Online Workshop – How to Make Longstitch Bindings

Join our new live online workshop and make longstitch bindings

This online workshop in longstitch binding teaches a traditional method of bookbinding that originates from Germany and dates back to the late 14th century. In this method, sections of paper are sewn directly through holes in the covering material, giving support to the spine, and flexibility to the book. It is a simple and extremely rewarding process and one that can be easily adapted once practiced, to include more complex designs and decorations.

We will provide materials in advance, as listed below, so that we all have the same items at the start of the workshop. We cannot provide tools, as we do at in-person workshops. The list of tools required is also below, some of these can be replaced with tools that you have at home, others may need to be purchased. When booking the course, you will also receive a 15% discount to the shop so that you can buy the tools direct from us if you choose.

We will cover:

  • the importance of grain direction
  • preparing a textblock
  • folding and trimming paper
  • preparing sections for sewing
  • preparing covering material
  • sewing the textblock
  • finishing the cover

You will come away with:

  • one beautiful A6 hand-made longstitch binding in leather
  • a template to continue to make your own bindings at home
  • an introduction into bookbinding
  • a basic understanding of the structure of bindings

The materials pack

We will send you:

  • Textblock paper
  • Covering material
  • Metal button for cover
  • Template to cut and prepare the leather
  • Complimentary needle and linen thread

You will need:

  • A cutting mat
  • A sharp knife – Stanley knife or a scalpel
  • An awl (aka bradawl / pricker)
  • A cobblers knife (a sharp medium sized kitchen knife may be used, at your own risk)
  • A bonefolder
  • A piece of waste cardboard
  • A metal ruler
  • Paper weight
  • Pencil
  • Scrap paper

How it works

Once you book you will receive an email containing a link to a zoom meeting and instructions on how to join that meeting. You will also receive a code for a discount in the the shop, if you would like to buy tools from us.

Online Workshop – How to Make Japanese Stab Bindings

Japanese Stab Binding
Japanese Stab Binding 2

Join our live online workshop and make Japanese stab bindings

In this online workshop, we will be creating Japanese Stab Bindings. This binding is often associated with decorative books and hand bindings due to their attractive sewing techniques, that once practised, can be adapted to incorporate more complex designs. It is a useful method for binding single leaves, such as artwork, as there is no need for adhesive, allowing sheets to be quickly bound after they have been created.

The Japanese Stab Binding actually originates from the Chinese ‘butterfly binding’, one of the earliest paper bookbinding techniques in Asia where single sheets were pasted together, surrounded in a wraparound cover and stitched along the edge.

We will provide materials in advance, as listed below, so that we all have the same items at the start of the workshop. We cannot provide tools, as we do at in-person workshops. The list of tools required is also below, some of these can be replaced with tools that you have at home, others may need to be purchased. When booking the course, you will also receive a 15% discount to the shop so that you can buy the tools direct from us if you choose.

Japanese Stab Binding 3

We will cover:

  • the importance of grain direction
  • preparing a textblock
  • folding and trimming paper
  • creating sewing guides
  • sewing Japanese stab style
  • additional sewing patterns
Japanese Stab Binding 5

You will come away with:

  • two A5 hand-made Japanese stab bindings with two sewing styles
  • an introduction into the hand-skills required for bookbinding
  • a basic understanding of the structure of bindings

The materials pack

We will send you:

  • Textblock paper
  • Covering material
  • Decorative paper
  • Complimentary needle
  • Linen thread

You will need:

  • A cutting mat
  • A sharp knife – Stanley knife or a scalpel
  • An awl (aka bradawl / pricker)
  • A cobblers knife (a sharp medium sized kitchen knife may be used, at your own risk)
  • A bonefolder
  • A piece of waste cardboard
  • A metal ruler
  • Paper weight
  • Pencil
  • Scrap paper

How it works

Once you book you will receive an email containing a link to a zoom meeting and instructions on how to join that meeting. You will also receive a code for a discount in the the shop, if you would like to buy tools from us.

Turning a Paperback into a Hardback

Unofficial History
1970, by Field Marshal Sir William Slim, Corgi Books

This binding was not a valuable book financially, but one whose owner was extremely fond of it. Being a late twentieth century paperback, it was not made to last. The paper is brittle and the binding was in a perfect style, which, ironically, is so far from perfect that one must think the term was made in jest.

A perfect binding implies that loose sheets are stacked and adhered at the spine edge with a thick layer of PVA or similar adhesive. This is then covered with a paper cover, which is adhered over the heavy spine, and tada! You have the modern paperback. Note the lack of sewing, spine lining or any form of reinforcement to keep the book from falling apart. This makes a very clear case as to why your regular paperback will often fall apart on you when reading. If, by some miracle, you can keep the book free from dog ears and spine breakages, it won’t be long before the adhesive gives up the ghost all on its own and falls apart anyway – as mentioned, decidedly less than “perfect”.

