you can find out how the leporello story started here. you can find part 1 of the guide - making the cover - here, part 2 - the leporello insert - here and instructions for optional inserts here. tutorials and guides are also listed in the right sidebar under that heading.
as i've said in the previous parts of this series, all the measurements and almost all of the materials used can be changed and customised to fit the size you want and the supplies you have at hand.
here is one more important note - i will add that to the top of part 1 as well: make your leporello insert, including all the signatures and all the ephemera you want to put in it, before you make the cover for your leporello book. i will show you why that would be a good idea later in this guide.
let's get started now:
this is what you will most likely need: scissors, bone folder, pencil (and eraser), x-acto knife, double sided tape (and/or glue if you prefer), paper trimmer and/or t-ruler, awl (pokey tool) and waxed linen thread. i forgot to put out paperclips for taking the picture - you will need some of these too.
gather the papers you want to use for your pages. you can use whatever paper you like: design papers, old book pages, handmade/painted papers, vellum, acetate, junk mail, greeting cards, envelopes, ... whatever you like.
i've selected some pretty design papers that match my leporello base. i have also used pages from out-of-date wall calendars (the ones with the beautiful images on them) and i've cut some vellum and acetate pages shaped like a butterfly.
i decopaged some old book pages using napkins and ink-sprayed paper towels. i used golden matte medium (which is actually not really my favourite but it was all i had at the time) but you can use any medium you feel comfortable with. (there are lots of different manufacturers that offer gel medium or matte medium or collage medium or decopage glue or whatever else they may be called.)
i used the decorated papers to make envelopes for the centers for my signatures with.
my largest papers measure 19x23cm - 7 1/2" x 9". (my leporello base is 20cm - 7 7/8" tall.)
you can cut the pages for your leporello book as big or small as you want - depending on the measurements of your leporello base. just be careful with anything that sticks out the sides of your leporello - i'll get to that later.
fold all your papers and stack them in the order you want your pages to appear. i like to place an unassembled envelope in the center. don't make your individual signatures too bulky - remember that you will have at least 4 for them in your book. (that is, if you want that many - you can have less but i would not recommend putting in many more.)
here are my signatures all assembled. keep in mind that half of your signatures will face one way, the other half will face the other way - some will open to the right, some will open to the left. consider that as you are arranging your papers if you want to tell a visual story or feature a particular detail on the front of the signature.
while i'm arranging my papers i flip through them again and again to decide which signature goes where and to make sure it's all nice and harmonious once they are sewn in.
if you want to do any stamping, sewing, die-cutting (with on-the-edge dies), punching (with edge punches), cutting, ... on your pages, do that before you sew the signatures into the leporello.
i also gathered and made lots of ephemera to add to my leporello book once the signatures are stitched in. i have some playing cards and post cards with flower images in matching colours, a few illustrations from an old book, some cut outs from the calendars and design papers, some tiny post cards, die cut tickets, punched out file tabs and journaling cards, lots of which is made from the left overs of the design papers i used to make the pages.
place your leporello base in front of you, facing the right way - remember: the first fold opens to the right and you should have marked the back of the leporello base with "back", "top" and "bottom". place the signatures in 4 of the folds - the first two and the last two - leaving the ones directly next to the joining piece empty. make sure you've placed all your signatures right side up (because of the designs on your paper, any pockets you might have attached to the pages already, etc.).
now you need a piece of scrap cardstock (cereal box material works too) the same height as your leporello base and about 8-10cm - 3"-4" wide. this does not have to be exact though. you will make the template for poking your holes with this piece. i have two templates that i use over again and i've put a length of sticky tape on both sides to keep the holes from fraying and getting too big.
you don't have to make a reusable one however.
fold the template material in half. mark the center and then two holes spaced evenly to the left and right. for my project i've used the holes circled in green. the outside holes are 7cm - 2 3/4" from the center and the ones in between are in the center of that at 3,5cm - 1 3/8". you don't have to follow my exact measurements however - just look at the size of your pages and space out the holes evenly.
i will show you how to do a 3-hole pamphlet stitch and a 5-hole pamphlet stitch. you can read on and decide which one you like better - you don't have to do both.
remove all the signatures from the leporello base, leaving only the first one in place. set the other ones aside for now, place them so you remember which one faces which way in the book and which one goes where.
take out some paperclips. i like to use the plain oldfashioned ones as i find the clip-ons often are so strong they actually make marks on my paper. but you can use whichever clips you like and have - even bobby pins if you have those.
