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So, once all of the sections have been joined except the last one, it’s time to find the top/bottom cover.  This cover is sewn on at the same time as the last section, just as the other cover was.

Sewing the final section and cover

Sewing the final section and cover

I highly recommend Smith’s book for the description of how to finish this binding.  His books are available at http://www.keithsmithbooks.com/.  I’m sorry that I can’t remember exactly how I followed his instructions for this.

Looking at my book, it looks like I did the following:

  • I came out of the last hole of the next to last section
  • looped the stitch below and then went through the cover between the section and the cover
  • looped around the cover
  • returned to create a loop around the next to last section and enter the final section.

Boy that sounds complicated.  I think I missed looping properly from the cover to the next-to-last section which may be what contributes to the loosey goosey feeling of my binding.

The binding continues by:

  • coming out of the next station, looping around the stitch below,
  • continuing to the cover, sewing from the inside to the outside
  • then returning into the sewing station and continuing to the next.

Here’s the final product.  I think this is a complex binding that I’m glad I tried.  I hoped I’ve at least managed to give an overview of the process.

Finished binding

Finished binding

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According to Smith, you need at least five sections so that the pattern will be apparent, so keep that in mind. 🙂

After folding the sections and sizing the boards for the covers, I covered the boards and got ready to create a template for marking the stitches.

First section joined to cover

First section joined to cover

Sewing stations should be less than 1 inch apart, though the stations at the head and tail are supposed to be between 1/2″ and 5/8″ inches away to strengthen the book and keep the head and tail tighter. So, for my book, the head and tail stations are about 1/2″ from the top of the section, and the next closest sewing stations is about 1/2″ from the first. The middle stations were spaced evenly at 1″ apart. So, I had a total of 7 sewing stations. The holes in the cover boards were punched about 1/8″ in from the end.

Keith recommends doing this type of binding by sewing on a supporting board. As you can see from the picture, I did try to do this. It worked, but I think it’s necessary to have a workstation that you can sit at where the board and book are above waist height to make this a truly comfortable way to work. I did this on a coffee table and found that it was hard to do.

I can’t give a detailed description on how the sewing is done. I no longer remember all the details. I can give a brief overview though. You start as you usually would from the inside of the first section to the outside and then it loops around the board from the outside to the inside. The thread then wraps around itself as it goes back into the first station heading to the tail. Keith’s book has very helpful diagrams that really make this clear.

Chain pattern emerging

Chain pattern emerging

The pattern that he teaches is a chain pattern. There are many different patterns that can be done with Coptic binding, so don’t think that this is the only one. It’s really important to try and keep the same tension throughout the sewing so that the chain emerges clearly. Too tight, and the chain disappears; too loose, and the chain becomes unweildy. I think I got the tension somewhere in the middle pretty consistently. I thank years of crocheting for helping me with that. Embroidery also helps with teaching a consistent tension in sewing.

After attaching the board at the final station, it’s time to add the next section. Rather than going back into the final sewing station on the first section, the thread is woven under itself as it emerges on the inside of the cover and then enters the first sewing station on the 2nd section. It then proceeds on the inside to the next sewing station. Now it’s time to start making the chain pattern. Basically, the thread comes out of the second station and wraps down around the sewing below it and goes back into the hole.

Well, once again, the baby has awoken, though I feel I’m making progress on the documentation. 🙂

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