simple book binding

Working out a Simplified Japanese Stab Binding to Make in Vermont

Beginning a Stab 2-hole Stab Binding
Beginning a  2-hole Stab Binding

My daughter’s Mandarin teacher and I came up with the idea spending one class period making Japanese-like bound books. Tomorrow is the day that I go in to work with his eight students of various ages. I thought that this would be an easy class to design: take some papers, fold them, punch in some holes and sew.  I’m not using traditional materials  so things didn’t go as easily as I had imagined. I’ve spent some time, then, working out different variations that might be successful. One of my experiments was making just two holes to sew through, using craft cord and a big plastic needle.

Craft Cord Binding

This turned out just fine, but my daughter was not impressed. She liked the look of the sample that I had made using waxed linen thread, and bookbinder’s needles.
Stab Binding

This sample, using needle and thread, came out okay, but I didn’t like how the sewing stations, which were punched using an awl, were so ragged.  Also, I wasn’t sure if the students could handle the needle and thread. I sent this sample into school for the class to see, and the consensus seemed to be that the students wanted to work with needle and thread, rather than with yarn or shoelaces.

Stab Binding in progress
Stab Binding in progress

This evening I tried out making various sized holes in the covers using a hole punch, so that the edges of holes would be smooth. The punch that gave me the best result makes a hole that is about same diameter as my needle.  I used this punch  just for the covers, then used my awl to drive holes  through the inside papers, while the covers were clamped to the pages. This sequence of working kept the sewing stations lined up nicely.

After playing around a bit more I’ve decided to bring in materials so that students can choose between using craft cord and two holes, or using waxed linen thread and five holes. I’m bringing in some origami papers and some symbols of Fu, the symbol for luck, so that they can decorate the covers.

Snowing tonight here in New York , near the Vermont Border
Snowing tonight here in New York , near the Vermont Border

Now, if it ever stops snowing , I might actually get to do this project tomorrow morning!

6 thoughts on “Working out a Simplified Japanese Stab Binding to Make in Vermont

  1. In my adult class, we used an electric or hand drill to drill the holes with a wooden block underneath the book so we wouldn’t make holes in the table. You probably know that, but with kids they could hold the book while the teacher drilled the holes if that would work. Also, there are large eyed needles made of metal in the embroidery section that will hold yarn – tapestry needle. One more thing, I can’t remember if it was you that came up with the suggestion but you can use dental threadiing loops for needle for kids- they go under braces and are in the toothbrush aisle. The ones I have seen are blue plastic and there are several in a package.


    1. Hi Sue!
      What were you using for covers in your adult class? I have a dremel tool and a matching drill press, and I did try this first. The cover material that I am using a folding piece of Epic Black Cover, and the drilling pushed through the paper in a way that I didn’t like. Perhaps if I used a smaller drill bit it would have looked better?
      In any case making the holes with a punch worked out well. I did teach the class this morning and it went well. Will be posting later.
      Please, do let me know what you were using for covers in your class.


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