Art supplies Bookbinding

New Journals Bound, New Problems/Questions

Newly Bound Journals
Newly Bound Journals

On the left is the new journal I bound for International Fake Journal Month and on the right is my next all purpose journal that I bound with Legion Multimedia 140 pound watercolor paper.

Since it had been a few months since my epic journal binding learning experience, I had to replay many of the videos and look at my notes to figure things out. And I made a bunch of new mistakes to learn from.

I have one big, confusing question. (UPDATE: See Comments for answer from Roz and note from Shirley) When I punched sewing holes I followed Roz’s video, along with Shirley’s tip to use a phone book to support the signatures. I punched four holes just like Roz did in her video demo, instead of the five I punched last time. But when it was time to sew the signatures together I couldn’t figure out how an even number of holes could work. When you have an odd number of holes and you start on the outside of the folded signature you always end up on the outside at the end of each row so you can attach each signature to the next. But with four, if you start on the outside you end on the inside. I’m guessing Roz was preparing a different sort of book.

Fortunately I had torn down extra sheets, thinking I’d bind two journals but I put aside the set I’d punched with four holes and punched five holes in the second set. Either I’ll find out how to bind with four holes or I’ll go back and make one more hole in each signature before binding them.

I also used Shirley’s tip to glue up the binding board and then place it down on the book cloth instead of putting glue all over the cloth and that was sooo much easier.

Some new mistakes I’ve learned from this time:

  • MEASURE TWICE, CUT ONCE! (or in my case measure 3 times just to be sure).
  • After gluing down the board pieces to the book cloth, I should have burnished them with the bone folder to ensure a consistently strong bond (a few small wrinkles showed up in the cover where it didn’t bond 100%).
  • Don’t make the book so thick; use fewer signatures so it is lighter and less tiring to hold when sketching standing up.
  • When you use “self-endpapers” that doesn’t mean adding yet another folded sheet, making the book even thicker. It means just gluing the book block directly to the covers (I think–correct me if I’m wrong). I had picked an ancient map print to use as end papers in the green journal but decided I didn’t like it at the last minute. I liked Shirley’s idea of just using colored drawing paper instead.
  • Make the  sewing thread long enough so you don’t have to join it in the middle (thus having to once again struggle with knot-tying from diagrams that are totally confusing).
  • Don’t use white thread and white headband ribbons on black books.

Now I’m coming to the end of my journal bound with 90 lb Arches cold press paper. I will be sad to put “The Mutt” as I named it, on the shelf, as it has become a trusted friend and companion. And I really came to enjoy the paper, once I started using my Lamy Safari fountain pen to draw with.

Soon I’ll be getting to know a new journal, with new paper and new possibilities. I think I shall name it Froggie, given its green color, warts, and all. Someday maybe I’ll make a journal that is elegant and give it a posh name but for now, mutts and toads R Us.

Mechanical FrogAnd I’ll write more about the black/brown journal in April when I start using it for International Fake Journal Month.

14 replies on “New Journals Bound, New Problems/Questions”

I love them! And I can’t see any warts! And you will enjoy using them so much that you will also forget the problems. I always use thread that is the height of the folio X the number of signatures plus a little fudge factor and it is ALWAYS enough for the coptic type stitching I do from Martha’s stitching instructions. And I use 5 holes. Re: cover – I don’t burnish the cloth to the book board when gluing, I just use my hand on the board to press it down completely and then immediately put a weight on each piece as I glue down the next piece. I used your TJArts YouTube video for the casing in process, on my last 4 books and it is magic. Just supporting the cover with another book of the same size makes it perfect every time. Be careful – this can be an obsession.


Thanks so much Shirley! I will have to look again at Martha’s sewing instructions. I had somehow concluded they were more complicated than they needed to be, thinking coptic was designed to be an exposed binding and thus fancier than the basic. Glad to know burnishing isn’t required either. What do you use for a weight? A book?

Just to clarify, when you say you used the TJArts casing in process, did you first use your technique of glueing the boards one at a time to the bookcloth or did you do her thing of gluing a paper “bridge” between the boards first? I glued down the boards one at a time and then used her process, which I love. There’s something so cool about just closing the book with a snap, knowing it’s all glued together nicely.

I agree that I will enjoy the books and won’t mind the warts, just as I did the last one. It’s almost more lovable because of its imperfections. I’m not worried about it becoming an obsession because with my being “challenged in the spatial relations and math departments, binding is still a love/hate experience that takes all weekend. I’m sure it will get quicker as I get more experienced. And I intend to get very much more experienced as I have no plan to stop binding!

Thanks so much for your continuing support and inspiration! Jana


Nice job, Jana!!! I’d love your references for bookbinding…..I’ve never done a headband before. These look great and I look forward, too, on your report of the Legion Multimedia paper. I’m an Arches fan but always open to try new paper!


Jana, I’m so glad you’ve been making more books. I answered this on my blog where you asked me, but I thought since you raised the question here it would be helpful if I answered your question about my punching demo here.

You’re right that I was just showing you how I punch holes, not necessarily for any project. Every book structure will have it’s own pattern. I had to watch this video again to remind myself what this book was.

