How to: Simple Pamphlet Stitch Notebook

Make a simple notebook by hand

Today I’m going to (attempt to) show you how to make a single-signature, simple notebook. This is called a pamphlet stitch, and is also known as a saddle stitch. It’s simple and easy, and you probably already have the supplies around that would be needed to make one!

Thing’s you’ll need:

Book making supplies

  • a crewel needle or binder’s needle
  • craft blade (or scissors)
  • 1 1/2 ft. of Linen thread (you can also use embroidery floss, in a bind)
  • 4 pieces of 8.5″ x 11″ paper
  • 1 pc of cardstock or scrapbook paper
  • ruler
  • cutting mat

1) Cut 8.5″ x 11″ sheets in half.

An easy way to do this is to fold the paper in half. Then, slip a knife in the fold, sharp edge facing into the crease, and push it through the paper. It will split it right along the fold!

2) Cut your cardstock.

Add about half an inch to the dimensions of your text paper to get a 9″ x 6″ piece. Carefully measure and cut to these dimensions.

3) Stack your text and cover pages and fold.

Line up the eight sheets of text paper and center them on the cover paper. Slowly fold it all in half width-wise (hamburger style), keeping the edges straight. Line up the two halves, making sure they are equal. Keep an eyes on the edges to keep them lined up as you crease the fold.
Folding for making a saddle stitch notebook

4) Poke holes in the fold (spine).

Hold your papers open and together firmly, with your thumb on the inside, kind of how you would hold a paperback you were reading. With your other hand, take your needle. Holding it firmly, push it from the inside of the fold out to the spine, being careful to stay aligned with the crease. Make sure you have an odd number of holes. For a project this small I would poke three, five or seven, but you can do however many you like. You can space them evenly or unevenly, as long as there is an odd number of them.

5) Thread your needle and tie a knot at the end.

It may take a few tries to thread your needle; waxing the thread may help. After it’s threaded, I usually just tie a slip knot at the end so there’s a little loop at the end of the thread, to keep everything in place.

6) Sew it up.

So, this part can be a little tricky, so I’ve made a diagram that I think will help. It corresponds to the letters that follow. The arrows are the same-ish color as the letters they correspond to.

diagram for making a saddle stitch notebook


  1. Start with the second-to-last hole — marked in the diagram as hole 2. Sew out to the spine and pull it taut, until the tail is inside the fold.
    sewing a simple notebook by hand 
  2. Sew in through the closest, outermost hole, 1, and then out again through hole 2.bookbinding a simple journal 
  3. Sew back in through hole 3, then out againg through hole 4.
    a pamphlet stitch notebook 
  4. Sew back in through five, out through 4, then in through 3 again. When you’re done, it should look something like this:

    binding a notebook

    Thread should run between each hole, on both the inside and the spine

7) Tie it off.

For your last step, sew underneath the stitch that runs between holes 1 and 2. Using your needle, tie a knot and tighten it until it lays flat, aiming to get it as close to the hole as possible. Then just trim the tail to the desired length.

finishing your handmade notebook


8) Add Pizzazz.

Stamp it, color it, cute it up!

For my notebook, I cut a window in the cover and gave it a title—”Menus and Groceries.” Throw it in my purse, and the next time I’m planning a trip to the grocery store, I’m set!

how to make a notebook

Ta-da! You have yourself a handy-dandy notebook. Now go record some clues or something.

Happy Bookmaking!

5 thoughts on “How to: Simple Pamphlet Stitch Notebook

  1. I just stumbled across your blog tonight! I was looking to make a little notebook rather than pay a ton for one at the store. I managed to get through this tutorial without any difficulties! Great blog (:

  2. Pingback: Making books with Children, Bookbinding for kids: Simple Notebook | Handmade Library

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  4. I was just wondering.. With the thread, do you cut it to length and pull it all mostly through? Because whenever I do so, my thread tangles and knots because I’m trying to make the same notepad, just A5 paper size :/

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