Chinese Thread Books

A Chinese Thread Book made by a very talented student in my first Home Studio Class of 2018. Beautiful work!


Well, it’s official: I am obsessed with the Chinese Thread Book!  This one is made from a combination of Japanese Chiyogami papers and Black Lokta printed with images of fish, with a cover made of beautiful lacquered Chiyogami Yuzen paper.  Chinese thread books were originally found in central China. Women made them and carried their sewing supplies in them: threads, snips of fabric, needles, paper patterns, and other relatively flat treasures, all folded and tucked into pockets.  The insides were made of paper and the outsides were often made of fabric, indigo dyed shibori and other  fabrics. The inside compartments were often preserved with lacquer or wax.  Not many of the older  books have survived, most being well used and paper being a fragile medium. They were often decorated with designs and drawings, as well as sewn and paper snips.  This design is based on much research - see my Pinterest account for Zhen Xian Bao for lots of great articles and examples.  I also used the books of Ruth Smith, “Folded Secrets” Books 1-5. They are wonderful, full of the history and many variations and inspirations, as well as complete directions for these 15 compartment books.  I don’t think she has a website, but she can be reached by email: to order the books. The postage from England is pricey, but the books are excellent!

My second Chinese Thread Book I made out of Lokta paper and a piece of my marbled paper on Textoprint. Lokta is made from the fibers of the daphne plant, which grows in the rural areas of Nepal.  Growing and harvesting the plants and making the lokta is a cottage industry necessary for the survival of many families and rural communities in Nepal.  The paper is soft, but strong, and is dyed a luscious variety of colors.  The belt on this second book is from a design by Hedi Kyle.  This summer in my marbling classes we will be marbling 3-D objects as well as fabric and I plan to make book cloth out of one of the fabric pieces - I am thinking that might make a lovely and durable cover for a Chinese Thread       Book . . .So many exciting possibilities with this charming book!

© Nancy Akerly 2022