Making a Japanese Bound Book with Custom Design Cover

I bought a Cricut Maker recently, so excited to do more things with it! The first thing I did was make a lettering cutout for the cover of a journal I’m making using Japanese bounding technique.

Japanese bound book with cutout lettering
Japanese bound book with cutout lettering and illustration for the cover.

For the cover of the journal, I first designed the letters on the Procreate app on my iPad Pro, then used the Cricut Maker to make the cutout on a white card stock paper. I used a 8.5 x 11″ paper, made the cut with the Cricut, then folded the paper in half and inserted a regular light blue paper in between, that’s how the blue colored letters come about 🙂

How to make a Japanese bound book

Materials Used

25 Sheets of 8.5×11″ blank paper
2 Sheets thicker paper (for front cover and back cover)
Awl, needle, thread
Paper cutter

PDFs: Grey lines, Marked holes for 6-hole binding technique

#1. Create the lined paper

Take 25 sheets of regular 8.5×11″ blank paper and print out the lines on it with your printer. I used this grey lined pdf that I created to print the lines on the paper. After it’s printed out, cut the paper in half so the resulting size of the paper is 8.5×5.5″. So the total number of paper you would end up with is 50 sheets.

#2. Make the holes for binding

I am doing the 4-hole binding technique with a slight variation so I’ll need to measure out and mark 6 holes on the spine of the paper. I created a PDF with holes marked that you can just print it out, and the holes will be where you need it. After you’ve marked the holes, use the binder clips to hold the stack of paper together (including the front and back cover) and clip the sides of the paper so it doesn’t move. I put a strip of paper under the clips so that the clip doesn’t make any dents on your journal. Then use the awl to make the holes.

Clips to hold the paper together
Clips to hold the paper together

#3. Thread the holes together

Cut a thread length about 5.5 times the length of the journal spine, so for this it would be about 47″. Then use the needle and put the thread through, and make a knot at one end of the string. Now follow the instruction here to making the binding pattern.

4 hole Japanese binding instruction
4 hole Japanese binding instruction
additional steps japanese bound technique
This is the additional steps you need to do in addition to the regular 4-hole technique. You do these step after the Step #5 on the regular instruction.


After I finished the binding the journal with the cutout lettering on the cover, then I went ahead and drew some illustration using Tombow brush pens and Mircons on the cover 🙂

japanese bound book with illustration
Japanese bound book with illustration

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