How can you securely stitch pages into a signature or folio without breaking out the sewing machine? Do it by hand! This technique is fast and easy and gives a clean look and secure pages. I’m using a thick waxed thread in black to make sure you can see the stitches. In this case, the black also works with the bald graphics of the signature cover.
You can machine stitch or tape in signatures, but sewing by hand is fast, easy and yields great results. The stitch we will be using is called a saddle stitch, and it will be both easy to master and familiar to anyone who has done hand sewing or embroidery.
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How to Sew A Junk Journal by Hand
You’ll need a few supplies to start. You can either get a starter kit (the one I recommend is here) or if you’re crafty, collect these items from your own stash of supplies.
large eye needle
awl or something sharp to poke holes
Beginner’s Guide to Sewing a Junk Journal by Hand
The little bundles of pages sewn into a junk journal are called signatures. in many cases, a signature is made up of different weights of paper. We will be using card stock and copy paper, the most common weights, but old book pages, magazine pages, rice paper and more can be used. The junk journal below has a combination of old book pages, paper bags and printed copy paper.
As long as you can get an awl through it, you can use it. (I have used my power drill and a 1/8” bit in the past for thick papers or very full signatures).
How to Sew Junk Journals
Cut an 8” x 8” piece of carestock. Cut 4 7x7” pieces of copy paper. I’m using part of a Christmas printable here, but the dimensions are the same.
Fold the pieces in half and stack them with the smaller pieces on top.
Clamp with binder clips on the edges to secure. You can use clothespins or paper clips instead if needed.
Use the awl to poke holes right in the center crease. You can mark these with pencil first, I just put one in the center, one at the top and bottom, then evenly spaced the rest in between. Unless your book is very small, your holes should be no closer than an inch apart, you can space them farther if you like. This book has 7 holes, but 5 would have worked as well.
Thread the needle with waxed thread. I. Using black because it is easy to photograph and this project has a lot of black, so it works. You need a length of thread at least 4x the length of the book, so you will have plenty to work with on the ends.
Do not tie a knot at the end or double the thread.
Bring the needle up through the center hole, leaving a long tail behind.
Bring the needle down through the next hole, then up again.
When you reach the last hole, go back in the other direction.
Continue sewing in the other direction, past the center hole where you started and down to the end. Turn around again and stitch back to the center hole. All spaces should now be covered by thread.
Take the needle back through the original hole. You should now have a spfully stitched piece with two long tails on the outside. Tie these tails together, but don’t over tighten the, or you’ll bend the signature. Leave these long in case you want to use them to attach other items.
Open your book and admire your stitching!
That‘s it for the saddle stitch! The is the easiest binding method out there and one you’ll be able to master in a single session.
Notes for Junk Journals 101 Sewing Signatures
You can use as many holes as you need, provided they are not too close together.
An odd number of holes makes it easy to start and finish in the center
Practice this on plain paper first, you’ll get the technique quickly, but don’t make your first attempt on a set you’ve already put work into, just in case.
I’ve linked a few other junk journal tutorials you may like below.