Kids Make Books: Simple Pamphlet Stitch Notebook

Before moving to Los Angeles, I was a teacher for nine to eleven year old girls at my church congregation in North Carolina. These girls were kind, smart, and super sweet to their teacher — little ol’ me. They were also very funny and regularly cracked me up. Teaching them was a great highlight of my week.

I mentioned that I make books one week in class and the girls wanted to know how I did it — and if I could teach them.

I was a little nervous — I’d never taught bookbinding to anyone before (besides the stuff here on Handmade Library), but I decided to try and prove my assertion that bookmaking is easy enough for anyone to do including kids.


The girls with their new, handmade notebooks!

We set up a time to meet and make notebooks. With some preparation I walked them through my tutorial on how to sew a simple notebook.

Here are some recommendations I would make for a more kid-friendly version of the tutorial:

  1. Make sure you go through the process ahead of time. This will help you understand the instructions and so you can explain it to your pupils. Keep in mind the age and development level of the child(ren) you’re instructing, and look for ways you can modify the instructions to fit your students’ needs.

  2. Prepare materials ahead of time. Have the covers and pages, thread, etc. all cut to size and ready to go. This will save time and confusion!

  3. You may want to poke the holes in the pages and cover, as well — this was the part that was hardest for the girls to do themselves, and their efforts resulted in a few pricked thumbs! If you are going to have them poke the holes themselves (which I think most kids 9-10 and up could handle with supervision), just make sure to use fewer pages — with less papers to poke through, the task will be easier and safer.

  4. Make sure to tell them to keep a good hold on the pages and pull their strings tight on every stitch to ensure that the notebook pages line up well and aren’t loose.

  5. You can definitely mix up the materials: use regular ol’ computer paper with a yarn needle and yarn. Or even cardboard and ribbon, with a hole puncher to make holes. Get creative!

Overall the project went well — and the girls loved their new mini-journals! We talked about what they could use their notebooks for: planner, diary, sticker book, sketchbook and more. They were so proud to take home a notebook that they had made themselves.

Children love to make books, and there are so great projects that you can make with bookbinding.

They could write down things they love about a family member on each page and give it as a gift. Or you could help them write, illustrate and bind a picture book they wrote themselves. Kids love the idea of having a book they made themselves, and it’s really easy to do!

Make an accordion book - easy & kid-friendly.

Click for the tutorial!

Another easy & kid-friendly bookmaking technique can be found in my tutorial on No-Sew Accordion books. They are super easy, and you probably even made one of these as a kid.

Have fun ideas for bookmaking projects for kids? Or had success doing a project with your child or students in the past? Tell me about it in the comments!

Combat Paper: Art Therapy for Veterans

I’m a big fan of Kickstarter, and it’s a favorite thing of mine to browse (and back) the projects on their site. It’s such a great and supportive community and it’s amazing to see what big things people are dreaming up to share with the world.

One such project that I found and was blown away by: the Combat Paper Program (and not just because it centers on hobbies close to my heart — paper making, bookbinding and printing). Hosted by the Printmaking Center of New Jersey (in Branchburg, NJ), it’s a veterans-only program, through which vets can meet to make paper and art. The program focuses on ripping up old combat fatigues (their own or donated uniforms), turning them into pulp and making paper from them.

Through the Combat Paper program, veterans get the opportunity to meet and talk with other vets — those who have been where they have, who understand, who will listen without judgement. It’s group and art therapy, rolled into one.

A piece of art created by a Combat Paper participant. Image by Printmaking Center of New Jersey.

“Deconstructing a uniform while talking with other veterans breaks the cycle of isolation.  We deconstruct our past by cutting up our military uniforms, reclaim our experiences by making paper from these uniforms, and communicate our experiences by printing images and writing our words onto Combat Paper. The telling of our stories transforms us and gives us confidence to bridge the gap that keeps us separate and apart from the rest of American society.”
– Combat Paper’s site

This project is a powerful reminder of the healing power that art can have. To literally pull apart the fabric of their experiences being at war, to pull apart the sweat and tears and remake them into something of their own — it’s an act that is a hauntingly perfect analogy for this thing we call Art.

You can read more about Combat Paper in this news article from Though the Kickstarter fundraiser has ended, you still donate to Combat Paper by visiting that link, and scrolling to the bottom, then clicking on the donate button in the bottom right corner on the sidebar.

Do you use art as therapy? Writing as therapy? How much is your art a reflection of your own experiences?


Hey everybody! Hope your weekend’s been good and that your Sunday is going even better.

