Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Make your own long-stitch bound journal : a photo heavy tutorial

If you have arrived here from the UKScrappers Art Journey - welcome! This is the tutorial for the “making your own journal” option.

If you have come from elsewhere – you’re also very welcome :) please enjoy the tutorial in its own right 

Step by step, I'll go through exactly how I made the journal pictured in my last blog post.  Hopefully you will find it easy to follow, and might be inspired to make one of your own (and if you do, I'd love to see it!)

Like many art journallers (or should that be art journallists??), especially those with a scrapbooking background who are used to having patterned paper to use as a foundation, I often suffer from “white page syndrome” – starting with a completely blank page, or, scarier still, a completely blank spanking new journal, can be daunting!

So here are instructions to build yourself a journal that starts its life already full of colour, pattern and texture, just enough to give your pages that little head start…

You will need:

1)      Various papers
2)      A ruler
3)      Paper trimmer or scissors and a steady hand
4)      Leather, grungeboard, upholstery fabric, or any other durable, flexible material to cover your book
5)      Awl or other sharp pointy tool
6)      Waxed bookbinding thread (if you have no ready waxed thread you can make your own by pulling embroidery thread through a block of beeswax)
7)      A large needle
8)      A small plate or saucer
9)      Optional – leather cord or ribbon to make a book closure

Step one – gather papers

This is the most fun step – as you get to rummage through your stash of papers, ephemera, even fabrics, to find potential pages for your new book – who doesn’t love to spend a few hours paper stroking?

Ideal candidates:

Heavyweight scrapbook papers – especially double sided

Pages from old books and dictionaries, sheet music, braille paper

Hand painted and inked papers left over from old projects or experiments

Handmade and speciality papers

Some plainer papers – thin cardstock, watercolour paper etc – to balance out all the patterns

Old postcards – both the picture and written sides will make an interesting base for a journal page

And anything else you think might work – acetate panels, felt and stiff fabric, perforated cardstock, go on, throw it all into the mix!

Other ideas – envelopes, junk mail, your own photographs….honestly, anything goes!

Step two – prepare your signatures

“Signatures” are simply the bookbinding world’s word for groups of pages.  For this book, we will be using three-sheet signatures – essentially little folded pamphlets of 6 pages each.

So you will need to sort the papers and ephemera that you sorted out in step one, into groups of three that go together fairly well, and then cut these to size.

For my book I settled on a page size of 7.5” height by 5” width – so I cut most of my sheets to 7.5” by 10” and then folded in half.  At least the outside page of each signature needs to be full size, but inner pages can be smaller.

Fold all pages, especially the trickier ones like acetate sheets, firmly with a bone folder to ensure a crisp fold

Add some flaps and pockets to some pages as they will be fun to work with later on:

(apologies for the state of my work table in some of these pics, by the way, it has so much old paint on it that it’s a minor work of art in its own right! :) 

And cut some small mini insert pages from scraps to add in here and there:

If any of your papers are too thin and flimsy, glue two or more sheets together with a glue stick or gel medium, to provide a more heavyweight foundation: 

Join unconnected or smaller pages together at the fold point with decorative tape:

Eventually you will have a set of signatures, each containing three folded sheets, all cut to size and ready to bind:

I am making a big book here, with many signatures, you might want to aim for something smaller – 5 or 7 signatures makes a nice book, but any odd number works well.

Step three – binding the book

First you need to make yourself a guide.

Take a scrap piece of cardboard, the height of your book (in my case, 7.5”), fold it in half, and mark a cross on the fold half an inch from each end.

Then divide the distance between these two crosses into 5 and mark 4 more crosses equally spaced along the rest of the guide, as below:

Use an awl or other similar sharp pointy tool (a needle or drawing pin would do the job at a pinch), to make holes through the centres of the crosses. 

Use this guide in the middle of each of your signatures in turn, to make holes in the right places in the folds:

You will end up with a stack of pierced signatures like these:

Next, cut a section from whatever you are using to cover your book – I am using an offcut of leather – but any strong/durable yet flexible material – eg grungeboard/grungepaper, leather-like vinyl, upholstery fabric- will work well.  This needs to be a little taller than your book, and wide enough to loosely wrap around your full set of signatures with a generous overlap (see below):

Place your stack of signatures on the cover material in such a way that the front cover piece folds over with around half an inch overhang, and then carefully open it up leaving the signatures in place, and use a ruler to mark the left hand edge of your bottom signature:

Mark a line along the right hand edge of the ruler, and use your guide, folded, to pierce six holes.
Work along to the left, piercing a set of holes for each of your signatures, just under quarter of an inch apart:

Once you have pierced all of your binding holes – in my case I decided to go with 11 signatures in the end – so I pierced 11 sets of 6 holes – you might want to cut a slit to put your closure ribbon/cord through later on.  This is entirely optional, but if you do want one it’s a lot easier to cut it now than after you have bound the book!

Cut two slits with a sharp craft knife about half way down what will eventually become the spine of the book (in between the 3rd and 4th holes heightwise, and in the middle of your signatures widthwise)   

You can see the positioning on this picture of the finished book:

Now you are ready to start sewing.

Place your last signature (the one that will end up at the back of the book) against the right-most set of holes in the inside cover (where you made your ruler mark), and thread your needle with a manageable amount of waxed thread.

Start sewing from inside the book, at the second from bottom hole – and leave a tail of thread a few inches long:

Sew with a simple running stitch (out one hole, in the next) up to the top hole, keeping the thread pulled tight as you go.

