Stitch the Signatures

Using a binder’s needle (or similarly heavy needle, such as a tapestry needle) draw about 30″ of binder’s thread (a thick, durable, acid-free linen) through the kettlestitch at the foot of the last signature.

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Exit the spine at the next hole and then enter the spine again, stitching around the first tape.

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Keep stitching in this way until you exit the spine at the head kettlestitch. Place the next signature over the one you’ve just stitched and enter the spine at its head kettlestich. Stitch this signature around the tapes just as you did the previous signature. When you exit the foot kettlestitch, before entering the foot kettlestitch of another signature, loop the thread around the foot kettlestitch of the first signature, making a knot.


You’ll do this at the foot and head kettlestiches for the remaining signatures, to prevent gaps between these otherwise unstitched contact points between adjoining signatures.

When you run out of thread, knot a new 30″ length to the existing thread. The best place to add new thread is just before re-entering the spine around a tape.


Keep stitching till all the signatures are connected, and tie a knot at the last kettlestich.


Your signatures are now all sewn up and are just about ready to join to a cover and spine.


Remove the work from the stitching post. At this point, it’s a good idea to apply a bit of glue (about 1⁄4″) to the inside of the first and last signatures (use a piece of scrap paper to protect the portion of the page you don’t intend to glue) and put the work under heavy weights (I find The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary works quite well) overnight. Even after the tightest stitching job, you’ll likely find the signatures are a little loose on these outside edges, and this does a good job of firming up the book block as a solid unit.



  1. Introduction
  2. Strip the Existing Cover
  3. Create Signatures
  4. Prepare Signatures for Stitching
  5. Stitch the Signatures
  6. Glue the Spine
  7. Build Cover Boards
  8. Attach the Cover Boards
  9. Cover the Cover
  10. Finish Up