How a Thread Sewn Book Is Made

How a Thread Sewn Book Is Made

Read Time: 4 Minutes


18 Dec 2023

What Are Thread Sewn Books?

Thredsewn refers to the binding method used to combine and secure the pages. The pages are sewn together using a durable thread. This classic binding technique is one of the oldest forms of book binding, which remains to have the highest level of durability and quality. Thread Sewn binding, printed in sections before being sewn and glued, is the ideal binding option for books with a high page count or where durability is a must.

If you’re looking for a book that speaks volumes for your business, thread sewn book binding is the perfect choice. Expertly crafted using traditional stitching techniques, the durability and elegant aesthetic make thread sewn books a sought-after option for those who want to leave a lasting impression. Thread sewn books are a top choice for anyone seeking hard cover books and high-quality publishing. 


Our thread sewn books come with two cover options;

Soft cover:

Our soft cover thread sewn books form an exceptionally secure, robust, and flexible books that look and feel incredible. Complete with a soft cover, this option is perfect for simple yet sophisticated print jobs.

Hard cover:

Sharing the same great qualities as our soft cover thread sewn books, our hard cover book printing features a luxurious 2500mic board hardback complete with a 150gsm matt lamination cover for a sleeker yet even more durable finish.


How Are Thread Sewn Books Printed?

Thread sewn books require everything from intricate stitching to durable glueing. That’s why we have a team of book binding experts on hand to distil their years of printing experience into your next project.


Step 1: Pre-Press

At instantprint, we understand that books are complex, requiring true attention to detail. Before sending to print, our skilled studio team will get to know your artwork, checking the specifications in detail and preparing your file for print using our rigorous and free 10 point artwork check.


Step 2: Printing

Machine: Landa S10P

Your design will be sent down to our factory where our skilled operators will begin printing your design onto your chosen paper stock. Here, your inner pages will be printed as well as your cover.

In our factory, you’ll find the best of the best when it comes to our equipment. Printed on our state-of-the-art machines, your book’s artwork is brought to life


Step 3: Embellishment and Lamination

Machine: MGI JETvarnish / Autobond Laminators

At this stage, if you have opted for any embellishment or lamination on your book’s cover, this will also be added. Utilising our MGI JETvarnish, this machine can add Spot UV and foil to your book’s cover. For lamination, the heated chrome rollers of our Autobond Laminators create a strong seal, combined with a rubber counter-pressure roller to smooth the laminate out. 


Step 4: Folding

Machine: Heidelberg Stahl BH56 Folder

When your design has been printed, the folding process begins on our Stahl BH56 folding machine.

With thread sewn book printing, the interior pages are counted in multiples of four to ensure that your book isn’t left with any blank pages when bound together, which is why, on our website, you’ll find that the number of printed pages you can choose from go up in multiples of 4.

With thread sewn binding, your paper is printed in 8, 12, 16 and 32 page signatures depending on your book's total page count and if it is divisible by 16.

A signature is a configuration printers use to lay out a book’s pages on a press sheet so that after folding they are in the correct order. A press sheet refers to the full-size sheet that is fed into our printers where multiple designs or jobs are printed before being folded or cut.

Your artwork is printed on one big sheet of paper. When we print in 16-page signatures it means that consecutively, 8 pages of your artwork are printed on one side and another 8 on the other. When the big sheet is folded in half,  and in half again, the pages are in the order. This will be repeated based on the number of pages in your book. 

If your book has 32 inside pages, we’ll print and fold two 16-page signatures, which will be bound to create one 32-page book block.

If your book has 40 inside pages, we’ll print two 16-page signatures and one 8-page signature, which will be bound to create one 40-page book block.

Signatures and inner pages don’t take into consideration your book cover as this is printed separately. 


Step 5: Endpapers

We will add endpapers to the first and last sections of your book as this is what secures the casing to the book's binding edge when bound to the cover.


Step 6: Gathering

Machine: ZU 832 Gathering Machine

Once the signatures have been folded they are then gathered in the correct order, ready to be bound together. The signatures are collated and gathered in order, using the ZU 832. Once all of the signatures are collated in order, this forms a book block, ready to be sewn.


