Simple Two-Colored Coptic Headbands

books with coptic double headbands
From the left: Simple Two-Colored, Poor Double, True Double, Plain Double, Fake Double

I finally finished a bookish example for each of my new Coptic headbands. (Still wondering whether I really invented them.) And now I owe you at least instructions for one of them, I guess. – So let’s go, get your needles and paper ready!

For this tutorial you already need to know how to do a Coptic binding, but you need not know how to make a usual, one-colored Coptic headband.
This is not a double headband but just the simple headband done with two colors.

Instructions for the Simple Two-Colored Coptic Headband

Materials that you will need:

  • paper for a couple of signatures for your book
  • material for book covers
  • sewing thread
  • additionally 2 different colored pieces of thread. You can take the same type of thread with which you bound your book.
  • 2 straight bookbinding needles


simple two-colored headbands tutorial 01Begin with folding you signatures and cutting and wrapping your covers as usual.
Then pre-punch the sewing holes into the signatures and covers. This is the first step where you also have to plan your headbands. You do yourself a favor if you reserve the outmost sewing stations for your headband and only sew at the rest of the stations.
Punch holes into the cover according to your preferred way of cover attachment. But at the sewing stations where your headband is going to be you make two holes (or more) into the cover, 1 cm from the fore-edge of your cover and also 1cm from each other.Then sew your book.


simple two-colored headbands tutorial 02Thread two straight bookbinding needles with the two headband colors. Let the book stand before you with the tail on top so that you are facing the open pages. Enter the rightmost hole with one of the threads. Leave a tail that you can easily knot and pull the rest of the thread through the hole, wrap around the top edge of the cover and enter the same hole again from the inside.
Now it should look like on the left hand picture.

simple two-colored headbands tutorial 03Now take the other needle, in this case with the white thread. Enter the same hole from the inside and pull the thread through until you are left with a tail which you can easily knot. Make sure not to hurt the thread inside the hole.
Go over the edge of the cover to the inside, and let the thread cross the black thread that is already in place. Pass the needle under both threads, pull as tight as looks and feels good. Then enter with the white thread the same hole from the inside to the outside of the cover.

The Stitching

simple two-colored headbands tutorial 04Pick up the needle with the black thread that is lying behind the book and go  over the edge of the cover to the inside. From the inside, pass the needle under the cross formed by the white thread. Make sure to catch both “legs” and come back to the inside. Pull the thread tight so that it forms a nice eye. Pass with the needle from the inside of the cover to the outside through the hole. Make sure you are not hurting the threads, and go to the very left (beyond the white thread that is already hanging there).

simple two-colored headbands tutorial 05Repeat this, alternating the black and the white thread until your stitching reaches about the middle between the two holes in the cover. Instead of entering the same hole again you simply enter the next. For me this was done with the black thread.

When you next pick up the white thread it is still hanging from the old hole. You proceed just as usual and enter the new hole with the white thread.
Now count how many threads are coming out of the first hole. This number should be the same for all holes you will be working on this book

Passing from the covers to the signatures

simple two-colored headbands tutorial 06When you are done with the stitching through the last hole on the cover you simply exit through the hole in the first signature instead.
Then pick up the other thread which is hanging from the last hole in the cover. Pass it under the last cross as usual and enter from the inside of the next signature to the outside.
While working with the signatures, you will never pass two ends of thread through the same hole.

Pick up the next thread, pass under the last cross and double check that you are really catching both “legs” – these may be harder to see while you are not working on the edge of the cover. Repeat, alternating the colors.

Passing from the signatures to the cover

after the first two turns through the back cover
after the first two turns through the back cover

And then comes the moment when, after forming your eye, there is no signature left to enter – so you pass through the first hole in the cover instead. Remember to enter from the inside of the cover and go to the outside.
Pick up the thread that is still hanging from a signature, form your loop as usual, and enter the same hole in the cover from the inside to the outside.

Now you just do what you already did on the first cover: Pick up the other needle. Pass is under the last cross, and enter the cover again from the inside the outside and pull tight. Viewed from top you now have the first white cross on the cover, pass the black thread under this cross in the next step (see picture).
After your number of passes through the first hole you switch to the second hole just as you did before.


simple two-colored headbands tutorial 09Inevitably there comes the moment when you have formed an eye but have no-where to enter the cover again. Let it hang on the inside for a moment.
Finish your last eye with the remaining color. (There is another thread hanging on the outside.)
Then knot both threads to the fan of thread already there, pass another time the needles through the same hole and cut off the threads flush with the cover.
Knot the tails from the start and cut them off in a similar way.

