Friday, May 10, 2013

Guest Post: Book Binding with Helen!

Y'all, we're so pumped to feature our second guest blogger!  We LOVE this gal and are so excited she agreed to share her talents with us!  Y'all meet Helen!

Helen and her hubs
Hi readers! My name is Helen Simpkins and I’m so excited to be a guest writer for Of Dwelling and Dress! I am a graphic designer in Nashville, TN and recent graduate of Mississippi State University (Hail State!). My work typically involves computery things, but I love to do some crafty hands-on things when I can. Today, I’ll show you how to do some bookbinding.

There are about a trillion ways to bind a book. I’ll be making a blank journal with a simple, 3-hole, saddle stitch.  Here are some things you’ll need:  

Some text weight paper for the interior pages (I used basic copy paper), cover weight paper for the cover, embroidery thread, a bone folder, an awl (or basically any large needle-like object), an X-acto knife, a cork backed ruler, and assorted hand sewing needles. is your friend people! They have everything you could ever want to buy at a really low price. You can get any of this stuff on there.

I printed this pattern on my cover weight paper so my journal would be cute on the outside. Notice I did NOT trim the white edges off. (This will be important later)

First, turn your cover with the wrong side facing up, placing your ruler in the very center of the page, and score it with the pointy end of the bone folder. If you don’t have a bone folder you can also use the dull side of a butter knife. Note: The thicker the paper, the more firmly you need to press down when you score. Make sure you score the paper in the EXACT spot that you want it to fold because it will not fold in any other spot.

After you score your cover, it should easily crease along the line where you scored it.

Now, grab the text weight paper. It should be the same size as the entire cover (front + back). If it’s not the exact same size don’t worry about trimming it because you can take care of this after the journal is bound. Gently fold all of your text weight paper in half and crease it down the middle with your hands. (No need to use the bone folder this time) 

Then place all of your internal pages inside your folded cover where the creases line up. The edges won’t line up perfectly, but that’s ok since you are going to trim it later. Once you have the pages and the cover lined up, take your awl and poke three holes along the crease.

Be careful to keep the holes aligned as you go. Make sure the holes are not too close to the edge of the paper or it will cause your book to tear.

Next, thread your needle with plenty of embroidery thread (about 2 feet long). Then stick your needle through the holes in the following order:

Make sure you have excess thread sticking out of the last hole when you get through threading your holes then cut the thread. Leave about 4 inches of thread so that you have plenty to tie it off with.

Tie the end you started with and the end you finished with into a knot. Make sure you tie the knot big enough so that it won’t slip through the hole, then cut off the excess.

When you’re done it should look like this:

Now it’s time to trim off the edges so they will line up. Line up your ruler on each edge and slice along it with your x-acto knife. It will take several passes to cut through all those layers so make sure you keep the ruler still the whole time. Be VERY careful! I know countless people who have cut themselves while doing this. Keep your fingers out of the way.

Once you have finished cutting off those three sides, you have yourself a beautiful new journal! Tada!

Thanks so much Helen!!!

This is SO cute!!  I'm pretty sure this would make a sweet Mother's Day gift for those that need some last minute ideas!  I'm positive I will be making one for myself soon!

{ If you are interested in being a guest blogger on 'of Dwelling and Dress', please email us at with a brief description of your post and example pictures.  We'd love to showcase your creativity and give you a chance to spread the word about your own blog or Etsy shop! }

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