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Sewing Frame

I've donated a beautiful German sewing frame to the Guild of BookWorkers'
auction. It has 19" between the wood screws. Bid on it and help the Guild
raise some money. It's worth it. (KAREN- please post the auction catalog to
the list-- are you taking e-mail bids?). The question was, why do you need it?

If you sew books in the traditional fashion on single or double linen cords
to be laced into the boards you need to keep tension on the cords. That's
one reason there are screws-- to tighten the cords. The screws also enable
you to adjust the height of the crossbar, particularly important if you are
sewing several books the same size at the same time-- you stack them on the
frame and cut the cords (or tapes) later.

I skip the frame when sewing a single thin book on tapes. There's no added
value, and you lose the setup time. Your student was peculiar to quit
because of that. But bookbinders 20 years ago used to be very prissy and
proprietary about how they did things, and a lot of that was because it was
by rote rather than by logic. Binders often said their way was the best, and
were snooty. The last two decades everything changed, and people now share
techniques and find the best one for each application, because books are

But remember, with tapes you can pull the tape thru the sewing afterwards to
straighten it out. The sewing goes "behind" the tape, out one hole and in
the other. With single cords the stitch loops backwards around the cord,
going back in the same hole (except in the debunked sawn-in cord quick-sew
method). With double cords the sewing comes out between the cords, loops
around the forward cord, behind both, and back in where it came out. This
locks the stitch in place (not all manuals illustrate this correctly-- when
you pull the thread it should pull the two cords together, not apart). This
locks the thread on the cord, and often we fill in with additional turns of
thread to "pack" the cord solid with thread (makes for beautiful opening).
So we can't slide the cord thru aterwards, like with tapes.

I use the frame with tapes for thick books and edition work. Also, with the
frame you are assured of correct alignment of the sewing (assuming you
string it up square). Traditionally sewers use their eye, and don't
preperforate the sections. It's much faster.

By the way, on the subject of structure, I'm posting separately a notice of
Gary Frost's upcoming exhibition at Center for Book Arts.

I'm also glad to announce the Center has a new Executive Director, Peter
Smith. He comes to us with a distinguished background in University
administration, and was Dean of the Columbia University School of the Arts.
I'll post the formal announcement soon with the details.


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