(in this picture you see my other template - it has only 3 holes instead of 5 - but just use the one we've just created which you can use for both of the stitches i'm going to show you.)
place your template in the center of the signature and center everything as best as you can. if you have any undersized pages - like the tag-page you can see here - place it so that it will be under 2 of the markings on your template. the template is as tall as the leporello base while the pages are a bit shorter. once you're happy with the placement, clip the template and the signature to the leporello base and poke the holes. to the right of my book you can see my awl and my pokey-tool. i find my awl actually a bit too thick for most of my projects so i like to use the thinner pokey-tool and just wiggle it a bit to make the hole big enough but not too big.
remove the template but leave everything else in place.
at this point i have to talk a little about what threads to use to bind books. i know this is not the best photo to show all the options but it's all i could find at the moment. the white thread on the spool is waxed linen thread for book binding. the piece of black string is waxed cotton cord which is much thicker than the linen thread and good to use too. then there is some colourful twine which can be used too but i'd suggest waxing it first with a piece of beeswax (i use a little candle stump). to wax thread just run it across the wax several times to give it an even coat and then pull the waxed thread though a piece of folded paper towel to take off any excess if there should be any. i've also successfully used crochet thread which is more on the thin side but also very strong. what i did was take a fine crochet hook and make a looong crochet chain. then i used that to bind my journal. there are many options.
the general rule of thumb would be this:
test the strength of whatever material you want to use by wrapping it around both your hands and trying to break it without cutting your fingers. if it holds you can use it, if it breaks find something that does not. (i learned this in this fabulous book which i'd recommend to anyone who wants a good book on bookbinding.)
do not use dental floss! i know there are loads of tutorials that suggest using dental floss but it's no good. first, it's made to break when it snags on something - you'd hurt your teeth and gums if it didn't - and second, it's rather "sharp" and tends to literally cut through the folds of your paper.
take a length of thread about three times the length of your leporello spine and a little extra. thread the needle you want to use. make sure the eye is big enough for your thread and i like to use one that's more on the blunt side - like a darning needle - so i don't accidentally stab/split the thread when i have to go through the same hole twice.
3-hole pamphlet stitch:
please be aware that there is a difference between a 3-hole pamphlet stitch and a figure-8 stitch! yes, they both require 3 holes, but i see so many tutorials that claim to teach beginner bookbinders a 3-hole pamphlet stitch when they are actually doing a figure-8 stitch, and frankly: it makes me a little angry.
a pamphlet stitch is better!
a figure-8 stitch is fine too, it works. but a pamphlet stitch is better. and whatever stitch you want to use - you could at least get their names right when you make instructions for other people so they know what they're learning... just saying...
go through the center hole from the inside to the outside. leave enough of the end so you don't accidentally pull it out.
you could start from the outside too if you wanted to use the tail ends as decorative feature. since i have an envelope in the center of my signature it will hide the knot and tail ends.
go into the left or right hole from the outside to the inside. which one does not matter, i automatically tend to go in the right one first for some reason.
on the inside: skip the center hole and go to the outside through the left hole (the last remaining empty one).
go in through the center hole again from the outside to the inside. to make sure you haven't stabbed/split your thread gently pull a little on the thread that's already there, either from the outside or the inside, wherever you have more give - if you stabbed/split your thread you will notice then and it's easy to fix. you should never tie off your binding when you know you've stabbed/split your thread.
on the inside: arrange the tail ends so that there is one each to the left and right of the strand running across the center stitch. one of the tail ends should be long (to bind more signatures with), the other needs to be only 5-8cm - 2-3" long to tie a knot with.
gently tighten your binding, make sure there are no loops caught around the corners of pages or leporello base or on paper clips. (that happened to me a lot...)
tie a square knot - google it if you don't know how to do a square knot. trim the tail ends to roughly 3-4cm - 1-1 1/2". waxed thread should not untie itself but if you're worried anyway you can put a dot of strong glue on the knot.
since the knot is tied around the strand running across it will not be able to wiggle its way to the outside of the signature.
the first signature is stitched in place.
i use glue or double sided tape to close the envelope in the center of my signatures around the binding.
in the above picture you can see that i sort of forgot to line up one of my shorter pages with the holes i poked. it's only stitched in through one hole while it should really be stitched in through two. this is not really a problem but the page will be a little wobbly which is why i decided to use a 5-hole pamphlet stitch for the rest of the signatures.
