Friday, March 6, 2015

Hand bookmaking with fabric:
Binding and finishing the Farm Friends book

Are you ready for the binding and finishing of the Farm Friends soft book? The earlier production steps can be found in this post.

Binding and Finishing
Now that the signatures for the Farm Friends soft book are complete, they need to be gathered and collated in preparation for the binding. 
Two 4-page signatures and book cover of "Farm Friends" soft book.
Stack the signatures on top of the inside front/back covers. Check to make sure the pages are sequential (reader spreads) before you commit to the sewing.

Binding the book: Saddle Binding
In printing terms, "stitching" refers to the use of wire staples to secure the signatures of a book. When bookbinding thread is used to bind a book, it is called "sewing," or Smyth sewing. In quilting and sewing, the terms "stitching" and "sewing" mean much the same thing.

Take the prepared stack of signatures and pin or hand baste them in place in preparation for the saddle binding. The term "saddle binding" comes from the equipment that is used in book production. The signatures straddle a device similar to sitting on a saddle. For the fabric book, the signatures are laid out flat and sewn through the center of the pages, in the gutter. A saddle binding (as opposed to a side binding) allows a book to open flat.
Pin the signatures in preparation for bookbinding.
Binding by machine or by hand
If binding your soft book by machine, it's a good idea to use your machine's walking foot or an even-feed foot. If you enjoy hand sewing, this is a great opportunity for a bit of hand work—which is what I did on my book. I decided to try out a new 12 wt. thread I got in a Sulky Petites thread sampler pack. I used a backstitch.
Saddle binding the soft book by machine (left) or by hand (right).
Once the saddle binding is done, your soft book is complete. I particularly liked the fact that the book's cover is slightly larger than the text pages (a nice detail!). This protects the inside pages (one job of the cover), keeps them from peeking out when the book is closed and makes for a nice tidy presentation.
The cover extends beyond the inside pages of the book.
Be sure to fill out the bookplate on the back cover with your Ex Libris.
Farm Friends bookplate.
Creative Bookmaking and Embellishing
A soft book like this one can be sewn and assembled in an hour or two for the quilter or sewer with some experience. It is also a wonderful beginner sewing project. You might also consider these creative techniques for embellishing, enhancing or "illuminating" the pages of a soft book panel:
  • thread painting the farm animals or background scenes
  • embroidery and hand stitched embellishments
  • free-motion quilting
  • top stitching or edge stitching the pages—metallic threads could simulate gilding
  • the small format is ideal to experiment with surface design techniques.
Got ideas? Leave me a comment! The creative possibilities for quilters, sewers and fabric book artists are boundless (pun intended?).

With a couple hours invested in the bookmaking, this soft book will also provide hours of reading enjoyment for you and a youngster. What better gift is there than to give a book... or to read and re-read it aloud to a child... or listen to a new young reader read it aloud to you?

Bookbinding tools for making Soft Books
In addition to my sewing machine, these are the tools I used for my soft book production. The bone folder has a blunt tip and rounded edges and can be used for folding and scoring paper as well as a point turner for soft books. The other tools are basic sewing tools.
Bookmaking tools: appliqué scissors, bone folder, point turner,
threads for machine or hand binding.
A note of Thanks and Gratitude to the professors in my undergraduate (NIU) and graduate (RIT) schools who instilled the love of typography, printing and bookmaking in me and fellow classmates: John Henry, Archie Provan, Jim Mannino, Emery Schneider, Werner Rebsamen, Joe Brown, Dr. Julius Silver, Joe Noga, David Pankow and also to Frank Ramano.

Here is the print production video from this post.

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