Monday, February 28, 2011

Panel Book Tutorial

A number of you have expressed interest in the Panel Book, so I finally got my act together enough to take a few photos and post a tutorial. This is not my invention, and I learned it from Elissa Campbell, at Blue Roof Designs, who contributed a gorgeous example to my book, Adventures in Mixed Media. Here's what you do:

1. Cut a piece of watercolor or other heavy paper 8"x22". Fold a 1/2" tab on one end; then measure three 7" sections and make folds at the three 7" marks. This should give you another 1/2" tab at the other end of the sheet of paper. You can cut an angle at the top and bottom of the 1/2" tabs if you like. Here is what it looks like:

Click on the diagram, or any of the photos, to get a larger image.

It is 8" high, so each panel is 8"x7", and each tab extends 1/2" at each end.

2. Repeat. Now you have two accordion pieces each with three panels. Here is how it looks folded:

3. Before joining the two accordion pieces, giving you a 6-panel book, mark and cut each panel according to the diagram:

The fold line is in the MIDDLE of the 7" panel.
First mark it like this with a pencil:

Then cut on the red lines indicated in this diagram:

Here is what it looks like, cut but not folded yet:

4. Now fold at the fold lines, but not on the panel itself. I do this by folding the page so that the creases on either side line up, leaving the panel flat.

Here is what it looks like standing up after you've folded it:

5. Repeat the marking, cutting, and folding on all six panels. You may want to mark them all first, then cut them all, then fold. In any case, you end up with two accordion folds, each with three panels.

6. Join the two accordions together by cutting one tab off of ONE of them. Glue the tab of the other to the non-tabbed end of the first one. Make sure your panels are all lining up the same way.

7. Make two book boards that are 8.25" tall x 5.5" wide. Cover one side with decorative paper (I'm not including instructions for that here. If you need them, e-mail or leave a comment). Cut end papers (or cover linings) that are 1/4" smaller than the book boards, 8"x5.25". Check to make sure they fit. BEFORE gluing down the end papers, glue the end tabs of your accordion onto the book boards. The tabs are sandwiched between the book board and the end paper. Maybe these photos will make it clear. Here's a top view:

And a view from inside the back cover:

And here is a top view of the finished book, showing off the panel configuration.

Let me know if any of this needs further explanation. Thanks for visiting!


  1. The tutorial is very clear and the end result is spectacular. Thank you so much for posting it, and for the inspiration.

  2. Thank you so much for this tutorial. Can't wait to try it!
    Annie - the Netherlands

  3. Hi Jane,
    Thanks so much for this great tutorial on the panel book! Easy to follow with clear instructions and diagrams.
    Haven't tried it yet but will soon.

  4. Thank you. This is going to be fun!...bea

  5. I just wanted to let everyone know that the panel book wasn't my invention either - it was created by Hedi Kyle, the Queen of alternative book structures. She's seriously beyond amazing.


  6. Wow! This is the second book tutorial and I love it! (The first one was on the Sketchbook Challenge blog.) The first time I looked at this I couldn't figure out what to do, but now this second time, everything is clear. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I came across this via Pinterest and it's perfect timing. If I'd read it when you wrote it, I wouldn't have had any interest in making a book. Now, as my interests have morphed, I can't wait to give it a try. Your directions seem very clear - I'm excited! And THANKS pinterest!

  8. I want to do this, thank you very much!

  9. Hi, as I don't have 22" paper can this be adapted for A4 card or 12x12 paper? I'm useless at that sort of thing, also have you got a video tutorial on youtube or anything please

    thanks for showing us this lovely idea tho!!

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