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


Begin 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.


Thread 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.

Now 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

Pick 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).

Repeat 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

When 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

stitching “on the signatures”

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.

after the first two turns through the back cover

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.


Inevitably 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!

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.

6 replies on “Simple Two-Colored Coptic Headbands”

  1. Thank you! Your instructions will come in very handy as I didn’t have the opportunity to practice my newly acquired skills. In a month or so (when our house renovation is finished) I can unpack all my tools and start sewing again, yeah 🙂

  2. Hehe, glad I’m not the only one with all my tools and materials packed away right now!
    I will be giving these a try when I do get everything unpacked 🙂

  3. Very useful tutorial. I’ll have a go, using your directions exactly. I make these headbands but as I’ve never made notes, I’m never sure if I’m doing the same thing each time. Thanks!

  4. I’m looking forward to hear whether the instructions are well enough, whether it’s easy enough to follow them. If you made Coptic headbands before, you may have made the first stitches a little differently – this is a simplified version compared to what I have found in Greenfield and Hille’s book “Headbands. How to work them”.

  5. Wow thanks for putting these up. I’ve printed this post so I can have the instructions next to me as I work these out.

    If I can get a few more hours in the day maybe I’ll have time to try these out. I must catch up with your recent postings, have been away and return to find you have loads I need to read.

    Best wishes

    Billie 🙂

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