Handmade Sketchbook – Coptic Stitch Bookbinding Technique

A personalised sketchbook that I made using coptic binding (sometimes also called chain stitch in bookbinding), which is a method that allows the book to lay completely flat when opened. The way the stitching is showcased against the exposed pages of the spine is a very beautiful and unusual feature.

One of the many perks of handmaking sketchbooks is being able to use whatever paper you like. Making this as a gift, I used the recipient’s favourite sketchbook paper for the majority of the paper, but also mixed in other papers for variety and visual appeal. I wanted a vintage/ephemera vibe, so gathered different papers that I felt evoked that, and also that I hoped would be interesting to paint and draw on. By inserting a mix of papers I was also aiming to break up every artist’s fear: the clean blank page.

The paper used for the cover was decoupage paper, which is very thin and lightweight – so not really the recommended paper for this, but I really liked it’s delicate nature and the slightly wrinkled texture it gave from the glue. Handmade sketchbooks are such tactile things, and I wanted to embrace this.

Inside some of the signatures (a grouping of pages is called a signature – this sketchbook was made of 11 signatures) I included some biodegradable cello bags, filled with envelopes, twine, gift tags, and origami paper. I attached an envelope on the inside back cover as I love books with little spaces for keepsakes and mementos! As a final touch I brush lettered the owner’s name onto a gift tag and tied it into the inside front cover, to be used as a bookmark if desired.

I was happy to be able to make this sketchbook with mostly recycled/biodegradable materials. As mentioned already the cello bags are biodegradable. The lined and square paper I printed myself on recycled paper, and the kraft paper, gift tags, envelopes and board (for the cover) I had already for my business and are all made from 100% recycled materials including from post-consumer waste. The sketchbook paper used was 70% certified FSC mix.

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