Day 40: Japanese Stab Binding


Supplies: Thin cardboard, spray adhesive, fabric, sharp nail, hammer, hard surface (that can be damaged), sharp needle, embroidery floss, hot glue (possibly)

Time: 1 hour or so

Right now I’m in the middle of moving from my old smokey apartment to the smoke-free unit downstairs, so today’s craft involved a lot of running back and forth to get the materials I’d already moved.  It’s a bit hectic, so I apologize if the pictures or explanations are weak.  Also, I have no furniture in the apartment that has electricity, so I’m working with a clipboard and a wood Apples to Apples game box…  Anyway, today I thought I’d make a notebook using a method I first learned in sixth grade art class.  I remember really disliking the class in general, but I loved Japanese stab binding.  I was going to make a homemade paper cover for this book, but that’ll have to wait.  For now, you’ll just need some thin cardboard and pretty fabric.

Decide how big you want the book to be and draw two rectangles (or squares) of that size on thin cardboard.  I used an empty graham cracker box.

Cut out the covers using a ruler and an X-acto knife.

Then trace the covers onto a piece of fabric (one for each cover).

Cut out the fabric, but make it slightly smaller than the lines you drew.  Glue that fabric down using spray adhesive.  You should have about 1/4” of cardboard exposed on each edge under the fabric.  Then cut out two pieces of fabric that are 1/4”-1/2” bigger than the cardboard on each side.

Glue the larger piece of fabric to the back of the cardboard.  Then fold the long edges over, gluing them in place.  I actually ended up using hot glue for this.  You can experiment with this part.  Then fold the shorter ends over, kind of like wrapping a present.  I used hot glue to hold these sides in place too.  Since I used knit fabric my edges were a little ragged looking, so I glued lace ribbon to the edges to cover them up.

Next I grabbed some pages from an old spiral notebook and traced one of the covers on the stack.  Using the ruler and X-acto knife again I cut the stack of paper into a nice little notebook-sized pile.

Now you’re ready to bind the book.

At this point I’m really not sure about the best way to stab the holes for this binding method.  I often like to experiment before I use instructions, so today I’m binding without a net.  I used my horrifyingly large and pointy needle and a hammer, but ended up breaking the needle.  It worked to mark where the holes needed to be, but it didn’t make large enough holes for binding.  At that point I took a nail out of the wall and used that- much better, though still hard to do.

I stabbed four holes along one of the short edges of the book.  Then I threaded a smaller needle with a  little embroidery floss and started binding.  I started at one of the corner holes and wove in and out like so it looked like this on both sides:

Next time I do this I’ll figure out a way to explain exactly how to do the binding, but this is the general idea.  I tied off my thread and was left with a dandy little book.

It’ll make a great grocery list notebook or something like that.  Like I said, a better one will come later, but all in all, I’m pretty pleased with my attempt.

Also, I should mention that this fabric came from a dress given to me by my aunt Kim in California.  The dress was a little big and I’m not a good enough seamstress to fix it, so I just used the happy fabric for various things.  I think it’s perfect for a little notebook like this.  Thanks Kim!



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