Basic binding

Note: This is the fourth of a five-part workshop I am doing for a class on community writing this semester.


  • saddle stapler
  • pieces of thread, pre-cut per participant
  • needles
  • 1 piece of card stock and 2 pieces of copy paper (per participant)

Many zines are bound using nothing more than staples. Since your common, everyday desk stapler can’t reach the center of most pieces of paper, a special stapler is used called a long-reach or saddle stapler. It looks like this (we’ll also have one in class today):

A common saddle or long-reach stapler runs about $20-30

But some of the more elaborate zines use a threaded binding, called a saddle stitch or pamphlet stitch. It looks a bit like this:

Image from Eunoia by Christian Bök.

Folks use threaded binding when they are trying to make a more intimate zine; it’s just one other labor intensive way to make a zine stand out. You can use different colored threads or 3- or more holes, to make your zine look more interesting than the standard stapled zine.

There are many decent guides out there for how to make a pamphlet stitch. The one I’ll be using today is from the Brooklyn Arts Alliance.

I’ll walk you through how to make a pamphlet stitch, but the basic premise is that you are attaching folded sheets of paper (called folios) to a cover by sewing one signature (or groups of folded papers). The more folios you have, the thicker the booklet. If you make longer zines or mini-books, your binding method will become necessarily more complex because it will require more signatures to hold it together. But today, we’ll simply sew 2 folios to 1 cover using a single signature. This will make an 8-page zine with a nice card stock cover. Like so:

From Vera Lane Studio.

Remember, if you decide to do this for your zine, you’ll need to pre-copy the pages and sew the binding for each zine (100 copies might make for some sore fingers).  If you’re interested in other, more complex methods check out Ellen Lupton, whose books on indie publishing are wonderful.