DCA Bookbinding (Part 3/6)

After last session’s successful binding! we’ve moved on to a new stitch in this week’s bookbinding class.

Coptic Stitch, and to make it more exciting (and learn more skills) we are also making a hard cover, covered with book cloth.

But first, a little background on the coptic stitch before going into the how to’s……..

Coptic binding or Coptic sewing comprises methods of bookbinding employed by early native Christians in Egypt, the Copts, and used from as early as the 2nd century AD to the 11th century. The term is also used to describe modern bindings sewn in the same style. Coptic bindings, the first true codices (a book made up of a number of sheets), are characterized by one or more sections of parchment, papyrus, or paper sewn through their folds, and (if more than one section) attached to each other with chain stitch linkings across the spine, rather than to the thongs or cords running across the spine that characterise European bindings from the 8th century onwards.

And this is the sample that we were shown to aim towards:

Coptic Binding (11)Coptic Binding (12)

And here are a few more image examples, i’ve been collecting up on pinterest, of coptic stitched books i adore:

After that wonderful inspiration, on to the making i go!

First step: folding the paper into sections. For this wee book, we have 8 sections, and have used three different colours of paper.

Must ensure paper is properly folded by using the end of the cutting utensil, a butter knife, to smooth down each crease.

Coptic Binding (1)

Turning the knife over, and cut along the crease. Some of my cutting was a little dodgy, it’s hard to get into the rhythm of it and some of my edges tore… in future binding i must work on ensuring that i don’t tear my paper (especially as i don’t have a handy guillotine to trim down the edges!).

Coptic Binding (2)

After all that creasing and folding and cutting, we have 8 little sections each! As you can see, i was cutting the vanilla white paper!

Coptic Binding (3)

A little bit of swapping and we soon had different coloured sections: vanilla white, caramel cream and mushroom grey!

Coptic Binding (4)


Using the handy guillotine we trimmed down the edges into smooth, neat sections. And we trimmed little covers to fit using thick card. It’s important at this stage that the card cover fits exactly flush to the book as when the cloth covers it a millimeter or so is added and if it isn’t a flush cut cover the whole thing ends up looking a little wonky!

Coptic Binding (6)



Next we set our sections to one side and picked out our book cloths. There were so many to choose from, but i, naturally, settled on this wonderful purple! But isn’t that yellow magnificent too? and the cream?

Coptic Binding (8)


We cut our cloths to fit the covers, just a centimeter or so larger on each side.

Coptic Binding (13)


Next the glueing process… i didn’t take any photos of this part due to sticky fingers! but basically we were sticking cloth to the cover.

Couple of tips: glue from the middle of the sheet out, ensuring your cover is pressed firmly against the table surface, this way no glue gets onto the front/underside of the cover. Also, use a bone folder to ensure the cloth is firmly stuck along the edges and corners.


Coptic Binding (18)


Coptic Binding (16)


Coptic Binding (17)


These covers will go in the press for the week and they will be all flat, dry and lovely by the time we’re ready to start stitching next week!

See you on the other side…..

Chloe out.




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