A Mini-Book Tutorial

pretty pony book

In the “Let’s Get Crafty” swap, I made a mini blank book for each of my swap partner’s kids to add as a little surprise when she opens her bunny box.  (See previous post.)  Miram loves My Pretty Pony, so I made the book shown above.  Caelan loves Pokemon, so that’s the motif I chose for his book.  These books are simple and tons of fun to make, so I thought I’d share the process.  They make nice little gifts that can be tailored to the recipient’s interests and can be as simple or as sophisticated as you choose.

If you’re a stamper, scrapper or just plain crafty person, you probably already have everything you need: chipboard, decorative paper, some pretty fiber to coordinate with the paper, a Japanese hole punch or an awl, a ruler, glue stick or a Xyron, plain copier paper.  That’s it!  So let’s get started.

First you’ll need to decide on the size of your book.  If you’re using 12″ scrapbook paper, you won’t be able to go more than about 5″ square.  Heavy gift wrap or “parent” sheets of handmade or decorative paper will allow you to make a larger book. 

The first step is to cut three pieces of chipboard; two the size you want the finished book to be and one strip the height of the book and about 1/2″ wide.

step one

Choose the paper you will use to cover the book.  I printed the Pokemon character (his name is Pikachu; isn’t he adorable?) and cut him out first so I’d know the minimum size I needed to make the book and what paper design would work.  The paper I chose is a sample I received at a convention a couple years ago.  Does it seem Pokemon-ish to you?  It did to me, but then, I have almost zero knowledge of the Pokemon universe.

step 2

Please avoid noticing that Pikachu nearly lost his foot in a tragic scissors accident.

Now use your handy-dandy Xyron or a good quality glue stick to adhere the chipboard to the BACK of the decorative paper.  The paper I chose had advertisements printed on the reverse side, so this looks rather weird, but trust me, it’s the back.  Place the chipboard strip between the two covers, spacing each about 1/4″ apart.  Leave at least a 1″ border of paper around the chipboard.

step 3

Next step is to clip the corners at an angle.  This will create “flaps” and reduce bulk in the corners. Here I’ve done the top two corners:

step 4

You will also need to clip the “inside” corners; basically, just cut a triangle on either side of the center chipboard strip.

step five

I use black Teflon-coated scissors, which I’ve had for years.  They need an occasional sharpening and the Teflon coating has mostly worn off, but I tend to be loyal to my tools and keep them forever, mostly in an unhealthy way.  Because even our kitchen junk drawer has better scissors than these.

Here’s how the cover looks with the inside corners done:

step six

Now, with your trusty glue stick (or a tape runner, which I prefer), add adhesive to each flap and fold it up onto the chipboard, making sure to rub it down smoothly.

step 8

Here’s how it will look with all the flaps glued down.

step 9

Now we’ll need to make an inside liner. You’ll notice there’s a lot of chipboard showing, which the liner will cover. Had I clipped the corners “correctly” there wouldn’t be as much showing in the corners, but…I am so not perfect! I mess this part up a lot. Still, if it worried me terribly (if the book were going to be for someone who was not eight years old and who was fairly picky), I would make the liner larger to really cover that up. As it is, I’ll just concern myself with covering most of that ugly chipboard. 🙂

So let’s measure for the liner. Get a vertical and a horizontal measurement and cut a rectangle to that size. I use my handy-dandy Fiskars paper trimmer, which I’ve had for about seven zillion years. I bought myself a “new, improved” paper trimmer a few months ago, but haven’t even taken it out of the package. (Why did I think I needed a new one when this one has worked just fine since the dawn of time?)

step ten

As with most of the items that have been in my studio for any length of time, my ruler has paint on it.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the liner added to the inside of the book, but I don’t imagine anyone needs a visual on this particular step to know how to do it.  Just glue the liner in, voila.  🙂

So now we’re going to add the pages. Measure again the width of the book and subtract about an inch or an inch and a half. Why? If you make the pages the same width as the book, they will all stick out the edge when the book is closed. (It’s not the nicest look.) Make the height of the pages pretty close to the height of the cover, maybe 1/2″ shorter. Since this is a “one-signature” book, meaning there is only one set of folded pages, you’re going to want to keep the number of pages to a minimum. I’ve cut 12 pages for my book, which is about the most you’ll want to try. I used plain copier paper, since the book is for a child.  If you’re making a more sophisticated, artsy type book, you can use watercolor paper, handmade paper, that kind of thing.

step 11

Why did this photo come out so blurry?  Just another Mystery of the Universe.

