Bookbinding 101

Table of Contents

Tools and Supplies Needed

Binding with Sewing

Step 1: Prepare Paper

Step 2: Sew signatures together

Step 3: Glue the spine

Step 4: Create the case

Step 5: Attach text block and case

Step 6: Book in the press

Binding with No Sewing (Double-Fan Adhesive)

Tools and Supplies Needed



Binding with Sewing

Specs of book:

6 signatures (sets of pages you’ll sew together)

16 pages in each

96 pages total

Step 1: Prepare paper

Depending on the size of your desired book, you’ll need to fold and trim your paper down to the correct size. I’m going to make a small notebook - so I’ll tear out pages from the sketchbook,

Tear out 24 sheets of paper from your notebook. Cut them in half (if you have a papercutter you can use that, or use your yardstick and utility knife) and then fold in half again to make little booklets.

You also want to cut one piece of cardstock or heavier paper to be an endsheet (one folded piece at the beginning and end of your book).

Group the booklets so that there are 6 booklets (these are called signatures) with 16 pages each (that’s 8 sheets folded in half to form a kind of spine). There should be one endsheet at the beginning and one at the end.


Next, you’ll take your awl and punch four holes in the crease of each of the signatures. You want the holes on the top and bottom to be around a quarter inch from the edge, and the other two holes equally spaced in the middle.

Step 2: Sew signatures together

Your next step is to sew the endsheets and signatures together and create your spine.

Thread your curved needle with around two feet of thread and begin with and endsheet. Follow the instructions in the video tutorial below for stitching the signatures together.

Kettle Stitch demo:

After you’ve sewn the signatures together, place the book in a press to compress the spine (or put it underneath some very heavy books/pieces of furniture).

Step 3: Glue the spine

After you’ve finished sewing your signatures together, trim the muslin piece so that it is a little shorter than the spine of your book.

Apply a generous amount of glue to the spine and pull the muslin tightly over the spine, pulling it tightly so that some glue seeps through the fabric. Spread the glue along the muslin with your finger.

Let the glue dry.

Step 4: Create the case

For full-cloth binding (entire cover is made using cloth):

For quarter-cloth binding (uses decorative paper): 

The instructions below are for a quarter-cloth binding.

Cut your binders board into two pieces (one for the front and back of the book), about 1/8th of an inch larger than your textblock on the top and bottom (but the same width as the textblock).

Measure the width of your textblock’s spine with a strip of paper (your spine piece). Cut piece of cardstock/thicker paper that is the exact width of your spine, but the height of your boards.

Cut a section of buckram or book cloth that will wrap about a quarter around your text block. It should be the same height as your book boards, but with an extra ⅝ of an inch on the top and bottom that you will fold over and glue down.

Apply glue to the spine piece and glue it down in the center of the book cloth. Apply glue to the book board (only as much as is needed to attach it to the book cloth) and glue it down around ¼” away from the spine piece. Use a jig if you have one to ensure you have the spacing right.

Next, cut pieces of decorative paper the same width as the part of the book boards not covered with book cloth (leaving 5/8ths of an inch extra on the top, bottom, and outer edge for folding over).

Apply glue to the decorative paper and glue them to the boards. Trim the corners, and fold the top and bottom flaps first. Then create library corners and fold the outer edge in.

Library corners: 

Let the cover dry.

Step 5: Attach text block and case

When the glue has dried on both your text block and case, it is time to attach them, or “case in”.

Trim the corners of the muslin cloth and glue it down to the endsheets of your textblock. Next, apply glue to the outer edge of one of the endsheets, using broad sweeping brush motions from the center outward. You may want to tuck a piece of scrap paper between the endsheet and the second sheet of paper in to protect the rest of the text block from glue.

Once you have applied the glue, carefully glue the glue-covered endsheet to one of the boards. Make sure the edges are square - there should be around 1/8th” of margin between the edge of the endsheet and the edge of the board.

Use the bone folder to carefully press the paper down once it’s in the right position. Place a piece of wax paper between the board and the endsheet, then flip the book over and glue the other endsheet to the back board in the same fashion. Make sure to pull the spine tight around the textblock.

Run your bone folder in the groove along the joints to “set” them if so desired. This helps make the spine stronger.

Step 6: Book in the Press

Once your cover is attached, place the book in your press (or underneath some heavy books or furniture. Leave in the press to dry for 24 hours.

Binding with No Sewing (Double-Fan Adhesive)

If you want to create a binding with loose sheets of paper, you can use the double-fan adhesive method to create your textblock (rather than sewing pages together).

Follow the instructions in this tutorial: 

Once you’ve created the textblock, you can follow steps 4-6 above to create a case and attach the textblock.