Saturday, September 15, 2018

Buttonhole Stitch Binding Workshop

We just completed our ninth workshop for 2018. Of those nine workshops, five have been sewn books. This month Lara Cox shared how to do a Buttonhole Stitch binding. Unlike many of the books we have sewn, in this one, we have an opening in the middle of the spine and we sew one end of the spine encircling the paper cover and tying off at the last signature on one end. Then we have a new needle and thread and sew the other end, again sewing each of the signatures and then bind off the thread.

While we were working, Lara kept our attention by giving us variations and design ideas to try as well as pitfalls to avoid. She also made sure to bring oversized props that made it easier to see what she wanted us to do without having to stop at each table.

Lara demonstrates with an oversized prop to show how to center 
the spine on the cover.

After centering the spine on the cover, we measured the fold over at each end. Then we cut a buttonhole in the cover. First we marked it and then cut an "X" diagonally from each corner. Note: this cover had a hole that was open only on the edges of the spine. In other pictures, you can see that some of us extended the hole as a different design element.

After making the opening, we placed the jig inside of the cover and marked the top and bottom edges of the opening. This resulted in just two holes being pierced in each signature.

Next, we pierced the signatures. Some used signature wraps as shown here.

In this photo, Becky is using a phone book as a piercing cradle. Putting the 
signature over the corner of a box or simply a pad of cardboard will also work.

We started the sewing on the inside of the signature.

From the inside of the first signature, we sewed out through the hole in the cover and over the end of the cover and to the inside of the signature. We tied off the thread on the inside and returned to the outside that you can see from this picture. We then moved to the second signature. Note: We are sewing only the left side. When that side is finished, we turn the book over and do the other end.

And we sewed. It is always interesting to see that there is no one way to accomplish any of these steps. While sewing, some set the book on its tail and did the sewing. The next two pictures show people laying it more or less flat on the table or simply holding the book almost in their lap. It all works as long as we are careful to get the thread tension right.

As usual, we had two people on one side of the table and one on the opposite side. 
This gives us plenty of work space and enables us to laugh, talk and encourage each other.

Enough! Here are the books we made.

The book on the left has an extended opening and also signature wraps. The one on the right used a rather simple cover and used the thread to emphasize the color of the the cover.

In this book the signatures had cover wraps and the thread 
was chosen to pick up the wrapper colors.

Maps! We frequently use maps in our covers or signature wrappers.

These are Lara's books. Look at the interesting way she cut the hole.

This is the end of the pictures. As usual, it was a good day.

Sunday, September 9, 2018


Several NORBAG members also belong to the Sonoma County Book Arts Guild (SoCoBAG). Their members (43 members strong) recently participated in an exhibition at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. The Center hosted three bookmaking and book-art themed exhibits featuring local and international artists. In the main gallery, “Bibliophoria V”, visual and sculptural re-interpretations of books, their components and methods of making were included. In gallery II, “Blind Stitching” and “In Touch with Art” featured textile works by artists with vision loss. Gallery III’s “Bound & Unbound” included works by the SoCoBAG members. Each of the members could place at least one piece in the show.  Many thanks to Kris Nevius for sharing photographs of this inspiring exhibition (now closed).

NORBAG member, Dena Bliss

NORBAG member Renee Owen

NORBAG member Kris Nevius

NORBAG member Kris Nevius

NORBAG member Renee Owen

NORBAG member Barbara Briggs-Letson

NORBAG member Renee Owen

Tuesday, August 28, 2018


For the September workshop, Lara Cox will be teaching a book binding technique that is a variation of the binding taught in Keith Smith's book Non-Adhesive Binding Volume 1. Having seen this binding on various Pinterest and Bookbinding sites, Lara was inspired to research and make several different versions. She used book cloth over book board covers as well as simpler versions utilizing cover weight paper for the covers. This binding can be glued or not depending on your style choices, and offers endless possibilities for variation. Note: For this workshop she will be using the cover weight paper version.

