My First Book Binding Attempt

img_6927The Travelling Pixie’s Handicrafts 

My First Book Binding Attempt 

It’s always a hassle when deadlines are coming up and you have to hand in your A3 sized workbook, but then you realize that most of the print shops don’t do thermal binding for A3 size unless you give them sufficient time in advance! Well, having faced these problems in our household consisting of two Fashion Design students plus me – with relatively more time on my hands because I plan out my schedule for the whole term since Week 3 (being the obsessive planner that I am), I decided to help them with their workbook binding process.

I did a lot of research online, and I figured that for A3 book binding, the screw binding method is actually quite sturdy and easy to do. Credits to (click here for the exact post), we modified this method a little to suit our needs, because they were in a mega rush (with only 7 hours to the deadline) plus they were on a tight budget. With no book clamp and no fancy tools, we just made do with anything we could get our hands on.


So here are the materials you would need:

  • 2 X A3 sized plain cardboard paper
  • Linen tape (any colour it doesn’t matter, you won’t be able to see it on the finished product)
  • Fabric for the front and back cover (If you’re a fashion design student, you could use the most signature fabric from your collection! It would really add a huge impression!)
  • 2 X A3 paper in black
  • Binding screws (for 50 pages of A3, we chose the 20mm screws – there are various lengths on offer in the London Graphic Centre)
  • The contents that you intend to put into your portfolio (don’t forget to leave a 1” margin before you print them out – set it on InDesign)
  • Copydex Glue (for gluing fabric and paper together – it won’t stick paper to paper)
  • Any normal glu-stick to stick paper to paper
  • UHU glue (just in case you need some last minute fix ups)



  1. If you don’t already have your plain cardboard in A3 size, cut two A3 sizes out.
  2. Cut out one 1” wide strip from the short edge of the A3 cardboard. Do so for the second cardboard too.
  3. Punch in holes on both cardboard strips where you want the screws to go in – don’t forget to mark down the alignment for punching holes in the same position for the rest of the A3 pages.
  4. Stick the cardboard strip to the cardboard page using linen tape, leaving 5mm in between for the crease. Fold in the excess linen tape to the reverse side. Then using a blunt edge (I simply used the blunt tip of the scissors), gently press along the crease between the two pieces of cardboard. (So that the cover would fold easily.)
  5. Cut out two pieces of fabric, allowing 1-2 inches seam allowance for all 4 sides of the A3 cardboard.
  6. Using Copydex glue, paint the whole surface of the cardboard. Be careful to paint only a thin layer, otherwise the glue might seep through the fabric and create a mess.
  7. Stick the fabric onto the cardboard – its easier if you have a pair of helping hands to pull the fabric while you’re sticking it on. The glue is fairly strong, so there’s no allowance for mistakes. You can use a cold ironer to flatten the creases and bubbles as you press down the fabric onto the cardboard – make sure its not hot, otherwise it’ll just become a sticky mess (plus you’ll ruin your ironer with glue stuck onto it.)
  8. After its firmly stuck on, place the cover face down on some non- sticky material – either a regular cutting mat or cling film) and stack loads of heavy hardbound books on top (or you can use a book clamp if you have one.)
  9. Repeat steps 6-8 for the back cover and allow the glue to dry for as long as possible. We waited for only an hour because we were in such a rush to complete it, but I’d say a wait between 1-2 hours is definitely sufficient.
  10. So then you move away all the books and take out the front and back cover for your workbook. Now we have to fold in the four side flaps of the fabric.
  11. At the corners, carefully cut a triangle out as shown in the image. Be careful not to cut the triangles too close to the edge, because then it might not be able to wrap the corner completely – which would be a waste of all your previous efforts!
  12. Now paint the 4 sides with Copydex Glue as shown in the image, and stick down the 4 flaps. Remember to stick them down as firmly and smoothly as possible – I just used my hands to stick them down actually, they appeared just fine!
  13. Then place the flaps face down, and again, stack a few heavy hardbound books to weigh it down.
  14. Repeat steps 11-13 for the back cover.
  15. While you’re waiting for the glue to dry, ready your A3 sized black paper. Cut all four sides about half an inch into the paper, so that the black paper is now half an inch smaller than the front and back covers.
  16. Paint Copydex Glue onto the fabric bits at the sides, but be careful to not paint too much to the edge or the black paper wont cover it up. Then just go crazy with your average glu-stick and paint all over the remaining cardboard bits – but its crucial that you do not leave any lumps of glue
  17. Stick the black paper onto the inside of the front cover, but make sure you leave half an inch of fabric on all four sides, as shown in the image.
  18. Do the same for the back cover and wait for them to dry. Again, stack a few heavy hardbound books over them.
  19. While waiting for it to dry, align your A3 pages and punch holes on them – using the same alignment as the front and back cover hole-punches. You have to make sure that the holes align to near perfect, otherwise the sheets will be sticking out from the sides.
  20. Now you’re ready to bind everything together! Slip in the binding screws from the back up, slip in your A3 pages, put the cover on, and finally, screw bind everything tight together and its done!



It may sound like a long and tedious procedure, but trust me, it was fun the whole time! Plus, this method is not only for those who are desperate to hand in their work, but you can also make little handmade blank notebooks for your family and friends – as I’ve said before in The Romance of Handmade Gifts, its always beautiful and heartwarming to both make handmade gifts and receive them!

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