Bookbinding threads are one of the required materials for sewing together a journal or book. As this practice has been around for hundreds of years, bookbinding threads used to be made of natural materials like cotton, linen, or even silk. Nowadays, you can also find synthetic bookbinding threads made from nylon or polyester.
What are the best threads for bookbinding? Waxed linen and nylon threads are both strong, easy to use, and quite versatile. In addition, you can choose a three- or four-ply thread with a thickness that suits your bookbinding technique.
In this article, we will discuss various kinds of bookbinding threads available today, what you should know about using each type of thread, and where you can find the best threads for bookbinding.
Bookbinding threads come in a wide range of materials, sizes, and color options, so it can be difficult to know which option is suitable for your bookbinding design and technique. Here’s what you will need to know about the available options.
Bookbinding threads can be made from natural fibers like linen, cotton, and silk and synthetic materials like polyester or nylon. Let’s take a look at each of these materials below.
Linen is a super strong, durable, and long-lasting thread material. As a natural fiber, linen threads have been used for bookbinding since the very beginning of this art.
Nowadays, you can find linen threads in a classic off-white color, as well as bleached and dyed linen threads in a wide range of different color options as well.
Cotton thread is another durable natural thread option. However, cotton thread tends to be thinner and less durable than linen. Mercerized cotton threads are usually much shinier and more durable than traditional cotton threads.
However, since cotton is a natural fiber, it can easily be dyed. That’s why cotton threads are usually available in a wider range of colors compared to linen threads.
Silk threads are also commonly used in rare books. They are super fine threads, yet they are very strong and durable.
However, as a natural material, silk thread is known to be substantially more expensive than linen or cotton threads. That’s why silk threads are only used for high-quality books that can justify this price tag.
Nylon is a newer invention, but it’s a great synthetic thread for bookbinding. Nylon is super durable and very strong, and it’s also more readily available and more affordable than other types of bookbinding threads.
Although nylon is a great synthetic substitute for linen, it doesn’t have the same natural aesthetic as linen threads. For exposed spines, bookbinders still prefer linen threads to nylon threads.
Polyester is another synthetic option, although it is not very popular for bookbinding because the thread is not very strong or durable.
The ply of the thread indicates the number of individual strands of threads that are twisted together to create a single thread. The more plies a thread has, the stronger it is.
However, more plies in a single thread also mean the thread can easily unravel after it’s cut. More plies also tend to bulk up the thread, so we find that three or four plies are enough to add structure to the thread without adding too much thickness.
The thickness of the thread is measured in millimeters. Sometimes, you can see the thickness referred to as ‘gauge’ – the smaller the gauge, the thicker the thread.
Thicker usually means stronger threads, but it may bulk up the spine of the book as well, especially if you are using a minimal bookbinding technique.
Thick threads are also more difficult to sew, and knotting the ends may also cause an eye sore in the book’s spine. Thicker thread options are usually suitable for exposed spine designs.
The ply and thickness of the thread are usually indicated by a gauge/ply number, which would look like 18/3, 12/3, etc.
The first number indicates the thickness of the thread in gauge. The second number indicates the plies in each thread.
For bookbinding, we recommend getting threads that are smaller than 1mm in thickness (a gauge of 12 and up) and 3-ply threads.
Bookbinding threads are usually sold in spools or cards with lengths from 10-280 yards. If you have a favorite thread, then it’s worth it to buy a big spool, as bookbinding threads are usually cheaper when bought in bulk.
However, if you want a lot of color and size options, you can always collect a wide range of sizes, materials, and color options that you can mix and match with different projects.
Natural threads like linen or cotton usually come in a natural color option (off-white). Both natural and synthetic threads are also available in white (bleached threads) as well as different color options (dyed) that will suit a wide range of aesthetics.
Waxed Vs. Unwaxed
Bookbinding threads can also be waxed to prevent the threads from tangling and unraveling when you sew. The beeswax adds a bit of structure to the thread to make it thicker and more durable too. For beginners, we suggest using waxed threads because they are much easier to use.
However, waxed threads tend to be a lot more expensive than unwaxed threads because they require an additional step of processing.
A lot of bookbinders opt to buy unwaxed threads and wax their own threads using beeswax, which is quite easy to do at home. Whether this option is cheaper depends on the type of beeswax that you use to wax your thread.
Spine swell is what you get when the thread that you choose is too thick for your type of binding. The result is a spine that ‘swells’ and bulks up your book rather than adding to the book’s aesthetic.
To prevent spine swell, we suggest choosing the right size thread for your particular bookbinding technique so that the thread doesn’t bulk up the spine.
Closed Vs. Exposed Spine
There are quite a few different bookbinding techniques, and it’s not possible to name them all here, but they can be divided into two different categories: closed spine or exposed spine.
A closed spine is when your stitches are partially or totally hidden in the spine of the book (for example, case binding). An exposed spine is when your stitches are a part of the book’s design, so the threads and your stitches are totally visible (for example, a Coptic binding).
If you want to create a closed spine, it’s best to use a fine thread so that it’s easier to hide the stitches. On the other hand, an exposed spine will require thick and structural threads with nice material because it will add to the final look of your binding.
In addition, the type of paper that you use will need to be taken into account. The thicker the paper, the thicker the thread you will need to use to hold the spine together.
Best Threads For Book Binding
After exploring all the aspects you will need to consider when buying threads for bookbinding, the best options are three- or four-ply linen or nylon/polyester threads that are waxed. In addition, you can customize the thickness and color of the thread to suit your particular project.
