Do you already know how to make your own bookmarks? Wouldn’t it be amazing to know how to bind your own spine stitched notebook, too? You can create the perfect place to house your drawings, lists and writings or you can use it to make your own bullet journal. And you can always self-publish your book online, but nothing compares to having the touch of the physical object—plus, it can be a great gift! Wondering how to bind a book the right way? You’re in the right place!
The bookbinding art is an ancient craft, being around for thousands of years! Starting as a handcrafted skill, it progressed into a process anyone can complete with or without spiral binding machinery. In this guide, you will explore the basics of how to bind books with your own hands and handheld tools. All you need to do is check our instructions to follow the old-school route and find the best ways to DIY your own book!
Table of Contents
Step-by-step guide: How to bind a book with tape
One of the most cost-effective and easiest ways to bind a softcover book is to use binding tape. The bind on a tape bound book is very strong, provided you’ve jogged the pages well, and you’ve allowed the PVA glue to cool and cure. Keep on reading to find out all you need to know about this perfect binding method!
What you’ll need
- Linen or cotton tape
- Scissors or X-ACTO knife
Step 1: Fold the pages in half
Use a bone folder or run the top of your nail over the fold to smooth it down and make it crisp. You may fold the pages individually or fold multiple ones together. If you have many pages, try creating packets of signatures. Wondering what this is? It is a group of 4 sheets folded down the centre.
Step 2: Staple at the folded crease
Staple with the crease facing down, with the flat staple part facing out and the staple “arms” resting on the inside of the crease. If your regular stapler can’t reach the middle crease, use a long reach stapler.
Step 3: Make sure you have 1.3 cm of margin if your pages are printed
If there are any words printed within 1.3 cm of the crease, they will become part of the binding, making them impossible to read.
Step 4: Cut a piece of binding tape about 5 cm longer than the book’s height
You can have a simple or colourful tape. Ensure it is strong enough to hold your book together. For the best support, go for linen or cotton tape and avoid masking or clear tape.
Step 5: Place your tape on a flat surface and press the book into it
You should press your book into the middle of the tape to fold the rest to cover the other book side. If the book is thick, leave a larger tape margin, so you have enough tape to cover the spine and still reach its other side.
Step 6: Wrap the tape around your book’s spine
With your fingers, guide the tape up so that it sticks to the spine of the book. Then, wrap the tape all the way around to cover both the book’s bottom, spine, and top.
Step 7: Reinforce a thick book with several tape layers
If the book has many pages or several signatures, you could try taping it more than once. All you need to do is repeat the process of taping your book until its binding feels secure.
Step 8: Cut any excess tape
Because the tape was longer than your book itself, you should have some excess tape on the book’s top and bottom. Using scissors or an X-ACTO knife, cut the tape as close to the book’s page as possible. Then, you should trim any leftover tape since leaving it there may make your book harder to open.
Using ribbon to bind a book tutorial
Ribbon seems to add a bit of whimsy and elegance to almost anything. You can create that same chic feeling when it comes to binding your books. Whether it’s a photo album, homemade picture book or school book project, scrapbook or any other fun project, you can keep pages neatly bound with ribbon. Follow our step-by-step guide to find out how to bind a book using ribbon!
What you’ll need
- Hand-held hole-puncher
Step 1: Ensure your pages have at least 2.5 cm of margin on the left-hand side
If you’ve printed the pages using a conventional Word document or in a copy shop, you should automatically have the wanted page size and a 2.5 cm of border. If you’ve written them by hand, ensure the writing has a margin or any words on the left-hand edge will be impossible to read.
Step 2: Punch a hole 1.3 cm from the top and 1.3 cm from the left-hand side
For a clean look, use a hand-held hole-puncher. If it’s difficult for you to measure and hole-punch simultaneously, you can mark where the hole should be with a pencil before starting hole punching.
Step 3: Repeat the process on the page’s bottom
This time measure 1.3 cm from the bottom and 1.3 cm from the left-hand side. Make sure your holes line up correctly.
Step 4: Using a ruler, draw a faint line connecting the 2 holes
Use a pencil to make the line in the first page so that you can erase it later on. You may also mark a thick line with a pen or a permanent marker if you want the line to remain on the book cover.
Step 5: Punch holes every 0.65 cm along the line
Ensure your holes are on the line since you’ll be threading the ribbon through them later on.
Step 6: Measure and cut a ribbon that’s twice as long as your book
The ribbon’s thickness and style won’t affect the binding process, so give your all! You may choose a simple black tape for a classic look or a colourful design for something more personalised.
Step 7: Thread your ribbon in and out of each hole
Ensure you don’t completely pull the ribbon through the first hole since you will tie the ribbon binding closed. If it isn’t long enough, take it out and cut a longer piece.
Step 8: Loop your ribbon back through the top and bottom holes and tie
Looping your ribbon a second time reinforces the binding. For an even stronger binding loop, loop it a third time, depending on how many pages you have. Then, tie it off with a simple knot or a fancy bow, and finally cut off any spare part.
Sewing the book’s binding tutorial
Sewing your book’s binding could be a bit more complicated than the previous methods, but is definitely one of the most sturdy and last longing ones. This can also be used if you want to create a small high-quality hardback and hardcover book. Get your needle and thread ready, and follow our guide to help you make things easier for your new project!
