Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Altered Book/ Mini Album Binding Options

If you're like me, you probably started the BFF Altered Book/Mini Album Challenge with some ideas on how you wanted to finish off the book in the binding department.

AND again if you're like me by now you have figured out that your original idea is out the window because the stack of pages has long past exceeded what your binding will handle.

So I wanted to touch on several different options for binding this or any other altered book, mini album or other multi page project you might be working on.

Hand Stitching - Now I'm only touching on this briefly because it's a world onto it's self. There are countless variations and examples on how to create a hand stitched binding. In the future I do plan on sharing a few specific examples but for now I'm just putting it out there as one option of many. If you are seriously interested in stitched bindings then I would suggest looking into one or more of the books on the market that is dedicated solely to hand stitched bindings.

Binding Machines - If available these machines make binding books a breeze! Spiral, comb, wire, tape and even glue binding are options Usually the machine will punch and bind the pages together. There are many binders on the market most notably in the craft area is Bind it All by Zutter. I love my BIA and use it quite frequently. Actually, this was how I originally intended to bind my book but I didn't have any O Wire large enough to accommodate the bulk of my finished pages.

Book Rings - These are a great option because they come in a wide variety of sizes and they allow you to add and remove pages at will. There is also a nice freedom to add as many book rings to your project you might need or desire. One or two rings (placed in each corner) make a nice flip book, three or more placed along the side of your project yield a more "book" feel. Of course, you can always cover the rings with ribbons, fibers or other materials which is a very popular look.

NOTE: If you do add/remove pages often though after time some book rings do tend to loose their holding power and will pop open randomly usually at the most in opportune times. I have had this happen more than once ;) But in general they are a wonderful way to bind all sorts of projects.

Alternative Bindings...

Now in the past I have also used some bindings that aren't as widely used as those mentioned above. Several of these offer inexpensive and easy to use alternatives.

Ball Chain - Yep, it works perfectly for binding books. You can add one, two, or more to your project.

Ribbon or Fiber - Another popular easy fix binding that allows you to color coordinate to your project!

Jewelry Chain - Yes, I said Jewelry Chain! With the explosion of jewelry making in the recent months there is a treasure trove of new and vintage jewelry chain perfectly suitable for binding books available. You will need to make sure you have a chain sturdy enough to hold up to rigours use ~ after all your project is going to be admired by the masses ;) Another cool option with using jewelry chain ... you can add all sorts of charms using jump rings!!

Leather Straps or Hinges - I love this type of binding. It adds a very rustic feel to your finished project.

Screw Posts - These are the long silvery posts that are most commonly found in scrapbooks. They are available in 1/4", 1/2", 1" on up. The longest posts I've found have been 3" in length but you can always add 1/4" or 1/2" extenders if needed.

NOTE: Since these are usually made out of aluminium the threads are easily crossed or misaligned making the extensions a bear to work with at times. It's always best to buy the length needed if at all possible.

Wire - This is a very versatile option as I have use wire in a couple different ways.

You can simply cut lengths of wire, thread your pages onto each wire and twist it closed. Very secure and easy fix but sometimes not the look you're going for.

You can also create your own wire spirals which is what I'm going to share with you today!

Hand Crafted Wire Spiral Binding

Yes, you can have the professional finished look of wire spiral bindings in a few simple steps.

It's a perfect alternative when you need a custom binding.


Heavy Gauge Wire


Cut Off Tool or Heavy Duty Utility Scissors

Cylindrical Object (to wrap the wire around)


1. You will need to determine how large your spiral needs to be to accommodate your project. To do so stack your pages and measure how tall the pile is. You will need to locate a round cylindrical object a bit larger than your project. This could be anything from a glass bottle, spray can, spice jar, tube of lipstick, etc. Anything round and sturdy enough to wrap with wire.

I am using one of those orange/amber pharmaceutical bottles that medicine comes in.

2. Determine the number of holes you are going to put in your pages. This will determine how many spirals you need to wrap. I have 6 holes in my pages so I will need to wrap 7 spirals. My holes were originally punched with my Bind It All before I began the book. I "knew" that was how I wanted to bind my book ;) If you don't have a BIA available my next best suggestion would be to measure and mark where your holes need to be punched. Punch the holes using a Crop-a-Dial (cuts like butter!) or other hand hole punch.

BFF Album Challenge #10 003

3. Bend a 1/2" long piece of the wire back onto it's self on the leading end of the wire. Now bend this "hook" in a 90 degree turn. This will be used to secure your pages later on.

BFF Binding 004

4. Wrap the wire tightly around your cylinder keeping an even spacing between the wires as shown. You are going to wrap enough spirals for each hole in your page plus at LEAST one extra. If you have extra in the end you can always trim the excess.

*Remember - more is always better ~ you can always cut off excess but you can't add more loops once cut!

BFF Binding 001

5. Now that you have your spiral made it's time to start threading it through your pages. Ensure that all of the pages are in correct order. Flip the stack over so you're working from the back of the book to the front of the book. Thread the wire through each page feeding it through one hole at a time.

BFF Binding 002

You will continue to do so until the wire has been fed through each hole on every page.... It really doesn't take as long as it sounds.

BFF Binding 003

6. After all the pages have been added you will now "Lock" your binding. Open the hook we made in the beginning and capture the second spiral in this loop. Close the loop and now that end of the binding is locked.

Cut off any excess wire on the other end ~ create a hook on that end and loop it through the second to last spiral. Close the loop around that wire and secure as you did the other end.

Your pages are now secure!

Now flip open each page and adjust the wires if necessary bending so each page opens freely.

You're all set to go.

BFF Binding 004


You've just created your first Custom Hand Crafted Spiral Bound project!

BFF Binding 005

So there you go...

Several alterantives to binding any project you might be working on.

Hope this helps give you ideas on current projects and those yet to be.


  1. Love the idea. I don't have a BIA (yet) and this gives me a great alternative.

  2. It looks great and I'm planning no trying it! I would never have thought to try doing a spiral binding by hand. Could you be more specific as to what would constitute a "heavy gauge" wire?

  3. Excellent, Roni!!! Thanks for all the ideas!!!

    BTW--I started my final spread last night--painted some cardstock with Claudine Hellmuth paint in Yellow Pastel and Dab of Yellow--think that's yellow enough?? Hope to finish the spread tonight--will let you know!!!

  4. A drill press is another great way to cut your holes. Great tutorial on making your own spiral binding.

  5. very slick Roni, this is going in my gotta try folder. Looking at this folder I'm seeing your name most of the time. Thanks.

  6. so I quoted Homer Simpson when I saw this: DOH!!
    now that you've blogged about it, it seems so obvious but nope, never even thought about it.
    thank you


Thanks for your thoughts and comments!