Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Six Needles, Six Threads, all sewn up!

At last I have finished the binding for my current book commission! This has taken longer than I anticipated, due to numerous interruptions of the "Life" kind.  But today I finally got the sewing finished.  Now all I have to do is add the extra little embellishments, then it will be ready to despatch.  I have posted the order in my Etsy shop, so the customer can see the (rather hasty!) photos of the book as it is now.  Soon I will replace those slightly scrappy photos with nice, shiny "Finished Book" pictures! 

So far, this Green and Ivory Silk Wedding Album with a Coptic Stitch Binding looks pretty okay:

Two-sheet section. The book has 10 of these. There are only 2 sheets per section because the pages are heavy weight printmaking paper, which is stiff and thick.  The folded bits are spacers, to allow the book to expand a little, if little souvenirs are stuck inside (like photos or tags with greetings on etc).  The pages measure 10" x 8".

One of the two covered boards, ready to be attached to the book. The covers are of ivory silk satin and moss green silk dupion (a slubby mid-weight silk fabric).  They are lined with some ivory damask-effect paper. 
There is a slight "lip" round the edge of the covers, to make the book neat and easy to open, so the boards are a tiny bit bigger than 10" x 8".

The covers were punched with the six holes for the binding.  I then added the green silk edge and used an awl to make little holes in this, so I knew where to push the needle through. If you look closely, you can see the teeny holes.

Each of the six sets of holes needs to be stitched. I used Coptic Stitch.  See the Six threads - all at once!

This is a Six Needle Coptic Binding!

Here's my needle-holder, that keeps them all in order.

So, I add each Section, on top of the previous one...

Each thread is stitched through the new section, in, then out of a pair of holes, then the needle is tucked under the stitch below it...

... and the thread looped round and tightened, to form a Kettle Stitch.
You can see that it makes a nice chain-stitch effect across the binding.  Sometimes this is done with different coloured threads, to give a lovely contrast, but this binding is just in natural-coloured linen, strengthened with beeswax.
Then the cover is attached.  I prefer to make a double stitch, to make the cover extra-secure and also because I think it looks nice!

The finished binding.
Front view
The book will open flat, right the way through, because the pages are essentially "hinged" on their edges.  This is a good binding for a thick book, especially one with heavy-weight paper. 
It's ideal for this Wedding Album, as the guests will want to open it flat and write messages to the bride and groom. No nasty splitting of the spine, because someone bent it back to open the book!

I'm really pleased with how this turned out.  It's been a while since I made a Coptic binding and I have never made a six-needle version before. There are a couple of minor hiccups, but I'm happy that the book is a pretty decent piece of work.  The customer says she loves it (though she has only seen my straight-from-the-camera, taken-in-poor-light, photos!). 

I need to make a matching tassel and put a lino-cut print on the cover (like I did with these books -

Ivory damask-effect paper, with navy silk binding and hand-printed Wedding Rings lino-cut embellishment.

Journal covered with lime green lokta paper, with gold silk hinged binding, hand-made tassel and hand-printed Beach Huts lino-cut embellishment.

I will use the wedding rings lino-cut that I made recently - the same as I used for the print on the navy book above.

This has been a great project for me to do, though it's been frustrating to have so many hold-ups.  I had problems sourcing the right materials, then trouble with the original binding plan (had intended to use a Japanese stab-stitched, hinged binding, like the ivory and blue book above, but the paper was too heavy and the book would not have opened properly).  Then various delays and problems with Life getting in the way...
But now it's nearly finished and I'm so excited!

* * *

Just a final little photo, that I thought you'd like to see...

Someone loves the sunshine...

Who Shot Sherlock?


  1. Lizzie it really looks marvellous for all of that painstaking work you have done! Binding is such a detailed process, a work of art and well worth all of the effort :-)

  2. I have to be honest. I said "What the Crud!" Out loud! I can't believe that you sew coptics with straight needles! Coptics are so difficult with 6+ needles and you go using straight needles. Sheesh! I would have given up on the first signature. You're amazing to have the patience for that.

    oh, I love the color of that spine. :)

  3. Thanks Amy and erm, thanks KarleighJae (um, I think...)!

  4. I love multi-needle binding. I find it very satisfying, and your finished journals are fab!

  5. Thanks Rinda. I certainly enjoyed myself yesterday. It was a very satisfying process, doing all 6 rows of stitching at once - and produced a much neater, more uniform finish.

    I know KarleighJae uses curved needles for her bindings... truth to tell, I only have 3 of these just now (and one is huge!), so straight was the natural choice. I can see the benefits of curved needles, having fiddled about a few times, coaxing the needle out from between sections, where it had wriggled in and got stuck! Maybe it's time to go and buy more curved ones... problem is they are so fat. I need to find skinny curved needles... hmmm...

  6. I am totally lost with all this talk of needles!!! But love the journals.

  7. What a lovely journal, I expect the recipient will be thrilled!

    Thank you for your comment on my blog, unfortunately it was my brother's visit that caused a lot of stress and heartache. That's how life goes sometimes.

    I bought some paper bunting from dotcomgiftshop after seeing it on your blog. Looking forward to decorating the garden with it at the weekend for my birthday party.

  8. Wow Lizzie, it looks fab :-) Coptic binding is one of the (many) things I'd like to have a go at!

  9. Lizzie! Your work is SO beautiful!!! I am in awe as well as inspired. :o)

  10. Lizzie, it's beautiful,I am vey impressed and I'm sure whoever receives it will be thrilled xx

  11. Beautiful work! Ask for a supply of curved needles in your stocking for Christmas! You'll be happy you did!

  12. beautiful books. All very technical for me but you must have incredible patience! Very talented Lizzie me thinks! he he! Abi xxx


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