Paper and Thread

Every so often I am enticed by the siren song of a new hobby. A new project. A new method of expression. That’s what happened with bookmaking.

It was several years ago. I was browsing the craft section at Auntie’s, the local indie book shop here in Spokane and I came across this Book. I picked it up and put it down again, but I kept coming back to it. I couldn’t resist. 

I still have my very first attempt. I used Japanese fabric with a cherry blossom motif. I cut it to size and beaded it. Then I backed it with contrasting fabric and quilted it with gold colored thread. I didn’t do a good job in the binding and the closure came loose, but I really loved the concept. I love making the bindings. They are small, so I can make them fairly ornate or simple depending on my mood. I often bead and embroider and hand quilt them. Making these small projects into books is an added bonus. 

To Make the Book:

First you will need to measure the binding

You need to measure the length and the width of the binding. Once you have done that you can cut the cover page. 

Once the cover is cut, I mark out the center, then mark off 1/4″ to each side of that mark and fold the cover along those two lines. I then have a 1/2″ to sew in the pages for the book. Next I mark off 4 lines, in 1/8″ intervals between the cover binding:

Then I draw lines at the places where I will sew the pages in. The first is a 1/4″ from the top. Then I find the halfway point between the top and the bottom and draw lines 1/4″ above and a 1/4″ below that point. I then draw 2 lines between the top  and the first halfway line. I try to place those lines so that they are about 1/3 and 2/3 of the way between the top and the first halfway mark. I then place lines about 1/4″ from the bottom and 1/3 and 2/3 from the bottom halfway point. You will have a total of 8 horizontal lines and 4 vertical lines on the spine of the inside cover. On a piece of scrap paper I write down where I placed the line (1/4″, 1″, etc.)

Next I use my awl to punch a hole in each place where the vertical and horizontal lines intersect. Then I set the cover aside. 

Next I cut the pages. But first I measure again. This time I measure the width of the inside cover from the edge of the cover to the back inside edge and the height. The length of each page will be: the width of the inside cover, minus 1/8″, x 2, and the height is the height of the inside cover, minus about 1/8″. I then cut 16 pages.

Once the pages are cut I fold them in half and make 4 booklets of 4 pages each. I then put a dot along the spine for each hole that will be punched so that they can be seen into the cover. 

After all of the holes are punched I see the booklets into the cover and binding using a large embroidery needle and waxed Irish thread. I often use beads as well.

Starting at the top and going from the inside out, I first stitch the top of the inside cover into the cloth binding. I sew through the first hole at the top on the left and all the way through the cloth binding, then in through the second hole, out through the third, and in through the fourth. My thread is at the back of the cover. Next, I sew in a booklet, starting at the top and working down to the bottom, pulling my thread through the booklet, inside cover and cloth binding with each stitch. Along the way I often add beads at the top, bottom and halfway points. To do that, I take the needle off my thread, thread the bead, rethread my needle and pull through the next stitch, adjusting the bead if necessary.

Once the booklets are sewn in I tie the small tail I left at the beginning of sewing together with the end of my thread and tuck it under the booklets.

The very last step is sewing a ribbon to the cloth binding to be used as a closure. 

Each one of these books is a labor of love from beginning to end.