Step 7: Sewing

Machine: Muller Martini Ventura MC200 Section Sewing Machine

Carried out by our industry-leading stitching machine, the collated pages are sewn together using cords or tapes which run across the book’s spine. They are visible on the open spine but will be hidden once bound to the book’s cover later down the line.
Initially, holes are made in the signature from below using punch needles. The sewing needles then pull the thread through alternate holes with a burst of air, forming a loop in the slotted lever. The hook needle catches the loop, and both the hook needle and sewing needle simultaneously pull the thread up, resulting in the creation of a thread chain.
Our thread sewn manufacturing process utilises the Muller Martini Ventura MC200 combining perfect thread sewing with the highest production performance, this machine can easily build books with spine lengths ranging from 120 to 510mm.


Step 8: Binding

Machine: Kolbus KM 600 Perfect Binder

The sewn book block is then sent to the Kolbus KM 600. For thread sewn books, the milling is turned off and only adhesive is applied to the book block ready for the cover to be applied. The adhesive we use for our thread sewn books is Kleiberit 743.7 EVA adhesive.


Step 9: Soft and Hard Cover

Machine: Kolbus Case Maker and Kolbus BF513 Casing In Machine

With the finished book block sewn and adhesive applied, the cover can be added. This may be a soft cover or a hard cover. 

Soft Cover:
For our soft cover thread sewn books, a wrap-around cover is added to the outside of the trimmed book block using wet glue to create the finished product. 

  1. The cover and book block are fed into the binder.
  2. The cover is creased upon entry and the book block is then glued into the spine.

Hard Cover:
For our hard cover thread sewn books, a few more steps are involved. If you opt for a hard cover, your book will be attached to a 2500-micron greyboard where we will cover your book's front and back pages as well as the spine.

  1. The greyboard, the material that makes the cover hard, is also guillotined to size. The greyboard hard cover will be slightly larger than your specified inner size such as A4, usually 3mm to ensure the cover is attached correctly. 
  2. The paper cover and greyboard inners are then brought together using our Kolbus case maker. 
  3. The finished case or ‘cover’ is then fed into our Kolbus casing in machine along with your existing book block where the hard cover is then attached.

Additional Finishing

Our expert team are also able to offer a range of additional finishing options to our thread sewn books, including;

  • Ribbons
  • Head and tail bands
  • Throwouts
  • Cover embellishments 


Step 10: Trimming

Machine: Horizon Variable Trimmer HT 1000V 

For soft cover books, once the adhesive is dry, the final book is then trimmed along three sides to ensure the final pages are neat and consistent. Our Horizon Variable Trimmer HT 1000V trims off any excess paper where necessary.


Step 11: Final Checks

Once complete, our expert team will take time to check over your finished product to make sure it meets our high standards. Your books will then be sent to our dispatch team who will carefully package your print ready to be collected by our couriers and shipped to your business.


What Machines Are Thread Sewn Books Printed On?

Landa S10P

When printing thread sewn books, it’s likely that we’ll use the Landa! We’re the proud owners of the UK’s first nanographic press – a new printing technology that is set to revolutionise our industry. The Landa helps us combine the methodology of lithographic offset printing with a digital operating system, which means your print gets the best of both worlds.


Muller Martini Ventura MC200

The Muller Martini Ventura MC200 is a book binder's dream! This machine can create deep stitched book blocks ensuring each signature is correctly positioned – even at maximum production speeds. The Muller Martini can bind book spine lengths ranging from 120 to 510mm with a range of industry-leading features that ensure that the Ventura MC 200 produces the highest quality book blocks economically.


Kolbus KM 600 Perfect Binder

When it comes to binding our thread sewn books to their covers, we use our cutting-edge Kolbus KM 600 Perfect Binder. The KM 600's precision shines as it applies glue to the spine, mills and notches it, ensuring a flawlessly bound book block. We take pride in using the Kleiberit 743.7 EVA adhesive for its high quality, ensuring a fault-free and superior spine. Thanks to this machine, our operations have become highly automated and cost-competitive.


In Conclusion

Thread sewn books are the go-to if you’re in search of a book that can stand the test of time. With complete durability yet still flexible when opened up and laid flat, thread sewn books combine quality and a luxurious finish. Simply create your artwork and let our book binding experts turn your vision into a reality.


About the Author

Hi, I’m Ally and I’m instantprint’s PR Lead. I enjoy writing content to help small businesses succeed and inspire them to get creative with their print marketing.