I made a cloth binding for iZombie

Me and my husband have numerous single issues comics which I’ve been wanting to bind for some time, to start with I decided to go with an old favourite iZombie.

It’s a fantastic series which has recently been adapted for TV, though I’m not sure it’s made it to the UK yet. There’s a pretty cool video, though for some reason they changed her name from Gwen to Liv  and changed her whole origin, but hey, it might be worth a watch.

Anyway back to the bookbinding. I had a pretty solid plan when i started binding then ending up making it up as i went along. I  threw together all sorts of sources, some half remembered from my short bookbinding course, a fair bit of help from the Instuctables page How to Print and Bind a Book,  and Bound by Erica Ekrem.


I have 28 issues of iZombie so split them to make it a little easier. The Instructables webpage doesn’t use any of the traditional bookbinding methods and though this may work just fine I wanted to ensure my binding was good and strong so used the stitching method instead of glue gun to keep my comics together.

What I used

  • Awl / screw punch
  • Bookbinding thread / normal thread run through bee’s wax
  • Backing board 0.3cm wider and 0.6cm taller than my comics (signatures)
  • Cloth for covering the spine the same height of my signatures plus enough the wrap around the spine.
  • optional cloth to cover the corners
  • Book cloth (contrasting colour to the spine)
  • decorative paper
  •  bookbinding needle / any sturdy needle
  • Acid free pva glue
  • The first step is to undo the staples from each comic.
  • Next create a punch guide from card stock (paper will work, it’s just a lot easier with card).  It needs to be the same height as the comics (signatures)  and about 5″/ 13 cm wide. Fold this in half length ways to get the centre line. Mark 1″/2.5 cm from the top and bottom of the punch guide then add 4 more marks evenly along the centre. Use an arrow to show the right way up. 
I was originally going for a seven hole binding which had decorative paper along the stitching, however this left the spine exposed and as these comics have been well read the paper tore easily.I should have cut this back but I’d already written bits of information on this card so I ended up making it harder for myself.
  •  Nestle the punch guide in the centre of each signature and punch holes through the paper using an awl or screw punch. It’s worth taking your time to save stress later on.
  •  Once you’ve punched holes in all of your signatures you can begin to stitch the pages together. I settled on Coptic stitch after a few mishaps. I went over any loose stitches with a true kettle stitch. This tutorial by Isabel Moseley does a better job than I can of explaining the best way to stitch your book.  I didn’t stitch the backing boards as Moseley does because I need the edges of the graphic novel to be unrestricted by the boards.
  • The book should be nice and sturdily put together now. Ensuring the pages are aligned evenly (I used elastic bands wrapped vertically around the book)  cover the stitched spine with glue and wrap the cloth around the spine. Hold this spine to a flat surface while the glue begins to dry.
  • At this point your spine will look bulky in comparison to the other pages. Using two pieces of board (I used my cover boards) place the book under a heavy weight. Board games work nicely for this. Leave this to dry for 24 hours. wpid-20150813_100226.jpg
  • If you use other card than the cover boards then you can get on with the cover while the signatures dry.
  • I glued the same fabric as the spine around the corners of my board, cut out a triangle shape in the corner to make the folds neater.
  • wpid-20150813_120452.jpg
    smarter people than I would figure out how to do this without overlapping and with my next lot of comics I will plan things out a lot more.
  • The next step is to wrap the contrasting fabric around the board. Use a bone folder, or ruler if you don’t have one, to ensure everything is as flat and neat as it can be. wpid-20150813_125743.jpg
  • You should now have two identical looking covers. Add decorative paper to the inside of your front cover. I did this later but it got a bit messy with the glue.

    The first page
    The first page
  • It’s sensible to let these dry fully before you attach them to the book. Also it’s a good idea to put a piece of scrap paper between the boards and signatures to avoid mess
  • Now to finish off, cut the spine cloth to the desired size, it may fray, to avoid this you can use pinking shears. I realised this a little to late so fixed it by glueing  a spare piece of decorative paper over the join.
  • Glue the spine cloth to the board covers, careful not to use too much glue as it will spill onto the cover.
  • For the back cover I glued the  final page of the signatures to the cover board, it’s possible to do this with the front cover as well but I wanted to keep the cover on view.
    The last page
    The middle

    The finished product
    The finished product

I made a beautifully bound book

I’ve upped my game in book binding with the help of this fantastic guide by Erica Ekrem. It was my husbands birthday the other day so my first project from this book was a gift for him. I started with what I thought would be a relatively simple design, of a ‘preserve-a-memory mason-jar book’ minus the mason jar.


