(Notes by Wendy Taylor)

This method is adapted from Manly Banister’s book The Craft of Bookbinding.  Banister’s book is in the Guild library.  We have experimented with books with 30 pages to over 100 pages.  Among our samples are flat back spine, a rounded spine, and one with shoulders.  We have used made endpapers as Bannister suggests and tipped in endpapers.  The book is extremely strong and provided you have a small gutter it opens beautifully for reading.  It is a versatile binding style.  Measurements have been converted from inches to cm.


STEP 1 getting the sheets ready for sewing

a)    For magazines, books or journals slice off the back edge and single sheets may also need to be trimmed prior to gluing.  Square the sheets up to make sure they are even along the back edge.  Place a sheet of cartridge or appropriate paper on back and front which will become part of the made flyleaf.

b)   Glue up the back as you would for perfect binding.  Wrap with wax paper and weigh down until glue is set.

c)    When dry, drill holes 5 mm (slightly less works OK) in from the spine edge and an appropriate space from head and tail as you would for kettle stitch..  A Dremel tool is excellent for drilling.  Use an appropriate size drill piece. (1.5 mm) – a  very fine hole is difficult to get the needle through the sections so use a slightly larger hole than the needle requires. See picture of jig for gluing and drilling.

d)   After drilling, tear the book into ‘signatures’ of around 16 sheets (depending upon paper thickness).   If your gluing has been proficient there should be no pages falling off.  Place in the right order for sewing as you would normally do with signatures.

STEP 2 sewing the signatures/sections (diagram attached)

a)    Starting with section 1 (working from the back) pass the needle upward through each stab hole from head to tail.  Place tapes as you would on a book of this size.

b)   Lay the second section on top and put the needle upward through the last stab hole of the current and new section and then around over the back and up through the same holes again.  This locks the sections together in the same way that a kettle stitch does.

c)    Continue back along the second signature going up through both the stab holes in each signature.  At the last stab hole lay the 3rd signature on top and pass the needle up through it and back around the spine and up again through sections 1,2 &3.

d)   Continue whip stitching section 2 & 3 together by slipping the needle between sections 1 & 2 and up through section 3 – sometimes separating the signatures is difficult and you may have to open up the foredge and pick up the needle from between the two signatures.  Provided the holes are large enough the needle slips through fairly easily.  How do we know – we tried it with smaller holes – fiddly, and in the end the holes don’t show.

e)    Continue in this manner, each time you lay on a new signature pass the needle through the last two and the new one (following the attached diagram will assist in getting the right signatures sewn together).  A thimble is useful as you progress.

f)     When you have finished sewing tie off, jog the book as evenly as possible.  Cut 2×1 cm wide strips of paper the height of the book and glue over the exposed sewing.  Protect with wax paper and press overnight to bury the threads in the paper.


STEP 3 the cloth joint and constructing the cover (see diagram below)

a)    Glue up the first and last sections as you would in a book with folded signatures.

b)   Cut 2 strips of bookcloth, or other suitable material, the height of the book and 6.5 cm wide.

c)    Glue book cloth down each side of the spine edge of the book overlapping the cartridge paper by 2 cm.  Rub down.

d)   Cut paper suitable for endpaper (flyleaf) the same height as the book but 5 mm less than the width.  Paste one side of sheet and rub it down over the flyleaf, overlapping the cloth joint 1.3 cm.  Repeat for other side.  Place waxed paper on both sides and press until dry.

e)    You can now round and back – this is done as you would do any other book.  Trim if necessary.  You can leave spine flat which works well.

f)     The spine is now treated as for any other book – headbands, mull, and Kraft paper over spine.  The mull is wider than the spine as in normal bookbinding..

g)   As Manly says you can cover in any style you want.  You can if you wish to use leather and have false bands.  Case binding works very well. 

STEP 4 final endpapers

a)    The final step is the back and front board papers.  This makes it quite economical using decorative paper.  Cut a matching paper to the flyleaf to cover the inside of the boards leaving 5 mm of the cloth joint exposed and an even area around the outside.


We have successfully used tipped in endpapers rather than the made flyleaf.


We have found that using similar material (or at least similar colour) for the spine and the cloth joint makes a neater edge where they meet. 

As you get familiar with process there are many ways to approach this particular type of binding. It is a good alternative to Japanese binding.


If these instructions fail you at home check Banister’s book.  His instructions are quite complicated – you need to work through them.  For convenience we have changed Bannister’s measurements to metric – we take no responsibility if we are wrong – so check that the measurements are OK for your project.