How to Bind a Booklet
A word of warning: making booklets is crazy addictive.
I started off by making just a few booklets for my homemade traveller’s notebook: a month-long homeschool planner, a booklet of the knitting patterns that I’m currently using, and a booklet that’s just blank paper for my kids to scribble through. It’s my decoy booklet, designed to keep the two-year-old away from the more important ones. Does it work? Nope. But it was worth a try, right?
My favourite booklets so far have been the ones that my daughter made for Christmas. We scanned some of her artwork and created weekly purse-sized calendars that we gave out to our family. I know I’m biased, but I think they turned out beautifully — you can see some photos over on my post about our new printer.
I’d really like to do a book list booklet with all the books recommended in our homeschool curriculum. It would be so handy to have a list when we pop into the library or bookstores — not to mention the used curriculum sales that are coming up this spring. With any luck, I’ll avoid buying a fourth copy of Misty of Chincoteague.
There are tons of templates available online for free too. This site has some neat ones, including templates for basic graph paper, lined paper — even dotted paper. What would you even use dotted paper for? Playing Dots and Boxes? … oh wow, that’s a great idea. I’m definitely adding “make dot paper booklet” to my to-do list.
Mostly, though, the booklets I print are my monthly homeschool planners. I do one at a time so that I can adjust our schedule as life changes. I’m working on a post specifically about making your own with a template to get you started, so be sure to check back this week. You might think it’s tedious to make a new booklet each month, but if that’s the case, you need to reread this post from the beginning: making booklets is fun and addictive.
Want to try?
1) Print Your Pages
After you’ve decided on what to put in your booklet, you’ll need to print it off. The most important part of printing off a booklet is making sure the pages are in the right order, and it’s not all that intuitive. Imagine all your pages in a stack and then folded in half — this is your booklet. The very outside sheet is going to have your first page on the left and your last page on the right. The next paper will have the second page and the second-last page on the front, and the third page and the third-last page on the back. Yeah, I’m already confused. Trust me, trying to do this all manually is far too much work.
Luckily Acrobat Reader will print out booklets for you, so all you need to do is save your document as a PDF and then open it with Acrobat Reader, which is a free program. And I wish someone had told me that before I bought the Create Booklet app for Macs. Oh well, no regrets. Create Booklet really is a handy little program; it’s designed specifically for making booklets, so it lets me scale my pages, change my margins, add page numbers, and more. I like it.
I’m assuming you’ll stick to free, though. After you’ve opened your PDF in Acrobat Reader, click print and then select Booklet. This is a screenshot from my Mac; it may look slightly different on your screen.
2) Add a Cover
After your pages are printed out and in order — I can’t stress this enough — you’ll want to add a cover. I recommend using something thicker than regular paper. I use cardstock personally — I like that it’s stiff, but still easy to fold.
3) Fold the Pages in Half
Folding your papers in half is pretty straightforward. If you’re a perfectionist, you’ll want to fold a few of them at a time so that you get a sharp crease. I’m sure you could be quick and fold them all at once — but I’m a perfectionist, so I wouldn’t know.
4) Measure the Hole Spacing
Find the middle of your page and make a mark (4.25 inches from the top if you’re using a standard 8.5 x 11) — then measure out from there. On this booklet, I added four more markings, each an inch apart. I don’t think it matters too much how many holes you add — I’ve made some booklets with just three holes and they’ve held up fine.
Take a moment again and make sure your pages are in order, especially if you let the papers out of your sight for even a second while your two-year-old was in the room.
5) Poking Some Holes
Once you’re happy with the hole placement, go ahead and make the holes. I like to secure the sheets together with paper clips and then poke through the sheets with the same stabber tool (an awl?) that I used to make my journal cover. It doesn’t take much pressure — I just push down against the pencil marking and then twist the awl back and forth until the tip comes through the cover on the other side.
6) Stitch the Booklet
For the sewing, I use white waxed cord, but I’m secretly convinced that I could just use dental floss instead. One day I’m totally going to try.
Ok, I just googled dental floss. Did you know that some brands are made with Teflon? Ew! Maybe I’ve got it backwards; I should be flossing with my sewing thread, not sewing with my floss. Ha ha ha! I’m just kidding — I never floss.
Whatever you choose to sew with, you won’t need much at all. I cut a generous foot and a half and it was far too much.
Sewing is easy enough. Start in the middle and move your needle in and out all the way to the top. Yup, all two stitches.
When you reach the top, turn around and stitch your way back down, going in where you went out before and out where you went in before. When you reach the bottom, come back up to the middle in the same manner.
Once you’ve finished sewing, tie the thread off in a double knot and snip off the excess. Don’t worry about the knot being in the way — I never notice it at all.
This is the stitching from the outside. Looks nice and tidy, doesn’t it!
7) Trim your Booklet
If you have more than a few pages in your booklet, they won’t line up neatly on the outside so you’ll need to trim them. No, you don’t have to. But I have to. Normally I trim my booklets to five inches wide. There’s no real reason for that, beyond that it’s easy to measure out with my cutting mat and ruler.
When I started making booklets, I trimmed them with an Exacto knife. It worked, but sometimes it took me a few tries to get a nice, even edge. Then, back in December, I discovered that my fabric rotary cutter slices through paper like butter.
Whoa — did you hear that? That was the sound of all the quilters clicking away en masse. Look, I know you should never use your fabric cutter on paper. I’ll buy another one for my fabric, I promise.
Actually, I have to go to the fabric supply store anyway. This months planner booklet was harder to cut this month than normal — it’s either because the paper has dulled my fabric rotary cutter or because the cutter kept snagging on my cutting board — I damaged it last month when I forgot it’s not an ironing board. So melty.
8) Decorate the Cover
Once your booklet is neatly trimmed, the only thing left to do is decorate the cover. If you picked a pretty cardstock, that won’t even be necessary. I use a plain kraft paper and I like to spruce it up. I pick a stamp from my children’s stamp collection — and by “pick a stamp”, I mean I dig around until I find the butterfly stamp. I have six different booklets that are marked with the same butterfly. Hopefully, you have more common sense than me and actually write the month’s name or something.
Aren’t they great? I have way too much fun making them. Have you made a booklet before? What are your best tips?