If you didn’t know this already, I love playing with paper and art supplies. That obsession started at a very early age.
As a child I learned how to make little booklets in which I saved magazine and newspaper cuttings containing short stories, comic strips and trivia. I drew and painted in them too. Making those little art booklets was one of my favourite hobbies as a child. They were a reflection of how I saw the world around me.
I will show you how to make very simple booklets with two kinds of bindings, and a few bookmarks with very easy watercolour techniques. Kids can make these easily, with a little help.
You already have most of the things that you need for these projects at home. You can also use up some of your fabric scraps.
Making a Signature
Books are made of signatures. These books are going to be made of one signature. We are going to make the signature first, then bind it.
You will need one piece of card stock for the cover.
Other than that you can use any paper. Printer paper will be more than fine. If you wish to paint in your booklet however, you will want thicker stock than printer paper.
Just one thing to remember: The thicker your paper, less the number of papers you are going to be able to fit into a signature. I made a multi-purpose book where I want to draw, paint and write. So I used 1 sheet of watercolour paper, 1 sheet of card stock and 5 sheets of sketchbook paper. Watercolour and sketchbook papers are larger than card stock paper. So I trimmed them all to 8.5″ x 11″ to match the card stock.
Fold each paper in the middle. Run the side of a ruler along the fold for a crisp fold.
Insert the folded sheets into each other.
Place one sheet of folded card stock as the outermost sheet to create the cover.
Depending on the size of your signature, you may need to trim the side.
Now that we have a signature made, we are ready to bind.
Fold a new sheet of card stock to make a template first. On the folded side, Measure 1.5″ from the top and bottom. Mark those two points and the centre with a pencil. Using a hole puncher, punch a semicircular hole on those marks. If you insert the hole puncher too far past the fold and punch a circular hole, you will end up with two separate holes when you unfold the sheet.
When you open up the page, you should see three circular holes along the fold. It’s fine if they are not perfect. They will be folded anyway.
Now place the folded template on top of the folded sheets of the signature so that the folded edges are all facing the same way. Using the template as a guide, punch holes in the sheets. Remember to make the holes semicircular. Depending on the thickness and number of sheets, you may have to do this in a couple of stages.
Tip – Use a paper clip to keep the papers and the template together.
Once the sheets are all punched, and you are happy with the arrangement of the signature, cut a yard of 3/8″ wide ribbon. Feed the ribbon through the two outer holes toward the inside.
Then grasp the two endings together from the inside and feed them through the middle hole toward the outside. After that, place one ribbon end on each side of the centre hole. If you have any twists in the ribbon, fix those at this time as well.
Tie a pretty knot. Trim if necessary. You may also want to trim the tips of the ribbon to a V shape to avoid fraying.
That’s it! The first book is made and ready to be used.
Your kids can start with decorating the cover now. Doodle, draw, paint, add stickers. Anything goes!
You can take out some of your fabric scraps too and press Heat-N-Bond on the back. Let your kid draw his/her own designs on the backing. Cut them out, arrange them on the cover. Place another piece of card-stock on top and iron on the cut-outs using a low setting.
That’s how I added the leaves on my book above. I might go back and add something else to it later on. Great way to use up those scraps of fabric, don’t you think?!
Cut a 9.5″ x 12″ piece of decorative paper. Use an 8.5″ x 11″ piece of card stock as cover paper. Apply generous amount of glue all over one side of the cover paper. Place it in the middle of the decorative paper, positioning it so that there is approximately 0.5″ of decorative paper overhang on all sides. Press it down. Then add glue to the overhang on the decorative paper and fold it over the cover page.
Now cut another 8″ x 10.5″ piece of decorative paper and apply glue to its reverse side. Place that paper in the middle of the cover page, making sure there is a 0.25″ gap to the edge on each side. Press it down.
Tip – A good quality glue stick works really well for me. No mess this way.
Fold the cover page back again along the centre.
Use another piece of card stock to make a template for the sewing holes. Mark 1.25″ from the top, then continue to mark 1.0″ after that until you reach the bottom 1.25″. Push a push-pin through each of those marks and you have the template.
Now unfold the papers of your signature and place them underneath the template piece. You may want to hold them together with paper clips. Then push the pin through each of the holes in your template. You may have to do this in couple of stages, depending on the thickness of the stock you have chosen.
Once you have made holes in all of your sheets, put the signature together again. Now it’s ready for sewing.
Take a piece of thread that is a little longer than twice the length of your book. A little thicker thread like DMC Pearl Cotton works best. Using this thread and a needle, sew through every other hole starting at the top hole, on the inside. Make sure to leave a few inches of thread behind as a tail.
Once you have reached the bottom, come back up again, sewing through every other hole. You should now have filled the gaps you left when you sewed your first pass. Once you reach the second hole from the top, tie a knot with the tail-end of the thread from the first hole.
