Tuesday, November 25, 2008

how to make your own book - japanese style

My family has a special tradition at Thanksgiving we call "the grateful book." Each fall my mom puts out a simple journal that holds a list of hundreds of things our family and friends are thankful for. When you're at my parents house around the holidays, you're not allowed to leave until you've written something you're thankful for in our book. The list includes about everything you can think of from "holding a snuggly baby" to "Cheetos." The best part is looking back at the things we've been thankful for over the years, and seeing each grandchild's name as they join our family. It gives us so many reasons to be happy and grateful--to really focus on the meaning of the holiday season.

Since my oldest son is learning how to write, I thought this year would be the perfect time to introduce a grateful book in my own little family. So I made a simple book for us to record our blessings in, using just chipboard, scrapbook paper, and plain white printer paper. I have made a few of these books in the past, and I can't get over how easy they really are, especially when you look at how fabulous the final product is. Japanese book binding is an ancient art, but you can master the basics in one try.

These beautiful books make great gratitude journals, but they'd also be great girlfriend gifts or stocking stuffers. Choose your favorite 12 x 12 scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, or even fabric for your covers. You can use plain paper inside, or lined, or print your own (like I did for my sister-in-law's guest book at her wedding). Or, try scrapbook paper for a custom mini scrapbook like my "girls trip" album below. They can be made in whatever size you want, but this one is made to use half sheets of 8.5" x 11" paper.

Japanese Book Binding Tutorial

What you'll need:

*Two pieces of 3-4# Davey board (chipboard) approx. 6" x 9"--you can find this at art supply stores, often in {very} large sheets for $5-6 (I bought a sheet like this and made about 10 books)
*Exacto knife (heavy-duty scissors could also be used, but the knife makes a straighter cut)
*Mod Podge or other decoupage medium and a foam brush
*Scrapbook paper, wrapping paper, handmade paper, etc. of your choice to cover your book, cut to 8" x 11"
*Coordinating paper for the inside cover, cut to 5.5" x 8.5"
*1 yd. narrow ribbon or strong linen thread to bind your book
*Large binding clips (from the office supply store)
*Hand drill and 1/8" drill bit
*Large-eyed needle, like a quilting or papercrafting needle
*Old phone book
*Optional: brayer or credit card

Okay, let's get started!

1. Using a ruler and an Exacto knife, cut two pieces of Davey board 6" x 7 1/4", and two pieces 6" x 1 5/8".

2. Trim your front and back cover paper to 8" x 11". Place your boards next to each other in the middle of the paper, leaving a 1" border. Be sure to leave a 1/8" space between the two pieces so your book can easily open.

3. Cover one side of the chipboard with a thin layer of Mod Podge. Turn it over and glue it in place in the middle of your cover paper.

4. Turn the cover over and smooth out any wrinkles and bubbles with a brayer, a credit card, or the side of your hand.

5. Turn it back over and fold over the four corners, making a 90° angle. Make sure the fold is tight and close to the corner, but not so tight it rips through the paper.

6. Fold all four sides down over the folded corners, being sure to fold them tightly for a crisp edge.

7. Unfold sides and corners and put a thin layer of Mod Podge on each corner. Fold the corners back down and smooth out bubbles.

8. Do the same for the sides.

9. Repeat steps 2-8 for the back cover.

10. Cut two sheets of the same or a coordinating paper for the inside covers measuring 5 1/2" x 8 1/2".

11. Apply a thin layer of Mod Podge to each sheet, center on the inside of the covers, and smooth out any air bubbles.

12. Crease the inside and outside of each cover where your space is using light pressure and a bone folder, scissors handle, top of a ball point pen, etc. Just something that will not break through the paper.

13. Decide how many sheets of paper you want in your book and divide that number in half. Take that many sheets of paper of your choice and cut in half so it measures 5 1/2" x 8 1/2".

14. Center the paper on the inside back cover of your book.

15. Carefully lay the top cover on top, matching it up with the bottom cover. Be careful not to move any of the paper between. Using binding clips, clip the covers and paper together in four places, but not on the spine.

16. Now it's time to mark where your book will be stitched together. For this size book you should have about 5 holes, one inch apart. Measure down 1" and over 7/8" and make a mark. Mark the next four holes 1" below the last hole.

