Wednesday, 28 February 2018

Simple Sewn Sketchbooks

This week I was helping an A Level Art student prepare her portfolio for a series of Art Degree interviews and we wondered how to present her collection of over 50+ sketches that were on loose papers. To create a sense of order we curated themes (still life, portrait, architecture) and placed them into a pleasing order. I then taught her how to sew the papers together using a sewing machine to create a series of unique hand-made sketchbooks.

Once we got into the flow we also made these lovely A4 and A5 sketchbooks using lots of left-over marbling from a few weeks ago and piles of loose cartridge paper and sugar paper. It's a great way to quickly create something simple, fun and useful.

Here is a simple step-by-step guide to creating these very pleasing hand-made sketchbooks.

Simple Sewn Sketchbooks

Sewing Machine
Coloured thread of your choice
Selection of cartridge paper
Marbled paper / Good quality wrapping paper / Wallpaper
Scissors / rotary trimmer

1. Select a range of papers and stack in your order of choice with the 'cover' on the top

2. Fold the cover paper in half (or draw a pencil line to indicate the half-way point)

3. Set the stitch length to the longest stitch and sew along the line using the sewing machine

4. Tie the threads at each end or leave loose depending on personal preference and fold the entire collection of paper at the sewn line. Use a heavy set of books / object to weight the paper (if you have a bone-folder for book-making you can use this to create the beautiful creases needed for a perfect job)

5. Now get sketching or note-taking, doodling, organising, creative writing, dream-diary recording, fashion drawing, clothes designing or gifting to a friend!

Tips & Ideas
  • You will need to experiment with the capacity of your sewing machine to figure out how many sheets of paper it will comfortably sew. Most of the sketchbooks above have 10 - 15 sheets of varying weights of paper.
  • Use a denim / large size needle to sew with (or an old needle as it doesn't need to be super sharp)
  • Fold or cut the paper in different ways to make unusual size sketchbooks
  • Try different threads to contrast or compliment your paper selection
  • The pink and red sketchbook in the above photo was sewn at one side only for a different style of sketchbook
  • You could also use lined paper / tracing / tissue / newspaper / magazine pages


  1. That's such a nice idea! Thank you for sharing it!

  2. These are really sweet, they'd make great gifts wouldn't they, maybe with a pack of pretty drawing pencils.

  3. Looks so much better than loose sketches, love the notebooks. I love stitching on a machine, pretty papers into delightful notebooks

  4. They look fabulous and a great talking point for an interview. Jo x