Friday 9 March 2012

6. Hand Sewn Headbands

The function of a Headband traditionally was to protect the top edge of the spine, or Head-cap, from damage when being pulled from a bookshelf. It’s primary function now is to embellish the head-cap and make the book look pretty.
There are many forms of headband and if you are interested in their use then I recommend buying Headbands How to Work Them by Jane Greenfield and Jenny Hille from Oak Knoll.
If you are going to make a habit of using them, I recommend learning maybe a couple of styles. I personally find them quite a chore, but the finished effect is lovely.
The Headband we are going to do here is the simplest of the styles I use, and will be applied to both the head and tail.
I’ll be using two colours of Silk thread, grey and teal. It’s a slightly heavier gauge of thread than that found in most haberdasheries, although the finer gauge is useful for other styles.
We will be forming the Headband around a core. This core can be made of many different materials. It needs to be flexible as it will follow the curve of the spine and be subjected to being opened and closed frequently. I’ve made my core from a laminate of a black handmade paper and thin leather. The leather will be on the outside as it needs to bend further.
Normally I do my headbands whilst sitting comfortably, using my knees to grip the book. As my good friend Sarah Mitchell ( says, ‘the press you carry with you’. For the purpose of this post I’ll use a finishing press. 

We will be tying down the headband at the centre of each section just below the kettle-stitches so we need to mark each centre for ease of identification.

Take both colours of thread and knot them together, then fray the end to soften it. I’m going to start with the grey thread; this will be the thread that will be used to tie the headband down, and will be the only thread requiring a needle.

Our first stitch needs to go through the centre of the first section, not the endpaper, below the kettle-stitch. Pull the knot into the fold, then loop over the head of the book and re-enter the same hole. As you pull tight, position the core so it’s trapped by the first stitch.

When the core is firmly anchored take the second thread, in this case the teal thread, and pass it under the core around the first stitch. 

Next the grey thread is brought back over the core and the teal thread is brought across and under the core to trap it. 

Now loop the teal thread completely around the core once.

Bring the teal thread over again and then trap it with the grey thread.

The same grey thread is then brought over the core and passed down into the centre of a section and tied down. Pull tight, bring it up over the core and trap it with the teal thread.

 You now continue in this fashion until you get to the last proper section. 

For the final stitch the grey is tied down in the normal way and the teal is brought around the end of the core.  

Both threads are then tied together in a simple over hand knot at the hole where the grey thread exits. 

Finally when you are happy with the completed headband carefully cut the excess core at the ends with a sharp scalpel and apply some PVA to the tie down threads on the spine and the job is done.
Our next job is to line the spine.




  1. Hi Roger!
    Hope you're well. Loving this 'serious book'. I've just awarded you the Liebster Award and my blog! You can check out my post and the other 4 sites on my blog - Enjoy picking yours!


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