This Saturday I will be teaching a class on Medieval Limp Binding. There are many wonderful tutorials online, some with all the history and sources for all the supplies. Here I will simply post a bit about how to actually do the binding. Please note that I am not using the proper supplies for this journal to be true to period, or even archival. The purpose of this free tutorial is simply to learn the steps of how to do the binding. I will be using this as my class handout, so it will make more sense to those who are in the class or who just need a reminder. If there is not enough explanation here for you, you may want to find a more in depth tutorial.
I start with the pages. As you can see, my pages are 5 3/4″ by 3 3/4″.
For this small journal I am using 4 sets (signatures) of 4 pages.
This means I have cut out 16 of these pages, folded them all in half, and put them together in for fours, as seen above. Each set is called a signature.
To make the cover, I like to use graph paper. Start off by drawing the front cover ~ all the way to the left. Then put in the spine. I use 1/8″ spaces around each signature. This means my spine is 5/8″ to accommodate 4 signatures. Then repeat the cover for the back, repeat the spine, and add a bit for the fold~over. On a separate piece of graph paper, repeat just the spine and plan out the stitching placement. You will need an even number of vertical holes.
I then transfer the spine pattern to a piece of card stock and poke through the holes. You will then want a piece of stiffer material for the spine. Above you can see I have chosen a piece of leather, which is what was commonly used in the Middle Ages.
Cut your spine material to the size of the spine and poke the holes through. Make sure to place something underneath so as not to damage your table.
Sorry for the quality of this picture. This is a cover, in this case it is two pieces of linen stuck together with a piece of heat~n~bond in the middle to add stiffness. I stitched around it and up and down the sides of the spine (only the actual spine, not the bit that is part of the fold~over.)
Now back to the signatures. Open each one up and use the spine pattern to poke holes down the fold of each signature.
Place the spine on the outside of the cover, and poke holes through the spine piece and the cover. Time to sew; lots of lining up now. I am simply using crotchet thread. It works just fine for me. To find the length of the thread I use this: Book height times the number of signatures (4 in this case) plus a foot.
Start on the outside. Sew through the top right corner hole in your spine, go through the spine, the book cover, and the top hole in your first signature. Come back up through the next hole in your signature, lining up with the cover and spine, and continue up and down to the bottom of your spine. Above is the first row as seen from the outside.
Above you see the first row as seen from the inside.
Now you are going to go back down through the hole right next to the one you just came up through. You will want to hold the first signature out of your way.
Add the second signature on starting with this stitch. Continue in the up, down as you did with the first signature.
Here is the outside after sewing on the second signature. Just keep sewing on the signatures in this manner until they are all attached.
Here we have the outside after all the signatures have been sewn in. Now simply tie a nice tight square knot and clip the ends. Another options is to twist the ends together, or add a third thread and braid them, and use it as a bookmark.
There are tons of ways to close your journal. Here is a simple one. I twisted some of the thread together, and cut it to go around the book twice, plus a bit. I then use an awl to poke two holes in the fold~over, and thread the cord through letting the knot on the end act as a stopper. Wrap the cord around the book twice and tie shut.
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