So now we will need to bind the pages into the book. Get out your handy-dandy paint-stained ruler again and hold it vertically in the center of the chipboard strip. Mark the vertical center of the page with a dot. For instance, if your pages are 4″ tall, make a dot at the 2″ mark. Then mark another dot on each side of the center dot, an equal distance apart. For instance, if you have a dot at the 2″ mark, you could make the second dot at the 1″ mark and the third dot at the 3″ mark. These dots will be where you punch the holes for binding.  If your book is large, you can make five dots instead of three.  (This will involve more math & measuring than I’m normally willing to attempt, however.)

step twelve

Good grief, I need a manicure.

Now it’s time to punch the holes. I use my wonderful Japanese hole punch, for two reasons. One, you can punch a hole anywhere, through just about any material; two, the holes will be large enough to string big, fat fibers through. If you are going to use embroidery floss or hemp cord or something similar, you can use an awl for this step. You can also skip this step altogether (though still mark the holes) and use a strong needle and the aforementioned floss or hemp cord or dental floss to bind the pages. However, pre-punching the holes will make your life a whole lot easier.

step 13

A Japanese hole punch is a great investment. I got mine a few years ago at a Joann’s Etc using the 40% coupon.

Start punching until the hole punch no longer wants to go through (too many layers), removing pages until you’re able to punch all the way through the book. When you can see daylight, you’re done.

step 14

Now it’s time to bind! Cut a nice length of your chosen fiber. About two feet will suffice for a small book with three holes. If you have a needle with a sufficiently large hole, you can string the fiber or cord onto that. But since I like to use big, chunky fibers, I usually just wrap some Scotch tape around one end of the fiber, forming it into a stiff point that will fit easily through the holes.

step fifteen

This is where you decide whether you want to tie the fiber ends on the inside or outside. If you’re using a thin cord or floss, you can pretty much go either way. Chunky or fluffy fibers work best if tied on the outside (and really pretty up the book while they’re at it). We’re going to continue on the premise that you decided to tie on the outside. If you decided otherwise, you’ll need to follow the timeless advice of Willie Wonka (as portrayed by Gene Wilder): “Wait. Hold it. Reverse that. Thank you.”

So, begin by poking the end of the fiber through the center hole of the book, from the outside to the inside.  (Or the other way, if you’re following Willie Wonka’s advice.)

step sixteen

This picture isn’t all that helpful, is it?

Leave a long-ish tail on the outside of the book. 6″ to 8″ is sufficient.

step seventeen

At this point, the “pokey” end of your fiber (the one you taped or threaded into a needle) is on the inside of the book, coming through the center hole. Now poke it through one of the other holes. It doesn’t matter which one, but let’s call it the “top” hole in order to avoid confusion later.

step 18

Now your “pokey” end is on the outside of the book. Next you will poke that end into the bottom hole, completely bypassing the center hole altogether.

step nineteen

Man, I could really use some lotion on those cuticles.

Hey, we’re almost done! Now you’re going to poke the fiber end into the center hole again, from the inside of the book to the outside.

step 20

If you’ve done everything correctly, the inside of the book should look like this:

step 21

Of course, yours will have a completely different fiber. Hopefully.

The final step is to tie the two hanging tails together. You can make a knot (as I’ve done here since the book is for a boy) or a pretty bow. Stringing beads on the tails is fun, too, and adds such a nice look. (You’ll have to imagine this step, as I didn’t do it.)

step twenty two

This is my hand, sans lotion and manicure, tying the outside tails in a knot.

Here’s how it looks with the book closed.

step 23

And here’s the final product, with little Pikachu glued on. I outlined him with a charcoal pencil for depth and added little alphabet letters spelling the name of the recipient, which hopefully will distract him from the fact that Pikachu’s foot had been severely injured during the cutting-out process.

pikachu book

That weird thing on the right is the tip of my scissors holding the book shut.  You may need to keep your book under a heavy weight for a day or two so it will stay closed.

So that’s it!  I hope you’ll try this; it really is fun to do (and even more fun when you don’t stop and photograph each step).


4 Responses to “A Mini-Book Tutorial”

  1. Sherry Says:

    ROFLMAO … You absolutely crack me up!!! I’m loving the “out takes” in your tutorial…you always do this and it makes me laugh…seriously.

    First of all, the tutorial is fantastic as always…great instructions, and of course I’ll have to go back and read again, minus the humour….

    But seriously — wonderful job — and I hope Pikachu was none the worse for wear with his foot mishap!!!! 😉

  2. Nan Says:

    So cute…..be fun to make a book. Your tutorials are great. However I think we need to get you a goodie bag with the hand cream and new scissors so no more cartoon characters arre injured in the making of these tutorials!

  3. Terri Says:

    I just tossed a “Just a Minute” manicure into the Chick basket! Your books turned out so cute! Looks like you were able to attach Pikachu’s foot with no trouble! Whew!

  4. MY PRETTY PONY | Kids and Family Products Says:

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