What you’ll need
Step 1: Fold the pages in half
To get a crisp fold, use a bone folder or the top of your nail. Depending on the number of pages, you can fold individually or in groups.
Step 2: Use a ruler to measure how long your book is
You don’t have to measure if you know your page measurements. But if you don’t, make sure to measure precisely.
Step 3: Divide the measurement by 6
This method requires 5 holes at the crease. The holes should be equally spread apart, but the spacing between the dots will depend on the paper’s size. For example, if you have a 22 by 28 cm printer paper, divide that by 6 to get 3.6 cm.
Step 4: Mark the dots-stations on the page with a pencil
Mark on the inside of the crease, and with a ruler, make sure your measurements are precise. These dots are also known as stations. The first station is on the “bottom” of the page, and the fifth station is the one on the “top” of the page. For example, if your paper is 22 by 28 cm, your first dot will be 3.6 cm from the edge. Also, each progressive dot will be 3.6 cm up from the previous one. Your fifth dot needs to be 3.6 cm away from the page’s top.
Step 5: Use an awl to pierce each station
Ensure you’re using an awl made for paper or a large needle.
Step 6: Put the needle through the third station and pull about 5 cm of thread through the page
Keep the rest of the thread with your non-dominant hand to ensure you don’t accidentally pull too much through. You may use whatever colour thread you like, but keep in mind that the thread will be visible!
Step 7: Put the needle through the fourth station
Your thread and needle should now be on the inside of the crease. Release the rest of the thread and pull it through as needed.
Step 8: Thread the needle through the fifth station and back through the fourth station
You should get the needle out of station 5 and then loop it back into the fourth station’s hole so that it’s again inside the crease.
Step 9: Go through station 2
Take your needle now on the outside by station 2.
Step 10: Put the needle through the first station and back through station 2
Your needle should go inside station 1 and then go back outside station 2. The thread should now be facing away from the crease.
Step 11: Finish by pulling your thread through station 3
You should now have each station threaded, and the book should have thread both inside and outside the crease.
Step 12: Tie a final knot inside the third station’s crease
The last step is to tie the thread to itself and pull firmly. You may tie whatever knot you’d like as long as it keeps the sewing in place.
Mastering the single sheet binding
This technique suits best when you have many individual sheets, drawings, paintings, etc., that you want to combine into one book. It is a relatively easy technique and is an excellent way for presenting original artwork or photographs. Here are all the steps you need to follow to get the best results!
What you’ll need
- 6 threads
- 6 binding needles
- 2 hardboards or heavyweight card stocks
Step 1: Tape your paper’s straight edge with clear tape to reinforce it
Place half of your tape on one side and fold it over to the other one. Then, repeat with every page.
Step 2: Using a ruler, measure 1.3 cm from the page’s top
If you want a more dramatic look, measure 2 cm from the page’s top.
Step 3: Make 3 marks 2 cm apart
The first one should start 2 cm from the page’s edge. To make sure the marks are straight, make them against your ruler and then repeat the process on the bottom edge.
Step 4: Pierce holes
Stack the sheets of paper in groups of 4 and pierce the holes with your awl or a thick needle. You should use this process to pierce holes in the covers as well.
Step 5: Measure your thread to be about the size of the area times the page number you’ll be sewing
Ensure to cut 6 individual pieces of thread. For example, if you have 20 pages and your area is 5.7 cm long, you’ll need 110 cm of thread for each one.
Step 6: Put the binding needle and thread through the first hole on the bottom page
Then, bring the thread around and tie a knot against itself. The knot should be on the paper’s side that faces “up” and not the edge. Once you’re done with the knot, trim off the end and tuck it in for a cleaner look.
Step 7: Go around to your bottom cover’s first hole and thread the needle through it
Then, pull your thread until it pulls the paper flush with the back cover’s edge, and thread your needle under the first loop you made. Ensure you go under both threads.
Step 8: Use a new binding needle and thread to thread each remaining hole and repeat the looping process
Do you want a more whimsical look? Then choose a different colour thread for each binding hole. If you want a more uniform style, keep all of the thread colours the same.
Step 9: Repeat this process with each subsequent page for each hole
Get a more sturdy book, looping the needle and thread around the saddle stitch below the page you’re currently working on, starting on page 3. After you’ve threaded your paper, looped the thread, and hooked your needle under the first loop, thread the needle under your previous saddle stitching.
Step 10: Bind your front cover like you would bind any regular sheet
You should loop around and under the previous stitch, then thread your needle back inside and open your book. The final step is to tie a knot by looping your thread under the previous page’s stitch. You’re done!
Do you want to start a nature journal, scrapbook or diary? Of course, you can buy a suitable book at the store, but why not save the money and create a unique book yourself? We are sure bookmaking sounds tempting! Then it’s time to rediscover the not-quite-lost art of bookbinding. There are various styles to choose from, from taping your book, binding it with a ribbon, or sewing it in place. None of these bookbinding methods is difficult to do, and with almost no practice, you can get awesome results! Follow our instructions and start with your fun craft project as soon as possible. You’re going to love your new creation!