japanese stab binding tutorial: stars

By popular request. Next up, ‘woven’.

An fairly beginner bind and a beginner hole pattern.

**click on an image to enlarge**

hole pattern
sewing pattern

EXIT = needle pointed DOWN and ENTER = needle pointed UP
enter 1, (leave a tail but don’t knot it) wrap around right edge, enter 1 again
exit 4
enter 3, wrap around right edge, enter 3 again
wrap around spine, enter 3 again
exit 4
enter 1, wrap around spine at angle to between 1 and 2, enter 1 again
exit 2
enter 3
exit 2, wrap around spine, thread needle under loop from 1, point right, exit 2 again
enter 5
exit 7
enter 4, wrap around spine, enter 4 again
exit 7
enter 5, wrap around spine at angle to between 5 and 6, enter 5 again
exit 6
enter 4
exit 6, wrap around spine, thread needle under loop from 5, point right, exit 6 again
enter 8
exit 10
enter 7, wrap around spine, enter 7 again
exit 10
enter 8, wrap around spine at angle to between 8 and 9, enter 8 again
exit 9
enter 7
exit 9, wrap around spine, thread needle under loop from 8, point right, exit 9 again
enter 11
exit 13
enter 10, wrap around spine, enter 10 again
exit 13
enter 11, wrap around spine at angle to between 11 and 12, enter 11 again
exit 12
enter 10
exit 12, wrap around spine, thread needle under loop from 11, point right, exit 12 again
enter 14
exit 16
enter 13, wrap around spine, enter 13 again
exit 16, wrap around spine, exit 16 again
wrap around left edge, exit 16 again
enter 14, wrap around spine at angle to between 14 and 15, enter 14 again
exit 15
enter 13
exit 15, wrap around spine, thread needle under loop from 14, point right, exit 15 again
wrap around left edge, exit 15 again
enter 14
exit 12
enter 11
exit 9
enter 8
exit 6
enter 5
exit 2, tie off with tail from 1

26 thoughts on “japanese stab binding tutorial: stars

  1. Hi,

    I love your blog. I’ve used some of the earlier tutorials on some of my portfolios. I had a question though and I’m not sure if I missed a post on this or not…but how do you go about scoring your paper. I found that when I open my portfolio it doesn’t lay flat. I’m nervous to score it with an xacto and ruin the integrity of the paper.


    • Hey Chelsea!
      When I score my paper, I use my medium awl. I hold it like you would a knife, so the angle is very acute. Be careful not to hold it too upright, because it will tear the paper! Essentially what it does is dent the paper along your straight edge. Sometimes the score will need two strokes; it all depends on how thick your material is. Hope that helps!

  2. I am about to attempt Japanese stab binding for the first time for a Valentine’s Day gift for my girlfriend (a book of my poetry), and one question I always have is this: you need to have an idea how much linen thread you need for each bind, correct? Otherwise you’re drawing the entire skein through each hole, which could be a pain. How do I determine how much thread I will need for these bindings?

    • How long the thread is depends on several elements – how many repeats of the pattern you choose to make (in this case, how many stars), and the dimensions of your book: length of the spine AND thickness of the book. I generally try to estimate how much I will need by laying the thread over the holes in the shape of the first segment of the pattern, take that length, multiply it by 2 (front and back) and then that length times however many repeats. Then I add extra length to account for the thread that will be IN the holes. Sorry I can’t give you a specific length, but hopefully this helps a bit!

  3. Thank you for creating this tutorial in particular. I only got inspired to make a book about a a week ago. I did the Star pattern for my first attempt at Japanese Stab binding. I made an autograph book for a retiring librarian and the school theme is stars. It was perfect. I’m so excited about the technique, I can’t wait to get going on more books.

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  5. I’ve hunted for a way to email you offline but can’t find it :) I wanted to say how much I am enjoying your sewing patterns. And to share my error. I somehow unintentionally punched the holes for the STARS upside down, leaving no place to do the wraps that should be around the spine. Once I punched the holes it was either abandon the book or figure out a new pattern using the holes. I did that :) http://scrappystickyinkymess.wordpress.com/2013/11/24/stab-binding-doh/

    I did then do a sample of the stars on a bit of foam core and did it right – it was easy to follow the instructions, But I like my disaster-management version as well and now have to write it up so I don’t forget what I did LOL!

    Thanks much for your posts. I will also say I find the precise hole pattern images more useful than the drawings. I can crop the image, re-size it to the size of my book, print the template and use it as a pattern. That makes it so much easier for a beginner like me – so long as I pay attention to the spine-side v body-of-book side LOL!


    Mary Anne

    • Thanks, Mary Anne!
      I did see your upside down bind. I confess it made me giggle a bit. But it turned out well regardless! :)

      Glad you’re finding the hole patterns useful. I’ve hoped that people would use them as you did, but I’ve yet to have anyone else make a comment about them.

      If you have any other questions or comments (or pictures of how you’ve used my patterns- I love to see them!), you can email me at bhirsbrunner (at) gmail (dot) com.

  6. Hi Becca, first I want you know that your work is awesome! You create so many different japanese bindings. I want to know if this specifique binding, star, is a creation of you. I wanna do that and I want to say who created it. Thanks and congratulations! :)

  7. Hi Becca! I just wanted to say that I’m really loving all the bookbinding designs and tutorials! I have an online handmade paper goods store and I am planning to make and sell some journals and notebooks bound with your designs. Would you want me to mention your website so that I can give credit to your awesome work? =)

  8. Hey Becca. I just discovered your blog and I’m really enjoying all the tutorials that you’ve put up. I do have one question though. How do you measure out the holes for the binding? Like if I wanted to make a template for the star binding, how would I know how to measure out the holes on any given paper size.

    • Hey project_matthex, I just now saw this comment, so sorry!
      I’m not sure I have a specific method of measuring the holes…in general I draw a rough sketch of a pattern, trying to keep the ‘holes’ about 5mm apart. Then I decide how long I want the spine to be, and if it’s longer than my original sketch, I stretch out the space between each motif (in this case, the stars). I used to try to draw the hole pattern by hand, but now I just redraw the sketch in Illustrator with dots for the holes, then I print it out and stick it on top of the test sample or book that I am sewing. So much faster that way! Hope this helps. –B

  9. Hello, Becca! Your work is wonderful, congrats!
    Could you tell me the dimensions you’re using, please?. I want to make some notebooks, but Im planning on using half a A4 sheet (21x15cm). When I look at the pictures of your binding seems like you’re using a bigger size, like a full A4 sheet. I hope you understand my question. Thank you for the attention. Cheers from Brazil. ;*

    • Hey Andreza! My binds are generally between 5.5-6.5 inches (14-16.5cm), measuring the short end. Half an A4 sheet should work fine, as long as you bind the shorter 15cm edge. It might be a bit difficult to open though… the greater the length versus the width, the easier the book is to use with this style of binding. Hope that helps!

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    • Hi Dee, I try to keep the gap between holes at a minimum of 1/4″ or 5-6mm, but it can be as large as you like. Or did you mean the size of the actual hole itself? I tend to keep the holes as small as possible, but often if a pattern calls for one hole to have more than four threads coming in and out of it I make it bigger.
      As for adding more stars to a 12″ book, I probably would, as increasing the size of the star would greatly increase the size of the spine going into the book block. The size of my sample is between 5-6″ to give you an idea. But if you look closely at the arrows on the stars in the tutorial, every star is sewn exactly the same way – so adding more stars would be really simple.

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