You have just finished your headbands on the tail. Now repeat with the head and your are done!simple two-colored headbands tutorial-10

Edit: Just a remark to clear a misunderstanding: This headband you see here is marginally more complicated than the usual Coptic headband. The complication comes from using 2 different colored threads. More comprehensive instructions with more photos, additional explanations and tips can be found in my book “Six Ways to Make Coptic Headbands”. The book contains the usual Coptic headband plus 5 two colored headbands, all invented by me, of which the simple two colored Coptic Headband that you see here is indeed the simplest.

Still without Headbands

Noch ohne KapitalbänderThis is the next book that is waiting for its headbands. This book was meant to illustrate the poor double Coptic headbands (white with black).
But I cannot make me add them – I think it looks much better as plain as it is now. Or have I just seen too many Coptic headbands in the last weeks?

Not very well visible is the weave stitch at the waist of the book. This time I followed my own intuition instead of K. Smith. While doing it, I realized that a) this is really the same as his Celtic weave, only that he is using two alternating colors and b) I understood what my initial mistake was – when I made it again this time.

The red cloth was once covering my couch. I used it already once for a similar book with a buttonhole stitch. The label is a piece of rag paper machine sewn onto the cloth before covering the boards.


(no name)

Probably it’s a sudden outbreak of expressionism in my usual ways of making books. While thinking “paper is such a beautiful thing” during writing a guest blog for Rachel (will be up tomorrow) I had a sudden – let’s call it seizure – and made these book worms out of paper. It’s a stab stitch, they are book-like objects – but I don’t know what they mean. The initial plan included several more versions, but the driving momentum subsided after 2 days.

(no name)Das hier ist das Ergebnis zweier Tage in Trance und Raserei (naja, vielleicht nicht ganz so wild). Es hat sich ähnlich angefühlt, wie als ich letztes Jahr “Growing up” gemacht habe: Ein plötzlicher Einfall und Drang zwingen mich dazu, alles was ich gerade so mache, stehen und liegen zu lassen, und etwas ganz Unsinniges wie diese Bücherwürmer zu machen. Ich interpretiere es als plötzliche Anfälle von Expressionismus in meiner sonst eher Kopf gesteuerten Arbeit. – Allerdings weiß ich nun nicht so genau, was diese Werke eigentlich bedeuten sollen.

(no name)

Begonnen hat alles mit dem Gedanken “Wie schön ist doch Papier!”, der mich häufiger überkommt, diesmal zu Anlass meines Gast-Artikels auf Rachels Blog (wird im Laufe des Sonntags erscheinen). Der ursprüngliche Plan – wenn man da von einem Plan sprechen kann – beinhaltete eigentlich noch weitere dieser Objekte, aber der plötzliche und unwiderstehliche Drang sie zu machen, hörte nach 2 Tagen fleißiger Arbeit dann genauso plötzlich wieder auf. Vielleicht werden es noch mehr, wenn ich vertanden habe, was das eigentlich soll.

Mehr Bilder gibt es hier auf Flickr zu sehen.

(no name)Maybe I’ll make more if I find out what they are and what they mean. At the moment they just illuminate the beauty and variety of writing paper.

It was more work and cost more time to make them than it looks like. Especially the one with the burned edges took ages. – O.k., not ages, only 6 hours or so.

If you want to see more pictures, have a look at this Flickr set.

Lino Printed Covers With Double Headbands

lino printed coversIt’s standing upside down, sorry, – but the headband is nicer on the tail.

When I made my last Coptic bound book I accidentally crossed the threads when going up to the next signature. I thought it looked nice – and a lot like what I had seen before. So, instead of experimenting myself this time, I dug out the instructions for the Celtic weave and tried it on this next book. – I didn’t work properly. I think it looks somewhat odd. I’ll have to retry.

At least the headbands worked out o.k. The only problem is that the two colors I chose don’t stand out properly, so I’ll have to do it again to get better photos for the instructions I am putting together at the moment. M. already mocked that I managed to make decorations that camouflage themselves.

About the instructions: My plan is to compile them into a little pamphlet, and once this is finished I’ll also have tutorial posts here. – Hang on, it won’t be long now.

And now to something completely different: I’ll be a guest blogger on Rachel’s blog on Sunday. (I am already quite excited about that. This is my first time!) I will be talking about papers, which ones I use, what are their differences and the like. This will be the start of a theory series that I will continue here every Thursday. So don’t miss the start!

Lino Print on Textile Book Covers

print 009

This are now the printed covers from the lino that I cut the last two days. The oil based printing color is really a pleasure to use. The proofs on printing paper came out crisp and nice. Maybe it doesn’t look that awful after all. The one on the left which is supposed to be the front cover unfortunately shifted a little during pressing.

We’ll see how they will look like with paper in between. I’ll bind them tomorrow – the paint needs that much time to dry thoroughly.