Secret Belgian Stitch Prep

The Secret Belgian Stitch is a hard cover, closed spine binding method with a unique cover that can fold all the way back. The stitch is pretty simple and I like to use watercolor paper for signatures since the cover gives a lot of sturdiness to the book.

Prepare the materials

For this binding we’ll need materials for a hard cover, stitched binding and signatures. The example images below are for a finished book that is 6″ tall, 1″ thick spine and 8″ long (from spine edge to open edge of the book).

  • Book board – 2 pieces for the covers (size in example: 6″ x 8″)
  • Book board – 1 piece for the spine (size in example: 1″ x 6″)
  • Decorative paper for the outer covers; 1″ longer and wider than the covers and spine boards (in the example: 2 sheets that are 7″ x 9″ for the covers and one sheet 2″ x 7″ for the spine)
  • Decorative paper for the interior covers and spine
  • PVA glue and brush
  • Watercolor sheets – 20 sheets for 5 signatures of 4 sheets, cut to the same height and twice the width of the covers (in the example, 16″ x 6″)
  • Waxed linen or binding thread – the number of signatures times the height of the book/ spine (in example, 5 signatures x 6″)
  • Binding needle
  • Awl
  • Metal ruler
  • Craft knife
  • Cutting mat

*Note: these prep instructions are for a book that is 6″ tall by 8″ long when closed, with a 1″ thick spine and 40 pages of watercolor paper. This book can be made in different sizes, with attention to changing the dimensions of paper and board when needed.

Use this chart to plan out your own dimensions for materials:

Your book dimensionsouter coverinner cover
Height = ____ inches
Length = ____inches

(height + 1 inch) = ____ inches
x
(length + 1 inch) = ____ inches
Make 2
(height – 0.25 inch) = ____ inches
x
(length + 0.25 inch) = ____ inches
Make 2
Spine Width = ____inches
Height = ____ inches

(height + 1 inch) = ____ inches
x
(width + 1 inch) = ____ inches
Make 1
(height – 0.25 inch) = ____ inches
x
(width – 0.25 inch) = ____ inches
Make 1
  1. This book is great to make with watercolor paper. I start with a 12″ x 18″ watercolor pad with a cardboard back.
  2. Remove the cardboard from the back and cut in half lengthwise to have two 6″ x 18″ strips. We’ll only use one in this book, put the other aside.
  3. Cut the 6″ x 18″ strip of cardboard into four pieces:
    • One 6″ x 1″ strip for the spine
    • One 6″ x 1″ strip for a closure or set aside
    • Two pieces 6″ x 8″, one for each front and back cover
  4. Remove ten sheets of watercolor paper from the pad. Cut each sheet in half length-wise to have 20 sheets that are 6″ x 18″; cut 2″ off the end of each sheet to have 6″ x 16″ sheets.
  5. Fold each sheet in half and stack 4 together to make signatures.
  6. Cut decorative paper for the outside of the covers, spine and closure. Each piece should be 1″ longer and 1″ wider than the cardboard pieces:
    • One 7″ x 2″ strips for the spine
    • One 7″ x 2″ strip for the closure
    • Two 7″ x 9″ pieces for the covers
  7. Cut decorative paper for the interior covers and spine/ closure. Each piece should be 1/4 shorter and narrower than the cardboard:
    • One 5.75″ x 0.75″ strips for the spine
    • One 5.75″ x 0.75″ strip for the closure
    • Two 5.75″ x 7.75″ pieces for the covers
  8. Prepare your work area for gluing by putting down parchment or scrap paper.

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