Coptic Stitch Bookbinding Workshop Follow-up

A watercolour sketchbook made with coptic stitch binding

What we did in the class:


Making hardback covers

We started by making hard covers with good quality, fairly thick paper and bookboard. I get my bookboard here but you can also use the board that comes at the back of a pad of paper. I had precut the book board to A5 size plus 3-4 MM in width so you get a nice overhang at the sides of your book, containing the paper inside. We used this glue in class, which gives you a little time to re-position before it dries but you can use PVA glue or a Pritt stick would also work. If you can leave a little time between making your boards and putting in your holes for stitching, that would be optimal. Stack them (with scrap paper in between) under some heavy books whilst you fold your paper.


You get to choose what lovely paper you want to put inside! I showed you my mishmash A6 size book where I just took all the leftover random peices I had and made a book with them (pastel paper, bristol board, watercolour and sketch paper). Our finished books are A5 size, so we took A4 sheets and folded them in half. Watercolour paper is usually thick so you might want to keep the signature to no more than 3 sheets but if you’re using sketch paper you can add more (we did 4 in each signature in class). I get the 190gsm watercolour paper in Hobbycraft here and the lovely recycled cups 150gsm sketch paper here.



The fun bit

I have grand plans to create videos to share with you on how to make these books from start to finish but that’s going to take a bit of time. In the meantime, I have collected some YouTube links of my favourites to help you carry on making your lovely books at home:

  • Coptic stitch binding (the music is a bit annoying but this is my go-to video)
  • full tutorial – includes how to make covers (lots of bookbinding videos on this chap’s channel)
  • How to make a jig – 8 minutes into this video

Stitching supplies

Useful links and other resources:

  • If you liked the sound of making your own hardbacked book or buying a beautiful handmade one, check out Ursula’s instagram and site. (URSULA USED TO DO WORKSHOPS AND I THINK STILL DOES THEM OCCASIONALLY.)
  • The beautiful book by Rachel Hazell with 15 different techniques
  • The art of the fold by Heidi kyle and ulla warchol
  • SHEPHERD’S Bookbinding supplies at this site and if you want to have a go at making your first hard cover text book, take a look at this it’s an instruction sheet (£3.00) on how to make the book which becomes the content of the book. There are also accompanying videos on their site for free.
  • The gorgeous Natural History Museum Anna Atkins paper
  • Japanese screw punch

A note about grain

Paper and bookboard have a grain, like fabric. There is a really good article here on why it is important to consider your paper grain when bookbinding (and explains it better than I could). The Travelling Bookbinder also has a lovely video on how to check the grain (I find her videos very relaxing to watch too). So have a read/watch (or both) and then get all your paper out and see if you can spot the grain direction.