How to Create a Unique Stab Bound Book with Loose Leaf Paper

Do you want to make your own notebook without breaking the bank? In this tutorial, I’ll teach you how to create a stab bound book using loose leaf paper. But here’s the twist – we’ll be using good old college ruled filler paper. To add some character, we’ll be using the Japanese Stab Binding method, which is perfect for this square-shaped notebook. So, let’s dive in and get started!

japanese stab bound book binding with loose hemp leaf pattern paper

Choosing the Right Materials for Your Stab Bound Book

When selecting materials for your stab bound book, it’s important to consider the overall look and feel you want to achieve. For this tutorial, let’s draw inspiration from the classic luxury and style of early 20th century Paris. Here are the materials I recommend:

  • Black velvet flocked Laval book cloth: This material adds a touch of richness and luxury to your book. It’s soft to the touch and has a beautiful mottled texture. The back of the cloth is laminated for extra strength and water resistance.

  • Florentine print on ivory laid paper: Printed in Italy, this paper features stunning images of Paris from the early 1900s. It weighs 105 gsm and adds a touch of elegance to your book.

  • Satin ribbon: To add a feminine touch, use a 1-inch wide black satin ribbon for a beautiful bow closure.

You can find these materials at Ames Farm Center.

The Materials You’ll Need

Here’s a list of the materials you’ll need to create your stab bound book:

  • 2 sheets of covering material for the front and back covers, each cut into 9-1/2″ height and 6-1/2″ width
  • 2 pieces of covering material for the hinges, each cut into 9-1/2″ height and 1-3/4″ width
  • 2 sheets of decorative card stock or fine paper, each cut into 8-1/2″ height and 6-3/4″ width
  • Book board:
    • 2 pieces for the hinges, each cut into 8-1/2″ height and 1″ width
    • 2 sheets for the front and back covers, each cut into 8-1/2″ height and 5-3/4″ width
  • 51 sheets of college ruled reinforced loose leaf filler paper
  • 60″ waxed linen thread, any color
  • PVA or Elmer’s glue
  • Ribbon, stickers, twine, etc. for decoration (optional)
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materials used to make a stab bound book using japanese hemp leaf binding pattern

Tools and Supplies You’ll Need

Here are the tools and supplies you’ll need for this project:

  • Bone folder
  • Olfa knife
  • Japanese Screw Punch with 3mm tip or 1/8″ hole punch
  • Heavy duty awl
  • 6″ light duty tapered awl
  • Scissors
  • 12-18″ ruler
  • 1 large and 1 small paste brushes (or glue sticks)
  • Clamps or two 3/4″ binder clips
  • Pencil
  • Several sheets of waste paper
  • Optional: Corner jig, steel spacers, pliers

top down view of all the tools needed to make an adorable custom coupon book for couples using the japanese stab binding method

Getting Started – Creating the Covers

Creating the front and back covers is the first step in making your stab bound book. Here’s how you do it:

Arrange the Papers and Glue Down the Boards

  1. Lay the small piece of covering material face up on your work surface.
  2. Apply a thin line of PVA glue to the right edge of the material.
  3. Glue the large piece of material to the right edge, overlapping them by 1/8″.
  4. Apply PVA glue to the back of the small piece of board, and glue it down on the small piece of covering material. Center it with 1/2″ on the top, left, and bottom sides. Use a bone folder to remove air bubbles.
  5. Apply PVA glue to the back of the large piece of board. Lay this board glue-side down roughly 1/4″ to the right of the small piece of board. Ensure that the two boards are level in height with each other. Use a bone folder to remove air bubbles.
  6. Turn the full piece over and cut away any excess material, leaving a 1/2″ border around each edge of the board.
  7. Turn the full piece face down. Using a bone folder, gently define the hinge.
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japanese stab bound book hemp leaf binding creating the cover

Turn in the Edges and Create Corners

  1. Flip the covering material back over on the work surface.
  2. Mark and cut the four corners. You can refer to my other tutorial on Casebinding for technical videos on how to do this.
  3. Glue the top and bottom flaps first, smoothing each flap with a bone folder.
  4. Glue the right and left flaps next, smoothing them as you go along. Use the pointed end of your bone folder to turn in each corner.
  5. Press the cover under several large books for 15-20 minutes, sandwiching the cover between two sheets of waste paper to absorb extra moisture.
  6. Lay the cover face-down on a work surface with the board facing up.
  7. Optional: If you’re adding a closure, like the one I used, attach a piece of ribbon to the cover now. The second piece of ribbon will go on the back cover. Both pieces of ribbon should be the same length.

Apply the End Papers

  1. Apply a layer of PVA glue to the back of one piece of decorative card stock sized 8-1/2″ height and 6-3/4″ width.
  2. Lay the card stock glue-side down on the board, centering it with a 1/8″ edge on each side. Use a bone folder to remove any excess air bubbles.
  3. Place the cover under weight to dry for 30 minutes.
  4. Repeat all the previous steps in the same order for the back cover.

Pierce the Sewing Stations on the Covers

  1. Lay the template you created on top of the front board.
  2. Clamp the template to the board using two binder clips or clamps.
  3. Pierce each sewing station position with a heavy-duty awl.
  4. Define each hole using a 6″ light-duty tapered awl. Ensure that the threaded needle will glide through smoothly.
  5. Remove the clips or clamps and set the template aside.
  6. Turn the back cover over so it is face-down on the work surface.
  7. Sandwich the front and back covers together, making it look like a finished book without the paper.
  8. Clamp the front board to the back board. We’ll use the front board as a piercing template for the back cover.
  9. Repeat steps 3-4.
  10. Remove the clamps and set the boards aside.
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japanese stab bound book hemp leaf binding creating sewing template

Sewing the Book Using the Hemp Leaf Binding Pattern

Now that you’ve prepared the covers, it’s time to sew the book using the Hemp Leaf binding pattern. This pattern consists of 7 sewing stations. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Combine the back cover, paper stack, and front cover to resemble a finished book.
  2. Separate the book into two halves.
  3. Thread the needle.
  4. Sew the Hemp Leaf binding pattern according to the instructions provided, starting from the middle of the book.

illustration showing sewing stations for a japanese stab bound book binding sew the hemp leaf pattern

To add a personal touch to your stab bound book, feel free to decorate the cover, spine, or both. I skipped the extras and included a wide black satin bow closure to complement the hemp leaf pattern. It helps balance the eye as it moves from the beautiful pattern to the fore edge of the book. You can really make this book your own!

japanese stab bound book binding with loose hemp leaf pattern paper

Creating your own stab bound book with loose leaf paper is a rewarding experience. It allows you to customize your notebook to suit your style and needs. So, why not give it a try? I’d love to see what you create. Feel free to share your beautiful creations with me on Instagram by tagging @papercraftpanda.

Happy bookbinding!


Ames Farm Center is your go-to source for all your bookbinding materials.

Note: The images used in this article are from the original source.