Sewing book repairsThe Lap-link Stitch
1) Sewing An Anchor Thread Into An Attached Signature
The lap-link stitch must have an even number of sewing stations. The kettle stitches at either end of the text block stand alone. All other sewing stations are in pairs.
The sewing thread should be as long as needed providing it is a comfortable length to sew with. See the information on adding sewing thread in an earlier post.

  • Begin sewing one signature before the first loose/unattached signature.
  • The first station number 1 is called the kettle station. Kettle stations are the first and last sewing stations on each signature. The term may be a corruption of a German word for “catch-up stitch” or “Kettle stitch” (the stitch that forms a little chain).
  • To follow these instructions, station 1 can be either kettle stitch station at the end of the signature.
  • Insert the needle into station number 1 and pull the thread to the inside of the signature.
  • Leave a 2” tail of thread on the outside of the signature.

NOTE: It can be difficult to locate the sewing hole on the back of the signature fold. If this is a problem, place an unthreaded needle or awl into the sewing station on the inside of the fold so that it protrudes out the back of the spine. Slowly pull the needle or awl out of the hole and insert the sewing needle as first needle or awl leaves the sewing hole.

  • On the inside of the signature, insert the needle in station number 2 and pull the thread to the outside of the signature. Remember to pull the thread in the direction of sewing (toward station number 3).

IMPORTANT: Always pull and tighten the thread in the direction of the sewing. Thread tightened in the opposite direction can tear through the paper between the sewing stations. Linen thread is very strong, but it will still break if pulled hard enough. Also, pulling too tight can tear through the paper. When tightening sewing thread, pull on the thread firmly until it just slips through your fingers.

  • Sewing around the tape or cord, insert the needle into the outside of station number 3 and pull the thread tight to the inside of the signature. Pull the thread toward sewing station 4.
  • On the inside of the signature, insert the needle in station number 4 and pull the thread to the outside of the signature.
  • Continue sewing along the spine until the needle is on the outside of the signature at sewing station 6 , a kettle stitch station 
  • Pull the thread to the outside of the signature. Remember to pull in the direction of sewing so the paper doesn’t tear.
  • The tapes or cords are now sewn onto the first signature.

2) Sewing The First Unattached Signature With A Lap-Link Stitch
The next signature to be sewn is the first loose/unattached signature.
It can be helpful to clip the first and second signatures together so the centers of both can be easily located in the sewing process.

  • On the outside of the second signature, insert the needle into station number 6 (a kettle stitch station). Pull the thread to the inside of the signature. The two signatures are now joined together at the kettle stitch stations.
  • Proceed along the spine sewing around the tapes or cords until the needle is outside of the signature at sewing station 1, a kettle station. 
  • Grasp both threads in one hand. Gently pull away from the edge of the signature fold to fully tighten the sewing.
  • When the first and second signature threads are tight, tie the two ends of thread in a square knot.

3) Sewing The Second Unattached Signature OR Sewing An Anchor
Thread Into An Attached Signature
The third sewn signature will either attach another loose/unattached
signature or anchor the first loose/unattached signature to the text block.

  • Place the signature in place in the text block. If necessary, clip the second and third signatures together.
  • On the outside of the third signature, insert the needle into station number 1 (a kettle stitch station). Pull the thread tight to the inside of the signature.
  • Proceed along the spine sewing around the tapes or cords until the needle is outside of the signature at sewing station 6, a kettle station.
  • Pull the thread tight, remembering to pull in the direction of sewing so the paper doesn’t tear.

Kettle Stitch
The two signatures must be linked together at sewing station 6. Since there is no second thread to tie a square knot, a special knot is used to attach the two signatures to one another. It is called a kettle stitch because it is used to link signatures together at the kettle stitch station.

  • At station 6, pass the needle behind the stitch that connects the first two signatures together.
  • Pull the thread until a small loop is formed, about l/2” in diameter.
  • Pass the needle through the loop and pull tight.
  • If this is the last signature to be sewn, repeat the kettle stitch so there is a total of two kettle stitches, and clip the thread leaving a 1” tail.
  • Return to sewing station 1 on the first signature, and clip that thread to a 1” tail.
  • If there is another signature to attach, put the needle into station 6 of that signature. Repeat the sewing pattern using the instructions above.

NOTE: The sewing will be moving in the opposite direction and the sewing station numbers will be backwards to the instructions.
When the last signature is attached, tie two kettle stitches, and clip the thread leaving a 1” tail. Return to sewing station 1 on the first signature, and clip that thread to a 1” tail.