Below are some great options on the market.
|Material & Thickness
|FANDOL 100% Natural Linen Thread
|Linen/Waxed, 0.55mm/3 ply
|CNBTR 100m Natural Linen Round Waxed Thread
|Linen/Waxed, 0.55 mm
|Books By Hand Waxed Linen Thread
|Linen/Waxed, 1 mm
|Mandala Crafts Bonded Nylon Thread
|Nylon/Unwaxed, 0.508 mm
|Waxed Silamide Skeins Thread
|Silamide Nylon/Waxed, 0.16 mm
|Tenn Well Waxed Thread
|Polyester/Waxed, 1 mm
|Vanboon Leather Waxed Thread
|Polyester/Waxed, 0.8 mm
|Flat Waxed Thread
|Polyester/Waxed, 0.8 mm
|Mandala Crafts Round Waxed Thread
|Polyester/Waxed, 0.45 mm
1. FANDOL 100% Natural Linen Thread
FANDOL 100% Natural Linen Thread for Bookbinding is an all-natural linen thread that has been wax coated to make it easy to work with and achieve consistent tension and quality in bookbinding.
This high-quality thread is 145 meters in length and 0.55 mm in diameter – ideal for use in any type of bookbinding, especially for exposed spine techniques.
With its smooth, natural appearance and durable three-ply construction, this thread is the ideal choice for any bookbinding project.
2. CNBTR 100m Natural Linen Round Waxed Thread
The CNBTR Natural Linen Waxed Thread is made of 100% pure linen. These threads are waxed to add strength and structure to the threads, making them easy to work with.
Thanks to the material, this linen thread is super strong and long-lasting. The 0.55 mm diameter makes it suitable for both exposed spine and closed spine bookbinding techniques.
The linen thread is also easy to work with, which makes it suitable for beginners and experienced bookbinders alike.
It’s a versatile product that can be used in many different projects and techniques.
3. Books By Hand Waxed Linen Thread
This linen thread is quite powerful yet super easy to use. It is made from the highest quality, 100% pure linen and is waxed, which gives it added strength and ease of use.
The five-ply, 1 mm thread is a great choice of thread for any heavy-duty projects, especially exposed spine techniques.
This set of threads gives you three muted colors: black, purple, and orange, which will work with a wide range of classic and modern bookbinding designs.
We recommend this thread for anyone who is new to bookbinding and wants something that will be easy to work with.
4. Mandala Crafts Bonded Nylon Thread
The Mandala Crafts Bonded Nylon Thread is a reliable and extra strong thread for bookbinding. This durable and weather-resistant thread is perfect for any bookbinding project, big or small.
At 1250 yards long, this 0.508 mm thick thread is also available in a wide range of colors.
The industrial nylon construction gives it superior strength and durability, while the bonded coating helps to prevent tangling and fraying.
Whether you’re binding a hardcover book or a delicate journal, this bonded nylon thread is the perfect choice for both closed and exposed spine bookbinding styles.
5. Waxed Silamide Skeins Thread
The Waxed Silamide Skeins Thread is a soft thread with a gorgeous texture. It is made of 2-ply Penreco waxed nylon thread, which is strong and resilient.
This 0.16mm thread is perfect for delicate bookbinding projects, especially if you need a durable and reliable thread for closed spine designs.
In addition, the wax coating helps to protect the thread from moisture and dirt, ensuring that your binding will remain strong and intact for years to come.
When you use this thread, you will notice that it glides smoothly through the paper and provides just the right amount of tension. The end result is a beautiful, professional-looking binding that will last for years to come.
Whether you are a seasoned bookbinder or just starting out, Waxed Silamide Skeins Thread is an excellent choice for your next project.
6. Tenn Well Waxed Thread
Tenn Well Waxed Thread is a high-quality, waxed polyester thread that is perfect for bookbinding.
The cord is 1mm in diameter and is coated with wax, making it durable and easy to use, although it can be a bit bulky, so it’s only suitable for exposed spine designs.
The wax coating helps to protect the thread from fraying and breaking and also makes it easier to slide through the binding material, both paper, and cardstock.
This is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a durable, easy-to-use bookbinding thread.
7. Vanboon Leather Waxed Thread
If you are looking for a tough and durable thread for your bookbinding projects, Vanboon Leather Waxed Thread is a great option to consider.
This 0.8 mm polyester thread is twisted for added strength, and the wax coating helps to prevent fraying as well as makes the thread more pliable and easy to work with.
In addition, this set comes with a variety of colors to match your project requirements.
Whether you are looking for a natural look or something more colorful, this set can provide some great options to consider.
8. Flat Waxed Thread
This set of 24 spools of flat waxed thread is made from braided polyester that is lightly coated for added durability.
The 0.8mm diameter makes it suitable for a wide range of bookbinding designs and provides just the right amount of support for most projects. The wax coating helps the thread glide smoothly.
In addition, the material is also strong and tear-resistant, making it perfect for binding heavier books.
Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced bookbinder, this versatile thread will come in handy for all your projects.
9. Mandala Crafts Round Waxed Thread
The Mandala Crafts Round Waxed Thread is made from braided polyester. It is lightly coated with wax, making it very durable and sturdy.
It’s also available in a wide range of colors, so you can find the perfect match for your project.
The 0.45mm diameter thread is the perfect size for most bookbinding projects – both closed and exposed spine, and the wax coating helps to prevent fraying and unraveling.
Whether you’re looking to add a pop of color to the spine of your book or simply need a reliable thread for your next sewing project, this option is a great choice.