Make Summer Camp: Long Stitch Book

This post is part of the Make Summer Camp series,where I encouraged readers to “Make Ten Things” between June 21 and September 21.  It’s looking like my own count is going to be way above ten, but there’s still a triad of weeks to go if you want to try to jump in now.

The last project that I hadn’t done in Esther Smith’s book on bookbinding, How to Make Books, was the long stitch binding. She recommended practicing with a cake box; I wound up using part of the box for holding Hewlett-Packard ink-jet cartridges.  Book binding projects

The book has quite a few signatures of six pages within it; I think there are eight, all told; but I wound up making about fifteen signatures. I have to figure out what to do with the other seven signatures. Make another book, I guess. I like the aesthetics of the long-stitch binding, but not the hardness of the cardboard frame of the book.  The choice of purple for the paper wasn’t the best choice; it doesn’t match well with the papers I chose for covering over the ink-jet box.  Oh well. I still learned a binding technique with a reasonable degree of accuracy. And I stabbed my thumb during the stitching process.  It still hurts.

Oh, well. These things happen. Book binding projects

In the meantime, you can see how the long-stitch binding works. Part of the binding is inside the book and inside the signatures; and part of the binding is outside the book on the outside of the cover. You can do all kinds of cool things with this style of binding over the long run, like binding the first hole of the first signature to the lower middle hole of the last signature, and creating cool cross-braces of thread; or heart shapes in the binding, or more. But for a first effort, I went straight and simple.

You can also see that this book is not very big (the pages are the halves of a US Letter-sized sheet of paper, cut at the 5 1/2″ line, and then stacked in signatures of six pages). So it’s really a notebook for short lists, or poems, rather than elaborate text; at least in the current iteration. I didn’t weight the pages for long enough, so the book isn’t really flat; and the rigidity of the covers and spine (thanks H-P for the cardboard) prevents me from being really satisfied with it. The best long-stitch binding books I’ve seen are actually leather covers with some floppiness to them.

Book binding projectsHere in the final photograph are a set of four ‘more advanced’ books that I’ve made this summer.  In the upper left is the Hungarian Map Book.  In the upper right is the coptic stitch Liber Spiritus I made for my druidic work.  In the lower right is the Lotus Book or “dragon book” as  proof of concept for the beginner students to make at school. And in the lower left is this new long-stitch bound book.

I still have one more book I’d like to finish before school starts.  I also have some pop-up cards to make, as part of my effort to build a portfolio of work for a “Paper Engineering” class I’m teaching after school this fall.  But I think that I’ve demonstrated some basic skills with these techniques, and I’m feeling confident that I can do them again.

Thank you, Esther K. Smith!  How to Make Books was a great tutorial and training program.


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