How-to · simple book binding

T -Cut Origami Booklet

T-Cut Origami Booklet, Paula Krieg

This folded booklet, which is a variation of the 8 page origami pamphlet, has characteristics that I’ve been appreciating lately.

What I’m liking about it is that the first and last pages are free from folds on their far edges. This gives the structure two advantages over the 8-page origami pamphlet that I like so much. The fist advantage is the book can be spread out better for display. The second advantage that I am thinking about today is that it can work nicely in a pamphlet which is set up to have replaceable pages.

Simple Pamphlet
Pamphlet/Booklet Cover

Here’s what I’m thinking about: I have this sweet little pamphlet with a pocketed cover, beads sewn on the spine, made with unique bits of paper from my stash. If I sew pages into the pamphlet, once the pages are filled with my lists, scribbles, notes to self, I will be sad to see this item become useless. But what if I can easily replace the pages?

Booklet with sewn in belt
Booklet with sewn in belt

With the end-use in mind, instead of sewing in pages, I sewed in this narrow belt…I suppose it could have been the height of the cover, but this narrow piece was left-over from another project, and I wanted to use it.

HIdden Magnets
HIdden Magnets

I scavenged some magnets strips from an outdated business card on my fridge, and glued them on to the belt, front and back, When I sandwich the ends of my t-cut origami pamphlet between the magnets the pages stay nicely in place.

Here’s a little video clip showing the pages being replaced:

And here’s what the paper looks like when it’s unfolded, which you can also see at the top of the tutorial page on the top of this post.

T-Cut origami booklet,  fully unfolded
T-Cut origami booklet, fully unfolded

These kinds of simple solutions are so satisfying.

simple book binding

Last Minute Gift Tags, and maybe some really tiny books

Here’s a PDF of the image above. Each tile is a little less than a 2 inch square. I designed a few of these for some projects, then kept making them just because I like them so much. They are my gift to you. I recommend printing them on cover weight paper if you have some.

Please don’t be disappointed if the colors your printer gives you aren’t as luminous as what’s on the screen. That’s just a fact of life. Once you get away from comparing to the screen, these look lovely.

Here’s how I am thinking you might use them.

Gift tags

Cut out two together. Fold in half. Use as a gift tag.


…cut out singly, Use as a gift tag.

Then there’s the option of making a little library of little books.

This is easier if you know even the smallest amount about making books, but, even if you don’t, it’s absolutely possible to figure this out.

All the steps laid out to see at once

Cut a strip of four of squares. Cut off half of the first and half of the last square. Fold the strip in half. Fold in the half parts towards the center. Sew in a few pages. You can use the snipped off parts as bookmarks.

Finished little book with inside flap lightly glue to first page of book block

The folded-in parts are the inside flaps, which can hold the first page down, I generally use five folded pieces of paper in these books. That gives me enough to tuck one page under the folded in book flaps (I glue the flaps on to the first and last pages) and there’s still 16 pages to write in big thoughts.

The final suggestion I have for these is to write a little note on the back of a single one then….

…secretly hang it somewhere for someone to find.

If you absolutely positively must have many more of these, I understand completely. There’s a whole other page of designs over in my Etsy shop.

Hope you are enjoying the holiday season.

simple book binding

Little Books to Give Away

Three Inch Square books

An artist friend of mine makes something each year for the children who come to the food bank in her community. Last weekend she came over and we worked out how to make a box that would contain items for the kids. After she left I started thinking about making little books to donate towards her efforts. It took awhile for me to come up with what kind of book I could make that was just the right balance of being not incredibly work intensive, while still being something that I am proud to offer.

3" x 11" paper strips
3″ x 11″ paper strips

These books began with some medium weight papers strips, cut 3″ x 11″. I used something kind of fancy because I have it around, but any kind of colored copy paper would have been fine to use.

Book Block paper 3" x 6"
Book Block paper 3″ x 6″

I’m using regular copy paper for the book block. This shows the paper separated into grouping of 12 papers, so the books will have 48 pages.

These papers for the inside of the book are cut to be 3″ x 6″. (Question for the grammar police: does the period go inside the inch symbol?)

I have a little guillotine cutter in my house that cuts piles of paper nicely. I paid $800 for it at a time when I barely had two nickels to rub together. It was so worth it. I see similar ones on the market now for $99.00.

