How To Make Your Own Sketchbook - 3 Easy Techniques | Julia Bausenhardt | Skillshare

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How To Make Your Own Sketchbook - 3 Easy Techniques

teacher avatar Julia Bausenhardt, Nature Sketching & Illustration

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

9 Lessons (33m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Tools you need

    • 3. Simple no sew sketchbook

    • 4. No sew sketchbook variant

    • 5. Stitched binding: preparing the pages

    • 6. Stitched binding: Sewing the book block

    • 7. Making a softcover

    • 8. Making a hardcover

    • 9. Final thoughts

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About This Class

Have you ever wanted to have a custom sketchbook with the exact paper you want? Then try making one yourself.
Basic Bookbinding skills are not hard to learn and you can easily bind selfmade journals that cost a fraction of storebought sketchbooks.

In your custom sketchbook, you can include toned paper, or really nice cotton watercolor paper, and you can vary the size and the type of cover each time. I've been making my own sketchbooks ever since I started using sketchbooks again 2 years ago, and I've been very happy with my selfmade sketchbooks. I typically use several different sketchbooks, one for testing colors, one for nature journaling, one for painting, and I love that I can make them in the way I want them exactly.

You will not need any special equipment, in fact I make most of my sketchbooks with supplies I already have lying around at home.

I'll show you:
- three techniques that you can adapt to your wishes
- how to make a book block: preparing the pages & sewing them together
- how to make nice covers (hardcover & softcover)
- how you can ensure your sketchbook won't fall apart
- an amazingly easy technique without any sewing that will get you a finished sketchbook in under 15 minutes

If you want to learn how to make a sketchbook, with 3 different but still very simple binding techniques that look really pretty, then join me for this class. I'm not an expert bookbinder, but I still get nice, highly customizable sketchbooks with these techniques.

Meet Your Teacher

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Julia Bausenhardt

Nature Sketching & Illustration



Hey, I'm Julia! I’m an illustrator & field sketcher from Germany.

Join my Newsletter to get regular inspiration about sketching, painting with gouache and watercolor, and how to explore nature through drawing and painting, plus news about classes and giveaways. Or connect with me on my Youtube channel.

