Here’s something true about me: I forget things and plot. All the time, really. Maybe it’s an ADHD thing. I forget to text people back; I forget the stories I told. I forget my friends’ birthdays – sorry, my friends! I love you! I forget what season of a TV show I’m on and if I had lunch today. And perhaps more than anything else, I forget the books I’ve read.
When I was spending way too much money on books, it wasn’t really a problem; I could just check my shelves. But last year when I started pulling books out of the library, I realized I was putting books on my waitlist over and over again, only to get five chapters and remember I had them. already read. The problem got worse when I started going through e-books in the library and reading them without even seeing their covers.
Then one of those days when I accidentally ended up on the side of crafty straight moms on TikTok, I saw a video of a woman creating little replicas of the books she had read that year and throwing them away. in a pot decor. I laughed at his pot — is it even TikTok if you don’t judge, just kinda? But I knew right away that I wanted to start making little books.
I started with office supplies, some colored pencils and a dream. Those first books I did were cute, but very curve. They were cut unevenly with dressmaking scissors and held together with staples. They didn’t even open. I can’t do these things halfway! So I bought some craft supplies and tried to remember what I had learned in my one-hour bookbinding seminar in college. Now, every time I finish reading a book, I work on its little pendant, and I have a shelf full of minis that make me happy every time I look at them.
Wanna do one with me?
Today we are going to recreate the cover of freaky girl outside, a classic pulp fiction by Ann Bannon. I haven’t read this one in years, but the cover is so luscious I couldn’t help it.
First, we’ll create our inner pages. Using your white paper, cut out 15 sheets of four by three centimeters each. I use a ruler and an exacto knife, but you can also use scissors.
Fold your sheets in half, like a hamburger (was that a thing in your elementary school too?). If you want to get fancy, use a folding bone to define the fold; I use the little red tool that comes with my iPhone screen protector. Next, sort your pages into three sets of five sheets each. Fit the five sheets into each other.
Once you have your small signatures of five sheets each, you can sew each signature together. I usually use white yarn, but I used red here for visibility. My dots are definitely not a good binding technique, but they work! If you want to be fancy, you can create a miniature punch by pushing the eye of a needle through a cork and punching your holes before sewing them together so you don’t wrinkle your pages while sewing.
Once you’ve stitched your signatures and attached them, set them aside. You might want to tuck them under a heavy book – or tie them up with a binder clip – so they lay flat later.
Now is the time to design your cover! I use Canva, but you can easily use Microsoft Word if you’re comfortable with images and text boxes. I find my cover images on Goodreads. If you’re artistic and don’t have a printer, you can also draw your cover by hand! You’ll want the cover to be slightly larger than your signatures, so the front and back covers should measure about 2.4cm wide by 3.4cm high, with a backing of about half a centimeter. Print or draw your cover on card stock, if you have it. Cut your blanket to size.
I find scoring card stock makes it much easier to fold. With the cover right side up, use a nail or the blunt end of your needle to press four points into your cover to outline the spine edges of your book. Turn the book over and run the blunt end of the needle along the ruler to mark your two fold lines.
Now that you have your cover, you can assemble it with your signatures! Pressing your three signatures together, apply glue to the back, then place them directly into your cover. Wipe off excess glue and place your book under something heavy to dry. We did it!
Someday, maybe, I’ll get to the stage where I’ll print a chapter from the actual book inside. For now, these little blank pages are here to do what I love. How will you complete yours?