Buttonhole Stitch Journal

Self-Study Class Includes Lifetime Access, Online Community & More!

4 Lessons – $55.25 $65

Discover the art and tactile pleasure of bookbinding. Bari Zaki introduces you to an accessible technique where you fold, sew, decorate and complete your own handmade book. The organic style of the buttonhole stitch method creates a naturally beautiful object that works well as a sketchbook, photo album or journal.

Now available as a self-study class.

TEACHER: Bari Zaki

Class Description

In this bookbinding class we will be making a beautiful handmade journal using the buttonhole-stitch technique – a non-adhesive style binding.

It’s a delightful binding style (no glue!) and the book we’ll make is wonderful for journaling, sketching, doodling, drawing, or to use as a photo album or keepsake book. With the little window on the spine, it might be fun to alternate the colors of your pages. It also makes for a great gift anytime of the year!

I look forward to sharing my love of paper and making books with you in this two week course!


Class Itinerary

Lesson 1 – Folding Signatures
Today we’re going to create our book pages by folding three of our full-size sheets of paper in half, in half, in half, and in half again until we reach the finished size for our book pages.

Lesson 2 – Creating the Book Cover
Today we’re going to create the decorative cover for our books. And we begin first with making a paper-sandwich with our decorative paper, twin-tac, & water-color paper. Then, we’ll cut and fold to create our cover!

Lesson 3 – Sewing Your Book
Today we’re going to pierce the holes in our signatures for sewing and sew the book together with the buttonhole stitch.

Lesson 4 – The Finish
Today we begin briefly with reveling in our happy moment, we’ve made a book!  And now we get to finish off the inside of the covers by creating a pocket and adding a ribbon closure.

– 4 sheets of Stonehenge paper, or drawing paper that is about 22″x 30″

– 1 sheet of decorative paper; Japanese, hand-marbled, or wrapping paper

– 1 sheet of twin-tac adhesive – size 18″x 24″

– Optional: 1 roll of double-sided film adhesive by 3M (can always improvise with strips from the twin-tac) 1/2″ size

– 1 bonefolder

– 1 shipping clerk’s knife – found at hardware stores or Home Depot

– 1 lightweight awl

– 1 xacto blade – Number 11

1 metal ruler – 12″ or 15″

– 2 triangle rulers; any degree is good, just be sure one has a 16″ side & one with at least an 8″

– 10 yards waxed-linen thread, color of your choosing – bead stores, Joann’s, or Royalwood if you want to purchase an entire spool.

– 1 pencil

– 2 yards decorative ribbon of your choosing – I like to use Italian Cotton ribbon by Carta Inc.

– 1 small scissors

– 4 large paperclips

– 1 tapestry needle, size 18


A Note from Carla

This is completely optional, but I wanted to let you know that Bari owns a retail store in Chicago, Illinois. She has put together a book-binding kit for $40 that you can purchase online if you like. The link is:


Alternatively, you can purchase an awl or a shipping clerk’s knife individually at the same link (for $5 and $14, respectively).

She also sells bonefolders and waxed linen thread.

Bari Zaki has been a professional bookbinder for 28 years, and a paper person her entire life. Her dad, a printer, regularly brought home paper in various forms: stacks of paper, scraps of paper, pads of paper…and assorted printed samples. This was her FAVORITE part of the day.
In Bari’s bedroom she had a little walk-in-closet, where she often hung out for hours, amusing herself arranging all her paper samples. She still thinks of her bookbinding studio as a larger version of that closet. Bari attended the University of Iowa for a couple of years, but continued to feel restless and decided to come back home to Chicago. It was there she met a friend for coffee who had brought her a blank journal. The friend had made the first entry; a doodle with an endearing sentiment, and it was that afternoon she refers to as her “Dorothy Moment.”
She instantly sought somewhere to learn about bookbinding and discovered Artist Bookworks (which has since become Columbia College’s Book & Paper Arts Graduate Programme). After completing various classes and workshops in a wonderfully Bohemian milieu, Bari opened Ardour Bookbinding, now Bari Zaki Studio; Bookbinding Studio & Shop, where she now offers a range of classes in Hand-bookbinding, Calligraphy, Paper-marbling, and Drawing. Today, her long-term clients include photographers, galleries, writers, celebrants and paper people – appreciators of hand-crafted objects and beautiful presentation.

Nuts & Bolts

  • This class is now available as a self-study class.
  • Immediately upon class signup, you will receive access to the class videos and corresponding materials.
  • A private Facebook group will be available for you to (optionally) share your artwork and enjoy and learn from the artwork of others. You may also email your teacher directly with questions or feedback.
  • You will have indefinite access to this class.
“I adored Bari's class. She has a lovely presence, and the process she showed us for making books is delightful, engrossing, and accessible. ” — Beth W.
“Fantastic online workshop!” — Jeriel O.
“What a fine class, with instructions to follow along easily even for people like me with sometimes two left hands.” — Sigrid H.