Sewing My Journal with French Link and Kettle Stitches

Completing My Journal

This is the last post in this series of making my own journal.  This week I will show you how I sewed the signatures and covers together to complete this journal.

French Link Handmade Journal
© Annie Glacken

If you missed the three previous posts of this series, click for part one: Painting Paper for Journal Covers, part two: Making Covers for My Journal, part three: Tearing Watercolor Paper for My Handmade Journal.

For this journal I wanted to use the pretty French Link Stitch.  However, for stability, I also needed to add a kettle stitch 1/4″ from the top and bottom of the spine.

J French Link and Kettle Stitches © Annie Glacken

I made a punching template on a piece of heavy paper which was the same length as my signatures. I marked where I wanted each pattern hole.  Next, I folded the template in half lengthwise.

Punching Template
© Annie Glacken

In case you want to know where I purchased my tools for punching, here is the tool I used to punch holes in the signatures and this is the one I used to punch holes in the cover.  These are technically “clay” tools but I like them for bookbinding as they are thinner in diameter than your standard bookbinding awls and therefore make a smaller hole.

Before punching, I placed my template into the fold of my signature.

Place punching template into the fold of the signature.
© Annie Glacken

Next, I marked each hole through the template.

Marking Signatures
© Annie Glacken

With one side of the signature lying flat on the table and the other perpendicular to the table, I pushed my awl through the signature.

Punching Signature
© Annie Glacken

Here are the signatures punched and ready to be sewn.

Signatures Punched
© Annie Glacken

To Punch Holes in Covers

I laid the punching template on the edge of the cover to be punched and positioned the template so the holes would be 1/4″ from the edge to be sewn. With my awl, I made a mark through the template for each hole. It was not necessary to punch all the way through. When all the holes were marked, I picked up the cover slightly to punch all the way through the holes.

Punching Cover
© Annie Glacken

Numbering the Signatures

Before beginning to sew, I numbered my signatures lightly in pencil in the corner, 1-8.  This helped keep me keep the order of the signatures correct while sewing.

Sewing

*****Very Important: when tightening a stitch, pull in the direction you are sewing. Do not pull straight up or perpendicular to the paper. Doing so will make your holes rip and become larger.

Thread your needle with 4 ply waxed linen thread.  I used Crawford Irish Waxed Linen thread.  You will need 4 times the length of your signature plus 2 more lengths.

Beginning with the 2nd signature, go from inside to outside of the top (first) hole leaving a 4″ tail in the inside.  Do not make a knot yet.

Pick up 1st signature and lay under 2nd signature. Go in top hole of first signature. Come out of the second hole and do running stitch to end. When you come to end go in bottom (last) hole of 2nd signature.

Sewing 1st Signature
© Annie Glacken

Come out the seventh hole of 2nd signature and do a running stitch picking up stitches from 1st signature below by placing your needle under the stitch right below. (Photo shows several signatures already sewn, but also shows how to pick up stitch below.)

PIcking Up Stitch Below
© Annie Glacken

When you come to the end of the 2nd signature, tighten up your stitches (remember to pull in the direction you are sewing–not up) and tie a double square knot with the tail inside.

Sewing 2nd Signature
© Annie Glacken

Coming back to tail and tying a knot
© Annie Glacken

Come back outside same top (first) hole of the 2nd signature and do kettle stitch (catching stitch below with needle going under and outward) and go into top hole (first) of 3rd signature. (This photo shows how to do a left-side kettle stitch.)

Kettle Stitch on Left Side
© Annie Glacken

Come out second hole in 3rd signature and do a running stitch picking up stitches from 2nd signature below to the end. Complete kettle stitch by looping under stitch below going outward with needle and going into the bottom hole (last) of the fourth signature.

Sewing 3rd Signature
© Annie Glacken

Kettle Stitch on Right Side
© Annie Glacken

Come out seventh hole in 4th signature and do a running stitch picking up stitches from 3rd signature below to the end. Complete kettle stitch by looping under stitch below going outward with needle and going into the bottom hole of the 5th signature.

Sewing 4th Signature
© Annie Glacken

Come out second hole in 5th signature and do a running stitch picking up stitches from 4th signature below to the end. Complete kettle stitch by looping under stitch below going outward with needle and going into the bottom hole (last) of the 6th signature.

Sewing 5th Signature
© Annie Glacken

Come out seventh hole in 6th signature and do a running stitch picking up stitches from 5th signature below to the end. Complete kettle stitch by looping under stitch below going outward with needle and going into the bottom hole of the 7th signature.

Sewing 6th Signature
© Annie Glacken

Come out second hole in 7th signature and do a running stitch picking up stitches from 6th signature below to the end. Complete kettle stitch by looping under stitch below going outward with needle and going into the bottom hole (last) of the 8th signature.

Sewing 7th Signature
© Annie Glacken

Come out seventh hole in 8th signature and do a running stitch picking up stitches from 7th signature below to the end. Complete kettle stitch by looping under stitch below going outward with needle and going back into the top hole of the 8th signature. Tighten up and tie a double square knot.

Sewing 8th Signature
© Annie Glacken

Here is a diagram of the text body completed.

Sewn Text Block
© Annie Glacken

Sewn Text Block
© Annie Glacken

Sewing on the Covers

Place the cover face down on the table. Lay the signature on cover. Sew from inside the bottom hole of signature to outside. (Be sure to click on photo to see larger image.) Go down the cover hole from inside of the cover to the outside. Then return back into the same signature hole. Repeat across and then tie a double square knot on the inside.

Sewing on Covers
© Annie Glacken

Come out of signature and go down through the cover.
© Annie Glacken

French Link & Kettle Stitches
© Annie Glacken

I hope this series was helpful for those of you who would like to experience the satisfaction of making your own journals.

These tutorials are for your personal use only. Thank you so much!

 

 

6 Replies to “Sewing My Journal with French Link and Kettle Stitches”

  1. Absolutely clear, Annie, I’ve understood everything ! Very elegant way, splendid! And this blue and green cover is gorgeous ! Thank you very much for sharing your skill, and I know this represent a lot of work of taking photos, write comment, and so on…during stitching your sketchbook ! Thanks again !

    • Thank you Laurence for the nice comments. I do love the blue and green cover. It did take a lot of time and work to put these last posts together but the upside is I now have my instructions to refer back to and I have the makings of a class ready to teach. As always, I appreciate the feedback.

    • Laura, I am so glad the instructions came across clearly and hope they are helpful when you decide to put together your own journal. Thank you so much for the nice compliment.

  2. This is an excellent series of ‘How To’ blogs. Thank your for taking so much time to share your technique and knowledge. Last fall I had the urge to make a sketchbook, but didn’t have the tools. In place of an awl, I used my sewing machine and simply hand turned the wheel to punch the needed holes. They were large enough to allow me hand sew the signatures and covers together. It’s very satisfying to make your own journal. I hope many of your readers will give it a try.

    • You are very welcome Cynthia. That was a great idea you had about using the sewing machine in place of an awl. Yes, I agree with you about the satisfaction that comes from making your own journal. It makes it even more of a treaure when you fill it. I do hope my readers try this. Thank you so much for the nice comments!