Calculating Thread Length for Coptic Stitch Binding

Sewing a multi-needle Coptic binding can be a frustration if you find you’re running out of thread. Starting off with too much can result in loops and tangles too. I have a formula for calculating how much thread you need. I wrote this in my notebook with no reference as to where I saw it. From experience I know it to be a good formula and I’m sorry I can’t credit the right person but thanks to whoever it was.

1. Measure the distance between two holes.

2. Multiply this number by the number of signatures in the book.

3. Lay the book you’re binding on its back and measure the distance from the table to the top of the front cover i.e. the height of the spine. If the book was standing on a shelf this would be the width of the spine.

4. Multiply this number by two.

5. Add the results of steps 2 and 4.

6. Multiply this number by three.

7. Add 6 inches for knots and a bit of leeway.

For a four-needle binding you’ll need two pieces of thread each of the calculated length.

I have an Excel chart with the above steps in the ‘down’ column and every time I make a new book or album I add it to the ‘across’ row at the top. This way I have information amounting to far more than the length of thread I’ve used. I also record dimensions in my notebook.

I’m sure that anyone who’s taken a course in bookbinding learnt in six months what it’s taken me three years to teach myself. I’m happy to pass on any techniques I use and you can be assured they will have been well tried and tested.

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8 Responses to “Calculating Thread Length for Coptic Stitch Binding”

  1. Pat Says:

    I was in a class on 2 needle Coptic last Saturday and someone brought this calculation. We all used it and although a couple of people came pretty close to not having enough thread we did all make it without adding any thread. Thanks for publishing this. Cool site!

  2. agate Says:

    You’re very welcome, Pat and thanks for the feedback.

  3. Alberta Williams Says:

    Thank for making this available to the public.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    I think in step 6 it should read “Multiply this number by the number of holes minus one” when you have more than 4 holes.

  5. agate Says:

    Thank you, Anonymous. Instruction upgrades always welcome.

  6. dmk Says:

    thanks for information at just the right time – I’m binding a guest book in a few minutes & needed the teacher you are. 🙂

  7. janet Says:

    one of the on-line coptic stitch book making tutorials instructs: cut a thread 15 times the length (height) of your book. I think the book being discussed had 4 holes, 5 signatures each 5 papers…

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