The Pamphlet Stitch

I find that I’m often wanting to show people how to sew a pamphlet binding so i thought I would gather together some resources here.  I first learned this stitch abt. 10 yrs ago in a workshop with genius book alchemist, Peter Madden at the Fine Arts Work Center and it’s been supremely handy for making blank books and chapbooks, cards, etc.  There’s something very nimble and immediate about this structure and it can be adapted for larger dimensions by increasing the number and size of the stitches proportionately to the paper size and weight.  The main thing is just that there be an odd number of stitches.

Here is a sampling:

Instructions from UCSD Preservation Education and Awareness website

a cheery chronicle of a small blue notebook, with photos, from  My Handbound Books

A pamphlet stitch instruction sheet from Booklyn Artists Alliance (mainly on p.2, but lots of other useful info there too)

and another excellent account, from Reframing Photography

and of course a YouTube video, How to Sew a Pamphlet Stitch, from Charmaine Martinez

More pictures to come, but for now, here is a simple pamphlet made from paper bags.

Jen Bervin in Beyond Perfect-Bound, a conversation with Nancy Kuhl and Andrew Mauzey and Michael Dinsmoor on the Poetry Foundation website, says, of Emily Dickinson’s fascicles, “her manuscript groupings feel considered from inner necessity. Some private coherence the poems called for and the simple act of a stitch. Why are these 21 poems held together? Those 10? Or those 8? If those decisions are in the poet’s hands, she can respond purely to the work, to what its needs are.”

Hope you enjoy making some of your own.  Here in SF, you can learn this and much more at the SF Center for the Book.

here’s a video about how to lay out pages in inDesign so they can automatically paginate.


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