By Home Decor Contributor Alyssa
Overall, I’m pretty terrified of cooking. There’s the whole idea of undercooking something and killing the person you love while trying to nourish them, there’s the idea of overcooking something and watching that same person choke down your disgusting, love-filled meal (maybe try not to cook so much love into it next time?), there’s the idea of setting off your smoke alarm every time you try to cook meat…which I do. There’s a lot of ways to fail. I can’t cook chicken without opening all my windows and doors to let all of the smoke out of my pint-sized apartment with an attention-starved smoke detector. But, in spite of all these terrifying cooking side effects, I’ve still gotta do it. Someone has to feed my perpetually hungry boyfriend, then give my cat the scraps.
To make life easier for myself, I made a cookbook that I will love for years to come. Forget organizing flimsy, easy to lose notecards in a box, or being stuck with fifteen cookbooks from which you only use ten recipes. Because come on. Who uses cookbooks anymore when Pinterest is a thing?
I also figure I might make one for my mom for mother’s day, since she just got a new house (all the kids have moved out) and downsized pretty drastically. Now she will have somewhere to write all of her favorite recipes and possibly have something awesome and personal to hand down to grandchildren. Or me. Because I need recipe help.
To make this cookbook, I needed the following supplies:
- an old hardback book, preferably 5×7
- a craft knife (I used a box cutter)
- strong string/thread
- a large piece of felt
- a needle (not pictured)
- a ruler (not pictured)
- a marker (not pictured)
- a large stack of 8 ½ x 11 printer paper – the amount is up to you.
First, take the desired number of sheets for your first signature of papers. The “signature” is each individual booklet of papers that will be threaded together to create the entire book. I used six sheets per signature, and had six signatures total.
Fold each sheet in half (intuitively…so “hamburger,” as the kids call it). Fit each sheet inside the other until you have a mini booklet. Create six of these. I like to trim the pages that stick out more so that each signature looks a little more uniform.
You will have a stack of six signatures, they should look like this:
Next, grab one more sheet of paper and fold it in half the same way. Grab your marker and ruler, and measure ½ inch from each end in the crease. Make a mark. Now make a mark 1 inch from each end, and two last marks 2 ¾ inches from each end. You will have six marks total. We will use this as a guide while punching holes with our needle.
Place one signature in your hardback book so the creases of your signature line up with the crease of the book. This will help keep it in place while you are making your holes. Punch a hole through each mark on your guide – make sure it goes all the way through to the last sheet of paper in your signature. Repeat this for each signature.
Once each signature has the same six holes through the creases, thread your string through your needle.
From here, I will refer to each hole with a letter and number: signatures 1-6 will be referred to as A-F, respectively. The holes will be referred to as holes 1-6, from top of page to bottom. Example:
- First, you will thread your string through hole A1, from the outside of the spine to the inside, leaving a tail of at least four inches. You will thread the string back out through hole A2.
- After this, you will place another signature on top of signature A, signature B. Sew into hole B2, from the outside of the spine, and back out of B3 from the inside.
- Repeat – Into A3, out through A4, into B4, out through B5. Into A5, out through A6. In through B6, then sew out through B5.
- You will then continue to sew in through A5, and out through A4. In through B4, out through B3. In through A3, out through A2. In through B2, out through B1.
- Fair warning: your cat probably thinks this is the best toy ever.
- Make sure everything is completely sewn through (you didn’t miss any holes) and that everything is snug, but not too snug. Go ahead and attach your active sewing string to the tail left in hole A1 with a tight knot. Do not cut either string – you will continue to sew with your active thread.
- Place signature C on top of signature B. We will begin using a different method to attach this signature to A and B, which we will use to attach all the remaining signatures as well. Sew into C1, out through C2.
- Next, you will sew under the threads that attach holes A2 and B2 on the outside of the spine. Make sure to sew under the right side of the threads to the left.
- Sew in through C2, out through C3.
- Sew under the threads that attach A3 to B3, from right to left.
- Sew in through C3, out through C4.
- Sew under the threads that attach A4 to B4, right to left.
- Sew in through C4, out through C5.
- Sew under the threads that attach A5 to B5, right to left.
- Sew in through C5, out through C6.
- Sew under the threads that attach A6 to B6, this time from left to right.
- Place signature D on top of signature C. Repeat above steps, but this time, working from the bottom of the signature to the top (so in the opposite direction). Continue doing this until you have sewn all of your signatures together. When finished, tie a knot by sewing the thread through the previously made loop below (connecting either 1 to 1 or 5 to 5). Tie tight. Secure each knot with a dab of glue and trim.
Phew! That is tedious stuff. But you’re done with the hardest part!
Next, open your hardback book. Apologize to it, then begin using your box cutter/xacto knife to lovingly and carefully remove all the pages from the spine. It was definitely a moral struggle for me. You should have an empty book with a sturdy cover still intact.
Before gluing in your pages, grab your piece of felt. Lay the book flat on top and trace around. Cut the felt so that you will have at least an inch of overhang after gluing it to the cover. Cut slits in the extra inch or so up to where the spine of the book starts.
Go ahead and glue in your sewn pages. Let set until dry.
I then glued in these two watercolor pieces by Amanda Kennedy, given to me during a collage scrap exchange challenge. They seemed fitting, and I love them anyway. It was a perfect match. 🙂 You can use whatever you’d like for your inside covers – or you can use nothing at all. It’s up to you!
You will now glue the felt to your book. Glue along the outer edges of the felt – you may also want to add glue to the cover of your book, along all four edges of the front and back, so there is no baggy fabric when you open your book. Lesson learned by me for next time. Press hard, let dry.
You will then sort of shove the fabric left where you cut the slits for the spine into the area between the fabric and the spine of the book. I used a pair of scissors to make sure it was pushed all the way in.
And there you have it! Your own handmade cookbook. Of course, you can use it as a sketchbook, a diary, a dream journal…whatever suits your fancy. Just put it to good use! I added a table of contents to mine, and made sure to number each page.