Preserving memories is a fun project that you can look back upon forever. Be it a blank notebook that you can journal in daily, a scrapbook for memorabilia or a handmade photo album. This tutorial shows you how I made a 52-page weekly photo journal of my daughter's first year. 

Make a DIY baby book.

How to Bind a Custom Book

Binding a book as a baby's first year keepsake.

Photo by: Emily Fazio ©2016

Emily Fazio, 2016

Step 1

Print Photographs

Size each image for consistency and then print them on sheets of paper. If you prefer a more durable paper than traditional printer paper, use a 80# cardstock.

Step 2

Trim Each Page to Size

Use an utility blade and a cutting tool – a mat cutter with a locked, straight edge worked well for me – to trim each page of the book down to size. I planned to bind along the left edge of each photo and so I made a 3/4” white border to accommodate the binding, but retained a 1/2” border on the top, bottom and right side of the image.

Step 3

Align the Pages

Keeping the book pages aligned and square is important as you begin binding the book. You might find it helpful to tape two books to a work surface, and use them as two straight edges as you measure for the binding.

Step 4

Measure and Create the Holes for the Binding

Measure 1/4” in from the edge of the book, and pencil in a fine line. Along this line, mark the holes for the binding. Mark the first hole 1/2” from the top of the book, and a second hole 1/2” from the bottom of the book. Depending on the height of the book, evenly space several more marks along the spine.

An awl is convenient for creating small holes in the paper. With the pages firmly aligned, poke downward through the top few layers of the paper. Keep the awl needle 90-degrees to the paper, so that the holes are placed consistently through the layers. Lift the first few pages that were punctured, and see how far the awl traveled (depending on paper thickness you may have succeeded at pushing through 8-15 pages). Make sure you can see where the awl left indentations on the underlying pages, and repeat until you have made holes evenly through each piece of paper. 

Step 5

Stitch the Binding

Use the needle from the awl or a binder’s needle to stitch the pages of the book together. Trim a length of heavy thread that’s no shorter than 4x the height of the book, thread it through the needle (no knots in the end) and push the needle up through the lower corner hole, leaving 8” of the tail of the thread. Wrap the needle and thread around the outer edge of the spine, and push it up through the same hole. At this point, pull the thread taut. There should still be 8” of length dangling loose.

Next, thread the needle downwards through the second hole. Wrap it around the spine of the book, and back down through the same hole. Pull the thread tight. Notice that the lower portion of the book will start to feel more tightly bound? Success.

Repeat this pattern as you move on to the third hole, and beyond, until the thread has been wrapped securely through all holes. Because the binding is not yet glued you will still notice some loosening in the thread if you try and open the book, so try to keep the book closed and the thread taut for now. 

Knot the loose end that remained from the lowest hole, to the loose thread that remains at the top hole. Knot securely, and trim the thread so that a 1/2” remains at the knot.

Step 6

Glue the Binding to Prevent Fraying

With the pages aligned square, use a paintbrush to apply glue to the exposed edge of the book, coating both the edges of the paper, and any thread exposed on the edge of the binding.

Once the glue on the paper has dried, there are several products you can use to reinforce the seam. Self-adhesive fabric tapes are popular (linen is flexible but durable) and for this tutorial, I chose a piece of wide ribbon and glued it in place to protect the binding of the book over time.

Step 7

Assemble the End Papers

Choose sheets of paper to use for your end papers (or leaves). Both pieces of paper selected for the end papers should be slightly larger than the page itself.

On this book, I used piece of yellow 80# card stock that was the same weight as the individual pages. Use a bone folder or flat edge of a knife to create a crisp fold in one edge of the paper. This flap is be glued atop the binding on the first and last pages to separate the first page from the cover. Any overhanging paper can be trimmed with an utility blade.

Step 8

Create a Custom Cover

For the cover, choose a piece of paper 2.5x longer than the flat book, so the single long piece of paper can wrap front to back. I trimmed a heavier piece of white poster board to size, and created crisp folds with the knife to mark where the spine of the book would be held.

To add more detail to the cover of the baby book, you can spray mount a piece of colorful wrapping paper, or design and print a custom cover. For my daughter’s 1st birthday party, I had printed and displayed this photo series as party decor; I never threw it away, and it seemed like a great idea to recycle a portion of that large printout for the cover of this keepsake.

Position the cover and fold extra length over the end paper, or trim it exactly to size and glue the spine of the cover to the spine of the book. Hot glue will work fast and effectively to attach the paper cover to the ribbon.