For such a small thing it took a very long time. First was cutting ninety pieces of paper to size, that was time consuming but easy enough with my guillotine. Though I did manage to loose count a fair few times. I chose some pretty Victorian style paper to mix in with with plain paper. The next step was fold groups of five pieces of paper into about eighteen ‘signatures.’ having the bone folder is very useful for this.  I also found out I’m managed to cut a variety of sizes papers. I ended up trimming the sides with scissors. wpid-20150709_150358.jpg An optional step was to round the corners off with a corner punch, I think it really adds to the aesthetics so spent a good deal of time doing this. The real hard graft game when I needed to punch eight holes through each of the eighteen signatures. In the past I would have used my awl but I’d brought a screw hole punch for this very occasion. The screw punch meant my holes where aligned and wide enough for the thick bookbinding thread to move through without catching. wpid-20150709_154519.jpg Next came the actual book binding. I was very impressed by how well laid out the instructions were. The diagrams were clear and not overly complicated, despite the sound of them. I got to grips with running stitch, French stitch, long stitch and true kettle stitch. With careful patience the book came together very nicely. wpid-20150710_173818.jpg I was rather smug at this point until I realised I’d missed out an instruction. I was supposed to over stitch a ribbon along the central stitch.  as mistakes go it could have been a lot worse. Instead of ribbon i used gold twine and threaded it through the stitches. wpid-20150710_174640.jpg I felt like it needed a little extra to make it a personal present. I decided to write a Neil Gaiman poem. The Day the saucers came, each line to a page. I also wrote a few little personal messages throughout. I wrapped it in pretty fabric and tied it in a silk bow to complete the package. wpid-20150719_091028.jpg

long time no blog…but I made a lot of headway in my novel!

I have been away from my blog for far too long but my very noble excuse is that I’ve been editing away! This is the first draft I have printed out in it’s entirety. though I think in all honesty it’s probably around the fifth draft in all it’s different incarnations.
I printed it out on blue paper because because my dyslexia means it’s almost impossible to process anything if it’s on white paper, Here’s a link if you’re interested. Eyes and Dyslexia.  There has been a recent study which claims coloured paper doesn’t help people with dyslexia. I do recall my tester telling me something along the lines of the vision issues being a separate but related issue. My elder sister doesn’t find the tinted sheets useful, however I know it takes me three or four times to understand a document without my tinted glasses and only one or two read through with them. This is all very much beside the point. Here’s a link to the new study: Forget colour overlays – dyslexia is not a vision problem.

That’s enough about dyslexia for now, back to my editing.  This is the mess that I’m left with after around a month of solid editing:


I made an extra notebook with the same stab binding, I also got a new guillotine with a fancy perforation option.

The first bit of editing was probably the most laborious, I went through every chapter and separated it into scenes, one posit per scene with a very quick description, list of characters, location and whatever I want to change.

The next bit was almost as laborious I took an idea from The NaNoWriMo Blog, It’s a fantastic resource for writers and come november there’s a wonderful manic mass writing hence the name National Novel Writing Month.

Here’s an exert from A 7-Step Guide to Big Picture Revision (With Bonus Checklists!)

Here come the highlighters! Look at your list of scenes. Use a different colour to highlight each subplot.

  • Do some of them only show up a few times?
  • Are some introduced too late in the story?
  • Are any unresolved?
  • Do some do nothing to advance or mirror the main plot?

When you are done, anything that is left unhighlighted is your main plot line. Read these over.


At this point I was mostly just bewildered by the amount sub-plot / plot / maybe not even relevant. I took a step back, left the chaos for a few days and did a bit of a free writing which was blissful compared to the mind twisting editing. In the meantime I put my novel in a folder and gave it to my mum, who has wanted to read it for a very long time.

Then came time for lists:wpid-20150702_113058.jpg

I wrote plots from from lots of different characters and got my time line entirely set wpid-20150702_113019.jpg

Next I tangled out the most important plot points and wrote a 500ish word synopsis. My novel is still far away (at my sisters house). Until I get it back, with all it’s pencilled ideas, i will not start revising. My plan is to free write from different characters points of view to really flesh out each personality.

Today I made notebooks

I began a frenzy of notebook binding a couple of days ago. Today I have a little collection of handmade Japanese stab bound books.

I got the inspiration from a back issue of my favourite magazines Oh Comely:

Oh Comely, Issue 16
Click here to see Oh Comely, Issue 16

Alice Morby wrote a piece on Japanese stab binding, turtle pattern. It rekindled my love of making books. I took a course on fine bookbinding a few years ago and loved it but haven’t done anything since, until now…

First I made this notebook with a pad of parchment paper and hard card i’d scavenged from around the house. I covered the card with some beautiful paper from one of my colouring books.

I messed up to start with and I made the card the same size as the paper.
I messed up to start with and I made the card the same size as the paper.

I very carefully unwrapped the board and cut it to the right size so it sits nicely next to the stab binding. I glued the first page to the cardboard and placed it in between a couple of very heavy board games and left it there over night.


Next I made a little notepad from a round poster and an early draft of my novel. I trimmed the coaster to fit the notes and glues it the same as before to the front. I trimmed the excess paper from the notes and pressed it.


For my third notebook I tried a variation of the turtle pattern. it ended up a little messy but it’s nice nonetheless.  I used thin card, by this time I’d run out of thick card to ferret out. I covered the card with fabric, using fabric glue, it would have been better if I used bookbinding Pva glue because it’s Ph neutral and wouldn’t leave marks.


The final notebook I made is similar to this one but with the simple turtle pattern and thick cartridge paper. I covered it in a jaunty nautical print. I’m sure there are much better ways to fabric bind books which i will look up at some point but for now I’m very happy with all my notebooks.