Welcome to this (rather picture-heavy) step-by-step tutorial for making a stab-bound notebook at home. The beauty of this type of binding is that it looks kind of complicated and impressive, but is really simple once you’ve got the stitch order down! There are two options: you can make it with a hard cover, or with just a soft paper cover. If you’re not having a hard cover, you can skip a couple of steps and join us at no. 3!
I’m going to make a hard-cover notebook using this drawing of the plant Germander Speedwell that I created for the fabulous Mollie Makes Comic Relief Crafternoon mag [link to come - magazine available Spring 2017]. You can use any nice patterned or coloured paper you have lying around, or better still pop out and buy a copy for the link to download the three printable illustrations. There’s an unimaginable amount of other crafting excellence in there too!
First, let’s assemble our equipment. I have here (left to right): a bone folder (nice to have but not critical); a steel ruler; my print out on paper (and a similar-sized piece for the back cover); an awl (or anything that you can use to make holes through your paper); a scalpel or craft knife; two pieces of thin card and several sheets of paper (cut to the size I want my book to be*); a needle and thread (waxed linen thread is the best, but whatever you have on hand is good); a pencil. You’ll also need some PVA or spraymount and double-sided tape. If you’ve decided to have a soft cover, you won’t need the card or the adhesive.
*Before cutting your card and paper to size, it’s definitely best to make sure that the paper grain is going the same way on all the pieces, this will stop your book warping or bending. If you’re not sure what to look for, here’s a good guide.
1. Begin by making the covers. Stick your pieces of thin card onto the back of your cover papers, trying to get them exactly in the middle if you've got a design that you want to centre. Holding them up to a window to place them is helpful. If you are using glue, be quite sparing and smooth your paper down to avoid rippling.
2. Trim the corners and fold the flaps over, gluing them so that the sides are covered in paper too. When it’s had a moment to dry, glue or stick another piece of paper, cut ever so slightly smaller, on top. I’ve gone for this nice green paper so that the inside covers are a nice contrast with the text pages.
3. Now grab a scrap piece of paper, the same size as your page sheets. With your rule, draw a line a little way from the edge and mark four points on it - these don’t have to evenly-spaced, it’s up to you - but they must all be the same distance from the edge so that the book opens neatly.
4. This is your template - use it to make holes through your covers and all your page sheets. It’ll make things easier later if the holes are a teensy bit bigger than your needle, so its helpful to take it and poke them all through, wiggling it around a bit gently.
5. Okay! When everything is punctured, we’re ready to stitch. Thread your needle with two nice arm’s lengths of thread and assemble your pages into the correct order.
6. Holding the book landscape in your hand with the back cover facing you and the holes uppermost (see fabulous diagram above), we will begin by stitching through hole #3, going in at the back cover and out at the front.
7. Now stitch the same way again, so that we’ve made a loop around hole #3. Tip: Try your best not to stitch through the thread when making your loops, as this will make it difficult to pull the thread tight.
8. Take your needle to hole #2, and stitch from the front cover to the back.
9. Repeat to make a loop here too.
10. Now we go to hole #1, stitching from the back cover to the front.
11. And, you guessed it - make a loop here too!
12. Now stitch into hole #1 a third time, this time making a loop around the end of the book.
13. When that’s done, make sure that the thread is pulled as tight as possible everywhere. Now stitch back through hole #2, going in at the front cover and out at the back.
14. Next stitch through hole #3 from back to front - as you can see, we’re joining everything up on the way back.
15. Now it’s hole #4’s turn: stitch from front cover to back and - you know it - make a loop!
16. And then, making sure everything is super-tight, make another loop around the end of the book by stitching from front cover to back again.
17. Now’s your last chance to make sure that the thread is pulled as tight as can be. Stitch through the threads around hole #3 and make a know by stitching through a loop. Pull the knot tight and trim it close.
18. If you have a bone folder, use to ‘burning’ or rub over the know, which makes it neater and less likely to undo. You could use something else like the end of a teaspoon for this, but be careful not to slip and dent the cover!
Woohoo - done!
If you’ve made hard covers, your book might need a little encouragement to open the first time. Use your ruler and bone folder to gently bend the card along the line of the thread to open it up.
And there we are! Thank you for crafting along with me, I’d love to hear about it if you give it a go (leave a comment below), and see your creations on Instagram (I’m @superduperthings). Below is a pic from my three-hole pamphlet stitch tutorial that you can find in the Mollie Makes Comic Relief Crafternoon magazine.