Crafty Corner: Japanese Style Bound Notebook

After trying out bookbinding for the first time with a saddle stitched notebook, I wanted to try other styles. I’ve always loved the Japanese style of a side stitched binding so I decided to try that next. I found a fabulous how-to diagram on Wikibooks and used this tutorial video by SeaLemonDIY as well. Lastly this site dedicated to Japanese bookbinding is fascinating if you’re interested in reading more.

The materials I used for this project were:


Start by clipping together a stack of notebook paper. Using the ruler and rotary cutter, cut off the edge and/or holes. Once the paper is cut, take one sheet out of the stack to use as a template. Cut it in half and use that as the guide to cut the entire stack in half.


Using the template piece of paper as a guide, cut two pieces from the scrapbook paper for the back and front cover of the notebook.


Use the paper template to mark off 1 inch points as a guide for the binding. I started in the exact middle of the paper and then marked it with three points all 1 inch from each other. You will need a paper awl or another tool to gently score the holes through the notebook paper. I picked up this utility bone folder by Martha Stewart at the craft store and I love it.

Clip the front cover, back cover, and notebook paper together with the binder clips. Position the template on top to use as a guide. Using an awl or piercing tool, poke holes down through all of the layers. You don’t want to make huge holes here, there should be just enough space to get the tapestry needle through each layer. When that step is done remove the paper template.


Now it’s time to bind! I used a size 24 tapestry needle. Tapestry needles are great because they have a blunted tip and a large eye for easy threading.

I cut a piece of the hemp cord roughly four times the width of the notebook to make sure I didn’t run out while sewing my binding.


Starting in the middle, stitch around the edge and back up through the bottom (leaving 1 inch of thread for knotting. Stitch upward one hole going from the top through the bottom. Coming from underneath, stitch around the edge and go back down through the same hole you just stitched through. I know this may sound confusing. If you’re better with visuals I would definitely recommend all of the links at the beginning of this entry (specifically the how-to diagram on Wikibooks).


Repeat those steps until the entire binding is complete.


When the binding is complete, tie a small knot with the remaining cord and the 1 inch of cord left on the backside.


There you have it! A fully bound, beautiful notebook.


This type of project is great because it’s so customizable – you can use any color scheme, any size paper, and any kind of cover you like.


Author: Domestocrat

I'm a lady who enjoys photography, football, cooking, long drives with the windows down, This American Life, kettlecorn, hot yoga, pop punk, my nephews, my cat Reggie, and my home: Boston.

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