August 10, 2012

50 Things - The Covers And The Binding

My 50 Things is my first "from scratch" mini book, meaning it wasn't a kit with a set number of pages, a package of embellishments to use, etc.  As far as those kinds of kits go, I've only put together one.  It was a Teresa Collins memory album kit, and I put it together as a design team project for Remember When.  I admit it was a bit daunting - scary, even - being assigned this mini book, and I turned it into a colossal, very personal endeavor.  And, I fell in love with the mini book concept.  (I haven't been able to share that Teresa Collins album with you yet, but when I get the okay from Remember When, I certainly will!)

So, I thought I knew what I was doing when I cut fifty 4x6 inch sheets of patterned paper and got to work on creating my 50 little pages.  "According to my research" (a quote from "The Magic School Bus") the norm in the world of minis seems to be using these binder rings to secure all of the pages together.  I designed each page keeping in mind that I would be punching 2 holes on the one side, and stitching 2 back-to-back pages together to form a pocket for inserting a tag with notes on my accomplishments as each was completed.

The stack, once layered with papers and embellishments was HUGE!  I would need 4 inch diameter binder rings (do they even make them that big?), which meant I could likely wear the book as a bracelet even with all the pages in it!  NOT the look I was going for...

One of the blogs I like to follow is Jenny Petricek's Starting Over Studio.  I remembered her talking about a class she took learning to bind her own journals, and poked around the web looking for alternative ways to put my book together.  That led me to a great tutorial by Jamie Butler, and a solution!

Since my double pagers were separate from each other, I cut some strips of leftover patterned paper to join each pair into a folded spread, then measured and pierced hold down the center, pre-drilling, so to speak, so I could sew through each to create a binding.

I still wanted those pockets, though.  I stitched across the bottom of each set (each "signature"), hoping I'd still be able to feed a needle through the pierced fold.  And, of course when I get an inspired idea I want to DO IT NOW, so I had to improvise with supplies as my local hunt for book binding supplies was unfruitful.  I used 6-ply embroidery thread and a beading needle.  The needle was a bit flex-y, but it held the floss securely and was long enough for me to wrangle it into the tight corner of my stitched closed signature.  I used some scraps of old blue jeans for the binding tape, and also for a decorative touch, and followed Jamie's instructions for stitching through each signature, across each tape, and knotting through the previous signature to secure before moving on to the next.

After all the pages were bound, I stitched up the outside edges to seal each pocket.  That was a bit challenging, but I just didn't see another way to get what I wanted the way I wanted it.  Perhaps some further engineering for next time, but the stitching gives a finished look to the edges.  I felt that sealing with tape or glue would lead to the pages getting peeled apart down the road.

Finally, the covers.  I cut pieces from a cardboard box that were just a bit bigger than my pages, gessoed, and decorated the front and back outsides.  I used Fabri-Tac to glue the binding tape to the covers, and also a ribbon on front and back so that I could tie the book shut.

I covered up that mess with patterned paper and then decorated the inside covers.  I made one last pocket in the back that will hold a Master List of my 50 things that I can check off as I go!

Binding this album was really fun, I love the results, and I will definitely be doing it again-perhaps with a little better pre-planning on the construction side of things.  It feels like such an accomplishment, and I can't even tell you how awesome it feels to flip the sewn-bound pages back and forth!

So, what do you think?  Will you give book-binding a try?

Thanks for visiting!


  1. WOW!! That is an ambitious project and it is delightful to look at. I bet it was very fun and probably pretty therapeutic too! Best, Erin

  2. WOW WOW WOW!!!!!!!! LOVE that binding and all of the tags and goodness! AWESOME project!!!

  3. You rock, m'hija! What an incredible & wonderful project. <3

  4. this is so cool Lisa.
    How clever the way you put this book together.
    very impressive.

  5. Lisa - You have a magical touch and what you do is so creative. I love the look and how you came up with the idea. I'm way past 50, so don't think I'll tackle such a project. But it is definitely food for thought! Love, tf

  6. Lisa Lisa! What a great post! Your "50 Things" book is beautiful--the perfect place to display all of the wonderful goals you've set! And I love the binding--very cool!

    I was so surprised to see my name and blog mentioned in the post! It made my day!:-) :-)

  7. Did I mention that I think you are amazing?? Your bound mini looks so so fabulous and I can't believe you researched and figured out how to make it so fabulously! Tremendous work (the whole book AND binding)!!

  8. Oh wow, that book is beautiful.. and what a fun way to look back at your life before you hit that milestone. I hope you update us when you finish them all!


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