Friday 20 December 2013

How to: Personalised Name Book Binding

This is a project that I promised a tutorial for a while ago, but only just got around to photographing over the past couple of days. I originally made a personalised journal out of a vintage astronomy book, but this time I'm using this cute book with dogs on the front.

I made this one for a friend's birthday, but these would also make a great personalised Christmas present (if you've got the time to make one over the weekend, that is).

You Will Need:
  • A vintage hard-backed book
  • Paper in a colour of your choice
  • Craft Knife
  • PVA glue
  • Quick drying varnish
  • Washi Tape or a strip of fabric
  • Awl
  • Pencil
  • Needle and Embroidery thread
If you're going to undertake this project, I'd recommend being fairly acquainted with Coptic stitch before you start. Get some practise making notebooks with a simpler spine design, and then you should be ready to try this.

I've made my signatures out of A4 cream and white paper by folding them in half. Mine are 8 pages per signature (or 4 sheets of folded A4), but you could do more if you want. I recommend a minimum of 10 signatures for this - you'll need a few so that you have enough space to fit a name on. I then used a craft knife to trim them to the size of the book I was using.

Then, use a craft knife to gut your book, so that you are just left with the front and back cover. Save the innards though - you never know when you may need some old book pages.

See? I've used some of the pages from the book to line the book covers with. If you are going to do this, use PVA glue, and try to match up the scruffy ends with each other. An optional extra at this point is to varnish both the outside and inside of the book covers - I like to do this just to make them a little bit more hard wearing.

You can use washi tape, or even a strip of fabric to hide the scruffy ends of the covers, where they were cut away from the book.

Now you can start designing the pattern of your spine.

 Whilst holding your signatures tightly together (or using a book press) draw a vertical line on each end of your spine, 2cm away from the bottom and top. The space inbetween these two lines is where your name will be, so use a pencil to lightly sketch the name onto the spine, making it central by beginning at the centre of the spine. To make things simple, take care to ensure that the signatures now stay in this order, or your design will get muddled up.

 Now use an awl to make holes in each signature according to your design. Each hole should be where your pencil marks are along the spine.

 Make 2 holes in each of your covers as well, 2cm from the top and bottom, and 1cm in from the edge. Make sure you do this on the inside edge of your covers.

 Now you can begin to stitch your spine together, using the same technique for a standard Coptic stitch binding (check out my Coptic stitch tutorial if you need a reminder).

The only difference is that you might find yourself having to do some more irregular binding to keep the shape of the letters.

In the above picture, I am actually binding two signatures at once, instead to just doing one at a time. I had to do this for the first two signatures because, unlike the vertical lines, the letters are not attached to holes in the bottom cover. Once the first two signatures are done, things should get a bit simpler.

Some parts of the binding are also back stitched - particularly horizontal lines like some parts of the "E" and the top of the "T".

Stick with it, and you'll start to see your letters take shape. Finish off your binding in the usual way, by binding your front cover and your last signature to the main spine at the same time.

This can be quite a time consuming process, but is totally worth it for a unique personalised gift. Or you could just be really selfish and make one for yourself (I won't judge you).

Let me know if you try this (or have any questions). I would also love to see any photos if you try this.

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