Art journal blog

How to bind a three hole pamphlet stitch

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This is a lesson from Basic Bookbinding.

Whatever your inner artist needs to create, build yourself the perfect handbound book with this course to capture all of your beautiful art and precious words.

In Basic Bookbinding, you will learn how to bind four different types of journals. This course is great for beginners and will explain what tools you need to get started, plus options for using what you likely already have on hand. Each tutorial has step by step photos, and written instructions so that it feels like a friend is next to you, helping you through each stitch.

Vanessa has created a beautiful, simple, and infinitely expandable set of four tutorials for you in this course that will help you create unique and personal books. With this course, you will be able to fulfil all your own creative needs and desires to create the perfect custom book to store all of your beautiful art and precious thoughts in.

The projects in this class are suitable for children and adults, beginners and experienced art journalers who are ready to stop buying boring, run of the mill journals. The books you create with these techniques are perfect for art journaling, writing, list-making, idea catching, collaging, cutting, pasting, and anything else you can imagine doing in your notebook.

There are no rules or standards you must follow when bookbinding. This is a technique based course that will be your base for creating the perfect journal to suit your needs.

I’ve chosen a simple beginners stitch for you that will allow you to start creating your own books, quickly, simply and right away. Once you have experienced the pride and the excitement of creating your own book, unique to your personal specifications and needs, we know that you will be dying to step up your game and learn more diverse stitches to continue to vary your handmade books to meet different needs each of your creative projects has.

About the stitch

We will be learning the three hole pamphlet stitch. This is the easiest way to bind leftover paper scraps into a great little booklet that is incredibly versatile.


  • trimmer
  • paper scraps (I just used the leftover paper scraps for the other books I have bound)
  • scissors
  • thread (I’m using embroidery thread for this one)
  • bookbinding needle (or embroidery one – the eye needs to be big enough for your thread)
  • awl (or “stabby thing”)
  • a bone folder (or spoon)


The first step is to trim your papers so they are the same size. In my case, I trimmed the papers so that my booklet would be 3 x 3 inches. So each piece of paper is 6 x 3 inches. I used eight pieces of paper with different thicknesses (like vellum, watercolor and scrapbooking paper).

Once your papers have been trimmed, fold them in half, using the bone folder to make sure the crease is nice and flat.

Assemble your booklet. Pay attention to the patterns that will be facing each other and choose a cover. This is my favorite part!

Now we have to punch holes through the papers. Using your awl, make a hole in the middle crease of the center of the paper. You can measure this out if you like perfection and symmetry, but I just eyeball it.

Now punch a hole on either side of that middle one.

Measure out your thread so it is about twice the height of your booklet.

Go through the middle hole from the outside of the book toward the inside.

Pull tight, leaving a long tail of thread sticking out of the outside of the middle hole.

From the inside of your book, go into the top hole.

Pull tight, holding on to the tail of your thread so you don’t pull it out. SUCCESS! You’ve made your first stitch!

You are now on the outside of your booklet. Put your needle through the bottom hole, skipping the middle one where you started.

Pull tight so the thread lies close to the spine.

You have just gone through the bottom hole of the booklet. Come back upward and go through the middle hole, from the inside out.

Pull tightly so the inside stitches are straight and in the crease.

Tie the tail of the thread with the piece that is in the needle. Trim these and you are done!

I love using these scrap paper booklets as a place to test out my new art supplies. The different types of paper make it the perfect place for color swatches as well.



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Grab some of those scrap papers you just can’t throw away and let’s make the perfect notebook to hold all your thoughts, ideas and art.

Vanessa Oliver-Lloyd

Vanessa is an archaeologist and an artist. She has been binding books since 2012 when she discovered how much she loved choosing her own papers and putting them into a book. Her love for paper patterns and textures shines through in the books she makes, both for her use and for that of other artists. She loves to share what she has learned.