5-hole pamphlet stitch:
here i'm going to show you a 5-hole pamphlet stitch but you can basically go up to as many holes as you want with the very same technique as long as you have an odd number of stitches. it starts and ends the same way as the 3-hole pamphlet stitch but just goes further to the left and right.
arrange your signature, line up all your pages the right way and make sure that all the undersized pages line up with at least 2 holes in your template.
secure the template and the signature with paper clips and poke your holes.
go through the center hole from the inside to the outside.
go back to the inside through one of the holes to the left or right of the center. again, which one you go for first does not matter. i went for the right one first again.
above you can see how i have the rest of my leporello base folded up as i sew the signature. holding on to everything as you work gets a little more fiddly with each signature you add but it's totally managable and i'll show a picture of how i hold the whole thing while i work later. just make sure you turn the base facing the right way each time before you add another signature and make sure the signature itself is facing the right way too.
from the inside to the outside go through the next hole in the same direction. if you have more than 5 holes all together (7 or 9 or even 11 or more) continue going up and down until you reach the last hole. then you go up and down through all the holes in the other direction until you come out through the hole next to the center.
skip the center hole and repeat sewing up and down through all the holes on the other side.
when you stitched through all the holes in your signature go back through the center hole.
sorry, i forgot to take the picture before pulling the needle through.
as you can see here my stitching is not yet as tight as it should be. gently pull and tug back and forth until the binding is nice and tight, but not so tight that it buckles the pages, of course.
arrange your tail ends to the left and right of the strand running across the center hole and tie a square knot.
trim the tail ends to about 3-4cm - 1-1 1/2" and, if you have an envelope, seal it shut. if you don't have an envelope in the center of your signature you can embellish the tail ends by sandwiching them between two pieces of punched out paper shapes, like hearts, flowers, leaves, butterflies, geometrical shapes, etc. sewing the signatures works exactly the same way if you start from the outside and you could embellish the tail ends with beads and charms.
here you can see how i have the leporello base arranged as i'm preparing to sew the third signature. i have the lenght of it (the spines) facing me and i'm sort of standing it up on the various folds to keep it from closing on me.
this spread is the back of the joining piece that holds the two leporello base pieces together. i have an optional insert here so naturally i'm not going to place a signature here. but even if you don't have an optional insert i would not recommend sewing a signature into this fold. the fold is created by the joining piece that has pockets and is most likely made of thinner material than the leporello base. it might not stand up to holding a signature. without the optional inserts i've used this spread to glue down pockets or little note-pad folders:
you could stitch a signature into the folds to the left and right of the joining piece...
...but i have never done that yet because i thought 4 signatures were enough and i didn't want the whole thing to get too bulky, especially when the pockets fill up. instead i've used these two panels for even more pockets and/or envelopes:
now your leporello insert is basically finished.
now you can embellish and add as much or little decoration and ephemera as you want.
i like to slide die-cut ticket strips in between some of the pages of the sewn in signatures. you could place them before sewing but i find it easier that way.
i just hold a few of the pages together and pull them up just a tiny bit to have room to slide in the ticket strip. obviously the distance between the stitches needs to be bigger than the width of the ticket strip. then i slide the strip up or down to one of the stitches and "lock" it in place with one of the notches.
i often fold over excess paper when i make my pages, rather than cutting it off. sometimes i leave them as fold outs and sometimes i'll glue or stitch the fold along the top and bottom edge to create a pocket. i filled this one with a post card and decorated the edge of the pocket with a trim (tatting or crochet in this case). you could use an on-the-edge die (before assembling the book), a border punch, etc.
i decorated the slots in the joining piece with file tabs and put in some post cards and playing cards. i also taped some little pictures (overview images from a big calendar) on some of the leporello base panels using washi tape. they could be removed and used elsewhere.
i like to use acetate or semi-transparent materials like vellum. here i made an acetate file tab that has a tiny paper strip on it. you could also use a permanent pen to write on it.
remember when i said you should be careful about having stuff sticking out over the leporello base? this is the left edge of the insert and you can see that there's a green file tab sticking out just a tad. that's okay. it sticks out probably 1/8" but i would not recommend having anything stick out further. (except for squishy things like fabric/ribbon decorations on paper clips.) why? because it will get in the way of the spine. on the right edge you can have as much stuff sticking out almost as far as you want. within reason...
i will make a flip-through video of this leporello book to show you more details of the signatures and the papers i've used.
now all that's left to do is gluing the leporello insert into the cover.
in part 1 of this series - making the cover - i said that i make the spine usually something between 3,5cm - 5cm - 1 1/4" - 2".
this insert is already 5cm - 2" in its relaxed and unused state. if i had made a cover for it before hand if would never fit. the leporello will expand as someone adds more ephemera and/or pictures to it. this is why it is a good idea to make the insert - including all the embellishments! - before actually making the cover.
this is what happens when a leporello insert expands beyond the capacity of its spine:
it just will not shut any more. leporello books are not like "alligator mouth" journals that will stay open because of all the stuff that's in them but the spine stays nice and narrow. since leporello books have signatures facing both ways it will expand on both sides, the spine area and the opening, and it needs a spine that allows it to do so.
