Sunday, March 13, 2011

My First Hardcover Book!

I met this lady last year and she is from my care group. Beth is one of the sweetest, most thoughtful people I know. She has reached out to me in so many ways to get to know me better and I appreciate her friendship very much. Last year, we had a ladies' meeting and we were all talking about journals, where we wrote about our quiet times or private musings with the Lord. It was clear to me that Beth liked hand bound journals and I thought that I would make her one this year for her birthday.

I went to Youtube, such a great resource, to get some lessons on how to bind books. I found one by this Italian man. Even though he spoke no English, it was easy to understand what he did but he only explained how to sew the signatures together.

However, once the book was bound, then what? I had no idea how to put the cover together. So I looked at a few other videos, like this one from a Kiwi lady. Sorry for all the links, I tried to link the videos up here but for some reason, they appear as a blank screen.

There is also a very good tutorial here on Instructables.

My book is a mixture of all the three tutorials shown above. I started with some drawing paper, which is a little bit thicker than ordinary paper.

As there were 40 pieces, I separated them into 8 pieces, making it 16 pages when I folded them in half.
Each of these "booklets" is called a signature.  After they were folded, I made a frame out of the scrap MDF I had lying around. I noticed in the Italian language video, the man had a type of tool that held the thread together.
Yeah, this is my dining room. It is also the place where the boys do their homework, I sew, paint (hence the big canvas in the background) Back to the frame, I brad nailed it together.

Then I placed a piece of paper the same length as the signature and poked holes in them. This would form the template of where I would poke the holes through the pages.

I placed a magazine under my signatures so that it would be easier for me to poke the holes through.

Watch the first video to get an idea of how to make this. Then after the pages are put together like below, (My hands look so arthritic!)

I tied them off.

The signatures were clamped together and I put a cheesecloth and glue on the spine. This will help to adhere the signatures to the cover later on. Even my dining chair is the makeshift workspace!

For the cover, I planned to embroider a picture of a bird as Beth loves bird watching. I follow an Australian artist's blog called Chantal Vincent Art and she is so talented. She had a picture of a cardinal on her blog and I wrote to her asking if I could use her image as an embroidery piece. She kindly agreed to do so! Go check out her website and her etsy store. She carves her own stamps and her designs are very adorable!

Getting onto fabric was tough though. I traced it on but could not see the pencil marks so in the end, I decided to use freezer paper to print the image on to fabric.

I liked the image as it was and wished I did not have to embroider but I was worried that the ink would fade. Even after some handling, I could see that the ink was started to smear. I did not have time to look into chemicals that would make the ink permanent as this project was one big learning experience already and that would be too much of an overload.

I started on a satin stitch for the branch and then changed my mind because I did not like the way it looked. In the end, I went for a hybrid stem stitch. (I don't know what I was doing, I was just making it up as I went along!)

I cut the covers using stiff cardboard. I glued the fabric on to the board.

I had to do this step twice because I did not measure the spine correctly and it was way off.  I threw away about 2 pieces of fabric before I got this right. 

I did not take photos of the next steps because I needed to use both hands! I had to glue the book bundle to the cover! I am not too pleased with how the outline of the cover and cheesecloth is showing here. Maybe the paper I used was too thin. I plan on placing a Bible verse there anyway. See Cameron's little puffle toys?

Close up of the embroidery. 

This is the finished book. It was a good project, not too difficult to do. I hope Beth likes it!


  1. Not difficult?! Grace! You are a genius!! Really! So clever :) I'm sure Beth will like it, it is beautiful,

  2. I love it Grace! You've done a fantastic job!!

  3. I LOVE it. What a gorgeous, personal gift...

  4. Hey Grace, what a great pressie.

    Such alot of effort has gone into the book and it looks great.

    I love the Red Cardinal you embroidered, Chantal's work is just brilliant.

    So, will this be the start of something?

    Claire :)

  5. Thank you all for your sweet comments. Claire, I don't know, an idea is forming in my mind! The book is still a bit rough around the edges, if you know what I mean! Thank you for your encouraging words, they give me a bit more confidence to move a little bit forward!