A DIY guide to making miniature book replicas

Here is some truth about me: I forget things a a lot of. Really all the time. Maybe it’s an ADHD thing. I forget to text people back; I forget the stories I told. I forget my friends birthdays – sorry friends! I love you! I forget what season of a TV show I’m on and if I had lunch today. And maybe more than anything, I forget what books I’ve read.

When I spent way too much money on books, it wasn’t a big problem; I could just check my shelves. But last year, when I started borrowing books from the library, I realized I kept putting books on my waiting list just to get five chapters and remind myself I’d already read them. The problem got worse when I started checking out e-books from the library and reading them without ever seeing their covers.

Then, one of those days, when I accidentally landed on the TikTok page for smart straight moms, I saw a video of a woman making little replicas of the books she’d been reading that year and putting them in a Decoration threw pitcher. I scoffed at her glass — is it even TikTok, if you’re not judging, just a little bit? But I knew right away that I wanted to start making little books.

I started with stationery, some crayons and a dream. Those first books I made were cute, but very crooked. They were unevenly cut with sewing scissors and held together with staples. They’re not even open. I can’t do these things halfway! So I bought some craft supplies and tried to remember what I learned in my hour-long bookbinding class in college. Now every time I finish a book I work on its tiny counterpart and I have a shelf full of minis that make me happy every time I look at them.

wanna do one with me

Today we are going to recreate the cover of Strange girl out, a pulp fiction classic by Ann Bannon. I haven’t read this one in years, but the cover is so deliciously muddy I couldn’t help it.

Three photos illustrating the small book making process described in this post

First we’ll make our inner sides. From your white paper, cut 15 sheets, each measuring four by three centimetres. I use a ruler and a precision knife, but you can also use scissors.

Three photos illustrating the small book making process described in this post

Fold your sheets in half hamburger-style (did you do that in your elementary school?). If you want to go fancier, use a crease bone to set the crease. I use the little red tool that came with my iPhone’s screen protector. Then sort your pages into three sets of five sheets each. Stack the five leaves together.

Three photos illustrating the small book making process described in this post

Once you have your little signatures of five sheets each, you can sew each signature together. I usually use white yarn, but here I used red for visibility. My stitches are definitely not a proper bookbinding technique, but they work! If you want to be fancy, you can make a miniature awl by sticking the eye of a needle into a cork and poking your holes before sewing them together so you don’t crumple your sides as you sew.

Once you’ve sewn and tied off your signatures, set them aside. You might want to place them under a heavy book – or secure them with a staple – so they stay flat later.

A collage of photos illustrating the bookmaking process described in this post

Now it’s time to design your cover! I use Canva, but you can easily use Microsoft Word if you’re comfortable with images and text boxes. I find my covers on Goodreads. If you’re an artist and don’t have a printer, you can also draw your cover by hand! The cover should be slightly larger than your signatures, so the front and back should be about 2.4 cm wide and 3.4 cm high, with a spine of about 1/2 inch. Print or draw your cover on card stock if you have it. Trim your cover.

A collage of photos illustrating the bookmaking process described in this post

I find that scoring the card stock makes folding a lot easier. Place the cover right side up and use a nail or the blunt end of your needle to press four points into your cover to define the edges of the spine. Turn the book over and run the blunt end of the needle along the ruler to score your two fold lines.

Now that you have your cover, it’s time to put your signatures together! Press your three signatures together, run some glue down the spine of the book, and then place them right into your cover. Wipe away excess glue and lay your book under something heavy to dry. We made it!

A 1:12 scale Ikea style bookshelf full of small books

These books fit on some 1:12 scale dollhouse bookshelves like this one I found on Etsy!

One day I may get as far as printing a chapter of the actual book. For now, these tiny blank pages are there to do what I like. How will you fill yours?

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