Have you been bitten by the bookbinding bug yet? Bookbinding projects are so fun and gratifying, and they’ll keep you enthralled. In my role as Chief Enabler at Cloth Paper Scissors, I can’t wait to tell you about our brand new eBook, Making Books Cover to Cover. This downloadable resource has 11 projects specially curated from issues of Cloth Paper Scissors and Pages, plus a brand new project and a new primer with techniques, tools and tips. You? Need this in your life.
These bookbinding projects are for all levels, so dive in to any of them and discover a tunnel book, travel journals, books made from vintage finds, and even a book made from aluminum cans. And if you think making a book from scratch is difficult, I’d like to change your mind. You’ll discover as you delve into these bookbinding projects that you can easily incorporate your own style, making your books even more special.
I made Erica Ekrem’s leather journal, and the process could not have been more enjoyable and stress-free. Leather is fairly easy to source; some fabric stores carry pieces, it’s easy to find online, and you can also repurpose leather clothing, accessories, and furniture. I used a piece of embossed leather I got at a flea market. For this book the leather should be fairly stiff but still flexible, so it holds its shape but can bend. Closed, my book measures 6¼” wide by 8¼” high. If you don’t want to use leather, Kraft-tex is a great substitute.
For the inside pages I used 98-lb. mixed-media paper, but the pure white color was boring. A little walnut ink would fix that, so I diluted walnut ink crystals in water, then brushed the solution over the pages with a foam brush.
A few extra sprinkles of ink gave the pages extra interest.
The embossed leather had a definitive western look to it, so I decided to go full cowgirl. I found some calico-ish blue fabric, trimmed it with pinking shears, and machine stitched it to the first page of each signature.
I trimmed my leather piece to 8¼” high, but I left the covers extra long, since I prefer to trim them after the signatures have been sewn into the spine—I can get a more accurate fit that way. Also, I find using a rotary cutter and a plastic quilt ruler to cut leather results in neater, more accurate cuts.
The article includes a template for punching holes in the spine, and I used that to create three vertical rows of four holes. As I’ve mentioned before, I love bookbinding projects with a big wow factor that aren’t difficult, and that’s what this is. The binding is nothing more than a running stitch, with the option for an easy gather stitch that is so gorgeous. Complete instructions are in the article. I used colored cording that I found in the jewelry section of my local craft store because I wanted something a little heavier than waxed linen thread, which is usually used for binding this type of book. Before sewing, I ran the thread through some beeswax. This gives it a little tack and helps it stay put as you’re binding the book. And what do you know—a nice block of beeswax is included in our new Bookbinding Collection, along with other key tools that you can use in all of your bookbinding projects (this is how I earned the title of Chief Enabler.).
So here’s how to do the gather stitch: On the last signature, instead of going straight into the next hole, take the needle around and under the previous two stitches. Pull tight to create a knot, making sure the knot is centered.
Repeat to make another knot, again making sure the knot is centered.
Continue sewing as before, going into the next hole up. Do the same with the second thread in the same row.
Erica also includes a great way of tying up the loose threads so they become a handle for the book—so smart. And she shows how to decorate the cover with—you won’t believe—a wood-burning tool. Who knew you could use that tool with vegetable-tanned leather?
Since my leather already had a pattern on it, I opted for another closure. First, I trimmed the leather so the front cover was flush with the edges of the signatures. Then, I cut a flap to wrap around the book and rounded the flap, using a ceramic plate as a template and a rotary cutter.
I cut some mesh from a piece of lace and glued it to the inside of the flap with glue stick, ruffling it a little as I went. Then I machine stitched it in place, using a needle designated for sewing leather. Since this was the first time I had tried this technique I did a test on a scrap piece of leather to make sure everything worked and looked okay.
The only thing left to do was sew on a vintage button and add a waxed linen thread tie, and this book was done! Here’s the spine—isn’t that stitch amazing?
How would you like a chance at winning this book, along with a copy of Making Books Cover to Cover? Like us on Facebook and go to our Facebook page on July 2 for an opportunity to win this book!