It was a 5-hole pamphlet stitch. I punched 5 holes not 4.

If you watch the video again in the first minute and 35 seconds or so you will see that I mark on my template the tail and a HOLE mark about 5/8 inch in from the tail. A HEAD HOLE that is about 5/8 inch in from the head, and then make a mark where the head is and label it. (It gets a tick mark but it is NOT a hole. You could actually tear the paper off at this point. I like to have it there as additional reminder of which way is up when I’m inserting the template and punching.)

Then I mark the CENTER HOLE, which is the 3rd hold mark.

And then I mark a hole half way between the center hole and each of the outer holes: Two more holes—resulting in 3 holes plus 2, for a total of 5 holes.

Then, if you start on the inside with the pamphlet stitch you end there also, and vice versa.

I’m pretty sure what you’re thinking is another hole is the head mark. Check out the first two minutes and you’ll see what I mean.

There is a 4-hole pamphlet stitch that you can do, however. Start at hole 1 and go in, go up to hole 2 and out, go up to hole 3 and in, go up to hole 4 and out. NOW GO DOWN to hole 3 and in, down to hole 2 and out and you will see the original Tail coming out of one. Knot your working thread with that tail between holes 1 and 2 on the outside.

If you want the hole on the inside you simply reverse where you start. It gives a sort of continuous “sewing machine” look to the stitches. And obviously you can have any even number of holes you want.

Now if I am going to do a casebound book and not a pamphlet stitch book, I have to decide if I’m going to sew on tapes (which would require an even number of holes) or a special sewing pattern, e.g. the decorative sewing on a sewn-on-the-spine book might have lots of uneven hole combinations. Then I have to make very fancy templates for the spine and signatures, but the holes all get punched the same way.

Hope this note helps.


Ohhh! Phew! Glad it was just me being dumb. I know exactly how I missed that fifth hole too. I started out sort of upside down, thinking that you tear off the extra paper from the tail not the head. I had to stop, reconsider the logic, and remake the hole punching pattern. Somewhere in my confusion and the re-do I missed seeing one of the marks for holes you made. So I only punched 4 holes. It shouldn’t be hard to reuse those 4-holed sigs by just adding another (oddly placed) hole. I think that would be easier than the extra sewing, but thanks for telling me of another way to do the sewing.

Thank you once again for your generosity in sharing your wisdom! Jana


But wait there’s more:
I didn’t respond to other questions raised in your post. You asked about self-end papers and then started talking about some decorative papers so I’m not sure what you finally decided, but here’s the thing. Self-endpapers means the use of no extra tipped in or added papers at the front and back of the book. You take the textblock and case it in, treating the first page of the textblock’s first signature as the endpaper for the front cover and the last page of the last signature of the textblock for the endpaper for the back cover. I do this all the time. It removes several steps which to me don’t add anything to the book, and worse, the way some people add endpapers actually weakens the book because they aren’t doing other traditional steps to secure the textblock.

Also, I think both books look yummy and can’t wait to see what you do in both. And yes, thinner books are less tiring to hold! Sometimes we learn the hard way, but then, the good thing is we never forget that lesson.


This was so timely. I just finished my first, very basic journal and have been trying to learn more about book-binding and here you are – sharing so generously everything you’ve learned and your finished product really whet my appetite for more. ! thanks!!!


OK, fine now I am off to read all about binding so I can try making my own journals. You have inspired me to start yet another craft. However I think this might be a really usfull one.
Great post.


Yes, you’re on a roll here, Jana!
I did think I might do the Fake Journal thing, but my plate is already somewhat loaded…
Now, having come through a cyclone unscathed, I can tackle the 8 books that I should have finished before I went away. Oops!


Jana, Beautiful books and really great info on binding. I’ve been binding my sketchbooks for several years starting with Martha’s instructions (whatever happened to Martha) and Roz has been a great help as well. The idea of using a piece of paper to glue the cover boards to is a revelation. I’ve struggled with that to the point where, the last time I bound a book, I just used book repair tape to join the boards. Frankly, that worked great too. I’ve only used a spine board a couple of times. I usually just leave that out. It seems that it makes the binding stiffer and harder to open the book flat. I’ve also had the endpapers pull away from the boards when I’ve bound it too tight.

You’ve done a good job of keeping your pages lined up. That’s something else I have a hard time doing. The text block is often not even all the way around. Tearing the paper makes it less obvious.

Thanks so much for sharing what you learned. I just ordered some paper from Twinrocker for my next book and I’m looking forward to using some of your tips.

Best – Bill


Jana, I like both journals and am grateful for the tips. I started making a case bound journal but don’t have boards on yet. Last weekend was just sewing signatures which took a long time because I’m so clumsy! Where can I get Roz’s video? How do you like Legion paper? Thanks again, Ambal


Well, I guess better late than never. So sorry for how long it took to reply. Were you able to find Roz’s videos? I linked to them on my previous post about bookbinding which you can search for or follow the category on my site but if you still need it let me know and I’ll dig it up. I love the Legion paper. LOVE IT! It turns out Utrecht sells it as their own branded watercolor paper so now it’s easy to get from their website. jana


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