Altered Book Art

How to Rescue a Book

Upcycled Journal, Book Journal Vintage, Artist Journal, Vintage Charles Dickens Cover, Writer, Coptic Journal.

I’ve rescued a book! This old Charles Dickens book literally fell apart and I was inspired to upcycle it. This is how I did it;)


Bookbinding lesson #1: don’t pierce your finger with an awl. It hurts. BUT if you were interested in upcycling an old hardcover here is the real Step 1: cut the pages from the binding/cut the hardcover part from the pages. Cut two pieces of paper sized to the old covers and then glue them onto the inside (I used all-purpose tacky glue).




Step 2: so after you’ve glued your paper onto the inside of the cover, it’s time to poke holes! I used a t-ruler to measure where the holes should be and then a $5 awl I bought. Once again: please be careful and do not puncture your own self as you discover the delights of awls😉


Step 3 …. Cut the signatures! I used a rotary blade cutter thingy and size my papers just a tad smaller than the cover size (height stays the same but double your width so you can fold the paper in half) so it fits nicely without poking out. For this particular book I folded three cut sheets into a “signature”-you can do more or less, depends upon your preference.


And Step 4: stitch the signatures together! There are different stitches you can use; I chose the Coptic stitch, but there are several others that are incredibly pretty in an exposed spine (I first cut three holes, then figured out that wasn’t going to work with the stitch so I cut two more and forgot to take a picture). I used my awl to create the holes in the signatures, waxed linen thread, and a bookbinding needle. The last picture shows the book before I attached the other cover.



12 thoughts on “How to Rescue a Book

    1. Oh-so being in a library you might already be familiar with this title (when I worked at B&N I always kept track of new titles in my areas of interest) but I found “Bound” by Erica Ekrem to be very helpful!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No problem! And if you don’t already have a good awl I bought mine from (as well as bookbinding needles and thread). So far it’s been an amazing little tool!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have all the tools. My job at my library is actually Bookbinder- even though it’s mostly fixing older books, I still need all the tools. I bought an awl and a couple other necessities for my home use, and like to work on nonadhesive bindings on my own (no glue woohoo!)

        Liked by 1 person

      3. That’s what I gathered when I looked into it (and I don’t have all the necessary gadgets to do it). I vastly prefer the hand stitched ones😊


      4. But if you do decide to work with glue or paste, get PVA if you’re going to use glue, and make rice paste if your going to use paste (you make it with any kind of rice flour you can buy, and it lasts longer than wheat paste and smells better, imo)

        Liked by 1 person

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