This is how the book looks, on the inside and outside. Decorate the cover more or start using it as-is.
They took hardly any time to make. You and the kids can make a bunch of them together. Fill them up with artwork or give blank books as Christmas presents.
Now I will show you how to make a few bookmarks using simple watercolour techniques.
All you need for the bookmarks are strips of watercolour paper, paint, a flat brush and a round brush. Don’t worry if you can’t find a cheap flat brush, a bigger round brush will work well enough.
I used 7″ x 2″ strips of watercolour paper for my bookmarks. I used leftover scraps from bookmaking.
Using the flat brush, apply water all over the paper. Then dab paint on the wet paper, letting the difference paints flow into each other.
Then sprinkle salt on the wet paint. The salt starts absorbing the paint and creates a fun texture. I used a little too much on the top one and you can see how it lifted a lot more paint than I intended. I left it as-is to show you the difference. I will use it as background and paint on top of it later on.
Let the salt dry completely; this takes a while. Once completely dry, brush the salt off and you’re done! Use the bookmark as-is, draw on it with markers, stamp a favourite quote, anything you want.
For these two, I used the flat brush again to apply water all over the paper. I went back and forth on them with paint and let the different paints blend into each other.
For the left one, I dipped my brush in clean water. On the wet paint, I drew a couple of lines with the brush and then splattered a few drops of water by tapping on the brush. Let this dry and you will see the effect water has on paint. I will go back and paint on it.
For the right one, I used a cotton swab to lift off paint to create those fuzzy white dots. I cut a tree out of a scrap of silver fabric and ironed it on to the bookmark using Heat-N-Bond, just like the way I ironed on the leaves on the first book.
I love making bookmarks. They are fast, fun and easy to make. You can make a whole bunch all together. Sometimes I even make bookmarks to match the book I am reading.
I hope this inspired you and your kids to make a few of these as gifts. Personalize them for the recipient. Make a few for yourselves. Fill the books with wonderful art. Spend time together playing in the book and then swap them with each other at Christmas!
Julie Stocker July 27, 2016 at 10:58
A great instructional here, and so nice to do one to share with all ages. These little books are so nice because they weigh so little, and yet are so functional to carry along in your purse, pack, and so on. Once used, the specialty papers make them easy to remember what’s inside and how to locate. Excellent post!
Kaja July 24, 2016 at 23:22
The whole Christmas in July thing is way beyond me (I’m definitely not that far ahead of the game) but these lovely books would be good for all sorts of things, at any time of year.
Janine July 24, 2016 at 00:38
These are wonderful! Thanks for your great tute :)
Zenia Rene July 23, 2016 at 07:22
What a fantastic idea w/the art books. They would be a fun project to do w/ and for kids.
Leanne Parsons July 21, 2016 at 09:01
What great ideas! I love the notebooks, especially the one with the sewn binding. It looks so professional. The bookmarks are fun too, and the salt technique is interesting. Thanks for sharing!
Paige July 20, 2016 at 18:52
Soma, what great ideas to keep children busy during Christmas break! The bookmarks with the salted paints are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Jennifer @ Inquiring Quilter July 20, 2016 at 15:54
How nice that you thought of children and created some tutorials just for them! These are cute, whether made by a child or an adult like me who still is young at heart. Thank you!
Renee July 20, 2016 at 11:08
These are wonderful! Thanks for sharing!
Kim Sharman July 20, 2016 at 04:58
What wonderful projects to do with kids. Those lovely books and bookmarks would indeed be the perfect gift. I love what salt does to the watercolour paint and paper. I rather like the first one that you said was a little iffy. =) As always a concise and clear tutorial, Soma. I always enjoy looking at your artworks. After reading this post, I am quite sure there will be a lot of people creating a book or two
Cheryl July 19, 2016 at 18:15
What beautiful books and bookmarks, these would make the most wonderful Christmas presents!
tonia conner July 19, 2016 at 13:42
Very pretty indeed. Cards received are a treasure.
Sandra July 19, 2016 at 12:56
Oh Soma! I know I will be coming back to this post in September when my grandson is here for a visit! He LOVES crafting so we can make some of these for presents! Thank you to you and to Sarah for allowing a kid-friendly project, well TWO!!
cheryl comfort July 19, 2016 at 12:01
What fun projects :-) I should get my two grand kids to start making some bookmarks for “back to school” gifts for their classmates– super cute!
Mel July 19, 2016 at 11:20
I love them! While being in the Christmas mindset, these give me lots of ideas how to incorporate them for presents and cards for this year. Thank you for sharing your wonderful tutorials.
susie July 19, 2016 at 07:11
Your books and bookmarks are so beautiful! And such a wonderful family project , that can nurture art and reading!