Just thought I’d pop in and let you know that I was spotlighted on the craft/DIY blog Show Tell Share. I do a Q&A about bookmaking and generally say awesome things. So pop over there, check out my post, and take a look at some of the other awesome projects they have!

Happy bookmaking!

3 Great Ideas From Pinterest!

My newest obsession/addiction.

Hey all! I’m sorry about the break in posts. My husband and I recently had to move close to 3000 miles, from Salt Lake City to North Carolina! I’ve had a million things to worry about, between packin and unpacking, cleaning, and find a job. Finally, though, the dust has settled some and I’m ready to get back into the saddle-stitching! (Did you see what I did there? Eh? Eeeeeh?)

I haven’t had time to bang out any new projects since I’ve moved in. In fact, my bookmaking stuff is still strewn all over or stuffed into corners, all in a most unorganized manner. BUT I do have something that I’m pretty excited about and wanted to discuss!

I have found a new love in the form of the website Pinterest, to which I was introduced by my great friend Tess. Essentially, it’s a form of bookmarking, but it is more visual and social. As you’re browsing your fave blogs (like THIS ONE wink) or looking for ideas, you simply “pin” the page, using an image from it. You can use “boards” to categorize different pins, and your pins will be shared with those who follow you.

You need an invite, which I’d be happy to send, so leave me a comment requesting one, or you can request one at their home page. It’s a great website and SO FUN. Warning, though: it is slightly addictive. Also,  it can be a lot like looking at a bunch of beautiful stuff that I will never own/wear/make/see/taste. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

One of the first things I did when I opened my account was to make a board for things related to book arts. I’ve been able to get a ton of inspiration and ideas, and even better—they are all neatly saved where I can find them! Here are some of my favorite ideas.

1. Greeting Card Catalog

how to store old
A great and clever way to save cards and sentimental notes, without sticking them in a box somewhere they’ll never get read or looked at again. Simply punch holes in the long edge of the cards (you can even leave them in the envelopes), and run a book ring through them (or yarn, ribbon, whatever works).

2. 52 Things I love About You

This is simple enough to make. Punch holes through the corner of a set of playing cards. Prepare slips of paper, complete with visuals, of what you love about that person. Modge podge them to each card and bind them together with yarn, twin, ribbon, book ring, or so on.

I know this is pretty popular idea, but I like that this version keeps the look of the cards. This set make a great anniversary, Birthday, Christmas or Valentine’s Day gift. And you can make it for anyone in your life: spouse, bf/gf, daughter/son, friend, sister/brother, etc. The possibilities are endless.

3. 365 Day Calendar Journal

I’m big believer in recording your life, and this is an easy way to do it. You make cards (or I suppose you could number the pages in a book) and assign each a date, and store them in a box. Each day, write down something you did. Then, in a year, do the same all over. Insert photos and other momentos in between cards. After the first year, it would be so fun and rewarding to look back on the last year and be reminded of a simple, good memory from that day!


So that’s it. I’d love to hear what you’re using Pinterest for, or what great things you’ve found in your pinning. Also, reply with your Pinterest username and I’ll, like, totally follow you ! ! ! Love you all, thanks for everything (patience, support, etc.) and, of course: Happy Bookmaking!

Brackets & Robotics: 2 Small Books

I’ve been making some smaller books lately. They’re the perfect size to get the grain right when starting from 8.5 X 11 paper — and I had a lovely ream of natural colored cotton Strathmore to put to good use.

I love making smaller books because they are the perfect way to experiment and try new things. They don’t take as much materials, so if you mess up, you aren’t wasting too much. They also tend to come together faster for me.

So, here are a few I made. All pictures taken with my iPod and edited with

This journal was really fun to make, though a little challenging. I wanted to cover the spine in leather, but alas, the square I wanted to use was just a little too small. (click for full view)

handmade book sewn onto cords

But, never fear! With a little improvisation, I decided to turn the leather so that the diagonal ran along the spine. This way, the corners flapped onto the covers. Then, I cut it into this cute bracket shape and glued it down. The scrolling cover material is just some scrap fabric I had around. I think it turned out really well!

On this second one, I tried to keep the fun feeling of the more stylized spine shape, rather than just the usual straight line. (Again, click for full view.)

book cloth handmade book with robots

I used the robot print to cover the book boards, being careful to glue it correctly so that the robot was in the center of the cover. I then glued mull and whatnot to get it sturdy-like. Finally, I cut the book cloth into the desired shaped and glued it onto the spine. I’m please with

I love making smaller books so much, but have a harder time finding a use for them… blergh! But then, I guess that finding a happy home for their creations is a challenge any bookmaker faces.

Hope this gave you some inspiration. Happy bookmaking!