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The Art of Bookbinding
by Joseph W. Zaehnsdorf
Published in London 1897

Book binding Sewing Bands

Sewing Flexible Work

The "sewing press" consists of a bed, two screws, and a beam or cross bar, round which
are fastened five or more cords, called lay cords.  Five pieces of cord cut from the ball, in
length, about four times the thickness of the book, are fastened to the lay cords by slip
knots; the other ends being fastened to small pieces of metal called keys, by twisting the
ends round twice and then a half hitch.  The keys are then pressed through the slot in
the bed of the "press," and the beam screwed up rather tightly; but loose enough to
allow the lay cords to move freely backwards or forwards.  Having the book on the bed of
the press with the back towards the sewer, a few sheets (better than only one) are laid
against the cords, and they are arranged exactly to the marks made on the back of the
sections.  When quite true and perpendicular, they should be made tight by screwing the
beam up.  It will be better if the cords are a little to the right of the press, so that the
sewer may get her or his left arm to rest better on the press.  If when the press is
tightened on of the cords is loose,
Bookbinders sewing press
as will sometimes happen, a pencil, folding-stick or other object slipped under the lay cord on the top of the beam
will tighten the band sufficiently.  The foreign sewing presses have screw with a hook at the end to hold the
bands,the screws running in a slot in the beam: in practice they are very convenient. The first and last sections are
overcast usually with cotton or very fine thread.  The first sheet is now to be laid against the bands, and the needle
introduced through the kettle stitch hole on the right of the book, which is the head. The left hand being within the
centre of the sheet, the needle is taken with it, and thrust out on the left of the mark made for the first band; the
needle being taken with the right hand, is again introduced on the right of the same band, thus making a complete
circle round it.  This is repeated with each band in succession, and the needle is brought out of the kettle stitch hole
on the left or tail of the sheet.  A new sheet is now placed on the top, and treated in a similar way,by introducing the
needle at the left end or tail; and when taken out at the right end or top, the thread must be fastened by a knot to
the end, hanging from the first sheet, which is left long enough for the purpose.  A third sheet having been sewn in
like manner, the needle must be brought out at the kettle stitch, thrust between the two sheets first sewn, and
drawn round the thread, thus fastening each sheet to its neighbour by a kind of chain stitch.  I believe the term
"kettle stitch" is only a corruption of "catch-up stitch,"as it catches each section as sewn in succession. This class of
work must be done very neatly and evenly, but it is easily done with a little practice and patience. This is the
strongest sewing executed at the present day, but it is very seldom done, as it takes three or four times as long as
the ordinary sewing. The thread must be drawn tightly each time it is passed round the band, and at the end
properly fastened off at the kettle stitch, or the sections will work loose in course or time. Old books were always
sewn in this manner, and when two or double bands were used, the thread was twisted twice round one on sewing
one section, and twice round the other on sewing the next, or once round each cord. In some cases even the
"head-band" was worked at
Sewing Signatures
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