Islamic binding – sorta done!

Today I tackled another project that I’ve been putting off – fixing an Islamic binding from a workshop with Yasmeen Kahn at the 2013 Paper and Book Intensive. I did complete another, more traditional-looking binding during the workshop – you can read about it in this post.

This second binding has a funky onlay of a piece of a dictionary page – the focus entry is ooze.

Islamic binding

So what needed to be fixed on this book? The text block is too wide for the binding. Check it out – the damn thing doesn’t close properly.

Islamic binding - closed

The pages were more than 3/8″ too wide and needed to be trimmed.

Islamic binding with ruler

I’ve been reluctant to do the trimming because I was afraid that I couldn’t keep a straightedge from slipping during cutting.

I realized that I needed to make a cutting guide that was the same width as my target measurement. I cut a piece of bookboard the target width of the text block and subtracted 2″ from it – then I attached a 2″ brass rule to it with packing tape. I taped it on both side and it was well-secured.

Bookboard and brass rule guide for trimming pages

My cutting guide was perfect – it nestled right into the inside of the book and enabled me to get a consistent trim right where I wanted it.

Bookboard and brass rule guide for trimming pages

A sharp blade is a must.

Trimming book pages - in progress

Trimming book pages - in progress

The trimming was done in no time. The cover now fit around the text block, which was awesome.

Islamic binding - closed

But…I discovered that the book would now only stay closed if I held it shut. So even though the text block is now perfect, the book still won’t stay shut because the wraparound part of the cover is a bit too small/tight. 


Islamic binding

So now what? I think the answer is to somehow stretch the leather in the wraparound part so that it will fit properly. I have no idea how to do that.

If anyone has any suggestions or references to recommend, please please please let me know.

In the meantime, it’s off to the Google!

2 Responses to “Islamic binding – sorta done!”

By Heather - 21 January 2016 Reply

Love this binding – and I am so stealing your cutting guide solution! 

I know you’ve already sealed the flap of the wraparound cover, but I love using super slim Neodymium magnets to ‘coax’ a book flap closed. Might work if you made slits, slipped them into the front cover and flap, then added some kind of simple overlay to disguise the cuts? 

By Elissa - 25 January 2016 Reply

Heather –

Magnets are a good suggestion. I just spent time poking around on the K&J Magnetics website – now that’s a dangerous place to shop. Must have all the magnets!


Leave a Reply to Heather

Cancel reply

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This