17. Place your book on top of an old phone book. Now take your hand drill and a 1/8" drill bit and drill through the covers and paper until your bit hits the phone book. Then reverse out of the hole. Do this in each of the five marks on the spine. There will be some "paper dust", but you can easily brush or blow it off.

18. Now it's time to bind your book! Thread the end of your ribbon through a large needle. Mine didn't have a very big eye, so I just threaded as much as I could through it and it worked fine.

19. Start sewing by bringing your needle (or hair-pin) with ribbon through the top hole from the back, leaving 5-6 inches to use in finishing the binding. Now your needle and ribbon are in front the book. Put the needle through the second hole from the back side of the book, wrapping the ribbon snug around the spine. Continue down the book in the same fashion, always putting the needle in the next hole from the back side of the book.

20. Once you get down to the 5th hole, wrap the ribbon around the bottom of the spine, putting the needle again in the 5th hole from the back side. Now work your way back up the book in the same fashion you sewed your way down, and you will see the ribbon forming a criss-cross pattern. When you get to the top hole, bring the remaining ribbon and the original 5-6 inches together and tie in a knot over the first hole, finishing in a bow or leaving loose ends.

21. You're done! You can leave the cover as is, or decorate it chipboard letters or shapes, pictures, charms, beads, etc.

Here is an example of a mini scrapbook I put together for each of my friends when I hosted our annual girls' trip. Instead of blank paper, I used double-sided scrapbook paper for each page, embellishing them and the front cover after I put the book together.

Rather than show off the sewing on the spine, I stitched it with a strong linen thread then covered the spine with a piece of coordinating cardstock, gluing it to each side of the cover and embellishing with ribbon.

This is a much smaller version, only 4" x 7", that I keep in my purse. I put a layer of Mod Podge over the outside covers and let them dry before I bound it to protect the paper.

My next project is to make a book of the poetry I wrote in high school and college. We'd love to see what you come up with! Don't forget to upload photos of your projects inspired by our tutorials on our Flickr pool!

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19 Responses to “how to make your own book - japanese style”

Jessica said...

Wow, I am LOVING this!! Maybe we can get together and make a couple sometime. I also love the tradition at Thanksgiving...something I would love to incorporate into my own family traditions!

~Kimberly said...

My husband thanks you for making my craft store shopping list longer!

I am so going to make these for family! Thanks for the tutorial!

Brenda said...

What gorgeous books, I really like them. Thanks for the tute, I am planning on trying to make one of my own. (one day)

Casey said...

I really like this! I think maybe it'd make a good guestbook for my wedding

Monds & Mayberry said...

Thank you for this tutorial. I have been wanting to make one of these. Maybe I will sit down this weekend and give it a try!

Alena Jo said...

I totally love this! You guys are great. Thanks for the tutorial - now I just need to find time to put some together!

Twyla said...

Wonderful tutorial!

Barbara Brown said...

what a great project! popin in to wish you ladies a very happy thanksgiving.

Michelle said...

Cute blog. Thanks for stopping by mine. Had a great time at Twilight (three times). Hope you did too.

Simple Daisy said...

That is so cute!! I will definately have to try my hand at making one!! Take care~~

Ginger said...

What a wondeful tutorial on the book ! Great job!
hugs ginger

Anonymous said...

Amazing and easy...what a wonderful tutorial you put together. I will definitely try some of these as gifts! Could you use fabric instead of paper to cover the book?

Anonymous said...

This is the best blog ever! I check in every day just to see what you guys are up to... You SO inspire me!!!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Oh, and I'm going to have to steal your "gratitude book" idea... so sweet! What a wonderful way to memorialize precious time with our families. Thanks for sharing...

Anonymous said...

This is so cute, I love it! I'll be linking.

Angel said...

Thank you for the easy (it seems) tutorial. I can't wait to make one of these this week. What a wonderful gift idea!

Shanell said...

I just found this tutorial and I am SOOO glad. I want to make these for my mom and sisters for mother's day! I like the mini scrapbook idea too. Thanks so much.

whizkid said...

Hi! I saw this tutorial, and loved your books so much. Sat through last evening making myself a pair of books.
Thanks !

Whitney said...

These are so cute! It would be really cool if you could make one of these into a photo album... any ideas how it could be done?

Anonymous said...

This is gorgeous. I am going to give this a try. Thanks for sharing!

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