The long stitch is a binding structure derived from historical books from Italy and Germany, and is a popular binding today because of it's endless possibilities with pattern-making and spine design. This Archival Slotted Spine Longstitch is adapted from one of Sarah Bryant's handouts (Big Jump Press, book arts faculty, University of Alabama).
LONG STITCH WITH SLOTTED SPINE
Preparing the Template
Mark the head of your template. Score a line with your awl one mm from the edge of your template. Using a pencil, mark an odd number of sewing stations along this edge. For our demo we’ll use five stations. (It is possible sew a book with an even number of stations, but the sewing will be slightly different.) Your head and tail stations should be approximately half an inch from the edge. Evenly space the other three. Where your pencil lines and your awl score line intersect, punch holes with your awl.
Making the Wrapper
Lay one of your signatures onto your wrapper paper with extra space (6 inches for our book) at the edge of the wrapper hanging out. Mark the edge of the wrapper with a light pencil mark. Score and crisply fold the wrapper paper at this mark. Measure the thickness of your text block by compressing your sections and marking their thickness on a piece of scrap paper then adding one to two mm for swell. Transfer this measurement to the wrapper paper and make a second fold (taking care to make this fold on the correct side of your first fold.) Slide your sections into the wrapper and check the fit.
Mark the placement of the slots in the spine by sliding the template snugly into the first (left) fold (so that it is laying on top of the spine.) Make sure the heads are aligned and use your awl to make a mark at the holes that you punched. Flip the template and repeat in the second (right) fold. Make small holes at these marks with your awl. Cut slots by making two cuts between each hole, one at the top and one at the bottom of each hole. These slots should be approximately the width of the thread.
Mark the heads of your signatures. Cut “V” channels at the punch positions in the template and use it to punch your sections, or use a jig to punch stations from the inside of each signature. Tie a knot in the end of the thread, and sew from the inside of the first signature through the corresponding slot and around the edge. See demo for visuals. Always make sure that there is one thread and one thread only hooked around and into each signature.
Making the Tab Closure
After sewing, score and fold just under the last signature, then measure the width of the fore edge (significantly less than the spine) and make a second fold so that the wrapper snugly fits around the fore edge. Lightly draw three parallel lines on the flap: one where you wish the tab to end (1), one where the tab will begin (2), and one to indicate the angle of the flap as it runs toward the tab (3). Determine the center of the flap and the ideal width of your tab, and mark this on the flap edge. Make these cuts with a straight edge or triangle (see demo) and erase stray marks.
Close your book and insert a protective piece of card stock under the cover paper to avoid marking your text block. Make pinprick marks on the front cover on either side of your tab where it meets the angled cut. With the book open, widen these pinpricks, then cut a slit for the tab to slide through.
Examples & Variations