The Sketchbook Project : The Sketchbook That Almost Wasn’t (or How to Re-bind Your Sketchbook)

For someone whose life and well-being rely upon order and carefully made plans, I sure do find myself in a lot of How-Did-I-Get-Myself-Into-This situations (typically, without a proper exit strategy).

Such was the case with a recent attempt at working on my Sketchbook Project.

Spurred by some recent comments on Twitter, I decided to finally buckle down and get to work on what I had committed to buckling down and getting to work on months ago. Heh.

Conscious of my tendency to get a bit overzealous with water (and alcohol*) in my work, I knew that the sketchbook’s current pages were not going to stand up to my aqueous abuse. So, I decided to pluck out the staples and replace the thin pages with something a little sturdier.

And pluck, I did (the results of which can be seen in the photo at left)! Then, I got to work on cutting some new pages from watercolor paper and a large sheet of black paper I acquired during a recent art supply buying binge.

After cutting (and subsequently tossing onto the scrap pile) about 7 billion crooked sheets (damn my wonky eyes!), I finally had all of my pages ready to fold and staple back into my sketchbook. Excellent, right?


As I (quite literally) dusted off my trusty (dusty) stapler, I discovered that my new heavy-duty pages were too thick for my wimpy little staples to penetrate. Damn. And here I thought I had it all figured out.

Back to the drawing board (also known as issuing a plea for help on the Internets).

Nothing that I was finding in my book-binding searches was proving helpful. That’s when Jessica Mack of Brown Paper Bunny fame came to my rescue with this video on how to make a stitched notebook. If you don’t want to watch the video, but want to try it for yourself, here are the basic steps.

  1. Fold your cover over the new pages (make sure everything is nicely/evenly folded).
  2. Using a ruler held along the main fold of your pages, mark the middle of the fold with a pencil. Then measure/mark in 1″ increments in both directions to establish your ‘poke holes’.
  3. Hold your cover and all of your pages firmly and poke through the marked spots using an awl or paper piercer.
  4. Thread a large needle with embroidery floss and sew through the top hole from the inside, leaving enough of a tail to tie up later.
  5. Use a running stitch to go through each hole. Then, go back through in the opposite direction (it will look like a backstitch).
  6. On the last stitch, tie the ends of the floss together tightly, so the knot sits firmly on the inside of your sketchbook.
  7. Snip off the loose ends and you’re done!

If any of this is confusing, the video will make it clear. Again, you can find it here.

My sketchbook was back together! And the peasants rejoiced!


Honestly, this method was much easier than I anticipated (especially since I didn’t have a paper piercer or an embroidery needle and had to improvise). I will say that I kind of messed up the cover during the process, but only because I may have forgotten to properly clean my work surface after using pastel sticks and there may have been pastel dust everywhere. Oops.

Now that I have this newly-bound sketchbook, I suppose I should think about what I’m going to put in it. Meh, it can wait. My brain deserves a break.

* rubbing alcohol, not drinking alcohol – heh. See what I do with it here, here, and here.

photos : the sketchbook that almost wasn’t by yours truly



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6 thoughts on “The Sketchbook Project : The Sketchbook That Almost Wasn’t (or How to Re-bind Your Sketchbook)

  1. Useful info here. I don’t use when I work…what was that other thing? ; )
    However, I have wondered how practical it would be to embellish the book with pages other than the ones it came with! Thanks for the tip.

  2. I am posting a description of this wonderful blog post, a link to it and a summary of what a big help it is on my blog tomorrow morning. It was incredibly helpful, and I’m certain my followers will want to come to your blog to read how to do this. It’s also such a good read!! Thank you.

  3. Those are great tips! Thanks!!! This is my second sketchbook project, and I have yet to re-bind it with new pages…I’m not that brave yet 😉 I’m sticking to the basics at this point, but I need to do more than just paint my cover! Time is ticking!!! Feel free to check out my progress as well!! It was great to see yours!


  4. My first attempt at a picture book was at the age of 16 and we learnt how to bind books at the time. I have that little book there but didn’t occur to me to do this to the SBP sketchbook. I think I will do the same as I have changed my mind about its contents since the first 2 illustrations and would like to use toned paper. Thanks for the post and I really like the voice in your writting.

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