Two years later…

It only took me two years but I made some more books! OK so I did make loads more in that time but they were put on my website which I now can’t afford and I failed to migrate the posts here before my hosting was up so, fresh start?

2014-06-30 19.10.28I’ve not tried any coptic or exposed bindings before but these were college projects so a lot of things were new. We have this great tutor, her name is Alison Mercer and she is a fantastic artist, not to mention a very encouraging teacher, so I’m always finding new ways to be creative in her classes. Learning how to bind is not too hard for me but learning how to be creative and how to use my work is actually really tough. I’m not a natural artist so doing the college course has helped, not only by showing me new techniques but also by giving me the bravery to adjust them and just run and play with ideas until I get something I really like.

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This is my first Coptic binding and it wasn’t as daunting as I originally thought it would be. OK, I made some big mistakes but it’s all part of the process and I know what to look out for next time.

When I started to make this in class I was not prepared at all, I didn’t have any papers with me and I had to make the covers at the same time as I arranged the signatures so I grabbed some sheets of paper from my sketch book, which I’d been doodling with a Sharpie and had painted with watercolours, and I used them with some bright rainbow paper.

The result is actually really nice and I never would have used my own doodles to cover a book before but I actually really love having them on the front of my journal!

Now for the problems with this one: Originally I started stitching with some Perle cotton and though I loved the colour (bright orange!) it was a total bitch to work with. It kept knotting and slipping so I had to find an alternative, I could have used my linen thread but I only have white and no dye so that was out of the question so I tried to use a corded cotton instead. Whilst this was way easier to work with it does have drawbacks, like being quite thick so it’s tricky to push through the signatures when the thread is fed back into the holes and it makes large gaps between the signatures when opened flat so it’s great for filling the pages but not so good when you realise the added bulk to the spine means the book can never close flat unless you really do fill the pages!

2014-06-30 19.05.24Another problem was that when I got to the last signature I realised that I hadn’t fed the cord all the way through on the previous signature which meant I had a huge loop in the middle of it. I tried undoing it but the cord was knotted so tight I could not go back, I had to cut the cord and tie it together, which caused more problems as the cord knots are quite thick and unsightly but it was too late so I finished up and this was the result. It’s not too bad and I do really love the cover.

2014-06-30 19.06.57This is an exposed tape binding, I’ve made regular tape bound books before, they’re my usual thing but this was slightly different and instead of using linen tapes I used some of the wall paper I used to cover the book. I forgot to reinforce it with some soft card which may be the books undoing when it eventually falls apart.

I wasn’t confident about this book at all, the signatures should have had more pages in to make the structure more stable and I think I would have liked to attach the tapes more securely than just by gluing the end papers over them. It was interesting to make and I love the monochrome wallpaper I used to cover the board but I don’t think I’ll make one again like this.

I’ve got a few more under weights and drying at the moment so hopefully I’ll have pictures of those soon.


(FYI: I used two tutorials to help me when I wasn’t sure if I was doing things right those were from Hyde Co. Designs for the Coptic journal and for the exposed tape binding, her method is much better though so use that!)



Project 2: Cloth Stitch Book

Lots of hospital and doctor’s appointments of late so haven’t been able to post this sooner. It’s not a big project just a little something I made to keep my needles in and to practice embroidery stitches. I’ve been following Take A Stitch Tuesday over at Pin Tangle and wanted a small sample book to do my stitches in so this is what I made.


It’s not great but it’s good enough just to practice in. I started by cutting the felt 10cm x 20cm and folding it to make a spine of sorts.

I then made the ‘pages’ for the inside by cutting 5 pieces of white cotton 11cm x 21cm and hemmed the edge with the sewing machine. I would advise either hemming with wonderweb or some other kind of n0 sew tape or just overlocking the edge, that’d probably be MUCH easier than what I did. Let me tell you, I’m a total noob at sewing and I probably should have had a larger allowance but it just seemed a bit big and messy doing a 1cm allowance.  My mistake.

So once all the swearing and hemming was done I pressed a fold in my cotton pieces and sewed the spine. I used embroiderer’s thread to do this because I wanted a nice bright colour.