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1. Introduction: Hello. I'm Julia, an illustrator and nature sketcher. Thank you so much for joining me. Have you ever wanted to have a custom sketchbook with the exact paper that you want and the exact size that you want like this, dream sketchbook that you've always wanted? Then just try making one yourself. Basic bookbinding skills are not that hard to learn and you can easily bind self-made journals like this that cost a fraction of store-bought sketchbooks. In your custom sketchbook you can include toned paper or really nice cotton watercolor paper and you can vary the size and the type of cover each time. I've been making my own sketchbook ever since I started using sketchbooks again two years ago and I've been very happy with my self-made sketchbooks. I typically use several different sketchbooks, one for testing colors, one for nature journaling, one for painting, and I love that I can make them in the way I want them exactly. You will not need any special equipment. In fact, I make most of my sketchbooks with supplies that I already have lying around at home. I'll show you how to prepare the pages, how to sew them together, how to make nice covers, and how you can ensure your sketchbook won't fall apart. I'll also show you an amazingly easy technique without any sewing that will give you a finished sketchbook in under 15 minutes. If you want to learn how to make a sketch book with three different but still very simple binding techniques that look really pretty, then join me for this class. I'm not an expert book binder, but I still get nice, highly customizable sketchbooks that I love to use with these techniques. At the end of this class, you'll have at least three options to make your own sketchbook with one of them so quick and easy, you won't even need a needle and thread. If you've always wanted to make a sketchbook with any paper of your choice, then give this class a try. It's easier than you think. I hope you'll be inspired to make your own sketchbook by the end of this class. So grab your paper and a cutting board and let's take a look. 2. Tools you need: Let's take a look at the tools that you will need for making your own sketchbook, and don't worry, this looks like a lot of stuff, but it's really for all of the three techniques that I'll be showing you. You don't need all of this to make one single sketchbook. These are just some of the tools that will come in handy for each technique. I have a pencil and a large ruler then a folding bone, this will come in handy. It's not required, but it makes folding paper a little bit easier. Then I have a cutting knife, a large cutting mat, and some paper glue, and then I also have a few large clamps and these will come in handy. You could also use this type of smaller clamp here if you only have this kinds. For the easiest variant, you only need a big sheet of paper. I will use a nice big sheet of watercolor paper. Actually this is half a sheet, so this will result in a smaller sketchbook. If you want a bigger sketchbook, then you can of course, use double the size of this one. I just do it at this size so you can see what I'm doing. Apart from the paper, you also need something that will work as a cover, like a piece of cardboard or the back of an empty pad of paper. I removed this from a watercolor paper block. For the tooth or lines that use thread for binding, you'll need a big needle to punch holes and sew your thread and for punching the holes into the paper and the cardboard cover, you could also use this tool, which is an awl, it's a bookbinders tool. I'm not required to use this. I made my first 10 or so sketchbooks just with this needle and yes, so this will be very basic and if you have an awl, it's a little bit easier to punch these holes, but it's definitely possible to do it with this one, and a roll of strong yarn or string that won't rip immediately. This is bookbinders' thread, but you could also use this really robust and sturdy string. If you take it double, for example, then it will absolutely work for a sketchbook. You could also use as an alternative, I've seen people using dental floss for their sketchbooks. Just look around what you have, it's possibly going to work. For the variant with the hardcover, I will also use a thicker role of string, like you could use something that has a little bit of color in it. I like these basic ones. Then of course, you'll also need your preferred paper, and this time you could use a straight from a pad or a blog with a piece of strong cardboard as the back and you can reuse this as your book cover. That's basically all that you will need. 3. Simple no sew sketchbook: For the easiest technique, you'll need a large sheet of paper than your cutting board, cutting knife, a ruler, and I also have my folding bone here. You'll also need a piece of cardboard for the cover. I'll just have this thin piece of cardboard that will work nicely for this small sketchbook, and then a bit of glue to fix the cover to the sketchbook. Let's dive right in. First, you will fold the sheet in half, and this will work very nicely with this sort of thin watercolor paper that I have here. If you have thicker paper, then it might be a bit harder to get these creases right. I will use my folding bone. This will help me to make the fold. Then you will simply fold it in half again and the first fold will help you in aligning the next ones. From the other side. Now you will turn the sheet by 90 degrees or just do it like this and then fold the entire thing again. Make sure you align the corners and the edges, and then make these nice folds. Now for the last two folds. Now you should have a sheet of paper with 16 rectangles on it. What we're going to do now is make a few cuts, so you'll get one long strip of paper that you can then fold up. I always like to imagine this as a long paper snake. You'll make your first cut along three of the rectangles on the upper line, here on the outer side, but you leave the last one intact. Then you do the same on the lower side and in the middle, you will cut in from the other side. You'll get this big whining paper snake. Will take my ruler and then make a cut here. I'll make the same cut on the last section here at the bottom. I'll turn everything around and make a cut from the other direction in the middle. Again, leaving the last section intact. Now you have something that should look like this. You can see you will have these stripes that can be folded up to a beautiful sketch book. Now you will have a sketchbook that will work from two sides. You have this nice panoramic format. When you come to the