Friday, 24 July 2009

Stick Binding Tutorial

Right, I've bored you all senseless with family life ramblings over the last few weeks, so its time to get back to business and post about the things this blog was meant to be about.
This is a tutorial on how to make a little notebook using the stick binding method. It is a good introduction to bookbinding if you have never had a go before.
The "stick" can be any straight item that you can cut notches into. I have used a colouring pencil as I think it is kind of quirky to use something that is associated with a notebook - a bit like feeding chicks with hard boiled egg! You could also use a kebab stick, a chopstick, a garden cane or a fairly straight stick. A wooden spoon would be fun to use if you were making a recipe book.
You will need:
Paper for the pages
Decorative thin card for the cover,
Wooden stick (pencil)
Craft knife
Thread and needle
Bradawl or pricking tool
Eyelet (optional)
Sewing cradle (optional)

1. Cut the pages for you book, lay them in a stack and fold in half. This is a single signature book, which means all the pages are folded together in one go. To get them to lie flat it is a good idea to press them overnight under a brick or pile of books.

2. Take your pencil and trim to the same height as your pages. Mark and then cut evenly spaced notches along the length of your pencil. They don't need to go all the way round, just sufficiently far to hold the thread in place.

It was at this stage that I decided I wanted my pencil to match the book and ribbon I had chosen so I gave it two coats of acrylic paint, and a final coat of acrylic wax to make it smooth to touch, but you can equally well leave your stick in its natural state.
3. Lay the pencil in the centre of the book and mark the where the notches are along the centre fold. 4. Cut the cover for your book and fold it in half. Mine was a couple of millimetres deeper than the pages and half a centimetre wider so that I would be able to attach my ribbon to the back with an eyelet.
5.Make sure your pages are evenly stacked, place the cover on the outside and open the book to the centre.Make holes at the marked points through all the pages and cover with your bradawl . This job is so much easier if you have a sewing cradle. I will post a tutorial at a later date on how to make one. I'm not sure whether you can see from these two pictures or not - the first picture shows the first hole being made, the second shows the five completed holes.

6. Cut a length of thread. I would normally use strong linen thread, but as I wanted it to be decorative and this particular book is for immediate and short term use, not an heirloom, I used pink embroidery cotton. A piece four times the height of your book should do.
Thread your needle and take the thread through the bottom hole from the inside of the book to the outside. Leave a tail long enough to tie a few knots later.

7. Pass the thread round the base of the pencil, making sure it sits securely in the bottom notch, and back through the same hole to the inside of the book.

8. Take the thread out through the next hole, round the pencil and back in through the same hole again. Continue in this way until you have completed the last hole.

9. Put the thread tight, checking that it is held in each of the notches and tie several knots around the last stitch. Cut the excess thread away and tie the tail at the bottom in the same way. If you are worried that your knots may come undone, put the tiniest dab of PVA glue on each knot and allow to dry well before you close the book.

10. Place a length of ribbon around the book and attach to the back cover with an eyelet. As it is a single signature book it is prone to gaping open, so the ribbon will help keep it in good condition.

11. Now for the fun part - decorate your book and enjoy using it!

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