Monday, 30 July 2018

Quick Stitch - Stab Bound Notebook

For all that I love technology, holding and using small notebooks will always give me immense pleasure. So with my increasing desire for all things natural, I have been dabbling this year with making simple hand bound note books with natural dyed and eco printed textiles.

Now my own eco dying and printing skills are very much work in progress, so to kick start my book binding adventures I have been working with beautiful fabric pieces created by the talented Kim Winter of Flextiles - her scrap bags are a perfect size for book covers.

I'm a great believer in using quality tools to making working enjoyable and less prone to accidents.  There are many bookbinding tools on offer, however, I picked out a this small collection from London Book Arts - they are beautiful to work with and I am sure will last me for years.

The starting point of my books is something a little less glamourous, however, very functional.  I have worked with picture framing grey board for many years and it is still the medium of choice for many for making rigid book covers. I cut 2 cover pieces to the required size with a heavy duty scalpel and scored 1" in from the left edge on both sides of the board - this enables a sharp fold to be made and the book to easily open.  I then marked a further line 1/2" in from the left edge and marked 4 equally placed holes - to work out the spacing take the cover depth and divide by 5.  My sharp awl tool made light work of making holes through the greyboard.

Then I used fabric temporary spray to attach a think layer of cotton wadding to the outside of the cover - so that the cover lifts towards you.  The wadding gives a softer finished to the cover and I trimmed it back so that it overlapped the grey board by about 1/8" - this gave a slightly padded edge when the fabric was folded over.

Then to choose a beautiful piece of fabric for the cover - for this example I chose a piece of Kim's rust marked silk.  I cut the fabric 3/4" larger all round than the grey board piece.  Again I used a little fabric temporary spray on the wadding to help keep the silk in place.

As many will know, my favoured textile glue is Beacon Fabritac, for minimal staining, drying quickly and not being overly pungent.  To start the folding, I glued over all the corners first, letting the glue dry for a few minutes.

Then I glued down the sides, folding in the corners so that they created a diagonal join.

I also used a few small stitches to pull the corners tightly in.

For the inside cover, I cut 2 pieces of fine cream wool flannel made by Somerset's much revered Fox Brothers in Wellington.  I initially to a little larger than the cover and pressed a piece Bondaweb to the reverse.  I then trimmed back each piece to 1/8" smaller in length and width than the cover and pressed lightly to the cover inners.

Then came the pleasure of filling my book with beautiful khadi paper made from recycled cotton rag.  I cut a dozen or so sheets to the size of the cover - around 1/8" less than the width and the height.  I then used the awl tool to push through the holes on the covers through all the fabric layers and used these holes to mark the corresponding holes for the paper pile.   Bull dog clips came in very handy for keeping everything together for this step.

Finding the right thread to bind books proved surprisingly challenging.  Waxed thread is what is recommended for book binding, however, I found that some threads had way too much wax on them and dragged on the fabric and wadding.  These reels from London Book Arts are my favourite so far.

The length of thread to cut for 4 hole binding is 4 times the height of the book.  Starting at the first hole in and leaving a tail of at least 2", pass the needle in around half way through the pages and out the front hole.

Tuck the tail inside the leaves and put the needle into the back corresponding hole and out through the front - any wadding that comes through with the thread can be pushed back in after the stitching is complete.

I then turned the book around so that I was stitching from left to right and brought the needle into the back of the next hole and through the front, then repeating the looping over.  Then the needle was passed into the next hole on the front.

Having made 3 loops over the top of the book, I then looped the thread around the side and continued stitching across in and out to add in where long stitches were missing.

When I reached the other end I made one final loop around the side and brought the needles for the last time part way through the last hole to where the tail from the start of the stitching lying.  Finally I made a tight double knot to tie off and secure both ends.

This process of stitching sounds much harder than it actually is.  The most important thing is to pull the stitches tight as you work, trying to avoid passing the needles through threads that have already been stitched.  Where this happens it will likely prevent pulling the stitches tight and it's best to unthread the needle and pull the thread back and stitch again.

The result for a little time and minimal cost is a custom made notebook that any owner will love to use.  The possibilities for fabric and decorative stitch are many and the start of my book binding adventures have certainly wetted my appetite - I'll keep you posted!

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