Did I ever tell you I dig bookbinding? I learned from Claire Cowie a variety of stitch patterns from the simple 5-hole pamphlet stitch to a very fancy looking Romanesque Braid Bind. That class enlivened a desire to try something new.
One big idea Claire taught us is that the most successful makers do a trial run before committing to a design. This trial run is typically known as a dummy. It’s important to practice with the same or very similar materials so that you have a very clear picture of how individual elements will work together and what the finished product will look like. I have a very strong idea of what I want to make with my final book, but this time around we’re going to practice with a simpler idea: a bound book about book binding. [Much like my Onsie Onsie idea, no?]
Just because a dummy is a dummy doesn’t make it dumb. You can quote me on that, lol. Oftentimes they turn into great looking books in their own right so I compiled all the information on binding I could find in a hurry into a document and set it to print in booklet style. If you ain’t got time for that, just grab about some plain copy paper, also known as bond.
I was inspired to long stitch by Youtube crafter, Sea Lemon. I enjoyed following along the video but found myself doing a lot of pausing so I thought I’d put together a tutorial of stills.
Wanna make a book like this? Alright, let’s get started!
- self-healing cutting mat
- bone folder
- X-acto knife | rotary cutter
- large needle
- book press | heavy books
- glue gun [optional]
- paper | 8 ½ x 11 | 28 sheets
- fabric (leather, vinyl, whathaveyou)
- waxed linen thread
- glue [optional]
- Fold each sheet in half, one at a time, flattening with the bone folder.
- Bundle 4 folded sheets into 7 signatures. The number of signatures is up to you.
- Measure binding hole placement. ½ inch from each edge, ½ inch inward from there, then 2 inches from those for a total of 6 marks. Spine is 7 inches total, so markings will be at ½ inch, 1 inch, 3 inch, 4 inch, 6 inch and 6½ inch. Stack all signatures in order and mark binding holes for remaining signatures using the previously measured signature as a guide.
- Maintaining the order, use the awl to poke through the marked binding holes. Stay consistent with your practice, poking from the outside in. Set the marked signatures in a book press or under something heavy as we move onto the cover.
- Stack all signatures along the fabric to estimate cover size. Mark the final height adding in a bit extra [1/8 inch] for overhang on top and bottom and ½ inch from the sides.
- Cut to size.
- Cut a strip of the remaining fabric the width of all the signatures put together.
- Mark binding holes on the strip by aligning it with the first signature’s holes. Continue marking for the remaining signatures leaving an 1/8 inch between the rows. Pierce thoroughly with awl.
- Thread the needle
- Measure thread by running thread along the spine once per signature, then double that
- Tie a knot at the end.
- Line up the signature to be sewn, beginning from the bottom up.
- Begin binding from the inside of the 7th signature first.
- Sew back into the same hole, creating a loop on the outside. I used a paper roll to hold my loop in place.
- Continue to the next hole, through the cover and back again until you reach the last hole.
- Grab the next signature and continue to the next row. Then sew this second row similarly to the first.
- At the end, on the outside cover, sew through the loop—linking the stitch, then continue as usual.
- Do the same on the opposite end, looping through the previous stitch as you go.
- When all the signatures are attached, loop back into the initial hole, tie a knot, tuck in and trim the end.
- Attach strip to center of cover using a thread or glue. I used a hot glue gun. This step is optional, as you can choose to sew the signatures directly to the leather cover and avoid glue completely. In this case I wanted the stitching to be invisible.
- Trim cover to 1/8 inch overhang beyond the text block
In case it’s easier to see the process shots in slideshow.
Huzzah! There you have it. What do you think of the long stitch? Any projects that would be particularly amazing for this particular type of binding? Finishing this dummy makes me double excited for the real book. It’s a surprise gift for Matt’s birthday which is coming up quick! Stay tuned for that project and more Wrays of Sunshine.
Full disclosure: This tutorial was inspired by and adapted from Sea Lemon’s DIY Leather Recipe Journal. I experimented with glue to hide the stitch. Sea Lemon rocks. ❤