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Stab binding with silk

Greetings, word nerds. (Though this is probably more for thread nerds, but thread doesn’t rhyme quite so nicely. I need a pleasing synonym.)

I’ve had the great fun of testing out some of the beautiful silk threads from Hilke Kurzke’s excellent Büchertiger shop on Etsy over the last few weeks. She’s largely sourced the silks with traditional Japanese stab binding in mind, so that’s what I have initially tested it with.

Of the six provided threads, I have now tested five – the fine gold thread is remaining in its box until the right project comes along – and am hard pressed to find fault with any.

On first contact with these threads I was surprised at how soft they were, I spent ages just running my fingers over the hank of variegated silk.

To test these out I made a set of five stab bound books, and bound them all at the same time in the hopes that I would be able to pick up the subtle differences between them. And they were subtle. In terms of sewing they all behaved similarly, all threaded surprisingly easy for their fluffiness and volume, and all have more strength than you’d expect from something so soft.

Two of the threads (12/3nm and the fine pink filament silk) had a tendency to unravel while sewing. This is only a slight annoyance to me in the look of the finished product with the 12/3nm silk, but with the incredibly smooth and fine pink silk it made sewing up a bit tricky. Both the 12/3nm and the 5/2nm super spun went a bit fluffy during binding so are ever so slightly less defined. It’s possible that waxing the threads before use would have alleviated this but I didn’t want to lose the gloss or softness.

But I should stress that I’m really nitpicking here and these are really very minor. I would not hesitate to purchase or use any of these and happily recommend them.

Ultimately the 8/2nm “super” spun came out top for me, with the variegated Silk Perle 5 a close second. I liked the 8/2 best of all because of how it held up both during and after binding. It sews easily, kept it’s shape, and hasn’t lost its definition. The Silk Perle did get slightly fluffier in binding, but I’m a sucker for variegated colours so all is forgiven.

Huge thanks to Hilke for sending me these threads – I’m already plotting what to try them on next.

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