Sunday, June 6, 2010

Should've Paid More Attention in Sewing Class

Destroying Power Girl comics, day two!
(Day 1 here)

Yesterday I prepared all the signatures for binding. A "signature" is a grouping of pages for binding- a regular comic with staples is a single "signature". If you look at any hardcover book, you'll be able to see the pages grouped into signatures, apparently in lots of 16 pages or so (something like that anyway, I haven't checked personally). With everything set up, it's time to do the actual binding.

To make sense of what I'm actually doing, things will ultimately be bound like so:

Each signature gets sewn around the tapes- this is what we're actually binding to and will be holding the finished book together. 3 tapes is the recommended amount based on the tutorials I've read, but since I'm doing 20 issues all up, I thought I'd add a 4th for extra strength to be on the safe side.

Before getting to the above though, the signatures need to have some holes punched in them.

At the top and bottom of each signature, there needs to be a hole about 1/2" in (this measurement varies depending on what you read, but around about). After that, it's a matter of spacing out the holes depending on how many strips of tape you're using. Open each signature up, lay the middle over something soft to allow a needle through, and get stabbing!

When it comes to sewing, I'm using a strong linen thread designed for carpet repairs etc. Tie a knot in one end, then enter the bottom hole. Note that when it comes to stitching around the tape, you go around them, not into them.

Then it's through the other side.

Once you've finished one signature, place the next one on top. Those extra holes at the top and bottom are where the signatures get sewn together.

Then you sew the 2nd signature around the tapes, exiting the hole at the opposite end, and connecting the next signature (so each new signature gets joined at the opposite end from the last one).

One thing I had trouble with on the first project was keeping everything tight as I went. With the constant opening of the comics as you sew, things have a tendancy to move. Solution: clamp the top signature from the middle, to the workbench. That way you can open it, but nothing moves.

After a few hours (I think I just spent about 3 or 4 on it), you get this:

All it needs now are the covers. Yeah, if only it was that simple ;) That is the major part done though.

Just going back to joining the signatures for a moment- when you reach the end of one, before starting on the next one, you need to tie a knot to the previous join below it:

That way even though only every second signature gets joined directly, they all wind up tied together at each end.

Even though I've now got a funky looking "block" (technical term for all the bound signatures), how it this thing actually going to be strong enough to do anything with? Glue!

If I was a professional, I'd have one of those proper book press things, but since I'm not, I make do with clamps, and lots of them!

Things need to be tightened up, so place the block between some wood and clamp it. Next I'm going to stick some cloth to the spine to really give it some strength.

There needs to be plenty of cloth on each side, since this will be the first point of contact to the covers once they're added. A decent amount of glue for the spine, and then...

After working the glue and cloth in to the spine, clamp it up and leave it to dry overnight. If all goes well, tomorrow I'll be left with a near-indestructable book block.

More to come...

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