Coptic Stitch Bookbinding
- 1 cardboard backed sketch paper pad, 9″ x 12″ (see prep notes above)
- 3 sheets decorative scrapbook paper
- Embroidery thread
- Beeswax (recommended)
- Washi tape
- 50% glue/water solution
- glue brush
- Tapestry needle or curved bookbinder’s needle (recommended)
- Ribbon or cordage for closure (optional)
Preparing the cover
You can make a cover for a sketchbook or journal from a basic sketchpad.
Step 1: Remove the binding from the paper pad. You can use a spiral bound pad or a glued pad. Hang on to everything, you can use all these pieces for the finished sketchbook.
Step 2: Use the cardboard back as the cover. Trim it down to the dimensions you want your final sketchbook to be. For this example, I’ll make a sketchbook that is 6″ wide by 9″ tall when closed. I trim down the cardboard back to two rectangles that are 6″x9″ (one for the front cover and one for the back).
Step 3: Next, trim down the sheets of paper. For a 6″x9″ book, I trim the paper to 12″x 9″. Fold four sheets of paper together to make signatures that are 6″x9″. Use a bonefolder to crease the signatures.
Step 4: To create a decorative cover with scrapbook paper, trim the paper to 2 pieces 1″ wider and 1″ longer than the final size of the book and 2 pieces the same dimensions as the final size of the book.
For this example, I cut two pieces of paper to 7″x10″ for the outer covers, and two pieces to 6″x9″ for the endpaper/ inner cover.
Steps for Coptic Stitch
As you bind the coptic stitch, it might be helpful to always keep in mind going around the previous stitch. That going around anchors each stitch, and holds each signature or cover to the rest of the text block. Here are step-by-step photos to follow along with (click images to open them and see the captions).
Binding the first cover and signature:
- Hold the cover and the first signature together, making sure the binding holes in each line up.
- I like to hold the signature and cover with the spine edge toward me so I can flip the signature open easily as I bind.
- Insert the needle into one of the binding holes at the ends, starting on the inside of the signature.
- Leave a 5″ tail inside the signature to help tie off the thread later.
- Pull the thread to the outside of the signature.
- Pull the thread around to the outside of the cover and pass the needle through the hole from the outside.
- Bring the needle between the cover and the signature.
- The signature and the cover are both threaded, but still really loose.
- Pass the needle around the thread that’s going between the signature and the cover.
- Pass the needle back between the signature and the cover, and back out again, around the thread.
- Insert the needle back into the binding hole it came out of.
- Pull the thread tight (but not too tight to rip the paper!)
- Use a knot to tie off the thread with the tail you left inside the signature.
- Move on to the next binding hole, passing the thread out from inside the signature.
All of the binding holes in this first signature and cover are worked the same as the first.
- Pull the thread through the signature to the outside of the book.
- Insert the needle into the binding hole on the outside of the cover to pull the thread into the cover, between the cover and the signature.
- Pass the thread around the thread connecting the signature to the cover, toward the left.
- Hook the needle under that thread from the right and pull tightly.
- Insert the needle back into the same binding hole on the signature.
Repeat these steps for all of the binding holes on the first signature/ cover
- For the last binding hols in the signature, begin the same as the other holes, inserting the needle in the hole from the inside of the signature.
- Thread through the outside of the cover and wrap the thread around the stitch you’ve made to attach the cover and signature.
- Instead of inserting the thread back into the same binding hole, insert the needle into the first binding hole of the next signature.
Binding the rest of the signatures
For binding the rest of the signatures, you’ll continue to go around the previous stitch to hold the signatures together.
- After inserting your needle into the first hole in the signature, go immediately to the next binding hole.
- Pull the htread through the binding hole and to the outside of the signature.
- Insert the needle under the previous signature stitch (in this case, the stitch holding the first signature to the cover).
- Insert the needle back into the same binding hole it came out of.
To keep stitches neat like little knitted V’s, pass your needle under the stitch starting from the side of the stitch closest to the end you started from and insert the needl back into the same binding hole.
Adding the Back Cover and finishing
- When you reach the last hole on the last signature, tie a knot to bind off the thread.
- Pass the needle with the thread through the binding hole to the outside of the text block.
- Pull tightly to keep the thread straight.
- Place the unbound cover over the text block, lining up the binding holes. Pass the needle through the cover from the outside.
- Bring the needle and thread out between the signature and the cover to the outside of the spine.
- Hook the needle under the thread holding the cover to the signature.
- Insert the needle back into the same hole in the signature it originally came out of.
Bind the nest of the cover in the same way.
- From the inside of the signature, insert the needle into the next hole and thread through the signature to the outside of the text block.
- Insert the needle into the next binding hole on the cover.
- Bring the thread between the cover and the signature to the outside of the binding.
- Pass the needle under the theread connecting the cover and the signature.
- Insert the needle back into the same binding hole.
- When you get to the last binding hole, tie off the thread and tuck away any extra ends!