Creativity to make you happy

Zabby Allen Marble Notebook Stab Stitch Japanese Bound Notebook

Some of you may know that I studied Book Arts & Design at university, an unusual degree to say the least! It taught me a combination of all the things that make up a book (and a lot of transferrable skills). We learnt traditional and experimental bookbinding techniques, a variety of print techniques, graphic design, layout and studied art and design in general. Our binding tutor Jane taught us several bookbinding techniques and one of the first was a Japanese stab-stitch binding. You can see some photos below of the notebook I made under Jane's guidance - a 2 section notebook with handmade paper covers. I was very pleased with how neat I managed to get it considering it was my first try!

Japanese stab-stitch notebook

Japanese stab-stitch notebook

I thought that this would be a great bookbinding technique to show you as it's easily simplified and can be used to bind single sheets, so there's no time-consuming folding paper into sections! The technique we were taught included a small section of the cover sheet to cover the spine of the book. Whilst that meant the final book was very secure and looked really neat I wanted to share a simple tutorial with you that doesn't need any glue, so that's what you'll find below. First though I thought it might be helpful to introduce you to some basic bookbinding materials, should you wish to take the craft up as a hobby and try out some more binding techniques...


Bookbinding Tools

  • 1: Metal Ruler. For accuracy when cutting and measuring. Make sure you invest in one that has mm, cm and inches. I also have a smaller 15cm metal ruler which is really handy as it's just the right width to use when trimming bookcloth or paper on covers.
  • 2: Glue Brush. Invest in a good glue brush or the bristles will fall out with the first thing you glue! You'll want a few different sizes of glue brush for different projects. I use standard (eco-friendly) PVA glue for my books.
  • 3: Bonefolder. A must for any bookbinder! Used for folding and creasing pages and makes SO much difference. Teflon and other plastic versions are also available.
  • 4: Scalpel (and cutting mat). Make sure your blades are sharp before beginning any bookbinding project! I used a standard medical scalpel and tend to stick to 10A blades for most projects.
  • 5: Awl. Used for punching the holes you will be sewing through. If you don't have an awl you can use a needle or something else with a sharp point (though I recommend you invest in an awl for ease!). There's a Sea Lemon video about some alternatives to awls you can watch if you like.
  • 6: Needles. You'll need some specialist needles in various sizes. Sometimes you'll need a thin needle and sometimes you'll need something a bit chunkier. You can pick up sets of these for a couple of pounds.
  • 7: Linen thread. Linen thread is best for bookbinding but sometimes I like to use embroidery thread (as it tends to come in more exciting colours and I have a lot of it). You can use embroidery thread as it is but it's much easier to used if it's waxed. I have a little block of beeswax I use to wax my threads.

You can buy starter kits with most of these things in for about £10-£15. I recommend Shepherds for supplies but you can also get tools from Ebay, Amazon etc.

This notebook tutorial came about because I bought a sheet of Pup Tart's gorgeous marbled paper at Bust Craftacular and wasn't sure what I would do with it. When this month's Lucky Dip Club box popped through my door I knew I had to make a notebook to go with the marbled pouch, pen and motivational cards that Pup Tart's Hannah had designed for September's box.


Stab Stitch Notebook DIY Materials


  • A4 sheet of paper for your cover paper. Contact Pup Tart if you'd like to buy some marbled paper or make your own using Hannah's tutorial! Any paper will do though so don't worry if you don't have anything fancy!
  • 10 sheets of A4 paper for your inside sheets
  • Ruler
  • Scalpel and cutting mat
  • Pencil
  • Awl
  • Needle
  • Thread (I used gold embroidery thread)


A5 sheets paper

Cut cover sheet and inside sheets in half so that you have 22 sheets of A5 paper. I usually do this by taking a piece of scrap A4, folding it in half and then using that as a guide to cut the rest of my sheets.


measuring paper

Take one inside sheet and use this to measure your sewing sections. First, on the long edge, measure a line 2cm away from the edge. Along this line measure 25mm from either edge and then divide the remaining rectangle into 3 53mm sections.


punch holes

Next, punch out your holes. You want to end up with 4 holes through every sheet of paper at the point you've marked. It's probably best to do this in two sections or the awl may not go all the way through. Stack your pages up in order, with the template sheet on top. Get then as straight and even as possible and then punch out the holes using your awl. Try and be as accurate as possible and use an old cutting mat or a board underneath so you don't damage your surfaces.


marbled stab stitch notebook diy

Now it's time to sew! I'm cheating a bit with this one... I did photograph each stage of sewing but personally I find it quite hard to follow binding tutorials from photos so I tracked down a video to share with you. Of course the wonderful Sea Lemon has one that shows exactly how to sew this book! Watch this video from the 2 minute mark to watch the binding technique for this stab-stitch notebook.

DIY Marble Stab Stitch Japanese Binding Notebook

And that's it! Wasn't that easy? Now you know how to bind your own notebook you can mix things up a bit and try out some different designs. How great does this notebook look with all my Lucky Dip Club goodies?!

Are you inspired to try out some bookbinding? I'd love to see what you make, so please tag me in any photos on instagram or twitter! Feel free to contact me if you have any binding related questions too.

Tagged: DIY bookbinding