Miniature Japanese Stab Bound Book | Mini Bookbinding Tutorial

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About: Multi-crafter, jewellery maker, card designer and frequent procrastinator.

I've been binding miniature books for a while now using Coptic binding techniques, but I thought I would give Japanese stab binding a go instead...and I think the results are pretty cool!

This binding method is fairly quick and simple so it's something anyone can do, and this little book shouldn't take more than an hour.

I hope you enjoy the tutorial :)

Step 1: What You Will Need

To make a mini book, you will need:

- Paper; I just used regular printer paper, nothing special. 1-3 sheets of A4 will be needed, depending on how many pages you want the book to have.

- A push pin/thumbtack

- Cardboard for the cover; I used cereal box card, but any fairly stiff thin card can be used. Greyboard is a good choice too. If you want the cover to be thicker or stronger, you can always double up the cereal box card.

- A scrap of thick cardboard; a bit of corrugated cardboard used in cardboard boxes/packaging is perfect.

- Cutting mat and craft knife (X-acto); This is the easiest way to cut up the paper, but you could use scissors or paper cutter instead.

- Glue & a cocktail stick to apply it: I used 'Aleene's tacky glue' but regular PVA would work, as would superglue.

- Double sided tape: optional but very useful. Glue could be used instead if necessary.

- Decorative paper: You only need a small amount of paper for the book covers. I used some paper I had marbled, but any paper would work as long as it's opaque.

- Bulldog clip

- Beading needles: You need particularly thin and pointy needles for this, and I've found that beading needles work best.

- Thread for binding; I used nylon 'Nymo' beading thread, but pretty much any thread would work as long as it's not too thick as it needs to fit through holes made using the push pin.

- Metal ruler

- Scissors

- Pencil

Step 2: Cut the Paper Into Strips

(Please note: The pages in my book measure 2.5 cm x 3.25 cm, but feel free to alter these sizes :))

First, take a piece of A4 paper and make pencil marks along one side, spaced 2.5 cm apart. Do this on the opposite side too.

Position a metal ruler between 2 opposing marks and cut the paper with a craft knife (on a cutting mat). Repeat this all the way along to cut the paper into strips measuring 2.5 cm wide. Throw away any excess/leftover paper.

Step 3: Make a Template

Take some cereal box card and make a template from it; the template needs to have right-angled corners and measure 2.5 cm x 3.25 cm.

Draw a vertical line onto the template, widthways, 0.5 cm from one edge, and make 4 marks on this line (every 0.5 cm from bottom to top.)

Use this template, along with a ruler and craft knife, to cut the paper strips into individual pages.

Step 4: Punch the Holes

Lay a scrap of thick cardboard down, and then put your card template on top.

Use a pin to create 4 holes in the template, at the points you have previously marked (0.5 cm from the edge, spaced 0.5 cm apart).

Then place the template on top of a few of the paper pages (5 or so), line up the edges, and push the pin through the holes in the template and all of the way through the pages. The idea is to make 4 holes in each and every page, in the same positions.

Repeat this step with another few pages, and then another few, and so on, until all pages have 4 holes in.

Step 5: Cut Out the Covers

You now need to cut the front and back covers out of the cereal box card.

I used the template I already had as my guide, since the covers need to be slightly larger than that.

In hindsight, I think that my covers ended up a little too large by making them around 0.5cm longer and wider. You only want them a smidgeon (great word) bigger than the pages really. No more than 0.25 cm bigger.

Once you have cut out one cover, use that as the template to cut out an identical piece of card.

You will need the front cover to 'hinge' outwards so that you can access the pages inside, so now you need to cut the front cover widthways approx. 0.75 cm from one edge.

Next, you need to cut a slither of card (approximately equal to the thickness of the card you're using) off of the larger part of this front cover - again, cutting widthways. This is to compensate for the gap that there will be between the 2 pieces of the front cover.

Step 6: Decorate the Covers

Place the back cover on top of your (upside down) decorative paper so that it sits around 0.75 cm away from one straight edge.

Use your pencil to make light marks around the card, around 0.75 cm away from each side. Use these marks to cut out a rectangle of the paper. This does not have to be precise.

Then you need to use double sided tape (preferably) or glue to stick the card cover to the centre of this piece of paper.

