japanese stab binding #36: zebra stripes

An accidental animal print. 74 holes on this one. I suppose that a real animal print wouldn’t have repeats, but…oh well. The sides on this design are a bit tricky, as are the Vs on the spine. I wrapped the spine 8 times to get the thread length. 6″(15.24cm) wide, .25″(.64cm) thick.

jsb-36

jsb-36detail

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japanese stab binding #35: dancing snowflakes

I have been reunited with my bookbinding tools! Also I have some free time to do more experiments now.

This bind has 84 holes. 84! It’s a bit ridiculous. But other than the prep taking forever, the actual sewing is straightforward. I wrapped the spine about 10.5 times to get the length of the string. 5.75″(14.6cm) wide, .25″(.64cm) thick.

jsb-35

jsb-35-detail

japanese stab binding #34: cobwebs

This is from a super-old sketch that I never actually sewed. But I got a new toy (picture below) and I wanted to try it out on a simple test before using it on a real project. The design has only 9 holes, and they’re in a straight line! That almost never happens anymore, haha.

This bind is a blend of Marionette and Woven.
jsb-34

Exciting experiments and shenanigans are coming…
dremel press

japanese ledger binding: a tutorial

Not that it’s much of a tutorial. I drew these instructions a couple of years ago, fully intending to post them…and then forgot. Or was distracted by other things. Not very hard to believe, if you know me! I was asked for more information about a ledger bind I previously posted, so here is what I know.

This is about as simple of a bind as you can get…it just looks complicated. The most difficult part is gluing it all together and keeping it aligned. This bind should be landscape, or wider than it is tall.

Start with a book block made of single sheets. You’ll need to drill three evenly spaced holes at least half an inch in from the spine edge, though ultimately where you place your holes depends on how wide your book is.

I generally cut a thicker piece of paper to wrap around the book block, like below. It isn’t necessary, but it makes the spine look much cleaner and if the paper of your book block is thin, the thicker paper is more durable.

Sew the block together by starting in the middle hole, and making a figure eight. Tie off. Cut the ends of your thread short, but they don’t have to be tucked in or hidden.

brh tutorial002a

The boards for the front cover should leave a gap that is twice the thickness of the board. If you skimp on the gap, your book will not open all the way. Don’t go overboard with the gap though, because the section of the cover with board #2 will flop too much and be more likely to eventually rip off. Board #3 should be wide enough to cover the stitching.

Glue the boards to the book block. I generally glue them in the order they are numbered below.

brh tutorial002b

A look at the finished product:

A blank journal for a friend

japanese ledger bind2

An art history paper for grad school. I had to make four copies of this book.

japanese ledger bind1

Hope that helps! If something doesn’t make sense, leave me a comment and I’ll try to clarify.

japanese stab binding tutorial: woven

I’ll be honest, I’ve been working on this tutorial for days. It might be the most convoluted one. I’ve checked and double-checked for errors. If you find one, leave a comment and I’ll fix it as soon as I can.

But ‘woven’ is not that difficult to sew once you understand the technique. If you’ve tried the marionette tutorial, then you could sew this bind with that method. However…if you can figure this technique out, it will give you more options! The ‘woven’ part will actually be partially over the spine edge – though the diagram doesn’t show it well. I rate this pattern somewhere in the intermediate range, with beginning holes.

A few things to remember: when you are making the first diagonal Xs, do not make the knot too tight. Also, leave a bit of slack in the first three Xs. Your fingers will thank you when you try to thread the needle under the massive knot to make the last X between holes 16 and 20. If when you first read the pattern and can’t visualize what to do, just think how an X is written… you sew the first diagonal from the beginning hole to the matching hole on the opposite side of the pattern, and then complete the X on the way back to the original hole. Clear as mud? Well – jump in and try it and hopefully it will make sense!

hole pattern
jsb.woven.holessewing pattern
jsb.woven

EXIT = needle pointed DOWN and ENTER = needle pointed UP
=====

enter 1, (leave a tail but don’t knot it) wrap around right side, enter 1 again
exit 2, wrap around spine, exit 2 again
enter 3, wrap around spine, enter 3 again
exit 4, wrap around spine, exit 4 again
enter 5, wrap around spine, enter 5 again
exit 6, wrap around spine, exit 6 again
enter 7, wrap around spine, enter 7 again
exit 8, wrap around spine, exit 8 again
enter 9, wrap around spine, enter 9 again
exit 10, wrap around spine, exit 10 again
enter 11, wrap around spine, enter 11 again
exit 12, wrap around left side, exit 12 again
enter 13, wrap around left side, enter 13 again
exit 14, wrap around left side, exit 14 again
enter 15, wrap around left side, enter 15 again
exit 16, wrap around left side, exit 16 again
wrap around spine, exit 16 again
enter 15
exit 14
enter 13
exit 12
enter 11
exit 10
enter 9
exit 8
enter 7
exit 6
enter 5
exit 4
enter 3
exit 2
enter 1, thread needle under 2, over 3, under 4, over 5, under 6, at angle to between 6 and 7; *opposite side* thread needle under 7, over 8, under 9, over 10, under 11
enter 12, thread needle under 11, over 10, under 9, over 8, under 7; thread needle backward (point left) under loop from 1, pull to the right (knot/twist should be vertical), *opposite side* thread needle under 6, over 5, under 4, over 3, under 2
enter 1
exit 17, thread needle over 2, under 3, over 4, under 5, over 6, thread needle under knot/twist between 6 and 7, point right, *opposite side* thread needle over 7, under 8, over 9, under 10, over 11
exit 13, thread needle over 11, under 10, over 9, under 8, over 7, thread needle under twist between 7 and 6, point left, *opposite side* thread needle over 6, under 5, over 4, under 3, over 2
exit 17
enter 18, thread needle under 2, over 3, under 4, over 5, under 6, thread needle under twist between 6 and 7, point right, *opposite side* thread needle under 7, over 8, under 9, over 10, under 11
enter 14, thread needle under 11, over 10, under 9, over 8, under 7, thread needle under twist between 7 and 6, point left, *opposite side* thread needle under 6, over 5, under 4, over 3, under 2
enter 18
exit 19, thread needle over 2, under 3, over 4, under 5, over 6, thread needle under twist between 6 and 7, point right, *opposite side* thread needle over 7, under 8, over 9, under 10, over 11
exit 15, thread needle over 11, under 10, over 9, under 8, over 7, thread needle under twist between 7 and 6, point left, *opposite side* thread needle over 6, under 5, over 4, under 3, over 2
exit 19
enter 20, thread needle under 2, over 3, under 5, over 5, under 6, **thread needle under twist between 6 and 7, don’t wrap knot,** *opposite side* thread needle under 7, over 8, under 9, over 10, under 11
enter 16, thread needle under 11, over 10, under 9, over 8, under 7, ••thread needle under twist between 7 and 6, don’t wrap knot,** *opposite side* under 6, over 5, under 4, over 3, under 2
enter 20, wrap around spine, enter 20 again,
wrap around right edge, enter 20 again
exit 19, wrap around right edge, exit 19 again,
enter 18, wrap around right edge, enter 18 again
exit 17, wrap around right edge, exit 17 again
tie off

