:12 am

Thanks for stopoing by my blog and taking time to comment on my handbags, I love your blog, you have a little bit of everything to keep me entertained.


10 Nancy October 20, 2006 at 5:25 am

What a great tutorial–after coming back a dozen times to look at this page, I finally tried it, and now have a genuinely beautiful blank book in my hand, with handmade paper covers. Can’t believe I made it myself. I know what everyone’s getting for Christmas this year–thank you!


11 Lisa Thiessen April 22, 2007 at 1:52 am

Thanks so much for posting this tutorial. I close friend of ours passed away last weekend, leaving behind his wife and 4 children. I’m in the process of making a journal for each of the children – a place to keep the memories of and letters to their Dad. Thanks for the guide for making the books. You’ve allowed me to give them something special and personal at a tough time in their lives.


12 Esja September 27, 2007 at 7:07 pm


I’m not so good in handkrafing. But i really want to try this one out. For me it works. Step by step it turned in to a book. It’s not (yet) the kwality that i would give it to someone as a pressent, but it sticks together and i am proud. I really gonna make another one and i am sure that will looks great at the end.

so thank you verry much for this good discription.



13 Celia December 9, 2007 at 4:32 pm

I just made one for my grandma and it turned out beautifully…especially for a first timer! thanks for the easy instructions!


14 Kym December 19, 2008 at 5:50 pm

I ‘. making this for my brother and his girlfriend. I’m using a really soft black and purple paisley pattern. It looks really nice. I finished one of them and it’s so great. I ran out of glue, and we’re having a bit of a blizzard so I won’t be able to finish the other until tomorrow, but they’re perfect for a gift. Super cute.


15 Amber February 28, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Can you use this same idea for a larger journal, or would it be too heavy? I have a picture that’s 10×10 that I wanted on the cover, so I wanted to make a handbound journal that was about 12×12.


16 Tet November 28, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Wow! Finally, I found a great tutotial on making handbound journals! Great work!


17 Laura June 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm

This is great! One question: at the bottom of the list of supplies an optional bone folder is listed — what is it for? Thanks.


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