Tutorial: Make an Awesome Bingo Planner

A new year calls for a new planner, and this tutorial from Erin Zamrzla will show you how to create your own — mixed-media style, of course! Originally featured in our winter 2015 edition of Pages magazine, the cover of this custom weekly planner is made from vintage bingo card designs. The unique exposed binding is created using a combination of long and link stitches.

Bonus: You can download the cover and page designs; check the link in the materials list.

bingo planner
Erin Zamrzla’s bingo planner is fun and functional. (Photography by Sharon White Studio)

Bingo Planner by Erin Zamrzla

Several years ago, I made my first day planner. I liked the ability to customize the number of weeks as well as the start and end dates. Adding in fun papers and extra space for notes, sketches, and collage was a bonus. Since then, I have made dozens more, for myself and for others.

This project uses an undated weekly planner design. After printing, write in dates on the pages as desired. Each week alternates with a blank spread, allowing room for schedules, notes, and more. The covers, inspired by vintage bingo cards, were printed on cardstock and stitched onto the extended spine, providing both a sturdy cover and a flexible hinge. The exposed binding is a combination of long and link stitches.


  • Computer and printer
  • Planner and bingo cover templates (Download these for free here)
  • Paper, text-weight, thirty 8 ½” x 11″ (I used ivory, 32-lb., 25% cotton paper.)
  • Paper trimmer
  • Bone folder
  • Scrap paper
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Cutting mat
  • Awl
  • Cardstock, two 8 ½″ x 11″ pieces (I used contrasting colors.)
  • Chipboard, 8 ½″ x 11″
  • Glue (I used PVA.)
  • Glue brushes, medium and small
  • Book press or a heavy stack of books
  • Sewing machine and heavy-duty needle (I used a denim needle.)
  • Scissors
  • Photo copy machine
  • Japanese drill or hole punch, 2mm bit
  • Waxed linen thread, 66″, 3- or 4-ply
  • Needle, 1 for sewing, plus 2 more for placeholders (I used size 22 tapestry needles.)
  • Optional:
    • Book cradle

The pages

1. Print the planner template onto your desired paper.

2. Cut each printed agenda page in half, creating 60 pages total.

3. Fold 30 pages in half with the printed side facing out. Fold the remaining 30 pages in half with the printed side facing in. Burnish each fold with the bone folder.

4. Trim ¾″ from the open edge on each folded page so the pages measure 3½″ x 5½″.

5. Nest 6 folded pages (also known as folios), 3 folios from each group, together to form a signature. Arrange each signature so that a complete weekly planner appears across the first spread of 2 pages. Each planner spread will alternate with a spread of blank pages. Repeat, making 10 signatures.

6. Cut a 7″ x 5½″ piece from scrap paper and fold it in half. Unfold the sheet and measure and mark along the fold, starting at the top, at ½″, 1″, 2¼″, 3¼″, 4½″, and 5″ to create a template for punching the holes for binding.

7. Open one signature and place the template at the center. Lay the signature on a cutting mat or in a book cradle and use the awl to punch through all layers at each mark along the fold. Remove the template. Repeat for all 10 signatures.

The cover

1. Print the bingo cover design onto a piece of cardstock.

2. Apply a thin layer of glue to the cardstock and adhere it to the chipboard. Press them together, and allow to dry. Cut 2 covers from this piece, each 3 9/16″ x 5 9/16″.

3. Cut another piece of cardstock to 8 3/16″ x 5 9/16″.

4. Lay the front bingo cover face down on a clean piece of scrap paper. Apply a thin, ⅛″-wide stripe of glue to the back of the cover, along the spine edge. Turn the cover face up and adhere it to the cardstock, aligning it along the far-right edge.

5. Lay the back cover face down and apply a thin, ⅛″-wide stripe of glue to the back, along the spine edge. Turn the cover face up and adhere it to the cardstock, aligning it to the far left edge. Press under weight until dry.

6. Using a sewing machine, stitch along the left edge of the front cover, ⅛″ in from the spine edge, leaving a few inches of thread at the beginning and end. Repeat, stitching along the right edge of the back cover. (Figure 1)


7. Trim the threads to ½″ and tuck them between the cover and the cardstock, applying a small amount of glue to hold them in place if needed.

8. Photocopy the spine hole-punching template (Figure 2) and punch holes at each mark. I created my template on a piece of chipboard. At full size, the spine template should be 5 ½″ high and 1 ¼″ wide (use the solid lines, not the dotted lines, as a guide).