I am going to keep your awesome tutorial instructions, for handy reference! I would love to try the watercolor bookmarks, with the salt. It is an ideal project to learn some watercolor skills on a small project.
Thanks for your creative addition to the Christmas in July, Renaissance Woman!
Geri A July 18, 2016 at 22:28
So many fun fabric scraps that you could use, or old wrapping paper, etc. Great projects to get kids involved in!!
krislovesfabric July 18, 2016 at 18:06
Evan likes your bookmarks and that you match them to your books, I showed him this post and he went to his room and brought me his Godzilla bookmark in his Godzilla book…he cut and shaped the edges of a black duct-taped cardstock to make a Godzilla head silhouette bookmark…ha! Your watercolor art makes a beauty of a bookmark :)
Carol July 18, 2016 at 18:02
Hi Soma, glad to meet you and benefit from your wonderful talent! Your booklets are awesome. I’m have been so very inspired by all the blog hop hosts! Thank you
Carol July 18, 2016 at 17:58
What a great talent! I’ve enjoyed blog hopping and seeing all the lovely crafty goodness. Thank you for sharing!!
Susan Nixon July 18, 2016 at 15:35
What a lot of work you put into this tutorial. Thank you! I love the book information, and the bookmarks.
Dixie July 18, 2016 at 12:28
Lovely bookmarks and the booklets are great!
Connie July 18, 2016 at 12:25
Wonderful tutorial Soma, I didn’t know how a booklet was put together with the ribbon before this! I love working with paper also! Thanks for sharing!
Marsha July 18, 2016 at 12:07
I think these are wonderful, and not just for kids. Kids and their mothers (and maybe dads too) will love these projects. Great job, Soma.
rosa July 18, 2016 at 10:48
Your bookmarks are so beautiful.Two year ago I bought an ebook and now I read more books there.,it`s a shame because nothing better than point the pages you want to read again.
Lori Morton July 18, 2016 at 10:37
Thank you for sharing your wonderful & fun projects!! Planning to make bookmarks with the Grangirlie this weekend! :)
Mary July 18, 2016 at 08:18
Those are such a great idea, Soma, and you did a beautiful job on them. Your tutorial is so easy to understand. I’m going to have to give this a try. I really like the effect that salt has on the watercolor pieces.
Heidi July 18, 2016 at 07:43
I am inspired to make some miniature sized booklets as Christmas ornaments! 12days, or perhaps personalized with family sketches. I love journals, but find they are not nearby when I have an urgent need to sketch an idea, so mine are filled with scratch paper & quite messy.
Sharon July 18, 2016 at 07:22
What a fun project to do with kis, thank you for sharing.
anna Brown July 18, 2016 at 07:12
Very very pretty I think i will make one for my daughter she reads alot at nite ….email@example.com
Selina July 18, 2016 at 07:10
What a wonderful collection of ideas. Can’t get over how simple making the journals would be to do with kids. Thanks so much for taking the time to break the process down for us.
Lori Smanski July 18, 2016 at 05:46
this is great. i love playing with card stock also. i make greeting cards.
thanks for sharing
Lara B. July 18, 2016 at 05:25
Soma, you’ve made me so excited to try making a book! I love the ease of your technique and the way it turns out. They look so beautiful and have that perfect handmade quality for the best gifts! The bookmarks are lovely too. You are right that these are great crafts to share with children, but also a relaxing and fun thing to do as an adult. Thank you for the tutorial!
Carole @ From My Carolina Home July 18, 2016 at 04:37
Great project! I like working with paper and making cards and bookmarks too, your watercolor designs are wonderful.
Michele@CrayonBoxQuiltStudio July 18, 2016 at 04:36
Both are really great and thank you for the detailed info. I’m going to see if we can make bookmarks at Girl Scout camp.
Sarah Craig July 18, 2016 at 04:17
What a wonderful post, Soma! I absolutely love the idea of making books – my grandkids will love this, and heck, I’m thinking of making journals to give as gifts myself! And I guarantee the grands will love playing with watercolor to make bookmarks – we may do that this week as they are spending some serious time at my house! Thanks so much for a fun addition to the blog hop!!
Susan Spiers July 18, 2016 at 04:07
Just love your color ideas with salt -very pretty-yes, and kids can do it too!
Cynthia Woodham July 18, 2016 at 01:07
The little books look easy to make. I am thinking they would make great gifts for my friends for Christmas
Allison July 18, 2016 at 00:51
Love your bookmark idea! Great idea! mumbird3(at)gmail(dot)com
Kathy E. July 18, 2016 at 00:20
Soma, your bookmarks are just so lovely! The idea of getting the kids involved in great in creating a gift for friends, family members or their teachers. Plus, it may inspire the recipient to read more books! There is nothing quite like taking an adventure in a good book. Thanks for sharing!