There are a few things I (almost!) never feel guilty spending money on: books, food and art supplies. My office is lucky to be located in what feels like a sea of art and paper supply stores which frequently too tempting to pass up.
Over Labor Day weekend, I stocked up on some new supplies and dusted off my linoleum cutter to do some block printing. I needed a project for the long weekend, but in reality I just wanted an excuse to buy my favorite colors at Paper Presentation, a 16,000 square-foot paper-lovers haven near my office.
One of my favorite parts of being a graphic designer is the moment where you get to hold your work in your hands, whether that's the freshly screen printed t-shirts, books with their new-paper smell or the permanence of something engraved. Paper on its own never feels quite finished to me, so I decided to make these oversized patterns into little notebooks with contrasting thread colors.
- cover-weight paper
- plain paper for inside pages
- a paper trimmer or x-acto knife, ruler and cutting mat
- bookbinding awl (or a sharp kitchen skewer)
- embroidery floss
- bone folder (optional)
Step one: Create your covers
Use patterned paper, make block prints of your own or print a design on your cover-weight paper. It's easier to design your covers before the notebooks are stitched up. I made my notebook covers 5.5" x 8.5", or half the size of an 8.5" x 11" sheet of paper — it's easy to cut and easy to carry around when complete. Once your cover is the correct size, fold in half. Smooth the crease with a bone folder if you have one.
Step two: Prepare your inside pages
I used plain white computer paper for the inside pages of my notebooks, but any thin, flexible paper should work. First, trim your pages in half to match the cover size. Then, fold in half and trim .25" inches off the edges to make sure the pages don't escape the edge of your cover.
Step three: Create holes
Next, line up the folds on both your inside pages and cover and place on a cutting mat or piece of thick cardboard. Then, create evenly spaced holes (around five for this size should work well) along the spine using a bookbinding awl or a kitchen skewer. I find that the bigger the holes, the easier the stitching will be.
Step four: Stitch it up
Using three of the six threads in a piece of coordinating embroidery floss, thread a needle, double-knotting the end. I used a 15 inch piece for this size of notebook. Then, stitch your notebook together up and down the back. I stitched up and down twice to make the thread stand out a bit more.
Bonus round: Stitched inital cover
To create this stitched initial cover, I lightly sketched a K into a corner of a cover. Then, I punched evenly spaced holes using the bookbinding awl and stitched in the shape using a needle and embroidery floss. When you're finished, tie the remaining thread to the knot you created when you threaded your needle and trim the excess.
Step five: Smash it down
Once you've stitched your notebook up, place it under a stack of heavy books to help it stay flat and folded.
Step six: Celebrate!
You did it! Celebrate by filling your notebook with ideas for more notebooks.