Recently I taught a class to make a journal using eco-dyed and printed papers, using a hybrid sewing (French link & Coptic) and wood veneer covers.
This is a really brief tutorial on how we did it!
We actually started by binding the pages as it was only a one day workshop, but I would recommend sewing after you dye your pages.
For more information on dyeing, check out this blog post or you could do a you tube search for boiled books, that’s how I got started!
After you have dyed your pages and they have completely dried, you need the following in order to make this binding, two pieces of tape, ribbon or bias binding, some linen thread, a book binding or crewel needle, an awl, scissors, pencil, ruler, and a scrap piece of paper the same height as your pages.
1. Make a template to use when punching your pages. To make mine I measured .5″ in from each end, then .5″ from that mark (so 1″ from the end). Next I laid my tape by those second marks, and made a third mark leaving a bit of space so I don’t catch the tape when sewing. Finally I divided the remaining space so there would be 3 more sewing stations.
2. Next fold all your pages in half, then punch each one, using the template, with the awl.
3. To begin the sewing, thread the needle with the linen thread. I like to use shorter lengths and add more thread, so I always start with an “arm’s length”. Enter the first signature at the head or the tail of the book.
4. Then from the inside come out at the second sewing station
5. On the outside sew across the tape and go down the 3rd sewing station
6. On the inside skip the next three sewing stations and come up through station 7.
7. Come out through station 7, see across the second tape and back inside the book at station 8. Then come back out to the outside through the final sewing station
8. Lay the next signature on top of this sewn signature, and take the needle down into the page through the corresponding station on the second signature
9. On the inside come out through the next sewing station next to the tape. Take the needle down through the stitch over the tape to make an x
10. Go down through the sewing station the other side of the tape. Then come up from the inside at the next station. Take the needle down through the corresponding station on the FIRST signature.
11. On the inside of this signature is a long stitch, take the needle around this stitch to anchor the sewing, and exit through the same sewing station you entered.
12. Take the needle up to signature 2, go into the signature through the same sewing station you exited. Travel to the next sewing station and repeat. Do this for all 3 center stations between the tapes.
13. Sew out the next station, next to the tape, take the needle down though the stitch over the tape to make an x then sew back in next to the tape. Finally sew back out through the final station. Tie the tail of the initial sewing to the thread on the needle using a square knot
14. Lay the next signature on top of the sewn ones, take the needle into the corresponding first station on the 3rd signature. Come out at the sewing station next to the tape. This time sew down through the longest side of the x over the tape. Sewn down into the page on the third station next to the tape.
15. Come out at the next sewing station, take the needle behind the pair of stitches between signatures 1 & 2. The sew back in the same station you exited. Repeat with the three central stitches.
16. Sew out through the station next to the tape, sew through the longest leg of the x over the tape. Sew down through the page on the other side of the tape.
17. Come out through the last station, lay the 4th signature on top of the sewn ones. Make a kettle stitch and sew into the corresponding station on signature 4.
Continue sewing until all your signatures are attached.
To finish the book you will also need, 2 pieces of book board the same size as your pages ( mine are 6×6″), two pieces of decorative paper slightly larger than these boards, some scrap paper the same depth as your tape, pva glue, and two pieces of wood veneer the same size as your boards.
1. Cover both boards with decorative paper. Make sure you mark the direction of the board’s grain!
2. Press the books under weights until the glue is completely dry. Attach the book block to the board’s using the tapes
3. Next you need to fill around the tapes using scrap paper. Sand this paper to get it level and smooth. This makes a nice flat surface to attach your veneer to.
4. Attach the veneer to the board. Make sure that the direction of the grain in the veneer and the board’s match or you covers will curl! You could use a double sided adhesive like gudy for this step, or a spray contact adhesive, or pva works fine.
5. Lastly, gently sand the edges of veneer, round off the corners, then varnish or oil the covers.
Please note: usually you would have the grain of the board running parallel with the spine, but if you don’t want the grain on the wood running that way you’ll have to break the rules!
If you found the sewing instructions hard to follow you could always use a different sewing you already know, or search for a good video tutorial for the two different styles online.
I just love the wood with the dyed paper pages, a wooden board Coptic or Ethiopian binding would be lovely too. I’ve dyed lots of paper and I plan on experimenting with some other bindings this winter once the semester ends.
Until then, enjoy, and comment below if you have any other ideas!