How to Make a Simple Sewn Sketchbook

Easy instructions for how to make a simple sewn sketchbook - a step-by-step guide with photos…

Step-by-step Guide to making an easy sewn sketchbook at home

Step-by-step Guide to making an easy sewn sketchbook at home

I’ve been sharing easy ways for how to make your own sketchbook so that you can get drawing…

In this page, I covered deciding which sort of sketchbook to have, bought sketchbooks, personalization, working with loose pages, how to make a quick sketchbook, and how to make a very easy ‘hole-punch sketchbook’ so catch up there if you’d like to check those topics out first…

Here, I’m starting to look at the first of two ways to make a simple sewn sketchbook using the same basic method.

There’s only two stitches for the smaller book, which we’ll cover on this page, and six stitches for the larger book, so no need to be intimidated by the thought of sewing!

You will need:

  • Papers to make the pages

  • Thin card to make the covers

  • Gift wrap or wallpaper to decorate the covers and make the spine

  • Scissors or craft knife

  • Tape or glue (I recommend a special tape known as ‘magic tape’)

  • Sturdy needle (I recommend a specialist book-binding needle but any sturdy needle will do)

  • Thick thread (I recommend specialist book-binding thread but any thick cotton thread will do)

  • Bradawl (for making holes - optional but very useful)

  • Cutting board or other cutting surface to protect your table

Learning how to make art sketchbooks that are quick and easy to make

Learning how to make art sketchbooks that are quick and easy to make

How to make a Sewn Sketchbook

This is an easy way of making a sketchbook with the pages fastened in securely by sewing.

It’s actually the same basic process for this simple version and the more complex version with more pages that I share here

Making a Simple Sewn Sketchbook

Collect together papers to make your pages and fold them in half…

About 10 papers is about the maximum for the smaller sketchbook, which will make a sketchbook of 20 pages when folded.

If you’d like more pages, it’s better to make the second version.

Fold papers to make the pages for your sketchbook

Fold papers to make the pages for your sketchbook

Create a cover from thin card which should be the same size as your pages. In this method I’ve made it from one piece that will fold in just the same way as the pages.

Fold a piece of thin card (here I’ve used 160gsm card) to make the covers

Fold a piece of thin card (here I’ve used 160gsm card) to make the covers

Decorate your cover by covering in your choice of wallpaper or gift-wrap.

Decorating the sketchbook cover simply by covering in a colourful gift wrap or wallpaper.

Decorating the sketchbook cover simply by covering in a colourful gift wrap or wallpaper.

The cover is now made. The folded pages will be inserted as so.

The cover is now made. The folded pages will be inserted as so.

Now, open the pages out so that they’re flat on the tabletop with the cover on the bottom (pretty side down) and the centre of the sketchbook on top (all the pages should be flat).

Position your pages carefully so they’re neatly aligned with the centre fold matching up with the centre fold in the cover.

Position your pages carefully so they’re neatly aligned with the centre fold matching up with the centre fold in the cover.

We now need to make hole in the pages. I’m using a special tool called a bradawl which makes making holes a lot easier and safer but if you don’t have one, you could use a thick needle or the point of a sharp pair of scissors (very carefully).

Using a bradawl to make a hole in the centre of the sketchbook

Using a bradawl to make a hole in the centre of the sketchbook

To use the bradawl, simply push gently but firmly into the centre of the pages, taking care that they don’t slip position. Then fold the book over (as if to look at the front cover) to find the point of the bradawl poking through the other side.

Point of the bradawl showing through the other side.

Point of the bradawl showing through the other side.

Continue using the bradawl in this way to make three holes fairly evenly spaced in the centre of your sketchbook.

Make three holes like so. If you’d like to be neat and precise you can measure (I don’t bother for this quick and easy book).

Make three holes like so. If you’d like to be neat and precise you can measure (I don’t bother for this quick and easy book).

Next, sew 2 to 3 large stitches with a strong thread along the centre fold, right through all the pages including the cover

Start with your book open and make the first stitch going down into the top hole (interior pages to exterior cover) then come back up into the centre of the book through the centre hole (going exterior to interior). Leave plenty of thread loose from the top hole.

Go into your book with the needle through the top hole, and come back up through the centre hole. Leave plenty of thread spare from the top hole as we’ll need it to complete our stitches.

Go into your book with the needle through the top hole, and come back up through the centre hole. Leave plenty of thread spare from the top hole as we’ll need it to complete our stitches.

Next, go back through your book with the needle, downwards into the bottom hole (interior to exterior)…

Sew down into the third, (bottom) hole…

Sew down into the third, (bottom) hole…

And then bring your needle back up again through the centre hole (exterior to interior)…

Your stitches should look something like this on the outside of your sketchbook

Your stitches should look something like this on the outside of your sketchbook

Your needle should now be back inside your book, having come back up through the centre hole and your interior pages should look something like this (below).

make-a-simple-sewn-sketchbook-making-stitches-5.jpg

Now, pull the stitches tight so that they pull the pages close into the cover.

Pull the stitches tight so that the sketchbook holds together securely

Pull the stitches tight so that the sketchbook holds together securely

Stitches pulled tight on the outside cover.

Stitches pulled tight on the outside cover.

Now, tie together the two loose threads inside your pages with a firm, secure knot (I do a double knot). Ideally you would tie the threads so that the knot lies right in the centre, but if this isn’t possible, don’t worry. Trim the ends neatly.

A neat, secure knot is tied in the centre of the stitches and the loose ends trimmed.

A neat, secure knot is tied in the centre of the stitches and the loose ends trimmed.

Your sketchbook is now complete and ready to use.

Done! Your easy sewn sketchbook ready to use.

Done! Your easy sewn sketchbook ready to use.

It may benefit from a few hours under a pile of heavy books to encourage it to lay flat then it’s ready to go for you to enjoy drawing in your own homemade sketchbook.

How to make a larger sewn sketchbook with more pages

This next project uses the same basic method as the one above but it allows you to make a sketchbook with more pages. The process is slightly more complex, simply due to there being more pages to deal with, which we treat in sections.

You might need to refer back to the simple project above for the stitching process so it’s a good idea to familiarise yourself with the basic method here before you start this more complex project.

More Sketchbook Making Ideas

Learn how to make even easier sketchbooks here…

This next sketchbook takes a little more work and effort but will look more finished (more polished) and will be more durable than the quicker sketchbooks. You can find the instructions for my bound sketchbook here… (the tutorial’s from a few years ago now so I’m afraid it looks a little dated but the info is still good so I hope you find it useful).

When you’re ready to draw in your new sketchbook, there’s some ideas for what to use your sketchbook for and some drawing ideas for your sketchbook, here…

Or learn how to draw with my free drawing resources or my Essential Drawing Skills online course…

Useful Resources for the Project

You can get a bradawl/awl (hole-maker) plus bookbinding needles and bookbinding thread like I used in this project in a basic bookbinding kit like this.

I use these tools in several sketchbook and bookbinding projects on this website, so if you’d like to do more than one of these projects, they might be worth investing in.

If you’re interested in the bookbinding tools set, please come back and order via my link on this page and I will receive a small commission.

The price to you is always the same.

If you like the colourful gift wrap I used in this project, it’s my own design. You can get it here (from UK) and similar here (using wallpaper) (from USA)

 

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