Jytte's Tulip Book Jytte's Tulip Book
 
To make the complete book and wrap, you will need: - 
  • Cardboard – quite thick
  • Any kind of paper to use for pages
  • PVA glue
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Tissue paper
  • Paint brushes – a large, wide one will be useful
  • Paint – acrylic, guache or poster paints are fine
  • Small scraps of calico or plain, pale cotton
  • Linen thread and needle to fit
  • Awl
  • Hammer
  • Heavy books or items to use as weights
  • Rule
  • Cutting mat
  • Clips –I have discovered that the plastic clips on shop hangers for trousers are great. They usually have a soft ‘pad’ on the inside, and are fairly strong. Snap the hanger and slide the clip off. Clothes pegs or paper clips can be used too. Bulldog clips are ok, but can leave sharp marks.
  • Magic tape

The Pages!

Any paper can be used. White copy paper, brown wrapping paper, expensive, handmade paper, torn out pages from books, paper which has been copied, - I once made a book for some mementoes from a trip to Italy, and I copied a few receipts and bills from the trip onto some nice cream paper and glued the items inside. Whatever you like really.

Any size paper can be used. The papers will be folded in half, and my personal choice is A4. This makes for an A5 size notebook. I have made larger and smaller sizes, A3 folded to make photograph albums, and small, very nice little books can be made from A5 papers.

The paper can be left plain or painted.

This book uses 15 pieces of A4 paper, which were lightly brushed with paint left over from a previous project. As I like to make these books, whenever I have left over paint from another project, I use the paint up by painting any paper for future use.

Preparing the pages

  1. Thin the paint with water. You might like to use just one colour, or co-ordinate with your choice of colour for the front of the book.
  2. These pages are painted with a mixture of colours.
  1. Use a very wide brush, a cheap set from a diy shop will do.
  2. Lightly brush the papers, one side first – then leave to dry, then the other side.
  3. When the pages are thoroughly dry, stack them neatly. The watery paint will buckle and distort the paper a bit, so place some big books on top, or other weights, to help flatten them.
  4. Divide the 15 pages into three stacks.. If painted with a mixture of colours, divide them into pleasing sequences if you prefer.
  1. Fold each page carefully in half – ie A4 into A5 size. Then carefully put them into their stacks of 5 pages again, each page inside the next. In my experience, any more than 5 pages in each stack will make the edges of the finished book look too ‘staggered’ unless you cut them to match. You will see what I mean if you make a stack of say 10 pages. If you have chosen handmade paper, you will not want to cut off the lovely edges.

Making the page sets

  1. Using a ruler placed along the fold line, punch a hole through the layers with one inch intervals. Measure from the bottom edge. An A4 folded will need 7 holes punched. ( there will be a bit more than an inch at the top. Make sure that when you reach the stage of threading the stacks of pages together you have them all the right way up, with the slightly bigger gap at the top all together). You can do one page at a time if you prefer, I did this when I first started making the books. Make sure when restacking that you match the holes up. (Remember the slightly larger measure at one edge!)
  1. A3 folded in half for an A4 book needs 11 holes punched, with one end having a smaller measure than 1 inch. A4 folded for an A5 book needs 7 holes punched, with a larger than one inch at the end. An 8th hole is too close to the edge. A5 folded to make a small book needs 5 holes.

Sewing the page stacks

  1. Next step is the ‘sewing’ together of the paper stacks. For this you need the linen thread, which is very very, strong, and a needle large enough to take the thread. The linen thread is readily available from quilt shops or haberdashers. It is usually wound up on a piece of cardboard. If you can’t get hold of linen thread, use double quilting thread.
  1. Measure a piece of thread two and a half times the size of the fold of your pages. Thread needle, and beginning in one of the middle holes from the folded up bit of the ‘spine, ‘sew’ up to one edge, then up and down again until you bring up the thread a hole away from your starting point. Remove needle, and tie the two loose ends in a knot, securing two or three times. Cut off the remaining thread about half a centimetre from the knot. If it is secure at this stage, it will be fine as they will be covered with glue later.


  1. When you have done this to your 3 stacks, clip them together, and again make sure the holes match up with each stack. This is important.

Gluing the spine

  1. Using three strips of calico or pale cotton, thread them at intervals under the stitches as shown in the photograph. (5 for A3 and two for A5 papers folded in half) This now becomes the spine of the book.
  1. Next push together the 3 stacks of paper, and tightly clip the two end bits as shown. Brush on some PVA glue to the spine, making sure the knots get an extra dollop. Do it about 3 times, a layer at a time, letting it dry for 5 minutes in between. Make sure you keep the stacks close together.
  1. Next use a piece of fabric as above, the length of the book, and a couple of centimetres wider each side. Place on top of the glued spine as shown straight after the final application of glue. Keep pushing the stacks together. Add some more glue over the top of the final piece of fabric. As soon as you have done this, lay the book with the spine slightly over an edge on a table (cover with plastic to protect surface from glue). Make sure the fabrics strips and the spine cover are hanging over the edge as shown. Press down on the spine and lay another bit of plastic on top. Then place some heavy books over the whole book. Try to tighten the strips of fabric to avoid them bunching up. Now leave to dry for at least 24 hours. The whole spine becomes very hard and will be very strong.

 
It seems a long, drawn out process, but when i make books, I make stacks for more than one book at a time, because there is time whilst the various stages dry and so on. Then I might leave the stacks at the glued stage until I get an idea for the front, or carry on until I have a few books ready, Again, they make great presents, Sometimes, when I see some great paper for a book, I will make some stacks ready for the final stages. By the way, if you are using paper with lots of pattern on, it is always possible to glue in a bit of plain paper where you want to do some writing. This can look quite good, particularly if it is a nice bit of handmade or just a piece torn roughly from ordinary paper.
 
I would also like reiterate the importance of making sure that the spine is kept very close together for the final stages, and that the little strips are not bunched up around the spine. Otherwise the spine will get very lumpy.. and the little strips are very important for the stability of the book.
 
This picture shows where I have taped down the calico strips to hold them tight. This should help to keep the spine tight together.  I have scribbled on the tape to show it up better. Take away the clamp before putting under pressure. When removing the tape, do it carefully, but it should not matter if a bit of the paper comes away, as long as there isn't a hole. It will be covered later
 
 
The next one shows the back of a glued stack where I took away the fabric strips because some had bunched up whilst drying. it is still possible to see some frayed bits of the fabric. It is still held together by a bit of glue which had seeped down the side a bit. The stack can still be used, just insert new bits of fabric.
 
 
This last one is a little diagram showing the different layers of items when stacking the glued papers under pressure of some heavy books. The trick is to let the books overhang a bit.
 
 
I forgot to mention that you can brush ordinary paper with left over cold tea - the old trick for fabric! - this makes the paper look 'aged'. But don't forget to get it pressed flat unless you are specifically after the crumpled page look which is quite effective too. I have done this, and made a very rustic book cover for it.