Next, each cover got folded in half, then I lined the center up with the number 7 on my little paper-cutter.

A little wide of the 10 inch and 4 inche marks
A little wide of the 10 inch and 4 inch marks

These covers need to be just a bit longer than 6 inches so I made the folds at about 3 1/8″ away from the center, using the markings on my paper-cutter to show me where to fold.


Modified Pamphlet Stitch
Modified Pamphlet Stitch

I decided to use a needle with a  modified pamphlet stitch to for the binding so that I’d have to make only one hole in the spine (with my very sharp bookbinders awl). (I love my tools)

All done!
All done!

Here they are, all ready to go.

This was such a satisfying little project.




Books Made from one sheet of folded paper · How-to · origami pamphlet · simple book binding

Four Books Students Can Figure Out How to Make on Their Own

PDF version

For years, until she retired, I worked with an enthusiastic classroom teacher named Anna who loved seeing her students make books. Instead of teaching bookmaking skills she created a bookmaking corner in her classroom that included a little display of books that I had taught her how to make. These books were accompanied by written directions and a stack of paper. Anna’s third grade students had a great time making books independently.

Last week I received a note from Lana, a teacher in Canada who I follow and who always has insights that I value. Here’s what she wrote:

I started a personal history project with my kids today, with  the big idea that our histories are different but we learn about each other because we are a community. Students start with creating a personal history of 5-10 important events in their lives. What if I open it a bit and let kids work with paper in 3 dimensions? Someone wants a line, someone else a book, a spiral, a tree, a flexagon?

I was wondering if there are some formats that you could recommend that don’t require too much pre-teaching. Ideally kids can follow template/video.

Origami books made from a multiple folded papers, to create a Star Book and a Cascading Book, aka Origami Caterpillar Book
Origami books made from a multiple folded papers, to create a Star Book and a Cascading Book, aka Origami Caterpillar Book

Thinking about Anna’s bookmaking corner, I want to suggest a few books to Lana.

I decided to take this opportunity to finally get around to creating the StarBook/Cascading Book tutorial (at the top of this post) with video accompaniment:

This modular origami book can be tricky, but it is totally doable, The folding needs to be done precisely, folds need to be sharp, and it’s important to pay attention to the orientation of the modules as they get glued together.

Fact is though, that it looks tricker than it is. It’s a structure I highly recommend because it’s so dynamic.

Bookmaking by Paula Beardell Krieg

The next book I want to highlight is the Origami Pamphlet. This is the #1 book that I would like every person in the world to know how to make. Here’s the link to my post 

Mike Lawler made a 24 second video -Voila!- showing a piece of paper transform into the origami pamphlet 

Books made from one or two pieces of paper

The biggest problem with the origami pamphlet is that if you’re using regular copy paper, the book will be rather small,  If this bothersome there are two good variations that result in a larger book (other than just finding a larger sheet of paper):

You can link two of the structures together with a rubber band. That’s what’s going on with the lilac/blue booklet above. Well, I guess it’s not actually a larger book, it’s just longer.

Making a larger origami pamphlet by linking two halves together
Two Book Bases linked together to make an origami pamphlet

A way make a larger origami pamphlet is to use two sheets of paper to make two halves, then attach them together (use glue, tape, paper clips, staples? whatever ) like in the photo above.  I call this half-or-an-origami pamphlet a book base.

An advantage of making a book this way is that, if composition paper is used, the lines will be going in the correct direction for writing on.

There are so many fabulous inventive book structures students can make, but sometimes it’s great to just fold a bunch of papers in half, secure them together, and be done with it. The problem here is that it is not obvious how to secure the pages together. A doable no-needle way to sew pages together in a classroom setting is to use a bit of string or yarn to do a modified pamphlet stitch.

Modified Pamphlet Stitch
Modified Pamphlet Stitch

There you have it, four books:

  • the Star Book,
  • the Cascading Book,
  • the Origami Pamphlet (with two variations) and
  • the Modified Pamphlet Stitch book

Lana’s note mentions a spiral. I’ve been playing with some spiraling pages lately, and I have something wonderful that I want to share, but the spiral deserves its own post: which will hopefully show up here in the near future.