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by Kristine Mysah Khatri
March 02, 2020
I had this beautiful 12" x 12" paper pad from We R Memory Keepers called Wildflower, and had been saving it up for a long time, but I just didn't really know what I wanted to do with it, or rather it was just so pretty that I couldn't bear to use it 😅 Does anyone else have the same problem? Luckily I came across My Little Journal's channel on YouTube and was inspired to make my own journal which I wanted to use on documenting a trip I had gone on with my husband. One problem though, I didn't know how to make a book 😝 In my quest to find a coptic stitch tutorial, I discovered Sea Lemon's channel, and I can't believe I actually learnt how to make a book!
For my journal, I wanted to make a hard cover, coptic stitch bound book, comprising of four signatures. I used 6 to 7 sheets of patterned paper for each signature, cut to a size of 8 1/2" x 8 1/4", making sure to stack them in an order that I liked. The outer sheet for each signature was cut to 12" x 9", because I wanted to add an inner pocket at the end of each signature, where I could stash away some pamphlets and other miscellaneous print I accumulated over the course of our trip. Below you can see the dimensions I've used, and where I score and fold the paper at. At the bottom of this blog post, I've also embedded a video that you can watch instead.
For the page that has a pocket, I used double sided tape to stick the flap down, making sure I used the adhesive on the outer fold. Once all your sheets are cut, scored and stacked, take one page (the outermost page of your signature) and mark down where you want to pierce out your holes. Use this page as a guide for the rest of the pages. For a sturdier book, that doesn't wiggle around much, pierce your holes closer to the top, bottom and at the center. Once you're done piercing the holes with an awl for one signature, align and stack all your signatures in the order you arranged and using the already pierced signature, mark out the holes for the unmarked signatures. You can use something with a straight edge to mark the rest of the signatures and then pierce through them, three or more sheets at a time (depending on their thickness) in the order they are arranged in. Its important to pierce and put them back in order, as the holes might be misaligned if you ignore the order they were pierced in.
You'll notice that all of the signatures have overhanging pages, especially if you've used cardstock like I have. All you need to do is take a signature, with it's pocket cover and mark down the edge of where you need to cut. Remove the pocket cover and clamp the pages together with a paper binder clip, then start cutting away the overhanging pages with a craft knife.
Cut out two 4 3/8" x 8 3/8" chipboards, these will serve as the base of the hardcover. Then cut two 3 5/8" x 7 5/8" sheets for your inner cover and two 6 3/8" x 10 3/8" sheets for your outer cover. Using a scoring board, I scored a 3/4" border on two of the sides, and folded the crease. I then aligned the chipboard on the creases, and scored around the chipboard. I made sure to fold and press down on the creases using my bone folder, then with a scissor I cut off the corners at an angle, and left a little gap of paper at the corner tips.
I opted for an adhesive spray from Scotch, called the Spray Mount. It says its repositionable, though I find it dries fast and can tear your paper if you try to reposition it. I made sure to spray it evenly on my chipboard and aligned it on to the scored and trimmed sheet before pressing down and burnishing it with my bone folder to get any air bubbles out. Then I sprayed a flap, folded it over and pressed down, followed by a good burnishing. I worked on each flap individually, as I found that if you burnish them, the glue tends to ooze out from under the edge of the paper, and its easier to scrape these off with scrap paper, when its still not dry. Once all edges are done, I aligned the 3 5/8" x 7 5/8" sheet a little off center on the chipboard (minding where I will be piercing holes) and marked the edges, this will serve as my guide, so I don't have to worry about incorrectly sticking the paper on. I then sprayed adhesive on it, and stuck it on the chipboard, then burnished it quickly and carefully to avoid spreading the oozed out glue. You'll need to scrape off the excess glue quickly before it dries out and be careful to not spread it around. After scraping, if you do find that some glue has spread around the edges, use an anti-static tool on these areas to remove the tack, and a sand eraser to buff out these areas, just be careful to not overdo the erasing as this will lighten the print on those areas.
Once the glue has dried on your cover, mark 1/4" on the side where you will be piercing your holes. Align a pierced pocket page to one of the covers and use a binder clip to hold it in place. Then mark out the holes and remove the pierced page, before you pierce the markings on your cover with an awl. You will need to make sure that the holes you pierce are large enough for the needle and thread to pass through. Then align the pierced cover with the other cover and secure them together with a binder clip. I just used the awl to poke through the pierced cover, and make a mark on the other cover. After I completed marking the holes with an awl, I removed the binder clip, and proceeded to pierce the cover fully.
Using a waxed cotton thread is the best way to stitch bind a book, because the wax lessens the chances of your thread knotting up as you thread it through your work. If you don't have any waxed cotton thread available, then you can just use embroidery floss, but you will have to wax it. I just used an Ikea tealight candle, and worked the thread into the candle, around two or three times. Then I'd press and twist the thread just to make sure it was covered in wax, and also to remove any excess wax.
We're now at the dangerous part, joke, I mean the fun part! 😅 Kidding aside, I did manage to stab myself with the needle a couple of times, so do be careful when you're stitching your signatures together. I have very minimal skills when it comes to working with a thread and needle, but hey, if I can do this, you most definitely can too!
Double thread your needle and tie a knot at the end. I think I used an embroidery needle for this project (do correct me if I'm wrong). Then take your bottom cover and last signature from your arranged stack and thread the needle through the inside of the signature first, then go through the back of the cover and out through the inside. Loop your thread around the stitch you just made and then back into the signature through the hole you started in. Then from inside the signature, thread your needle through the next hole, then thread through the next hole from the backside of the cover. Loop around the stitch you just made and then back into the signature. Repeat this for the remaining signatures.
If you're close to running out of thread, just continue the previous steps till your needle is back inside the signature. All you need to do is just loop around a previous stitch inside, tie a knot and cut the thread. Then continue with a new double threaded needle with a knot at the end on the next hole.
Once you reach the last hole, continue through from the back of the cover, and loop your stitch, but return the needle into the next signature in your stack. Like the previous steps, you will need to go out through the next hole, but this time, loop around the bottom stitch, then back in the same hole. Repeat this method for the remaining signatures except for the last one in the stack. When you reach the last signature, grab the other cover because you will be sewing the cover and the last signature on at the same time.
For the first hole, go through the cover first and then loop around the previous stitch and then go through the signature hole. For the remaining holes, loop first through the previous stitch and then through the cover. Then loop around the stitch you just made and then back into the signature hole. Repeat this method for the remaining holes. When you reach the last hole in this signature, follow the same method. Go through the last hole, loop around the previous stitch, then through the cover. Then loop around the last stitch and then back into the signature hole. To finish, loop around the previous stitch, tie a knot and cut the thread.
Hopefully you'll be able to follow through with this blog post, if not, try watching the video below or Sea Lemon's video to get a clearer grasp of the method. It took me a couple of tries to figure it out, but once I got the hang of it, coptic stitch binding becomes easier! 👍
I wanted to have a journal that documented my euro trip, but you can use your journal for other things. One way to fill it up is by using it as a daily journal, or a planner journal or even as an art journal. Fill it up with inspirational quotes or poems or even your thoughts and ideas.
Use whatever leftover papers to fill up spaces by cutting or die-cutting shapes out of them. You can also paint or stamp out a print to add more to your pages. The possibilities are endless. But if you're looking to be inspired, do check out Amy Tangerine or My Little Journal's channel.
Good luck and happy crafting!
Loves cats and crafting, and is currently adding roller skating/blading to the mix. Hopes to spread her love of crafting to others and someday do a drop in at the skate park.
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