Use scissors to cut the 4 corners off the paper piece. You need to leave a small amount of paper between the corners of the card and the diagonal paper edges, which should equal the thickness of the card you're using. It you cut right up to the card corners, there won't be enough paper to cover them.

This will give you 4 flaps of paper - one on each side of the card - and you now need to just neaten these up with scissors so they are all an equal width (at least 0.5 cm).

Fold over and glue these flaps onto the card, and then leave to dry. Using a cocktail stick to apply the glue makes this step a lot easier because it is quite fiddly.

Do exactly the same for the front cover, but leave a very slight gap between the 2 pieces of card. The gap should be equal to the thickness of the card you're using (or thereabouts).

Note: I didn't cover the insides of the covers, but feel free to do this now by simply attaching a rectangle of paper (slightly smaller than the size of the cover) onto the back of each cover.

Step 7: Make More Holes

Use your template again to make 4 holes in the book covers.

To do this, put the covers on top of a scrap of thick cardboard, with the front cover facing up and the back cover facing down (as they would be arranged in a book). Line up the edges of the covers.

The 'hinge' of the front cover must be towards the left hand side.

Put the card template on top so that it's an equal distance away from the top and the bottom of the covers. Make sure the holes are on the left.

Move the template towards the left hand side until there is only a narrow space between the edge of the template and the edge of the covers. The aim is to put the holes into the covers a little over 0.5 cm away from the edge. The holes must be less than 0.75 cm away from the edge though, otherwise the holes will go into the hinge joint of the front cover, which you don't want.

Push the pin through the holes in the template and through the covers.

All the pages and the covers now have 4 holes in that line up.

Step 8: Line Up the Holes

To save you frustration in the stitching step, you need to line up the holes in the pages and the covers accurately. With such small holes especially, it's quite difficult and fiddly if you miss this step.

I used my beading needles to locate everything together. I arranged the book as I want it to look at the end, then fed a needle through each set of holes. This lines everything up.

Then hold everything together with a bulldog clip, with the holes sticking out. Then remove the needles.

Step 9: Stitching Time

The first 4 diagrams show you how to do Japanese stab binding with four holes.

Thread your needle with a fairly short amount of thread (try 30 cm so you'll definitely have enough).

With the top of the book facing down, first take your needle down through hole 2. Leave a tail of thread at the top around 10 cm long.

Then go down through hole 2 again so that the thread loops around the edge.

Then go up through hole 3, and then up through hole 3 again. This loops the thread around the edge, as before.

Then go down through hole 4, and then down through hole 4 again (to loop the thread around the short edge), and then down through hole 4 one more time (and this time loop the thread around the long edge of the book).

Then take the thread up through hole 3, down through hole 2, and up through hole 1.

Go up through hole 1 again (to loop the thread around the short edge), and then up through hole 1 one more time (to loop the thread around the long edge).

This will leave thread tails coming up through hole 1 and hole 2. Tie these together securely - with 2 single knots for instance, or a square knot.

Use a cocktail stick to apply a tiny bit of glue to this knot, and then leave to dry.

Step 10: Finished!

Just cut off the thread tails and the book is completed!

Once you know what you are doing, you can make a few of these in an hour or so. I think they're a fun little project to do whilst you're watching the TV in the evening :)

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable.

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    18 Discussions

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    JanH181

    Question 2 months ago on Introduction

    I don't understand how the hinge on the front cover stays intact if it is cut apart from the piece. Is it the covering that holds it together?

    1 answer
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    FernMakesJanH181

    Answer 6 weeks ago

    Yes it is the outer paper that forms the hinge basically :)

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    erik.nottleson

    Question 3 months ago

    Neat! I have 2 daughters with lots of play dates or Scout projects to fill.... ?is the front cover durable, with only a single layer of decorative paper for the hinge? After the slit, I was waiting for you to glue a 2nd piece of cover stock to the inside of it. Thanks, Erik.

    1 answer
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    FernMakeserik.nottleson

    Answer 3 months ago

    I haven't had any problems with durability myself but I guess eventually that paper hinge could wear out. In hindsight, another piece of paper on the inside would have been a good idea, to cover the card and to also add more strength to the hinge :)

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    Penolopy Bulnick

    3 months ago

    It's so little and adorable and you made it with such a beautiful cover :)

    1 reply