Saturday, June 7, 2014

Free Tutorial!

I made a little journal this morning for a book swap at the Book & Print Arts Collective meeting coming up this week, and it was so easy and quick that I thought some of you might enjoy having the recipe.  Here's what you need:  one box from a Trader Joe's Dark Chocolate Lovers Chocolate Bar;  one Strathmore spiral bound drawing tablet 4 x 6 inches with 25 sheets of paper in it;  a metal ruler, a mat knife, a sewing machine OR a needle threaded with heavy thread such as buttonhole twist or even dental floss or bookbinder's thread if you have that.

(You can really use any cardboard box from any product.  The TJ chocolate bar box fits the 4 x 6" paper so perfectly.  If you can't get TJ or Strathmore, use whatever you have on hand.)

Step one:  Eat the whole chocolate bar.  Then unglue the box along one of its narrow sides and flatten it out.  Trim off any flaps, leaving a rectangle with a scored section down the middle, which will become the spine of the book.

Step two:  Open the tablet, and lay the ruler right along the base of the holes that thread onto the spiral binding as shown in drawing 2257.  Use the mat knife to cut over and over until you've cut all 25 sheets out of the spiral binding.  You'll have 25 sheets of 4 x 6 inch paper.

Step three:  Fold each of the 25 sheets in half, giving you 25 folded sheets, each 4 x 3 inches .  Nest 5 sheets into each other.  Do this five times, which will yield 5 little pamphlets of 5 folded sheets each.  Stack the pamphlets (also called signatures) and place them under a couple of books to flatten the folds a bit.  Hold out one folded sheet to use for measuring.
Step four:  Place the folded sheet of paper that you've held out inside the TJ box, matching the folded edge of the papers to the spine section of the box.  Mark where you need to trim off the box to make the covers.  The front and back covers will be a little taller than 4 inches and the width from front edge to spine folds will be about 3 1/8 inches, allowing for a little fore edge overlap.  See drawing 2560 to see how to measure the cover with the folded sheet of paper.

Step five:  Flatten out the cardboard cover with the plain cardboard side facing up.  Open out one of the signatures as shown at the top right of drawing 2560, and place the center right at the center of the spine.  Run a stitch either by hand or by machine (preferably treadle for ease of sewing cardboard) down the fold of the signature and the center of the cardboard within the spine.

Step six:  Sew in the other four signatures the same as the first, first pressing the fold up against the previously-sewn fold that is adjacent to it.  Trim threads.  Fold signatures closed after sewing each.

After you do this once, you'll be able to make this book in 15 minutes tops.

Let me know if you have any questions!  It makes a great little carry-everywhere book that will slip into your pocket or small bag.


  1. You are brilliant! LOL! I don't know how you come up with these fun ideas! My husband is still buying kettle chips with the excuse that I will need them someday to make covers for all these journals I'm gonna be making! Ha! ;) Great sketches! ♥

  2. Now he can buy TJ chocolate! I'll bet it goes down well with the saltiness of the Kettle chips and a little red wine!

  3. OH, don't you know it! In Hawaii they used to have a snack called Sailor's Candy. It was chocolate covered potato chips! I thought they were the perfect PMS food! :) Too bad they don't make them any more! But we can always get some red wine! Whoot! ♥

  4. I'm going to try this! I just want to be sure I understand about sewing the last 4 signatures in place. After you've stitched down the center of the first signature, you fold it, and then lay the next signature, open, on top of it, with the center of the signature up against the crease of the original signature's fold? Do you add two to the right of the original and two to the left? In the end, you'll have 5 stitch lines running the length of the spine, right?
    Oh, and no TJ here, but I have a nice Ghirardelli box...