23 October, 2005

Recycled notebook tutorial part 1

Before getting into all the nitty-gritty of the tutorial it is helpful to learn a couple of terms.  Our notebook will have 2 main parts: boards and textblock.  The term "textblock" comes from bookbinding and refers to all the leaves/pages inside the book.  Leaves are grouped together to form signatures.  The book in my example will have 5 signatures with 3 folded leaves in each (total of 6 double-sided pages per signature).  If I managed to completely confuse you with the terminology, take a look at THIS IMAGE, illustrating different parts of the book.

Now we are ready to start with the tutorial:

You will need the following tools:
  • cutting mat (optional, but helpful)
  • ruler
  • x-acto knife or scissors
  • pencil or pen
  • needle and thread (used in the second part of tutorial.  you might find it easier to use curved, tapestry needle)
  • awl (could be replaced by a thick needle, a knitting needle, or any other spiky object)
  • glue (not shown on the image)
You will also need:
  • one-side printed paper (15 sheets)
  • small cardboard box
  • decorative paper for the covers


You need to fold each one-side printed paper in 4, so that the printed side gets "hidden" inside.  To do so, first fold the page widthwise (printed part inside) and then fold it once again to make a 4 1/4x5 1/2 square

When all your future pages are ready, separate them in groups of 3 (five groups in total) and put one page inside the other, as shown on the picture.  You should end up with 5 signatures.

Using the cardboard box (mine was from my favorite cereal), cut out rectangles for the notebook's covers.  I usually make mine slightly larger than the actual pages: 4 1/2 x 5 3/4
Next, measure and cut out rectangles from the decorative paper to cover the boards.  You will need 2 pieces for each board: one same size as the page and another one slightly larger (~1/2 inch each side)

Glue bigger decorative paper pieces to the cardboard pieces.  Cut out the corners, as shown on the photo.

 Wrap extra paper around the edges and glue it.  Once glue is dried, glue the smaller decorative papers on the other part of the covers.
It is now time to decide where you will be binding signatures.  My book has 4 stitch columns so I spaced the holes equally ~1 3/32 in.  You do not have to be that precise and you do not have to space your stitches equally either.  What you have to do, is mark each signature at exactly the same places (otherwise your notebook will be a little bit crooked).  The best way to do so is to use one of the signatures as a template.

Using an awl pierce signatures.
Next, mark and pierce cover boards. 

Once again, use one of the signatures as a template to decide where to pierce each board.  In my example, I left 1/2 distance from the board's edge.  This distance is completely arbitrary and you can decide to make it smaller or bigger.
Your textblock and boards are now ready to be stitched together.

UPDATE: here is THE SECOND PART of the tutorial