Japanese Binding for the Classrom

Japanese Binding in One Classroom Period

Japanese Binding in the Classroom

Success! I had one classroom period to help Mario’s Mandarin students make a Japanese-style bound book.

I was nervous about teaching this class because I don’t think that I’ve ever taught Japanese binding. Since my daughter is a student in this class I especially wanted the outcome to be good.

This won’t be a step-by-step tutorial, but if you want one I suggest checking out http://beccamakingfaces.com/theory-of-japanese-stab-binding/  for lots instruction, history, and  beautiful samples. Also, my last post has more details on how I designed this project.

Start the sewing by making a running stitch from top to bottom
Start the sewing by making a running stitch from top to bottom

The one bit of instruction that I do want to record here is the method I used to teach the sewing.  First let me say that if you are already familiar with Japanese binding you will notice all sorts of ways that I deviate from traditional methods: the ways that I teach in classrooms are always modifications of classical techniques, otherwise projects would take longer than the time that I am allowed. And, yes, I am sometimes self-conscious about the ways that I wander.

SO! moving on here…First, I demonstrated making a simple running stitch, going in and out of the holes that were punched through the book. Making this running stitch is a simple concept to teach. To make the pattern on the edge so that it will look like the side pattern below, I told the students…


…nothing. That’s it. Nothing. I showed them the final look of the sewing and I asked them to work it out themselves, only telling them that they shouldn’t sew over any spot that already has sewing on it.  This is a great way to instruct, and I do this sort of teaching more and more often, especially when the steps are easy to see but difficult to explain. Well, it worked like a charm, and each student was able to do the sewing much more quickly than I had projected.  This was great, because it meant they had more time to decorate!

Working on decorating the cover
Happy Hands

These are my daughter’s hands above.  Her work space looks eerily similar to mine.

Filling in Fu
Filling in Fu

The students seemed to like having the origami papers and the symbol Fu, which I am told means luck or fortune, to glue onto their book covers.  When the class period was over we cleaned up quickly, and I drove home slowly, as the snow from the day before was blown all over the roads.

Driving away
Driving away from Long Trail School

Driving slowly was fine, as I could  better take in the views.

2 thoughts on “Japanese Binding in One Classroom Period

    1. When I look back at an old post that has a landscape type photo, it places me back inside of that time and place in a way that feels good, even though it may not seem to have anything to do with the subject of the post. Glad you like seeing them too.


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