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Bookbinding at Home, Part 2: How to Stitch a Coverless Journal!

Bookbinding at Home: Part 2

So here we are again – still at home and pleased to share our next installment of our Bookbinding at Home series! We hope you have found some small things to enjoy in this time of truly slooooowing down. For me it is always the small things that brighten my days, like watching Toots and Yedda – our goose landmates – and transforming a pile of field stone into an elegant yet makeshift garden path!

As for the tutorials, we are learning a lot (we hope you are too) and are so grateful for everyone who is joining us!

Project No. 2: Stitching Signatures for a Coverless Sketchbook

Here is what you will need:

1. Needle – bookbinding needles have roundy tips and big eyes, but most needles will work!
2. Thread – any thread will do. If it is super thin, double it up.
3. Pencil – grab your favourite pencil to plot your stitching holes.
4. Paper – this is for the inside. Do you like lined paper, sketch paper, the back of used paper, graph paper? Gather your favourites, mix ’em up or stick to one!
5. Thumbtack – or something sharp to poke holes through paper and cardstock.
6. Scissors – for snipping your thread.
7. Fabric – this will serve as your linens that will hold the book together. Happy treasure hunting!
8. Glue – to glue your fabric to the front and back covers of your book. Elmers works!

    We get most of our bookbinding tools and materials from Talas, including needles, thread, linen tape and other materials we haven’t explained yet. The waxed thread that I am using is a 3 ply waxed Irish Linen thread.

    We love Strathmore drawing paper for our journals and find that and other supplies through Artist & Craftsman. Both the latter and Talas are small companies who have shut down their physical locations but are currently taking online orders and shipping!

    As for covers, vintage textiles, needle boxes and vintage tools – you can find all kinds of unexpected magic at home as well as on Etsy and eBay. We at Peg and Awl absolutely encourage creativity in materials and tools, and finding vintage stuff is a nice way to reclaim some of the excess of items that already exist on our planet. This is also a way to make your project and your desk specifically yours!

    Bookbinding Glossary

    Sheet: The unfolded paper pages that you start your project with
    Folio: A folded sheet
    Signature: Gathering of folios
    Leaf: One half of a folded sheet
    Page: Each side of each leaf

    Please share your little books with us with hashtag #quarantinebookbindingclub – we’d love to see what you are making, and share the results!

    The Next Step…

    Continue on with our next bookbinding project: covering a coverless book! We will only be covering a book, so bring your coverless book from this project to the next installment.

    And While You’re at Home…

    If you are housebound or feeling antsy, there are oodles of projects online and on Instagram. I’ve found inspiration from The Good Ship Illustration’s drawing guide The Sketchbooker’s Friend. The first tip is pretty great:

    NO PHONES. Don’t take a photo, then draw from it. Don’t finish your drawing at your desk later. It is NOT ALLOWED and we are very strict!


    Until next time, join our Newsletter to learn about new products, offers and giveaways, and receive a coupon code for 10% off your first order!


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    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I LOVE the fabric scraps and the history that goes along with them and how you continue the history. Lovely 📚 books. Will definitely give this a try.
    Thank you.

    Thanks for sharing that you’ll need a needle and thread for bookbinding! I have to get a bunch of work manuals bound soon. I’m hoping to get them spiral bound instead!

    I love this video but didn’t understand how much thread to use! Is it 6x the length of the page since you have 6 signatures? Plus the 3-4" you mentioned?Thanks—-can’t wait to try this!

    Margaux, Thanks so much for this set of instructions. Beautiful spine. I want to mention that instead of bookbinding needles, I use size 18 up to 22 Tapestry needles. They are a rounded tip and easier to find in any craft store. I hope that’s helpful.

    Do you recommend an uneven number of signatures in order to get the first and final knots on opposing corners or is it not that critical? Had fun making my first multiple signature coverless book but definitely need some duller needles.

    Oh, my goodness, I had such a good time making one this evening! Wonderful videos, thank you so much for sharing!

    Of course I meant to type Margaux. Doh!

    No worries Margo. I saw a bookbinding video from the U of Wisconsin, I think, and they showed that they standardly use 18/3 Irish Linen thread unless they are making a very think book in which they use maybe the 32/3 thinner thread. Also, I’m scrounging around the house for all the half-used spiral-bound notebooks and folding unused pages into signatures for when I get my supplies from Talas.

    Tim – I think we typically use 3 ply – I don’t have the numbers here. I am rather horrible at remembering those details. For the kits you ordered (we are still making them! Apologies for the delay) we use french linen thread, also 3 ply like the irish waxed linen in the videos. I will have to do a thorough going over of the supplies in a next video or post. These videos were mostly meant for on hand materials. More soon!

    Thank you Joyce! I am so happy to read this!

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