In order to create a hardback, as requested by this client, I treated this book quite similarly to a thesis binding – stab-sewn and covered as a quarter-bound flat back. The result was very pleasing, and with a simple cover design and title on the spine, it now has a new lease of life that should last for years to come.

If you have a similar book that you would like to preserve for the future in this way, please do get in touch to discuss the particulars.

CONDITION

TEXTBLOCK has brittle paper, which is discolouring at the edges.
BINDING is perfect bound and still in tact at present.

TREATMENT

TEXTBLOCK
– Keep original cover as first page.
– Create holes adjacent to the spine and sew as thesis binding.
– Adhere plain black endpapers.
– Line spine with cloth and manilla lining.
BINDING
– Create new cover – flat back and quater-bound with black cloth spine and printed cover in the style of the original.
– Case-in and finish.

Islamic bindings – instructions part 2

Some months back, we started a fantastic workshop with Kristine Rose from the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and last week, we were lucky enough to have Kristine back again to finish the workshop with us, so these are the follow-up instructions. Unfortunately I completely forgot to take any photos during the workshop, so I only have completed ones.

In class, we covered the boards separately, doing the front board with one piece of leather and the back and foredges with the second piece of leather. It is possible to do it as a case binding, with the appropriate measurements for the spine as well. I hadn’t done this method before, so was trying something new.

Covering the front board

  • Mark out where the board will go on the leather with a biro – on the flesh side.
  • Wet the leather on the hair side
  • Paste out on the flesh side, scrape away the excess and paste again to ensure it really gets into the leather.
  • Place the board onto the pasted leather and turn in the edges leaving the spine open.
  • If decorating the front board, wet the leather again on the hair-side, place the decorative plate in place and nip for about five minutes
  • Finally allow to dry fully under boards.

Islamic Binding Completed
Islamic Binding, the completed book

Covering the back board, foredge envelope and foredge flap

  • Trim a flap piece – this should be the same height as the boards and the width should be of the text block minus about 5mm, so it will come out very thin.
  • Mark the leather as above – the back board, envelope and flap should be aligned in a straight line and the gap between back board and envelope should be about 6mm either side of the flap
  • Paste out leather as above
  • Place boards onto leather and turn in the edges, leaving the spine edge free, ensuring the three pieces of board are kept in line.
  • Finally allow to fully dry under boards.

Foredge flap

  • Once dry, paste a strip of leather on the inside of the back board, where the turn-in meets the foredge piece and back board.
  • Once this is dry, it is worth checking whether the cover fits the textblock – if it does not, place spacers either side of the flap and press it for a while, therefore stretching the gaps.

Islamic Binding foredge flap
The foredge flap on the Islamic Binding

DeBleurs

  • Leaving a few millimeters for squares around the boards, measure the deBleurs for the front and back board as well as the turn-in piece.
  • Cutting out the deBleurs – add about and inch to the spine edge of the front and back board pieces, this is to stick down onto the text block to hide the spine joint.
  • Past the three pieces onto the boards and allow to dry.
  • Once dry, fold back the extra bits on the front and back board to keep them out of the way whilst attaching the boards to the spine.

Islamic Binding De Bleurs
The DeBleurs on the inside flap

Attaching the boards to the spine
These books would not have been opened more than about 90 degrees, and would have been read using a rull, so at no point would the have been laid flat.

  • Pair the edges of each of the spine pieces so they are very thin, there should not be any swell on either of them when laid on top of each other.
  • Lay the board against the book and trim the spine leather of each board so that each covers the spine of the textblock
  • Paste the spine of the textblock.
  • Line the front board up against the textblock and push the leather spine piece onto the spine, ensuring the leather is also pushed into the joints. Then do the same with the back board.
  • Allow them both to dry.

The spine edges were always decorated to hide the joining of the leather, this was done with both tooling and gold paint.

Working in the pastedowns

  • Paste out the extra paper from the deBleurs, and work each into the spine joint and onto the textblock.
  • Ensure the book is held at a 90 degree angle when pasting onto the textblock and thoroughly work the paper into the joint.

Islamic Binding Working the Pastedowns
Working the past downs

End caps
These books did not have worked end caps like the european bindings, the excess leather was just trimmed at the end of each of the spines.

Painting the cover
Islamic books were often painted with gold, where any patterns had been impressed onto the cover. For instructions on how to make gold paint, please see my previous post.

  • Prior to painting in gold, the cover must first be painted with gum arabic and then allowed to dry and burnished.

Islamic Binding Showing the Endpapers
Showing the Endpapers

Islamic Binding The Final Book
The Final Book

 

The next time I make one, I will take more constructive pictures!


