Bound Books for BJDs Version 2: Thread-Bound Books
This method is a little more complicated than my other tutorial, Glue-bound Books. It requires a few more supplies that may be harder to come by.
1. Paper for the pages: I recommend using a nicer grade of paper (24 lb. or more), like resume paper which can be found at most stationary stores and chain office supply stores. I wouldn’t use regular (20 lb.) copy paper, it doesn’t hold up to the thread very well and tends to tear easily. Resume paper is usually acid-free as well.
2. Cardboard for the cover: Any kind of cardboard will do, as long as it’s not corrugated. If the cardboard is rather thin, just glue two sheets together. Cardboard from the back of sketchbooks is pretty nice, but I actually like to use scrap mat board. I get the scraps from my local photo/framing store for free, since I only need little pieces. I prefer the mat board because it’s archival (acid-free).
3. Glue: I usually use a type of glue called PVA (polyvinyl acetate). It sounds fancy, but any store that carries scrapbooking supplies should have it. It’s acid-free, and unlike Elmer’s it doesn’t dry hard, but remains flexible and is very strong. The key part is that it remains flexible after it has dried, but if you find another glue with the same properties that’s fine to use too.
4. Decorative paper and cloth for the cover: I like to use cloth for the spine of the book as it holds up much better than paper. Most cloth or fabric will work as long as it’s not too thick (denim or regular leather) or too sheer (silks and gauze). Nothing stretchy either. You can either cover the whole book in cloth, or do the spine in cloth and the covers in a decorative paper. A lot of stationary and craft store carry decorative paper, and you only need a teeny bit. Fancy wrapping paper, brown paper bags, nice packaging…paper is everywhere! These cheap bars of soap I get in Chinatown have the nicest wrapper with cherry blossom print.
5. Thread for the binding: Through trial and error I’ve found that thread for stringing pearls works the best for miniature binding. It’s very strong, and very smooth so the sewing process is very easy (no beeswax required!). I’ve tried regular cotton/poly thread meant for sewing, but that broke too easily. I also tried an artificial sinew thread meant for leather crafts, and although the results looked a little sloppy, it held up well and was easy to sew. I found both the pearl stringing thread and artificial sinew at Michael’s.
6. Muslin, cheesecloth or similar light-weight fabric for the binding
7. Needle: Just a regular sewing needle works fine
8. Waxed or freezer paper
9. Clamps, flower press or heavy books to act as a press: I got some small, cheap plastic clamps from the hardware store and they’re such a big help.
10. Ruler, razor/X-acto knife, scissors, pencil, binder clips, corrugated cardboard, large safety pin, paperclip/bone folder
11. Industrial paper trimmer: Sometimes called a guillotine, it trims a whole stack of paper at once. I have access to one at my work, and it makes the pages look incredibly neat and trim. You can try finding a printing store to see if they will trim the book pages for you – at my job we trim things for customers all the time, usually for just a few bucks.
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Part One: Making the Pages
1. Decide what size book you’d like
I usually cut out different sizes from some scrap paper to see what looks good with my doll. For this tutorial I’m making book that’s approximately 1.5″ x 2″. The book will get a little (approx 1/8″) smaller when the pages get trimmed.
2. Make the pages
The easiest way to make pages is to just take a ruler and mark out the pages on the paper. Since the pages are going to be folded into signatures, cut out the pages twice as long as the finished book size will be. For my book, I’ll be cutting out 3″ x 2″ pages (which will get folded in half into 1.5″ x 2″ pages).
Cut out the pages using the ruler and razor blade. Don’t fret if they’re not all perfectly the same size, it won’t affect the binding process, and they’ll get trimmed later on.
I ended up cutting out 25 pages (also known as folios), which will make me 5 signatures using 5 pages each. Cut out 1 extra page to be used for the hole-punching guide.
3. Making the signatures
Now, take your pages and fold them in half. I use something smooth, like a paperclip or a bone folder, to get a really sharp fold.
Take 5 of the folded pages and collate them, sticking them one inside the other. This is what is called a signature. You should have one folded page left over, this is going to be used for a guide for hole-punching the pages.
4. Punching the holes
Put down a piece of corrugated cardboard on your work surface. Take the extra page and lay it flat. Using the ruler, make a mark along the fold line 3/8″ in from each edge. From those marks, measure in another 3/8″ and make marks.
Take the safety pin, unfolding it to about 90 degrees, and punch holes through the marks. Refold the page when you’re through.
Now, take one of your signatures and slip the guide page inside. Holding the pages slightly open with the spine on the cardboard, use the safety pin to punch holes through all the sheets using the guide sheet.
Alright, now you’re ready to sew!
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Part Two: Sewing the Signatures
1. Measure the thread
I usually measure a piece of thread that equals the number of signatures times the height of the book, plus some extra. In my case, that would be 5 signatures x 2″ tall = thread 10 inches long. I add another 5-10 inches just to be on the safe side…it’s always better to have thread too long than too short.
2. Start sewing
Here’s a guide to show you where the needle will be going. Blue numbers indicate the thread is going into the spine, red numbers indicate the thread is coming out. It’s kind of like connect the dots.
Thread the needle, and go in at hole #1, leaving a 2″ tail. Do not make a knot.
Follow the guide until the thread comes out at hole #10. Try and keep the thread as tight as you can without tearing the paper. I tend to just hold the signatures very tightly together, although you can use the clamps or the binder clips. Tie a knot with the tail at hole #1.
Follow the guide until the thread comes out at hole#16. Here we’re going to make a kettle stitch. You’re going to use this stitch every time you exit the last hole of a signature.
When you exit the last hole of the last signature, you’re going to secure it with two half hitches. Trim the excess thread.
You can open it up and check out your stitching. Almost done!
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Part Three: Gluing the Signatures
1. Clamping the signatures
Line up your sewn signatures and either clamp them or press them under something heavy, leaving the spines exposed.
2. Gluing the signatures together
Apply 2-4 coats of glue to the spine, depending on how thick the glue is. Try not to push it too far in between the signatures, as it may affect how your book opens. Make sure to glue down the loose thread ends.
3. Making the ‘tabs’
Cut out a small piece of muslin. This is what is going to hold the bound pages to the cover. For my size book I cut a piece about 1.5″ x 2.5″, basically a little bit shorter than the height of your book and a little shorter than the length of the unfolded page. Apply a small amount of glue to the spine and center the muslin.
Press the muslin into the spine, then apply a small amount of glue over the muslin. Let dry. Then pages can be trimmed, or put into the cover at this point.
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Part Four: Trimming (Optional)
You’ll notice the edge of the pages has kind of a triangular zigzag shape. I like to trim the edges (top and bottom as well) of the bound pages to give it a clean, sharp look. This doesn’t affect how the book is held together, it’s just a cosmetic thing.
I place several sets of bound pages in the trimmer, one on top of the other. I then trim off about 1/16″ from each edge (except the spine).
Here’s the pages all nice and trimmed…ready to be put into the cover!
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Part Five: Making the Cover
Made exactly the same way as the covers for the glue-bound books on my DoA tutorial.