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Bookbinding 101: Accordion Book

by Grace Bonney

Over the past few weeks, we’ve dipped our toes into the world of bookbinding. After mastering a five-hole pamphlet stitch and Japanese four-hole binding, it’s time to tackle the final introductory process. This week, we’ll put aside the needle and thread and explore a book constructed without a single stitch. The accordion book is a folded structure; the book block is made by simply folding a sheet of paper back and forth in page-width increments. This project is, perhaps, a bit more involved than those of weeks past, but it allows me to introduce a few additional basic materials found in every book artist’s studio and a handy technique or two. I hope you’ll enjoy the project! — Pooja

Photos and styling by Claire Dalgliesh

The full how-to continues after the jump . . .

(See my “Tools” and “Materials” notes from my Five-Hole Pamphlet Stitch tutorial.)


  • 1 bonefolder — a flat, polished tool made of bone or plastic used to score a fold in the paper into a permanent position
  • 1 pair of scissors
  • 1 steel ruler
  • 1 brush



  • 2 pieces 8 1/2″ x 5 3/4″ book board, a layered stock specifically used for book covers
  • paper-backed book cloth (The book cloth I used for this project was purchased at Mee Tak Company Limited in Hong Kong. Mee Tak is a wholesale supplier of upholstery fabric, but sells book cloth and papers from Italy and Japan in small quantities.)
  • 2 sheets 8 1/4″ x 22″ paper
  • polyvinyl acetate (PVA) glue




1. Using your book board as a guide, cut the book cloth so that it measures 1″ larger all around.

2. Dilute a small amount of PVA glue with water. (Too much glue can saturate and warp the book board and the book cloth.) Carefully place the book board in the center of the book cloth and press down. Use your bonefolder to smooth out any imperfections (air bubbles, ripples, etc.).

3. Trim all four corners of the book cloth along the diagonal, using your book board as a guide.

4. Lift one edge of the book cloth and press it onto the back of the board. Again, use your bonefolder to smooth and secure. Repeat for all four sides. Tap each corner with the flat of your bonefolder so they aren’t too pointy.

5. Repeat steps 1–4. You will now have two hardcovers.

Book Block

6. Fold one of the strips of paper in half. Fold one edge back towards the initial fold. The top half of the paper now has two pages; each is 1/4 the width of the total sheet.

7. Flip the sheet over and repeat the procedure.

8. Repeat steps 6–7. You will now have two four-page accordions.

9. To connect the accordion units, use a 2-inch “hinge.” Glue the units to the hinge. You will now have one eight-page accordion.

10. Again, dilute a small amount of PVA glue with water. Carefully place the book block in the center of the hardcovers and press down. Use your bonefolder to smooth out any imperfections.

Additional Resources

Japanese Bookbinding: Instructions from a Master Craftsman by Kojiro Ikegami, a book I recommended last week, has a section with photos on how to prepare fabric for book covers.

Structure of the Visual Book and Text in the Book Format by Keith Smith include strategies for organizing pictures and text in a book or book-like object. These are brilliant books about book arts’ concepts and have heavily influenced my thinking about bookmaking.

The Thread That Binds: Interviews with Private Practice Bookbinders by Pamela Train Leutz discovers the challenges, successes and “common threads” among 21 independent bookbinders.

Bookbinding Now is a New York-based community podcast posted every other Wednesday.

About Pooja: Pooja Makhijani is a writer, editor, teacher and New Yorker living in Singapore. She blogs about arts and culture (and the book arts) in Singapore at notabilia. She blogs about family, travel and design at linsiwolsie.

About Claire: Claire Dalgliesh is an Australian designer and blogger currently based in sunny Singapore. She fills her time exploring her new home country, crafting up a storm in her studio and, of course, sharing all that and more on her blog, Fellow Fellow.

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  • Lovely lovely lovely – your presentation is such a pleasure to look at.

    I will admit that while I like the Accordian fold well enough – for me it’s one of those binding that just never feels complete unless I am adding tags and flag and all that other good stuff to it. LOL

    It’s the perfect base to start off from – it has infinite possibility..

    Thanks for this wonderful series – I do look forward to what you will be doing each week.

  • This tutorial is great, I did a couple of days of book binding at Art School, which would of been 8 years ago now. This tutorial makes me want to have another go! :) Thank you

  • @Ashley, the shirt is from Kookai, one of my favorite French chains.

    @Last Door Studio, I agree with you re: tags and flags and all that jazz. I love the accordion fold for two reasons: its sculptural quality and its versatility.

  • If book cloth is not readily available, would it be better to use fabric as-is, or adhere fabric to some paper first? And if so, what is the best way to do that?

  • I’ve really enjoyed this series. Thank you so much for making it and providing such good photos of the process.

    Is there any reason NOT to use regular fabric for the cover?

  • My husband, sister and I all made a book last night! Thank you for the great tutorial! They came out super cute. I can’t wait to make one for all of my friends, families and as a scrapbook for special trips!

  • @Jeanne, regular fabric was absorb too much of the glue — it’s much more porous than paper-backed cloth — and will warp.

    @Taylor, oh! Can you send me a pic?

  • Your style is unique compared to other people
    I’ve read stuff from. I appreciate you for posting when you have the opportunity, Guess I will just bookmark this page.

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  • so lovely, thank you! May I know where I can find this place called Mee Tak in HK?

  • Hi Pooja,

    Firstly I love the book style (I like red). Secondly I’m intrigued by the final layout and my question is:

    Should the two book covers be left separate, in order to write on both sides of the paper and so maintain the accordion feel. Or should they be glued together to form a “normal” book cover – which would mean loosing out on some of the paper.

    I hope that question makes sense?


  • Nate, I think I understand your question! No, the covers should not be glued to one another. The book should remain long and be able to open and close like an accordion.

  • This is a great tutorial! I work with a community arts program for people of all ages and abilities and our project next week is an accordion fold book. I would love to use this tutorial with the group. Many thanks for such a clear presentation.

  • Thanks for these very clear instructions – makes a beautiful book! Next time I may also try adapting this process to make a pretty accordion folder to keep receipts and such. Thanks again!

  • I can’t wait to make this book. I took an art class recently and attached photos of my work to an accordion book I had never used. This type of presentation of my paintings was so great, showing my paintings all in a line. And then flip it over to keep going. I used adhesive photo corners for each page.

    I need to make another book for my next class. I will use your instructions.


  • If you do not have book boards could something like cardboard from cereal boxes work potentially?