Islamic bindings – making gold paint

Gold Leaf Paint feature

This is in preparation for the second set of instructions for Islamic bindings, which is coming in a couple of days. The gold paint is to decorate the cover, but needs some time to prepare so should be prepared prior to the completion of the book.

Gold paint is made using a curved edge dish or a plate without a rim, as the gold is worked right out to the edges.

  • First drip two drops of gum arabic into the centre of the plate and add one gold leaf, then mix it together with a finger, in circular motions around the centre of the dish.
  • When it gets impossible to keep rubbing with fingers, add another drop of gum arabic and mix again until the leaf is completely broken down.
  • When it is hardest to mix gold, this is when it is being ground.
  • Keep adding gold leaf and gum arabic in this way until up to 5/6 leaves have been added, it will gradually work its way out to the edges of the dish
  • Every so often the mix should be tested with a drop of water – if when dropped, the gold is lifted up to the top of the water, it is going well.
  • To finish off, add water and draw all the gold into the water, this may be around a cupful to cover the dish, less if it is a plate.
  • Transfer this into another smaller vessel that the gold can be permanently kept in.
  • Leave this vessel on a window sill and allow the water to evaporate.

When it comes to painting with the gold, the surface of the book should first be brushed with a layer of gum arabic, and then burnished. A couple of drops of water will loosen up a little of the dried gold, which can then be painted directly onto the prepared surface.

Gold Leaf Paint
Rubbing in the Gold Leaf

Islamic bindings – instructions part 1

Islamic Headband Feature

These instructions are to coincide with the Islamic binding lessons that we have been having with Kristine Rose from the Fitzwilliam Museum.

Sewing and spine preparation

The two sewing stations must be prepared in advance of sewing as the paper is not good enough quality to work blind on the book, this can be done by piercing the paper or by scoring the stations with a knife. Commonly sewing was in yellow silk.

Islamic Binding Sewing two stations
Sewing two stations

Sew the first two sections twice as it is not initially sewn off, then continue to sew using link stitches. For sewing off, make the final stitch a kettle stitch, so that it is secured.

Knock sections up between boards and put into a laying press.

Stipple a small amount of paste into the sections to stick initially, then repaste with stippling and put spine lining on and bone folder down. The spine lining should be an evenweave linen, commonly mauve was used.

Islamic Binding Pasting up the spine
Pasting up the spine

Excess linen is to be trimmed and pasted to the book block. This will be hidden by the board attachments. The linen should only be a couple of millimetres either side of the spine.

Islamic Binding lining the spine
Lining the spine

Endbands:

End band cores should be the same material as covering, cut 3mm and just wider than the text block, these are to be glued up on the flesh side of the leather and moulded so that no fibres stick out. The cores should then be stuck onto the spine, adjacent to the spine and just hanging over either side.

Each section centre should then be marked.

Islamic Binding The end band core
The end band core

Sewing of the endbands is done using three threads:

Primary thread – this should be a bright colour, often a gold, so that it can be seen in contrast to the other two. This is sewn through every section and over the cores, which creates the basis for the second two threads.

Islamic Binding Working the primary
Working the primary

Islamic Binding working the first two rows
working the first two rows

Secondary thread – this is woven over and under the primary thread at the middle of the core and left at the other end

Islamic Binding Locking the secondary with the tertiary
Locking the secondary with the tertiary

Tertiary thread – this follows the secondary thread on each row, going ‘under the overs’ and ‘over the unders’ meaning that every time a secondary thread goes over the primary, the tertiary will go under both, and when a secondary thread goes under a primary, the tertiary goes over both.

Islamic Binding Starting the tertiary
Starting the tertiary

The tertiary then anchors the secondary at the other end, allowing the secondary to weave back through the primaries to the starting point. Once the tertiary has come back and two rows are complete, there should be a chevron pattern starting. These two rows are then shuffled along the primaries to sit on the text block, before the next row is started.

Islamic Binding Chevron
Shuffling the chevron down the primary

Islamic Headband The finished end bands
The finished end bands

To finish text block:

Tie down end band knots within the text block.

Trim decorative end papers just smaller than first sheet and wet before pasting. Paste just over the fabric on the spine and press. Once pressed, trim any excess decorative papers.

Pair endband cores very slightly and paste down onto book cover.

Paste and fan out text block threads onto spine.

Boards:

Three boards are used per cover, which should be lightly wetted prior to pasting.

Boards are exactly the same size of text block in height, though not in width – Square up one corner of board and measure against cover of book, leaving a joint space at the spine, about the same size as the endbands, trim the boards to this size once pasted.

Islamic Binding trimming boards
Measuring up the board for trimming

Leave boards sharp without back cornering them.

The foredge flap will only be the thickness of one board not three, and will be done when covering the book.

The foredge envelope will be as the covers and three board thicknesses. It should be the same height for the boards and measured to exactly half the width of the boards. The point is central and the depth of the angle is half the width of the envelope.