this is what the above leporello looked like after it went through a little surgery:
all the signatures have enough room to expand now. i should add that this one is especially huge because the leporello base is much longer than the one i'm working on for this guide.
it is only about a head shorter than i am tall and has room for nine! signatures. from experience i cannot recommend making a leporello book this big - it's just really difficult to work with.
anyway, for our project i would probably go with a 7,5cm - 3" spine just to be sure. if i had made the perfect cover for my insert already i would have been forced to put less pages and ephemera in...
for this particular leporello base i found an old book that had exactly the right dimensions for it and i thought it matched the base and signatures really well:
i had to make some adjustments to the inside covers and the inside of the spine after taking out the text block, of course:
i inked the edges of the back cover paper in a shade of pink that matches the pink of my leporello base. this is where i will adhere the base so i only had to do the edges in case some of cover paper showed after gluing. for the front cover i cut a piece of green paper.
then i tore a piece of slightly textured cotton fabric in pale pink to cover up the spine area. only the edge that covers the green paper will be visible. that the edge covering the back cover is a little wonky doesn't matter.
then i remembered that i wanted an elastic closure. i measured 2,5cm - 1" from the outside edge and the top and bottom edge and carefully cut a slit wide enough for my elastic (plain white elastic roughly 1cm - 1/4" wide) through the cover.
then i carefully sliced only the top layer of the back cover as wide as the slit and roughly 2,5cm - 1" toward the center of the cover (as shown above) to peel a few layers of the book board away. this indentation allows room for the elastic to be sandwiched between the cover and the back of the leporello base.
i poked the ends of the elastic through the slits with my pokey tool, holding it kind of sideways. (sorry, i forgot to take a picture of this.) make sure your elastic isn't twisted anywhere.
i put the finished leporello insert into the cover, closed it and adjusted the length of the elastic by pulling on one end or loosening it until i was happy with the tension. then i removed the insert again, trimmed the elastic and glued the ends into the indentations i had made in the back cover using a strong glue.
instead of cutting slits and poking an elastic ribbon through, you could also insert eyelets and use an elastic cord or insert only one eyelet through the center of the spine and use an elastic loop that goes around the width of the book rather than the height.
now i'm finally ready to attach my leporello insert to my cover. this is actually not difficult at all.
i'm sorry about the blurry picture!
place the insert in front of you with the back panel facing you.
put lots of glue on the back panel. i use a strong double sided tape - the kind of montage tape you get at the hardware store that's used to stick mirrors to the bathroom wall. i haven't tried using wet glue yet but if you do, make sure you have enough experience with your glue. it should not be too wet and cause the leporello base to warp or wrinkle and you should be sure that it really holds well once it's dry and of course give it enough time to dry before you flip through your finished book.
do you see how i have not gone all the way to the fold edge with the double sided tape? i did this because the signature that's right behind that panel tends to want to lift the fold off the back cover. you can see a close-up of this happening on one of my older books:
can you see the white tape between the over and the stitching on the blue base? (this is looking more of a mess than it normally would because i already had to perform some surgery on this one.) i didn't know this yet when i made the above book but the base material seems to want to take the shape of the signature and it will lift the base off the cover along the fold a bit. this is not a problem - the insert holds just fine - it just doesn't look so nice when you can see the tape in the gap. a just under 2cm - 1/2" gap should be totally enough.
now you just peel off the tape backing - or apply your glue - and center it carefully on top of your back cover. make sure that both your cover and your leporello insert are right side up.
when you use double sided tape you need a very steady hand and good eyeballing abilities because with the strong tape you're supposed to use it's stuck wherever it's down. with liquid glue you have a little time to push the leporello insert into place in case you put it down wonky at first.
i'm sorry to say that this does not get a lot easier or a lot less awkward with practice but it helps a little...
you can see how the leporello base takes the shape of the signature and lifts a little off the edge of the cover. there is no tape visible and the pink edge of the inside cover paper isn't very noticable.
phew! the leporello book is finished!
congratulations if you've made it this far!
if you have any questions about any of the techniques or instructions or if i described anything in a confusing and unclear way, please don't hesitate to ask! and if you find an error, please let me know as well and i'll check and correct it.
you can leave a comment on any of the tutorial posts but i think you won't get a notification when i answer so it's probably safer to leave questions on my facebook page.
there will be another little optional add-on post coming in the next few days which i will link here as well.
thank you for sticking with me and my apologies for taking soo very long to finish this series. i hope you'll find it useful all the same and if you make a leporello book or anything inspired by it i'd love to see what you create! feel free to post pictures on my facebook page as well!