Binding a Journal: The Saga Continues

Old Journal, New Journal

Old Journal, New Journal

Yesterday I bound a new journal and updated my instruction sheet on how to bind a 5.5″ x 7.5″ sewn-signature casebound journal with watercolor paper.  Each time I bind a journal I learn a little more and update my how-to sheet as I work so that the next time it will get easier for me.

I created the instruction sheet as a guide for myself, compiled from many sources* but you are welcome to download the file if you’d like to make a journal like these. I keep it on my website’s Resources page here on because having it in one place makes it easier to find and update.

Last Journal: Aqua Baby

Aqua Baby Journal (with black & gold ink)

I name each journal (actually they seem to name themselves as I’m binding them) and decorate the cover after I’ve filled it with an image fitting the name. My last journal named itself “Aqua Baby” and is pictured above.

New Journal: Scrappy, covered with 3 pieces of bookcloth

New Journal: "Scrappy" covered with 3 scraps of book cloth

I wanted to try (for the first time) to bind a cover made from pieces of book cloth, one for the spine and two for the fore edges. I thought I had a big enough scrap of the purple but mis-measured (as usual). So I had to use some of the turquoise cloth to cover the other side. This journal has named itself “Scrappy” as it’s covered with scraps and was scrappy enough to demand to get made despite everything working against that right now.

Five Casebound Journals Made So Far

Five Case-bound Journals Made So Far

Although I’ve bound other journals using a variety of methods, here are the five sewn-signature case-bound journals I’ve made and here’s another look at their covers. I love the paper, the dimensions, the feel in my hand, the way they’re easy to use sketching standing and for scanning. They are humble and a little plain, but I’ve always appreciate function more than fancy.

I can’t wait to finish the hated Moleskine watercolor sketchbook (which would be fine if it was just portrait, not landscape) that I’ve used since I got behind on binding. Watch for a flurry of sketching to finish it off!

Bookbinding a Watercolor Sketchbook Journal: Learning from My Mistakes

The Mutt: My first casebound sketchbook

The Mutt: My first casebound sketchbook

The most important thing I learned in binding my first hardbound sketchbook journal is that the process is very forgiving and not rocket science. In fact, despite making every possible mistake along the way, it still turned out as a quite usable little mutt of a book.

Inside the Mutt

Inside the Mutt

I took notes as I worked: reminders what NOT to do next time, which parts to skip, what really matters and what doesn’t. And now, using the medical school approach for teaching surgery (“See one, do one, teach one”) I’ll share what I’ve learned. Fortunately this isn’t brain surgery, since I’ve literally only seen one and done one.

UPDATE: I have refined the process described below; the most up-to-date version is always available as a download on the Resources page here. You may also find my more recent bookbinding posts by selecting “Bookbinding” from the Categories pull down menu on the right. Now, to continue on with the original post…

Side view

Side view

I will simply refer you to the resources I used and try to serve as a sort of docent on the journey through the process. If you are an experienced bookbinder PLEASE share any suggestions, advice or corrections and I will update this post with them.

Open and ready to play

Open, not perfect, but ready to play

I’ve divided the post here to hide the details since it’s long… Read More

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