Anyway let's get started. The notebook I am creating will be a hardback A5 with 192 pages (sides) to write on with a flyleaf at both back and front. First we have to create the paper signatures. I fold 4 sheets of A4 paper in half and insert them one inside the other. This is the first signature. You can use a craft bone (illustrated) to make the paper crease but this is unnecessary and I tend to use just my fingers. Tips:
- Handle the paper as little as possible with clean hands to prevent skin oils getting onto the pages.
- The crease does not have to be a knife edge.
Create 12 such signatures to give a total of 192 pages. Also create 2 flyleafs from single sheets of A4 heavy duty card. The card I am using is approx 180 to 200gsm and in a complimentary colour to the cover material that I will be using. Stack the 12 signatures with a flyleaf on the top and the bottom. I managed to create all signatures and flyleafs in 15 minutes.
The next bit is the bit I like least - punching the holes into the signatures for sewing. Using the template discussed in part 1 I put it into the centre of a single signature and then push the lot firmly into the fold of a large, heavyweight book. (I use a dictionary). I then push a needle through each of the holes in the template and through the signature. Tips:
- Use an old book because you are likely to make holes in it too.
- Make sure the template and signature remain lined up and pushed firmly into the book.
- Make sure that you restack all signatures and flyleafs with the same orientation after hole-punching. This ensures the holes line up more accurately.
- Use a thimble. This stage can be painful.
And here's the completed stack ready for sewing. It took me about 10 minutes to punch all the holes. It is very difficult to get every hole lined up perfectly but you will get better with practice. Slight mis-alignments will not seriously affect the overall finish.
Now we're ready to start sewing the bookblock together. I learnt the technique from this link: http://www.trumpetvi...skine-reloaded/
I would strongly recommend you read and digest the section there about Coptic stitching. I have created an abridged version of how to sew the stitch in my notebook and I've included a copy of it here. I use it as a reference/aide memoire whilst I'm sewing and find it very useful. But you probably won't fully understand it without first looking at that website.
When I sew, I use a bulldog clip as shown to keep the signatures and, therefore, stitches tight. I place the bulldog clip at the end I am working away from. Also, I sew the components together in reverse order i.e. the back flyleaf first to the back signature and then work forward to the front flyleaf. Tips:
- Gently tug the thread after each stitch to ensure there are no loose loops of thread.
- There is no need to use a thimble.
- Be careful applying the flyleafs at start and finish as the card can tear easily at the holes.
- Ensure that the length of thread you start with is long enough to complete the bookblock. Otherwise you will have to tie additional lengths and this will create knots and weaknesses.
- I use 5 good armlengths of thread for a 192 page A5 notebook.
- I use 3 good armlengths of thread for a 192 page A6 notebook.
This is the sewn bookblock. It took me 1 hour and 10 minutes to complete. Notice how flat it lays. The stitching between signature joins will appear to be quite loose no matter how tightly you sew. This is what allows the Coptic stitch to lay so flat. Don't worry about the gaps between the signatures at this stage - they will not be apparent in the finished article.
And here you can see the finished Coptic stitching. Pretty straight for a bloke! You can of course vary the number of signatures that go into your notebook but always ensure that you use an even number otherwise the 2 end threads will not finish at the same end of the spine and you won't be ale to tie them off. As an aside: the A6 notebooks I have created with 192 pages are a bit too firm to open when compared to the A5 version. I intend in future to reduce the number of pages in my A6 books to 96 or 128 pages so that the book is easier to open flat.
And the final stage is to glue the spine of the bookblock. This is not done traditionally in Coptic stitching but I do it to create a slightly stronger binding. I use a glue that remains flexible - PVA (or Elmer's to our American friends). I apply the glue in 2 stages. Firstly, I clamp the bookblock loosely and apply a good layer of PVA which I then rub well into the paper using my finger.
I then realign the bookblock as accurately as possible and lock the clamps down tight. I add a third clamp to get a good pressure on the spine. I leave for the PVA to go "off" - about 2 hours, and then I apply a second, quite thick coat over the first. I then leave the lot to cure overnight before removing from the clamps.
And that's the bookblock. The next part will show how I make the hardback book cover.
Phew, that's me done for today. I'm off to bed...
I look forward to reading your comments, questions, suggestions etc...
All the best,