Then introduce your second-from-last signature, and sew to the left and into the top hole of the new signature, and use running stitch all the way down this new signature to the bottom hole.
And carry on running up one signature, over to the left, down the next signature, over to the left, and so on, remembering to pull the thread tight as you go.  You should see this pattern emerging on the outside spine of your book:

At some point along the way, you will probably run out of thread and need to add a new length in.
To join the new thread, make a weaver’s knot, which is very secure and can be positioned precisely (this is best done inside the book, not on the outside):

Make two loops in the new thread:

Put the right hand loop through the left hand loop as so:

Tighten the left hand loop, but not completely:

Put the old thread (B) through the big loop in the new thread.  Tighten the knot at C by pulling the new thread at A.  Trim the ends leaving around a quarter of an inch.

The final knot looks like this:

When you have bound in all of your signatures, sew back the other way, filling in all the missed stitches at the ends, and doubling up all of the stitches in the middle for all but your first and last signature.

The completed bound spine will look like this:

Your thread will emerge at the end back where you first started, where you left the tail of thread in the first signature you sewed.  Tie the two loose ends together with a normal double knot and trim the ends to complete the binding process:

Step Four: finishing touches

Use strong scissors to carefully trim your cover material to size at the top and bottom of the book, and the front cover, leaving approximately quarter of an inch overhanging the pages:

For the back cover, we want a generous amount of overlap for the book wrap, as trust me, once you start art journaling in this book it will grow and grow!

So leave more than you think you need, and then cut the edge into a semi circular shape using a small plate as a template:

Add a leather cord or ribbon to keep the book closed, and that’s your new art journal built, and all ready for you to fill it with pretty :) 


Virginia said...

Wow Sarah that's awesome - I've read it from beginning to end and want to start one now - but have to go to work grrrrrrrrrrrrrrr - thank you so much for the information - it's awesome!


Carmen said...

Just an amazing, amazing post. You know I love this and all your journals. Great stuff Sarah :)

Kathy McCreedy said...

What a terrific tutorial and journal! Brava!!! One suggestion for getting past that "white page syndrome" is to cover the page with black gesso and then put a thinned layer of white gesso over that once the black gesso is dry. Actually any color of gesso over the black is interesting... you can sand the edges, scrape some of the white away, do all kinds of things to distress the page before you get going on it. Laying down a layer of black gesso first really makes for an interesting background... if you're into making your own, that is!
Thank you for stopping by my site and leaving such a nice comment... you asked what theme I chose for my sketchbook, and I left it "undecided", which, as you can probably tell, is about the only appropriate theme for my goofy little collaged book that would fit! :D
Your journals are to die for and your tutorial was first rate, thank you again!

Anonymous said...

this is a wonderfully, fantastically, amazing post! thank you so much for sharing. i know you put a huge amount of time and energy into this -- you are such a generous soul! this is gorgeous and i want to make myself one too. xx

Effie said...

Fantastic... Clear and concise...

Alix said...

oh thanks for your tut...i'm off to buy bits and bobs now!!

HannahBanana said...

Thanks for this Sarah - I definitely think I'll be having a go at making one of my own. Lovely project.

ForgedinPaper said...

Fab tutorial. Thanks for sharing!

Jessica Pye said...

This is so awesome! My boyfriend and I want to make journals for each other this weekend! We'll definitely have to do this!

melissa said...

I have been looking for something like this for so long! A travel version though. Now i know how to and can start now! Thank you so much !

Alexis said...

I was just wondering how long the netire projec took? Did it take a few hours? Or was it like a day project? Also where did you get the cool paper from? A store like Michaels or something? Also what did the actual book be for. Like a journal or something, I'm just really curious.

By the way, coolest project ever.

Lynn Taylor said...

Thank you - I am teaching a longstitch journal course in September and am going to include your lovely ideas of folded paper and taping paper together! Love the way this opens up potential for paper that is not quite the right size.

Unknown said...

This project took me several hours, and was a lot of fun. I love how the journal turned out, and like that all of my memorabilia and old documents could be put to good use. You can literally use any materials you want for this journal, and it turns out looking lovely. I used cut-up gift bags, old school essays, poems, drawings, brown paper lunch sacks, and scraps of leftover fabrics for the inside material. I sewed an old key to the front cover and secured the book with a wraparound leather cord. It turned out great!

Unknown said...

Adorei, muito legal e criativo. Simples e original ao mesmo tempo. Parabéns!!

Unknown said...

Adorei! Simples e original. Parabéns!!!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing! Great tutorial and hope to make one somewhere in the future. Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial Sarah! I've included it in our post 'top 10 Longstitch Bookbinding Tutorials' -

Thanks and keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Great tutorial Sarah! I've included it in our post 'top 10 Longstitch Bookbinding Tutorials' -

Thanks and keep up the good work!

Sarah said...

thanks Paul :)

Valkyrie Pierce said...

I've bound books myself before for journaling, but including different types of paper for the signatures is such a great idea! You've distilled the whole process into a perfect, easy to follow how-to. Thank you so much for this post.

Cindy said...

I have been searching online for several hours now and finally ran across your page. EXCELLENT work & tutorial! Thank you. Now can you show how to make interesting stitching on the outside?

Lacy Nicole said...

Wow. This is a thorough and clear tutorial. Thank you for sharing!