Bookbinding! Who does that?

Yes, indeedy, who does bookbinding?  Well, most assuredly there is a whole industry around bookbinding, but most people aren’t into it as a craft.  Once upon a time someone showed me how to bind a book. So I taught my students how, but I haven’t done one in 20 years.  Not one to let old skills moulder away,  I hunted up some examples to study before I attempted to bind the book I had just spent a month writing.  Dang it all, couldn’t find ONE example.  Which really bugs me, because I had a whole folder of bookbinding samples from my school teaching days.  Just in case I ever came across a desperate class in need of the ancient art of bookbinding.  That’s what I get for cleaning my studio.  I throw things away that haven’t seen the light of day in 10 years or so and lo and behold I am in need of that very old thing.  BUT fortunately, I didn’t throw away my brain. I did remember the basic gist of the thing, so what the hell, I collected up what I would need and plunged into the fray!


Materials needed: card board, glue, paper, ruler, x acto knife and the thing you are binding

I had to decide on a color scheme and found a faux finish sample I had painted on the back of an old print.  That would be my cover, so I embellished it to represent an aspect of the story.

Not that these look like crop circles, but there are crop circles in the story.

Not that these look like crop circles, but there are crop circles in the story.

After I measured and planned out the size of the book, I cut out my cardboard front and back, then glued them down (using my spray glue) to their respective covers.

20141214_131503Note the hinge tab.  That is so the book will fold open on the seam.  I drew green lines on the cardboard so I would line them up correctly.  Then I trimmed off the extra paper and folded the sides up.  Once the folds are made, I cut out the corners so when I flatten them down they will fit nicely.



The corners are trimmed roughly, I didn’t bother measuring.  Then I glued down the edges to the cardboard. Next, after measuring my end papers, I glued the end papers on top of the covers, hiding the folded edge.

Next I assemble the book.  Making sure everything lines up as neatly as possible.








To help keep it all in place, I used rubber bands and later, even wood clamps.  I made a template where the holes should go, every half inch.  The template also protects the cover from the drill.


20141214_140037I drilled a pilot hole on the top and on the bottom and then used 2 nails to hold the book down while I drilled the rest.


20141214_140720Here’s the final row of holes all drilled out.  I use a drill with a very small bit on this book because it is thick, but on thinner books, you can just use a nail to make the hole.  A drill however, will give you a much cleaner hole.

20141214_141050I even put a nail in the center hole to keep all the pages aligned.  This will make things easier when I start to sew it together.  At this point, I am ready to sew.  I found an old upholstery needle, threaded it with cotton twine and got started.  Here’s the part where I am a bit fuzzy about how this should go.  So I made a few practice runs, before realizing it is as important to go up and down with my stitches as it is to go side to side, or else the pages won’t hold properly when you open the book.  I sewed one book all the way before discovering this, so had to take it apart and start over.  If you are considering doing this project yourself you’ll have to figure out a pattern that works for you.  I made 3 books but didn’t sew them with all the same pattern.



This is what I mean by side to side and up and down.  You have to go through the holes more than once.20141214_160210

Made a few false starts and broke some thread, but eventually I figured it out.  At the bottom of the pic under my fingers is a pattern that didn’t work out.  I pulled out the stitches as I went.  I left them in since they were helping to hold the book together.  I had used wood clamps on my first attempt, but they got in the way.  I left the nails in as well and pulled them out as I came to them.  They assured the pages would stay aligned, making it easier to sew.  The other two books I made were thinner and I was able to use paper squeeze binders.  Well,  here is the final result!

20141214_212321_resizedWhat did you do last month?  Oh nothing much, wrote a novel, printed it and bound it. Bookbinding rocks!

Imagine Transformation

Imagine Transformation







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