fold, you can fold it out and use this as a portrait format and then continue. Here will go your cover, we'll attach this in a minute. Then you can simply turn it around and use up the other side. Again, with this folded out portrait format, you can also make a small envelope in this. To make a cover for the sketchbook, I'll take my cardboard and I'll draw a line on where I want to make the cut. You don't need to make these covers particularly larger than the sketch book itself. Now you have two pieces that are the size of the sketch book, and you can glue these two sides to the outer sides of the paper. Let's do this. Spread it around, align it, and then press it onto the paper. Then we'll do the same with the other side. Make sure this is halfway aligned here, then press a bit, and that's your finished sketchbook. One thing that I like to do to keep all of this together is take a rubber band and fix it around my sketchbook when everything has dried and when I put it into my bag, then it doesn't come apart like this. That's another nice thing that you can do. Now you have a simple [inaudible] sketch book that you can use from both sides. You can make these in any size or format depending on how big your sheet of paper is. If you cut it into a square before you make the folds, for example, then you will end up with a square sketchbook. 4. No sew sketchbook variant: Another variant of this folding sketchbook is just to take one or two long strips from your last sheet of paper, then fold them up and glue them in the middle, so you have one big folding sketchbook that will look something like this. You can just fold it apart and then you have a second strip of paper. These two will get glued together and then you will get a long strip of glued paper which will end up in this lovely simple Leporello sketchbook. Let's just do this now. Now, you'll make one of these a bit shorter than the other one. You make a fold here, paste to this with your folding bend. You just fold this around. Obviously, the longer this is the better. But you don't want to make it too long. Then you'll take your glue and glue these together on the fold. Keep it straight. What you'll end up with is this long strip of paper that you can just fold up and I have a nice landscape format here that I can fill. I added a little bit of tape to the area where I glued the two strips of paper together. If you take a longer piece of paper to glue these pages, then it won't be necessary. My sheet of paper was a little bit too short for that. Of course, you can also use this from the other side and you can also add a cover like I showed you before and then you will have this nice Leporello sketchbook. 5. Stitched binding: preparing the pages: For a sketchbook with stitched or sewn binding, you need to prepare your paper. So I've already taken my paper out of the block and then cut it to the format I want and now I need to fold pages to prepare them for binding. I'm using watercolor paper here, which is sort of sturdy. So the thicker your paper is, the more careful you have to be when folding the pages because you can get creases and wrinkles when you do this and I'm using my bone folder to help me with this process here and what I'm doing is simply folding the pages in half. When all of your pages are folded, you will need to group them in stacks and these are so called signatures and book bindings. So just take three to four pages with watercolor paper that's more than enough, and group them in the stacks and after you've done this for all of your pages, you will need to mark where you will pierce the holes for your binding. So assemble the signatures and make sure they are stacked evenly. For this kind of binding, you will need to make four holes or six holes into your signatures and to do this, use a ruler or a cover board and align it to the marks, then draw a line across the signatures. So just make sure you have an even number of holes and then you can use the awl or needle and then pierce the holes through the paper and if you use an awl, you can punch through the entire stack of pages and if you only have a smaller needle, then it's better to take every single page apart as shown here. Make sure to keep everything straight and don't make the holes too big and this is basically everything that you need to do to prepare your pages for a stitch or sewn binding. 6. Stitched binding: Sewing the book block: To sew the book block, you will need pieces of thread that are a bit longer than your book block, so measure that against your pages. You will need as many pieces of thread as you have signatures. I'm using bookbinding thread here, which is quite thick. But as I said, you can also use some thinner thread and then use that double. I'm using quite a big needle here because my thread is thick. Then for sewing the single signatures, you will take one signature and stitch the pages together. You start on the outer side at the end of the page and then stitch from the outer to the inner side and back. You will need the end of the thread on the outside later. Both ends of the thread should be on the outside and this is why you should have an even number of holes. You go in from the outside and then come out once in the middle, go back in and then you end up on the outside. I have four holes here, which works perfectly for my signature here. Sometimes it will be a little bit harder, so just wiggle through with your needle and make sure the threat sits really tight. Then do the same for all of the other signatures. I'm speeding things up here a little bit. I've put this piece of cardboard under my book block to make it a little bit easier so that I can apply pressure to the needle to what I'm doing and not damage my cutting mat. Now we can assemble the book block. Assemble all the signatures, put them together in a stack, in a block, and then keep everything together with a few clamps. I have these big black clamps. They are really handy for sketchbooks of this size, and then I just put two boxes around this. Now we need to start knitting the threads together and make sure the knots sit really tied as close as you can to the paper. Then just work your way through the single threads, so you need to fix everything together, so a lot of knots. The more signatures you have, the more knots you will need to tie. Don't make the knots to lose, but not too tight either, so your book block shouldn't open by itself. But if you use bookbinding thread like I do, then it's nearly impossible to make us to lose because it really stays in place, it's really nice to work with. That's your finished book block, from there, we can either make a soft cover or a hard cover for your sketchbook. As you can see, this is starting to look like a book already. 