Instructions: Basic Coptic Endbands

I had to watch a video a dozen times before I could get this sewing pattern streamlined in my head and a mantra created. The step-by step videos by miyalexander are very clear, but complex. It takes forty to sixty minutes to sew endbands for an entire book. The finished product looks complicated, but the sewing pattern is really just three steps that repeat in this order: Across, Through, and Under: ATU.

On the covers you will have five stitches in each of eight holes and a linked stitch through and across the book block. 

You'll need a full wingspan of waxed linen thread, plus another half span. In addition to a completed book, you'll need a regular bookbinding needle and a Japanese screw punch or leather hole punch. Pencil, ruler, scissors, and bone folder are also helpful.

Measure 1/2" from the head/tail, 1/4" from the spine, and space the paired holes 1/4" apart. Put down cardboard or wood to protect your work surface. Punch eight 2mm - 3mm holes. Front cover and back cover: two head and two tail. I made a paper template for two holes and flipped it as needed for all eight.

Eight holes. They are equally sized.

With a bone folder, smooth and flatten the area around the holes on the inside.

With the cover facing you, begin by sewing through the leftmost hole from in to out (lefties may find it easier to sew from right to left). Leave a 2" tail. Tie a square knot with the knot resting on the top edge of the board.

As usual, be careful not to pierce your threads as you sew. Pull the stitches snug, and align and rest them on the very top edge of the boards. For this, always sew from in to out, towards you.

Wrap the long working thread ACROSS the knot.

Sew THROUGH the hole from in to out.

Take your needle and sew UNDER the two (horizontal plus vertical) stitches. Eventually, you'll see the little X the two stitches create. Not shown here, but you take the thread ACROSS to the right again.

Sew THROUGH the hole, in to out, towards you, as always.



(THROUGH not shown) UNDER the X
Adjust the tension of the thread emerging from the hole as you go under the X.


After the final tenth UNDER on the board, bring the thread ACROSS the head of the book and sew THROUGH the top sewing station in the book block.
I've turned it around so you can see where you are going, but keep the outside facing you.


 go ACROSS the signatures and THROUGH the hole


ACROSS to the next signature


Continue the pattern into the righthand cover.

Make an additional half hitch knot, tying the thread to itself,
then trim. Flatten the waxy knot into the board with the bone folder.

The blue one has a simpler blanket stitch instead and lies a little flatter.

The spine is hollow and the book opens flat. You can see the connection to knitting pretty clearly in the yellow one.

The endbands add stability to the book, but also a nice accent inside and out.

To simplify the process even further, I created a pdf of the basic sewing steps at this link.

Covered Coptic Journals are now up on nevermindtheart.


Lora E said…
Thank you thank you thank you for this tutorial! I've been trying to master coptic endbands for over a year now, and I had the basic stitch down when it came to the covers, but I was never confident in figuring out how to transition it to the signatures of the textblock. Other tutorials just glossed over it.

I'll have to give this a try this weekend when I have a chance to make a new book. (I'm so excited!)
Alisa said…
You're welcome, Lora E! Let me know how it comes out!
Danielle said…
Thank you so much! I've been looking for instructions on this for a while. Very clear. I can't wait to try it on my next book!
Alisa said…
Thanks for writing, Danielle! Let me know how it comes out!