Handmade Monday: A Bit of Bookbinding

The blog photos today are bit of the bookbinding I’ve been up to for the last few months (actually, this is the vast majority of it!):

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As you can see, I’ve focused most of my efforts on coptic stitch binding techniques and other methods of exposed-spine binding. Long have I looked admiringly at the fancy stitchings done by more experienced binders, but I was completely baffled. I still can’t do that impressive stitch-work, but I have a secret weapon now and with enough practice and effort, I’m confident I can learn the ropes!

What brought about the change of heart? I discovered and got my hands on an incredibly intense set of three paperback books, each volume 300+ pages of instructions, line diagrams and black and white photos. These books are jam-packed with more types of exposed spine sewings than I’ll probably ever make in my entire life! They aren’t exactly light reads, and are not recommended for the faint of heart, but if you’re seriously interested in learning how to sew books with their decorative stitching exposed, these are the right choice for you! (I’m scared…I think I’m in over my head!!!)

The author’s name is Keith A. Smith and the books are Volumes 1, 2, and 3 in the Non-Adhesive Binding series.

Volume 1: Books Without Paste of Glue,
Volume 2: 1-, 2- & 3-Section Sewings, and
Volume 3: Exposed Spine Sewings.

The books are available for online purchase at this website. (One regret! When I ordered these books, Mr. Smith personally wrote a quick line to me on the packing slip, thanking me for the purchase. If I’d known he was handling the books himself, I would have requested that he autograph them! Don’t repeat my mistake! :))

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Anyway, here are a few more examples of my recent handiwork. The little book on top of the pile and the two pamphlets below it are some of the most basic exposed stitching possible, but I still think they look sharp! Those single signature booklets would be a great way to give your child a chance to write his own storybook or a nice way to compile a little collection of recipes or poetry to give as a gift.

The bottom book in the stack is a bit more complicated. It’s a coptic stitch journal with a slipcase. I learned how to make the slipcase thanks to my husband’s bookbinding class. It is NOT one of the techniques covered in Keith Smith’s exposed binding books.

Most of the larger journals pictured are about 4.5 x 6.5 inches. The photo below gives you some idea of the scale of the mini books:

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I realized very quickly that I’m going to have to come up with some fancy fasteners to gussy these little guys up. Here are a few of my initial ideas:

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I like how the ribbons look, but I’m especially fond of the red flower button fastener. I punched holes in the cover and sewed the button securely but loose enough to allow a braided string of cross-stitch thread room to wrap around and hold the covers securely closed.

Happy Crafting!


Handmade Monday 2015 will revolve around paper, Paper, PAPER! I have cards and boxes to make, lettering to practice, and most of all handmade books to bind. So, if you share my strange addiction to paper, if pens and ink make your heart wink and flutter, if doodling makes you drool, then Handmade Monday posts were written just for you! Browse, enjoy, share your suggestions, and let me know what creative fun you’re up too as well!

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