7. Making a softcover: For the softcover, you can add little strips of paper to add to the stability of the book block. You can lead one under the strings of your book block and then glue it on both sides. I will add two others just over the loose strings of this book block. I will just use paper glue here, you can also use book binders glue, which will hold a little bit better, but just normal household paper glue will do well. You wiggle the paper strip a little bit and then fix it on the first page of your book block. Again these clamps will help you to keep the book block really tied together. I'm again using my boxes to help me here. I'm adding a bit of glue on the top of the notes. Usually, for water-colored journals with thicker paper, the signatures are usually a bit too far apart for this to work really well. But if you use thin paper, then this is a really great way to add a lot more stability to the pages. I still do this because I like to hide the end of the string. Here you can see I fixed the book block in three places and now I will clamp it together with this clamp and then let it dry. It's best to let these things over dry at least a few hours, even better overnight. Now that we have stabilized the book block itself, we can add the cover. I'm just using a large sheet of paper for this. This is Bristol paper. You can, of course, use any kind of colored or decorated paper. I put the book block in the middle of the larger sheet so that it will fit on all sides and still has a bit of room when it's open. Then you hold the block in the middle and make marks around the edges when it lies open. You do this on all of the sides. Be sure to keep everything straight and then make your marks with a pencil. You'll need something to fold around your book block. I am marking these flaps with a 45-degree angle so everything will line up. After you've done that you can cut away the rest of the paper diagonally so that you are left with these flaps on all sides that you can fold around your book block. The first fold that I'll make is for the back. Make sure that this one is straight. I'm using my bone folder to make a nicer fold. Now you can put the book block down on the cover and fold the cover around the first and the last page. I usually make all my folds first and then check if everything fits and then I glue everything in place. If you still need to make some adjustments to your cover then the time to do that is now. Again, I'm using the bone folder to make folding the cover a little bit easier. That doesn't look too bad and now you can glue everything together. I'm using the same paper glue from before. Make sure that you use enough glue so that everything will hold nicely in place. Also adding a little bit of glue in the middle. Do the same on the other side. It can be helpful to hold the rest of the book block up while you put the cover around the page. That's your finished sketchbook with a softcover. It's best to put the sketchbook under a stack of books for a while until everything is really dry. 8. Making a hardcover: For a hardcover, you'll need two pieces of cardboard that are the size of your book block. I always use the back of the watercolor block or drawing blocks for this because the cardboard is really steady. You can of course, add prettier paper around the cardboard before or after you add the cover. Now align the covers to your book block and make a mark with a pencil where you've sewn the pages together, so where you can see the thread. Then make these marks a bit longer so they reach onto the pages of the book block, so to speak. Now you will make holes with your owl or with a big needle. Then you can align your covers around the book block and make sure everything really aligns. In my case, I needed to turn the cover around once again. Now you'll need thicker string to attach the cover and I use this red one and you need four times the length of your cover. Put it on a needle than make a knot and then you start on the inner backside of the sketchbooks. You go through the cover and make a loop with a thread that will result in a tiny knot. You put the thread through the book block, what you've already sew together. And then you come back around and make this knot. So this is how you fix the cover on the book block. The next step is to lead the thread over to the other side, one level down, and then do the same again with the needle through the cover. Then you make knot, make sure that everything sits tied. Then you fix your string around the sewn book block and make another small knot. You do the same for the rest of the cover. This is how you will get this lovely cross stitch back. As you can see, I've again put my book block between these two boxes so that I have both hands free. When you've arrived at the top, you will need to lead your thread over to the other side. You will lead it with little knots through the sewn area of the book block. Then you'll do the same thing on the other side, leading everything back. This way you'll get this cross stitch. Just make sure everything is really tied and then you'll lead the thread over to the side where you started. Back to the sewn book block, and when you're finished you should be back where you started. Then you can lead the thread to the inside of the sketchbook and make a knot first and then cut off the thread. You can see the sketchbook is already working. What I like to do as the last step is to tidy up the loose ends a little bit. So I pull everything in and then make some knots and tie everything together and shorten thread a little bit. Basically that's it. Your hardcover sketchbook is finished at this point. 9. Final thoughts: I hope you've enjoyed learning how simple it can be to make your sketchbook. I love to see the sketch books you make. Please create a project showing the finished sketch book in the project section if you want. You can also tell us what you would be using it for or show the first marks you've made in it. I hope you've enjoyed this class and that you've learned a few useful bookbinding tricks along the way. I want to repeat that I'm by no means an expert, but I really love that I can make my own custom sketchbooks with any paper and any size that I want with these techniques. If I can do this, then you can do this. If you want to be notified about more classes like this, then follow me here on Skillshare. I would also be really happy if you left a review for the class. Thank you very much. I hope that this was useful for you and I'll see you soon and happy sketching and bookbinding.