There it is, one little stitching booklet and now I have somewhere to put all my little stitches. 🙂


TUTORIAL: Moleskine Style Notebooks (Cahiers)

Ok, it’s taken a few days because I have been a bit busy with the New Year family visiting and such, but it’s finally here. Today I’ll be running through how to make a Moleskine style cahier. This one isn’t exactly like the Moleskine one, I mean what’s the point? I could just buy one if that’s what I wanted. This is a colourful, more customised version, it doesn’t have to be perfect, mine never are, but it’s not too difficult either, especially if you have some experience with paper crafts and/or sewing.

For my ‘petits cahiers’ I am making the pages 9cm x 14cm, so you will need to cut your paper into 18cm x 28cm sheets so that they fold to the correct size. From an A3 sheet of paper you’ll get about 3-4 sheets of this size depending on the grain of your paper. To find the grain rip a piece of your paper horizontally and vertically, the tear that is straightest indicates the direction of the grain so if your paper tears better horizontally then then that’s usually because the grain lies horizontally. You will want the grain to run vertically down your book to make folds easier and neater, so cut your paper accordingly using a guillotine or paper cutter, if you’re brave/dangerous you can also use a sharp craft blade with a metal ruler as your guide.

You could also buy paper that is precut, which would be a hell of a lot easier, if you can get it. It has taken me hours (mostly spent tearing my hair out) to cut my paper because at the moment I do not have a guillotine and the paper cutter I have is slightly blunt, so I apologise in advance for the wobbly quality of my notebooks in the photos for this tutorial.

So, start with the sheets and fold them in half, you’ll need to press that crease really well so use a bone folder if you can or the edge of a ruler if you can’t (not the side the measurements are printed on as this sometimes comes off on the paper). I’ve done 12 sheets to make a 24 page cahier, you can use more or less depending on the thickness of your paper. Once they’re all folded stack them and block them all together to make sure they’re even.


Now you’re going to have  to cut the cover, the size of card I’ve got is a bit weird so I couldn’t do it as long as I would have liked to include a larger size pocket at the back. I cut mine to be about 2mm taller than the papers and folded so that the cover had an overhang of about 5mm. You don’t have to do this with yours, you can make it exactly like the moleskine and have the cover flush with the papers, though you will definitely need a guillotine to make it nice and straight.  So the piece of card I cut was 14.2cm x 24cm. I folded it at 9.7cm and then folded in again at the same distance to make the inside pocket.

You’ll need  to glue the inside pocket down. Take a very small amount of PVA onto a small round brush and paste it thinly onto the bottom centimetre of  the pocket and press it down whilst it dries. Next thing you’ll want to do is make a pricking guide, I usually just take a scrap of paper as long as the book and use a ruler to mark where I want to sew. In this instance I made each hole 5mm apart, in hindsight this is a little close perhaps, so it might be better to make them a bit wider apart, it’s up to you.

The next thing you’ll need to do the stabbing! You’ll need an awl or you can use the needle to make the holes, if you do it with the needle you’ll probably only be able to do half the pages at a time. You’ll need a cradle, if you have one that’s great, if you don’t then you can do what I did and use a Yellow pages or other type of large phone book/catalogue.  Just open the book to the middle and use shape of the book to pierce into the middle.

Once you’ve pricked through each sheet and the cover, the time comes for the sewing. If you’ve never done this before do not fret, it really isn’t hard it only requires a small amount of concentration and care.  You’ll need to thread up your needle, you should have a book binder’s needle and some linen thread. Looking at the Moleskine though, they don’t seem to use linen threads, what they use is actually quite lightweight so if you don’t have linen you can try using some strong cotton thread if you fancy risking it, the thread might break whilst sewing if it’s not strong enough.

When I sewed mine I used a rather unorthodox method of stitching the book, I backstitched. To do this start at the second hole on the inside of the book (leave enough thread to tie off later), come back in through the top hole and out through the third and back in through the second. Continue this pattern the whole way down the book then tie off both ends.

And after that you should have your own cahier, if you want to make it more moleskine like you can use a rounded corner punch to complete the look.