Saturday, April 10, 2010

Tutorial--Making a Pamphlet-Bound Booklet

We must have nearly a dozen of these little booklets lying around the house.  They are handy things, being useful anytime one needs a little blank book for any purpose.  The older kids know how to make their own, but today Adrian, age 5, wanted one for himself, and I told him he would make it himself.

In my life B.C. (Before Children), I was a bookbinder and restorer, so I have a lot of handy tools lying around (gathering dust most of the time), but the beauty of these booklets is that anyone can make them.

Okay, lets assemble our tools and materials.

First, I have five or six sheets of plain ol' copy paper.  These I cut in half diagonally so that I have about a dozen sheets of 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" paper.  I also have a half a sheet of card stock in some nice color (an old greeting card trimmed to about the right size will do, too).  You can use a straight edge and razor blade or scalpel to trim the paper so that it is slightly smaller than the cover-to-be, maybe 1/8" all around.  I also have a couple of clips--clothes pins or paper clips will do--scissors, stout sewing thread and a tapestry needle (since little fingers are involved), an awl and hammer (something for pre-poking the holes for sewing) and a chunk of board so that the pre-poked holes aren't in the work table, at which you might say upon looking at it, Why bother?  I don't know.  I'm odd that way.  And I have a bone folder.  Not really necessary, but I really like mine, and rarely have an opportunity to pull it out.

Here Adrian is using the bone folder to bone down the fold in the sheets of paper. You can use anything suitable.  He does the same for the cover stock.

I place the paper into the cover and put on the clips to hold the paper centered in the cover.

Now make three marks for your sewing holes.  The two on the ends should be about 1/2" in from the top and bottom of the book, and the third centered between them.  A bigger book would necessitate more holes.

Adrian says this is his favorite part.  Place the book on your scrap board (unless you like holes in your tables) and use your hammer and awl--or ice-pick, or nail to make the three holes.

Now take your stout thread--I used button thread here, but typically the kids pick out embroidery floss or yarn in a color that complements the cover stock--and thread the needle.  You will need about 45" of the thread, as you will double it, or 24" of yarn or floss.

Holding the booklet so that the holes run left-to-right rather than top-to-bottom, put the needle through the center hole from the inside, leaving a 4 or 5 inch tail.

Next, come back in from the outside through the right-hand hole and pull the thread snug, careful to keep the tail in the center from pulling through.

Okay, the curling thread made everything a bit confusing in the photo.  So, now you re back inside.  Take the needle and go back out through the left-hand hole, bypassing the center hole.  Pull the thread taught.  Now you are going to come back in through the center hole from the outside.

The two tail ends should lie to either side of the center thread, thus:

 Snug the threads and tie a double knot.  Snip the threads and you have a booklet!

 Now you can personalize the booklet 
with a drawing, cutout or stickers.  Fill with stories, lists, daydreams or whatever you fancy!  They can be mini nature journals, you can put in fewer pages and make one for every letter of the alphabet and have the kids cut out pictures to paste in for the various letters, they are great in the car or at Mass (have the child try to draw a few things he sees in the church).  We have found loads of uses!


  1. Thank you! This will be great ` I have so much paper around and I've been wanting to learn how to do this. But I'm confused (what else is new?!) The very first stitch - are you starting from the cover side or the paper side?

  2. You start with the needle on the inside and push through to the outside.

  3. GREAT tutorial! We'll do this.


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