Make your own simple sewn sketchbook

Simple Sewn Sketchbook


Various papers cut to approximately the same height and twice as wide as you want you book to be*

Used Tyvek® envelope or other very strong paper height of book by 2 times the width plus 10 cm

Binder clips

Bone folder, popsicle stick or chop stick

Pencil and ruler

Tack or t-pin

Scrap cardboard or an old phone book

Heavy thread (#10 crochet thread or embroidery floss work well)

Tapestry needle


Masking (or other paper) tape

*It is best to use papers where the fold is parallel to the grain line of your paper. In most commercial paper that comes in pads or packages, the grain is long which means that the grain runs parallel to the long measurement. When you fold with the grain, the paper folds more easily and more smoothly and if the paper curls, it will curl so as not to damage the book.


Here is a video showing how to make this sketchbook

Gather various pieces of paper including various papers, envelopes, doilies, pages from the recycle bin, etc. (see Sketchbook Paper Ideas for more ideas).  Fold each page in half so the fold is parallel to the grain line.

To make a piercing template or piercing jig, cut a piece of paper the height of the book and about 8 cm long. Fold it in half. Mark the centre of the paper and mark 1 cm in from the top and the bottom on the fold. Mark the top right corner with a T to indicate that this is the top.  Mark the top right of each signature as well.

Open the signature to the centre page. Even out all the pages and arrange any shorter pages within the signature.

Slip the piercing jig into the centre of the signature and clip into place.

Place on sturdy cardboard, on top of a surface that will not be damaged by piercing. Pierce through the piercing jig and through the signature through the pencil marks you made on the jig. Move one clip off the jig to hold the signature together and remove the other clip and the jig. Repeat for the other signatures. As an alternative to the cardboard, open a phonebook or other large book and put the signature into the open fold. Pierce through and into the fold. Most of the time the fold will not be touched by the piercing, but certainly do not use a book that you really want undamaged. Accidents do happen.

Take out your sturdy thread: crochet cotton, perle cotton or all six strands of embroidery floss. Measure three times the height of the book and thread your tapestry needle. Do not make a knot.

Bring the thread

  • from the inside of the signature to the outside at the centre hole, leave a 5 to 8 cm tail and pull taut,
  • from the outside to the inside at the top hole and pull taut,
  • from the inside to the outside at the bottom hole and pull taut,
  • from the outside to the inside at the centre hole and pull taut.

Make sure that the beginning and ending thread are on opposite sides of the thread that lays down the centre of the fold.  Make sure there is no slack in the thread.

Tie the two ends together in a square knot and cut off excess thread

Next tie the three signatures together to form the book block of the sketchbook. Using a threaded needle to weave under the stitching on the back of the three signatures. In the centre, weave under the stitches at the top of the book and then back through the stitches at the bottom. Tie together while the signature are stacked. You do not want to tie too tightly or you will have a splayed book. At the top and the bottom. just weave under the stitches once at each end.

To secure the signatures together more firmly, use a good quality non-painters masking tape or other paper tape to stick two adjacent signatures together. Cut a strip of tape the same height as the book. Open the book flat in between two signature. Centre the tape over the two signatures.

Cut away any excess tape. Rub (or burnish) the tape down.

If the last or first page of signature is smaller than the next page, once the tape is attached, slit the tape in between the edge of the shorter page and the longer page.

To attach the cover, slip the book block into the Tyvek® and make sure that the book block is centred in the cover. Open the cover and put a piece a tape over the edge of the signature at the front of the book. Half the tape shoud be on the signature and the other half should be loose. Fold the tape back toward the signature and either fold the book or the cover over to stick the cover to the book block. Rub to burnish the tape onto the signature and the cover.

You may want to reinforce this attachment, by overlapping another piece of tape over each edge of the first piece you put down.

Fold the edges of the cover over the first pages of the book to determine where to fold the cover. Burnish the fold. Use these flaps to fold over the fore edge of the book to protect it when you are not using it and secure the book with a rubber band. Decorate the cover to your hearts content and then fill the sketchbook with your ideas, experiments and sketches.


One Response to Make your own simple sewn sketchbook

  1. Pingback: Video and instructions for a Simple Sewn Notebook | Magda Makes with Kids

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