Adventures in coptic binding

Whilst we were in London for my birthday, I took the opportunity to pick up a few bookbinding tools from Shepherds on Southampton Row. I’ve been itching to follow up on last year’s workshops and to try my hand at some new techniques but I needed some basic bits and bobs. Whilst these basics (a bone folder, an awl, some needles and some linen thread) were affordable, I’d used leather binding at the workshops and leather, quite frankly, is a bit of a pricey material to practice on so I wanted something a little more accessible.

During my internet trawls for inspiration for handmade books, I’ve been drawn to coptic binding. The stitches are visible along the spine and, if left uncovered, you can open the book out flat. There are countless blogs, Etsy stores, videos and Pinterest boards dedicated to it but on YouTube, I stumbled across SeaLemon’s fantastic idea for turning this…

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…into a coptic stitch bound note or sketch book. If you want to see the process, her video tutorial is really accessible. Take a look:

Because I wanted to make it in to a gift, I used some beautiful Chiyogami paper from Shepherds for the covers instead of leaving them plain. The papers are screen printed with intricate, colourful designs and I struggled to choose (so I, er, bought a few different sheets…).

I’m fairly happy with the result!

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Next time, I think I’ll use fewer signatures (i.e. fewer pages) as the bound edge was much thicker than the outer edge and the structure of the book was too loose but it wasn’t bad for a first attempt.

If you’d like to see how it should look, check out SeaLemon’s lovely Etsy store

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2 thoughts on “Adventures in coptic binding

  1. Hello Jennifer! Next time, you could ‘reduce the swell’ at the spine by i) firmly bone-folder-ing the crease of each section before sewing (and/or placing the folded sections under a heavy flat weight, or in a press) and ii) using slightly thinner thread. Yours humbly, Best and Bookiest, Rachel

  2. Hello Rachel! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment, I really appreciate it. And thank you for your suggestions. I will give them a go on my next attempt…

    I’m just having a look at your website – absolutely beautiful!

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