Today I was able to finish what I now refer to as the “Jason Bug Book” (I’ve never been great with titles). The sewing took a little over three hours to complete. I used burgundy and black linen thread to do the coptic binding – at the two ends and in the middle you can see how the coptic stitch creates a two-tone braid across the spine.
I love using waxed linen thread. It leaves a pleasant residue on my hands and it reminds me of having a paraffin wax treatment.
After stabilizing the structure with the coptic stitch, I was then able to get to the fun part – the caterpillar stitch. I learned the caterpillar binding from Keith Smith’s book Non-Adhesive Binding Volume III: Exposed Spine Sewings. Keith Smith has a series of amazing books about bookbinding that are somewhat like scientific manuals. At first, the directions can seem intimidating.
I had his book on my coffee table for weeks before I tried the caterpillar. I would look at the pictures in his book every day until I worked up the nerve to try it. I’ve done three books with this binding, but all had just one caterpillar crawling across the covers.
Jason’s book has two caterpillars on it, one in black and one in burgundy. The binding is done with a long piece of linen thread with one needle on each end. I like to use curved needles. You alternate between the two needles as you make your way across the cover.
The stitches go through holes drilled into the cover. You can see straight stitches on the inside of the cover. They’re neat – they remind me of a zipper.
I started with the burgundy caterpillar, which had its head on the front and its tail on the back of the book.
After that was done, I stitched the black caterpillar, directed the opposite way. I decided that the two caterpillars were passing each other in the night. They weren’t friends, but just said “hi” and went along their way.
In addition to this being my first caterpillar duet, it’s also the largest journal I’ve ever done. I really like the weight and feel of it. Jason wanted a book he could carry in his laptop bag, so I chose the measurements based on his bag size.
I think I might try to make more journals in this larger size in the future.