How to Sew Your Own Journal
Dear Wonderful, Creative You:
I have been making my own journals for some time – some sewn simply, some rolled or loose, and some folded accordion style. I love the playfulness of these techniques. But I have longed to sew a more traditional book – a beautiful journal with lots of signatures, and beautiful covers. I had seen this gorgeous video of Paulus Berensohn teaching coptic binding, and ever since then, I’ve been longing to make coptic bound journals of my own.
It’s a quiet, focused technique that yields a strong, beautiful book. I love that.
The process welcomes slowness. Imagine, you sit down, thread the needle, and begin quietly sewing your book, stitch by stitch. Each little knot is so careful and beautiful. For me, it’s a process that requires my attention, and I value that.
There are many tutorials out there – both free and paid, that do a good job of teaching coptic binding, but I had so many little, yet persistent questions: What’s the spacing between the edge of the cover and the holes? Is the stitch on the sides different from the ones in the middle? Should the tail end of the string be to the left or the right as I’m sewing?
Eventually, after doing a few different tutorials, I figured out an approach that made sense. And then, of course, I wanted to make coptic book binding as easy and fun as possible for you. I wanted everything to be spelled out, step-by step, both in a video, and in words and pictures, so that you’d always have a way to verify your next step, without second guessing.
I love using and gifting coptic bound journals. They are beautiful, sturdy, and versatile.
What I love about working in a hand-bound journal is that I feel free to use it however I please. I don’t worry that I’m wasting pages, because I can make more! I find that sewing my own journal has created a sense of spaciousness in my art. I feel more free to mix and match, explore, and take up space.
Concretely, I feel more free to use white space. This is a beautiful surprise in the process. I feel more able to let each page have its say- however big or little that is. I think it’s important to have permission to embrace our artistic space- physically and metaphorically. In my coptic bound journals, I have that.
I’m happy to report that students are making their books and are already saying how much I’ve simplified the process! I’d love to have you join in this coptic bookbinding adventure with me.
I can’t wait to see your beautiful books.