Materials to bring:

  • One cover paper: Mi-Teintes, card stock or a similar weight paper, cut 5 1/2" tall x 15 1/2" wide. Cut grain short (grain running parallel to the 5 1/2" side). Feel free to bring decorative paper, colored pencils, etc., with which to embellish your cover.
  • Paper for the signatures: Text weight 8 1/2" wide x 11" tall, cut in half to size 8 1/2" wide x 5 1/2" tall. We will be working with 10 signatures which are comprised of 4 pieces of paper each. Don't fold the signatures until class!! Keep in mind that a portion of the folded sides of your signatures will be visible and you may wish to include colored or patterned papers as the "outside pages" of your signatures. If you choose to do this, you will need a maximum of 10 pages cut the same as your signature pages.
  • Colored thread for binding: Waxed linen or embroidery thread. Note that this thread will show on the outside of your binding and will be a decorative element.

Tools to bring:

  • Ruler
  • X-acto knife or similar tool
  • Bone folder
  • Pencil
  • Cutting mat
  • Sewing needle appropriate size for your thread
  • Beeswax for waxing thread
  • Piercing awl
  • Piercing cradle or foam board for making holes in your signatures
  • Optional: glue, glue stick or double-sided tape

When:   Saturday, September 8, noon
Where:  Eureka Methodist Church, Del Norte & F Streets
Bring:    See above list
RSVP:    Yes, by September 3 to Lara Cox (contact information in the newsletter)
Cost:     $1.00 for instructions

Tuesday, August 21, 2018


On Saturday, August 11, 2018, Donna Gephart led a workshop on this binding from Keith Smith's book 1,2 & 3 Section Sewings. This is volume 3 of 4 in his series of non-adhesive bindings. If you aren't familiar with Keith Smith books, don't think that Donna opened the book, copied a materials list with measurements and started the workshop. Keith Smith books have tons of information about sewing patterns and some info about materials but the rest is up to the reader to put it all together to complete a book. 

Donna did the math and made it easy for us.  The book has three sections (signatures) and the signatures are sewn onto the cover with a ribbon banding that is placed under the stitching. The cover is cut so that it can be folded back upon itself to cover the ribbons on the inside and to give a folded fore edge for strength and durability.

These are the samples that were in the August newsletter.

We had a full house for the workshop.

 Marking and folding of the cover

We started with the folding of the cover. We set a spine in the middle
 of the cover and scored the end flaps for folding inward.

Preparing the spine and jigs

Donna instructed us to mark the spine for the sewing of the signatures (sections) and then temporarily applying the ribbons to the inside so that we could mark the spine.

This is a closeup of the inside of the cover. We have three lines drawn vertically for each of the signatures. With the ribbons placed on the page, we marked the piercing holes. In this picture, you can see that there are two holes at the top of the ribbon and only one in the middle of the bottom of the first ribbon. Each of the next ribbons will only have holes on the outside lines of each ribbon. This means that the two outside signatures have a different piercing pattern than the middle one. So we made 2 different jigs.  Note: the ribbons are on the inside of the cover only during the set up for the jig. Ultimately, they will be on the outside of the spine with the stitching over them.                                                                       

We moved the ribbons away from the lines and made a slit where the ribbons
 would eventually re-enter the cover.

After marking all of the piercings, we moved the ribbons to the outside of the cover and slid the ends through the slits. (Note: we don't always use waxed linen. This member uses Perle Cotton generally used in crewel work, waxed it and used it as linen.)

Using folded cardstock and the cover, we made two jigs for each of the piercing patterns.

Sewing of the Signatures

The left and right signatures used a different jig than the center signature. Some of us used piercing cradles while others used the edge of a box or simply on a pad.

The stitching starts with the middle signature and then moves to the first signature. It is fun watching what each member does to control the signatures. Some used paper clips, others clamps and others simply work with the paper.

Throughout the process, Donna moved through the room helping where needed.

 See our results. At the end, take a look at our "Show and Tell" table.

As usual, someone had an interesting variation.

Last, but not least, the "show and tell" table. The books in the upper left are samples of what we will be doing next month. The three papers in the middle are batik on rice paper. The pictures on the right are some collages using Picasso prints to fit into our cat theme.