What I really like about the coptic binding stitch is that you can use this bookbinding technique for
almost anything that is fairly stiff for your covers. Also, your book
will lie flat when open. Here I am using a vintage advertisement I
purchased at a rummage sale that is on lightweight chipboard. I covered
the back with a decorative scrapbooking paper and created the back cover
with two pieces of the same scrapbooking paper over another piece of
I have also used old postcards with this stitch as well as old books.
I also love using unusual things for my signatures instead of just
plain paper. I use various scrapbook papers, pages from old books,
sheet music, wallpapers, etc. Bookbinding is one of my new favorite pastimes.
Create your signatures the same height as your covers and double the width. Fold each in half. I used two pages in each signature and for this book I made 8 signatures. You could make more or less and you can make your signatures out of whatever you want.
*Optional: You can weight your signatures under heavy books to relax them if you want.
Create a piercing template out of scrap paper. It needs to be the same height as your book, but it only needs to be about 4" wide. Fold in half lengthwise. Mark 1/4" at the top and 1/4" at the bottom. Mark 3 other marks in between these two marks. If you are asymmetrical it helps you to remember top and bottom. You could also mark your guide with top and bottom.
Punch your holes in your covers and signatures using this guide and an awl or a
screw punch. This is a necessity for bookbinding success.
You are now ready to start sewing. Measure out your
waxed linen thread.
I usually measure the length of the book times the number of
signatures, plus 2 more times for the covers. If this is too cumbersome
to work with you can use less and tie off during binding and start with
So starting with your bottom cover at the edge of a table, go in from the bottom.
Tie a knot and trim off excess thread.
Wrap around the outside of the book cover again. Bring your next signature over on to the top of the book and go into the top hole in that signature.
Go out the second hold. Wrap thread back around outside of cover and come out and around the cover again.
Then go back into hole number 2. Go out hole number 3 and repeat this process through the 5th hole, except after wrapping around the outside cover do not go back through the previous signature, but rather add the next signature to the top and go into its bottom hole.
Pull it tight and go up to the next hole and back out. This is where you will start your first kettle stitch, which is essential to holding the coptic binding tight. This time instead of going down around the covers you're just going to feed the needle through the thread in the signature just below it.
Now go back in that same hole again, going through the little loop in the thread and pulling it tight.
Go back out the next hole and repeat. Continue on in this manner adding a new signature each time. When you're doing the third signature you only go back to the signature just below to do the kettle stitch, not all the previous signatures. Continue until you've sewn all the signatures.
Add your cover to your coptic binding book. Go over the top of the cover, back out and back into the top signature. Go back out the second hole.
Go back up over the top of your cover, kettle stitch below and back into the second hole again.
You will have double stitches in this signature.
After the last hole is complete, go back into the signature. Slip the needle under the thread and make a knot in the loop. Pull tight and cut off. That is all there is to the coptic binding stitch.