DIY: The Butterfly

Today I’ll let you in on a little secret. 😉 I will show you how I make my butterfly notebooks. This is my first tutorial so I will ask you to be patient with me and hopefully all this will make sense. 😀

The idea of this tutorial was sparked by Juni, my beautiful Australian fan. Juni is writing a book about writing and my tutorial will be part of it together with several other pictures from my already finished notebooks. I would like to take advantage of this occasion and thank Juni for the beautiful opportunity of being part of her book.

So let’s get started.


Paper: I like to use a lot of recycled materials, old notebooks, old books, paper for letters, basically anything that I find nice. I do of course also use regular print paper for the classic look so do not feel stressed if you can’t use only recycled components.

Cardboard: A lot of my initial cardboard came from old models from my architectural projects, however as the supply started to run out I started adding pizza boxes, wrapping boxes, and obviously cardboard bought from the art supply shop.

Glue: I use a simple basic hobby glue from my local craft shop. Depending on what supplies are available in your area, my advice is to test and see which glue works best for you and obviously which one you like working with the most.

Brush and plastic cup: I use the brush to spread the glue evenly on the surfaces I need to glue. The water is to thin the glue when necessary and obviously not to ruin the brush by having the hairs glued together.

Acrylic paint: I use acrylic paints as those are the colors I also paint with on canvas, but this can be done with most types of colors available, except watercolors.

Thick paper: I like to use shiny thick print paper. A lot of it is of course also recycled as I tend to make a lot of print tests and thus end up with plenty of unused one sided prints.

Waxed thread: You can buy the special thread for bookbinding or simply use embroidery thread which you wax yourself. Waxing the thread is quite simple. You do not have to melt the wax, you just have to rub the thread on the solid block of wax several times until enough wax gets attached to it.

Needle: You can use embroidery needles which are large enough. I personally like to use the curved ones but you can use regular needles if that works for you.

Additional tools: Scissors,  ruler, pencil, awl (needle, thumbtack).


Step 1:  Take a thick A4 and fold it in half. Add the desired colors for the covers by placing dots of paint. Fold the paper and press lightly in order to spread the paint evenly on the surface of the paper. Do not worry if you have not added everything from the beginning. Open the paper slowly with lots of care and check your design. Add more drops of paint if desired and then fold the paper again to spread the color evenly. Do that until you are happy with the result.

Now let it dry. Acrylic dries really fast but in this case I recommend leaving it for at least a couple of hours as if the paint is not properly dry the following steps will ruin it.

This is called the butterfly. I learned this in kindergarten. It was the easiest method for kids to make amazing drawings to gift their mothers on mother’s day. The same technique can be used on textiles and much more. It a dear favorite of mine as it reminds me of the childhood years. 

Step 2: Once the cover is completely dry, cut it in half and glue the cardboard for the covers. Be careful to glue the coves symmetrically otherwise the covers will not be identically mirrored. Use the brush (or a sponge if you prefer) to spread the glue evenly on the back of the cardboard and then press lightly for a couple of moments for a better adhesion of the two pieces.

Cut the excess paper leaving enough paper to fold. Cut the corners and then fold them in. Add glue to each fold, spread it evenly with the brush and then press until adhered. Do the same for the other cover.

The colored part of the cover will be the exterior of the notebook so in order to make the interior one presentable we need two more pieces of paper. These have to be large enough to cover also most of the folded parts. Glue those carefully making sure that the glue was evenly spread all the way to the edges otherwise you will have unpleasant bumps or lumps once the glue is dry.

At this point I like to cover the outside faces of the covers with a thin layer of Mod Podge. However this is not essential. If you are making the notebook for yourself, for your children or as a present for your friend the acrylic will be strong enough to maintain its design.

Step 3: Take your paper and cut it to size. Fold it in half and create signatures. Signatures are usually groups of 4 folded papers. However, I do have to admit to having used signatures with 6 folded papers when the paper was to thin. For this particular notebook I have created 7 signatures, each containing 4 folded papers.

Now, that both the covers and the signatures are done, measure where you want the wholes for the bookbinding and poke them using an awl or any other replacement (needles or  thumbtacks). In some of the tutorials I have watched I saw the wholes being done with the awl perpendicularly on the paper. I personally prefer doing that at an angle while holding the paper folded. It is generally recommended to test more options and use the one that works best for you.

Step 4: I used for this particular notebook the coptic stitch bookbinding method. For that I used a curved needle and a waxed embroidery thread. You can of course use the thread without waxing it but I tell you from experience you will spend half the time removing the knots from the thread. Also the final result will not be as elegant as when the thread is waxed because the wires do tend to get tangled.

I will not go into the details of this method as there are much better tutorials out there than I can make at this moment. Jenifer from Sea Lemon has my favorite tutorials ever. She is extremely patient and explains every detail. Plus all her tutorials are in video format making it a lot easier to explain as well as observe many of the details.


And we’re done! Here is the finished product:



Thank you for dropping by.

See you next time!




  1. Reblogged this on Squarebird 2014 Craft A Day and commented:
    Check this out! A wonderful tutorial on book binding :-). I love it!

  2. I’ve reblogged this – what a great, easy-to-follow tutorial 🙂

  3. Brilliant! Making this with my girl this week!!!!

    • Thank you.
      If you do use my tutorial to make a notebook I would love to see the result. You can share it here or on my Facebook page. Hope you have a lot of fun with your girl.

      • I will for sure! My daughter’s birthday is in 2 months and I’m thinking we will make them as party gifts for her little friends. 🙂

      • Oau! That is a lovely idea! And I very touched to have inspired that.
        I do not know how old your daughter is but for an event like that I would try to add some sparkle by adding some glitter to (on) the acrylic paint. 😀

        Hmmm, I think I will try that too on a future notebook!

      • My daughter will be 4. The kids at her party will range from 1 to 8 yo… So I think it would a lovely idea for the older kids. 🙂

        The glitter is a GREAT idea! My daughter LOVES sparkles. I’ll keep you posted on the results.

  4. This is so cool! I love it. Thanks so much. Reblogging! Hope I can make my own one very soon.

  5. Great pics and tutorial that even a Temple clutz like myself could do. We love the idea. Thanks for sharing and making the world a more colorful crafty place. xx

  6. Reblogged this on Manuscript. Head. Drawer. and commented:
    I live, live, LIVE for craft projects, and now y’all know it. 🙂 — Stephe

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