9. Lay the cover on a cutting mat. Center the template over the spine of the cover. Evenly space it between the top and bottom, and the front and back covers. Use the awl to punch a hole at each mark. Enlarge the holes along rows 2, 3, 4, and 5 with a 2mm hole punch.

10. Gently fold and unfold the covers where they meet the spine.

The binding

1. Thread the needle with a single thickness of thread, leaving a tail of a few inches.

NOTE: The link stitch is used across rows 1 and 6. The long stitch is used between rows 2 and 3, and rows 4 and 5. Sew the signatures to the cover from front to back, working from the right side toward the left side of the spine.

2. Slightly open the first signature and place it inside the front cover along the first line of holes. Bring the needle out through hole 6 of the signature and out through hole 6A of the cover. Leave a few inches of thread inside the signature.

3. Go back through the cover, into 6A, and into hole 6 of the first signature. Before tightening the thread,  place a needle through the loop at the outside of 6A to prevent the stitch from slipping through the cover.

4.  Inside signature 1, gently tighten the threads and tie them into a square knot, directly over hole 6.

5.  Sew up along the spine, sewing signature 1 to the cover: out 5A, into 4A, out 3A, into 2A, and out 1A.

6.  Add signature 2 behind signature 1. Take the needle back into 1A and into hole 1 of signature 2. (Figure 3)  Before tightening the thread, place a needle through the loop at the outside of 1A to prevent the stitch from slipping through the cover. (Figure 4)  Sew down, sewing signature 2 to the cover: out 2A, into 3A, out 4A, and into 5A.

FIGURE 3 (left) and FIGURE 4

NOTE: Every 2 signatures share a column of holes in the cover; i.e. signatures 1 and 2 share holes 1A, 2A, 3A, 4A, and 5A. Signatures 3 and 4 share holes 1B, 2B, 3B, 4B, and 5B, etc.

7.  Exit hole 6 of signature 2 and then go out 6B.

8.  Remove the extra needle holding the loop of thread outside of 6A. Go through the loop and back into 6B.

9.  Add signature 3. Enter signature hole 6 and sew up, sewing signature 3 to the cover: out 5B, into 4B, out 3B, into 2B, and out 1B.

10.  Remove the extra needle holding the loop of thread outside 1A. Go through the loop and back into 1B. (Figure 5)

FIGURE 5 (left) and FIGURE 7

11.  Add signature 4. Enter signature hole 1 and sew down, sewing signature 4 to the cover: out 2B, into 3B, out 4B, into 5B, and out 6C. Take the needle to the right and carefully slide it between the threads and the cover. This is the first complete link stitch. Go back into 6C.

12.  Add signature 5. Enter signature hole 6 and sew up, sewing signature 5 to the cover: out 5C, into 4C, out 3C, into 2C, and out 1C. Take the needle to the right, between the threads and the cover, and then back into 1C.

13.  Add signature 6. Repeat the sewing pattern until all 10 signatures are sewn to the cover.

14. Once signature 10 is sewn to the cover, exit hole 6F and create the final link stitch. Re-enter 6F and then hole 6 of signature 10. (Figure 6) Go under the thread at the inside of signature 10 and loop back through to tie a knot directly over the hole. Repeat, making a second knot. (Figure 7)


15. Trim the threads inside of signatures 1 and 10 to ½″.

Add dates to your weekly planner pages before you use it, or add dates as you go. The finished planner contains 60 weeks and 120 blank pages.

Erin Zamrzla is a designer, bookbinder, teacher, and author of At Home with Handmade Books and Handmade Books for Everyday Adventures. Visit her website at erinzam.com.

Discover creative ideas for arting up your planner pages in this Studio Saturday blog post!

Plus, don’t miss these products for more inspiring book-making ideas:

Get creative and organized with your own custom mixed-media three-ring binder. In this video workshop, Erin Zamrzla will teach you how to make your own binder from scratch, using a few basic materials.
Whether you are about to embark on a new adventure or just getting back from a trip, this video download with Erin Zamrzla will show to how to make a travel journal for preserving those precious moments and mementos.
Discover how to make three variations on folded accordion books start to finish in this video download. Erin Zamrzla will show you how to make an accordion notebook, a flutter book, and a hardcover book without sewing a single stitch.
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Inside this issue you’ll find an abundance of inspiration and techniques for bookmaking and art journaling.


Blog, Handmade Books, Mixed-Media Techniques

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