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
jsb.stars.holes
sewing pattern
jsb.stars

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

The theory of japanese stab binding

…or at least how I understand it. I’ve had many questions since I began posting my own Japanese stab bind designs: about how I create them, the thought process behind the designs and sewing mechanisms, the tools I use, etc. I’ll break down my personal process in another post; for this one I want to explain some of the basics for those of you just starting out in the world of bookbinding and are looking for a style that allows for incredible expression.

If you have researched bookbinding at all, you will have most likely come across the basic Japanese stab bind (JSB). It looks like this: four holes, four wraps around the spine, and a wrap around each edge.

Fold line
The most import part of the traditional JSB to remember is what I call the ‘fold line’. This is made by the holes that are farthest away from the spine, or closest to the content on the inside of your book. It is vital that they be in a straight line, otherwise your book will end up with a crooked fold and the cover will be more likely to tear.

Having thread run along the fold line is helpful because it keeps the cover from tearing off as easily – there is more surface for the cover to bend against, instead of just single holes. It also keeps with the traditional JSB look. I’ve only sewn a handful of binds that didn’t have thread reinforcing the fold line, but the holes were even.

“Butterfly” bind.

Edges and spine
It isn’t absolutely necessary to include the edge wraps, but good practice to do so. If you have a tendency to sew loosely, or if you ever have trouble making your knot tight enough, it is important to include the edge wraps. They also help with reinforcing the fold line, and keep the book together better. The spine needs to always have some kind of wrap. As you can see from the example binds in this post, there are numerous ways to do this.

Holes
The absolute minium of necessary holes would be one hole…but you would end up with a fairly wobbly and shaky book and your design would be limited to a triangle. Two holes would still create a weak bind, but if the book were quite small, or had only a few pages, it would probably work. But good news: there is no maximum limit to how many holes your design can have, and it doesn’t matter if it is an even or an odd number. You are only limited by your patience, persistence, and stamina when it comes to drilling all of those holes! I would say my patterns have an average of 30 holes each.

“Crocus” has 53 holes.

**A potential problem area is how close your holes are to each other…the closer they are, the more likely your book block will rip when you pull the thread tight. And NOTHING is more disheartening than when that happens! I try to keep my holes at least .25″ (or 7 mm) apart. On occasion I will place them closer, but I then sew the book very, very carefully.

Process
This is where it gets a bit complicated to explain by using words and not physically demonstrating (maybe one day I’ll try to create a video tutorial).

The traditional JSB with 4 holes has the sewing start at hole #2. But if you have a complicated design, it’s easier to start at the very edge.  The central objective of JSB is to sew your entire bind while never repeating the same line; in other words, never having two threads between the same two holes.


To achieve this, you essentially sew half of the design in one direction, then at the halfway mark you return back to the start by sewing the pattern in reverse. You must get the concept “over-under-over-under”…then, “under-over-under-over” firmly in your mind. This is fairly easy to figure out on a geometric pattern – and it can become convoluted with an organic/non-geometric design very rapidly! The ease or difficulty is very much dependent on what the design is and who is sewing it.

For example, below is “mushroom”, which is a geometric pattern with 5 repeats. The first ‘mushroom’ segment is completed before the second is begun. In fact, because of the gap between each segment, each mushroom is sewn exactly the same way. If they had been touching at the fold line, the needle direction of the second mushroom would have been completely opposite of the first (every ‘enter’ would become an ‘exit’). The third mushroom would have been like the first, the fourth like the second, etc.

In “peacock”, an organic pattern, the sewing starts in the middle, creating the feather’s rachis first, then the center circles, then the final circle with fringe coming off of it. It looks complicated, but once you have mastered the concept of ‘over-under-over under,’ it isn’t too difficult to figure out.

“Woven” is an exception to the rule: it is a geometric pattern, but the sewing actually goes from one side to the other and back again just to complete one ‘V’ shape. But the edges and the sides still use the ‘over-under-over-under’ approach.

======
Early in my experimenting I decided that straight perpendicular lines by themselves were boring. I figured out that the spine could be wrapped with a ‘V’ shape by crossing one loop with another previous loop (or loops). So far the only shape that seems impossible is a circle, but I’m working on it!

I hope this is helpful. If you ever run into a snag with your own pattern or design (or with one of mine) send me an email. And send pictures of your creations, I would love to see!