Making notebooks looks REALLY hard; however, it doesn’t have to be! Today, I’ll be sharing a quick, affordable method for making your own notebooks with materials that can be found around the house.
Note: while you will be doing some simple hand sewing to bind the notebook, NO prior sewing experience is required.
Approximate time to make one notebook: 35 minutes
Step 1: Gather materials
The first step is to get all your materials.
What you’ll need:
- a piece of thin cardboard (I used a cereal box) that’s at least 5.25×7.25 inches (~13.25×18.5 cm)
- 4 sheets of 8×11 inch (~20.25×28 cm) paper (if you want to get fancy, you can use dot grid paper—Kara from Boho Berry has some in her etsy shop)
- good scissors
- a ruler
- a pencil
- a large needle
- thread (thicker, quilting thread works best)
- a binder clip or two
- washi tape (the thicker the better)
- scrapbooking paper, mod podge or glue, tape, pretty magazine pages, or pens for decorating
- an x-acto knife (it helps when you’re trimming pages, but you can just use scissors; also, if you use an x-acto knife, you’ll probably want a cutting mat or some other surface to cut on if you don’t want your table to get scratches all over it.)
- paper cutter (this will make cutting the pages a lot easier)
Step 2: Trim your pages
Cut each sheet of paper into two 5×7 inch pieces (~12.75×17.75 cm). I used a paper cutter for this step, but scissors will work fine. Afterwards, you should have eight pieces of paper.
Step 3: Cut your notebook cover
Take your cereal box (or other piece of cardboard) and cut a piece that’s 5.25×7.25 in (~13.25×18.5 cm). Discard the rest of the box. You should now have a piece of cardboard that’s slightly bigger than the pages you cut in step 1.
Step 4: Cover your notebook cover
This step is optional—it just looks way nicer, in my opinion, when the cover of the notebook is a pretty design instead of a cereal company logo. Alternately, you could follow these same steps but use the side covered with paper as the inside of the cover—this would result in a plain brown cover on the front. Or, you could cover both sides! First, cut a piece of scrapbooking paper to the same size as the cardboard.
Next, use mod podge to glue the scrapbook paper onto the cardboard so it covers the cereal logo, and use scissors or an x-acto knife to trim the paper so the edges line up.
Step 5: Line up your pages with your cover
The cover should be slightly bigger than the pages. After they’re lined up, use binder clips to keep everything together and lined up neatly.
Step 6: Mark the center
Use your ruler and pencil to draw a light line down the center of the paper on the top of the pile.
Step 7: Poke holes
Take your needle (don’t thread it yet.) About a quarter inch (~.75 cm) from the bottom of the notebook, use it to poke a hole through all eight layers, right on the line you drew in the previous step. Make sure the needle goes through each layer of paper/cardboard.
Continue to poke holes through all of the layers in this manner until you’re about a quarter inch (~.75 cm) from the top. Each hole should be between a quarter in (~.75 cm) and an eighth inch (~a quarter cm) apart. This is really tedious, but it will make it SOOOOO much easier when you actually sew the pages together in the next step.
Step 8: Sew everything together
Cut a piece of thread about 15 inches(~38 cm) long and thread the needle. Flip the notebook over so the outside is facing up and push the needle down through the first hole. Pull the thread through the hole until there is about 1.5 inches left (~3.75 cm). Leave that part hanging.
Then, flip the notebook, and starting on the inside, poke the needle through the next hole.
Flip the notebook over again. There should be two pieces of thread sticking out: a small piece sticking out of the first hole, and the rest of the thread, the part that’s attached to the needle, sticking out of the second hole.
Knot these two pieces together—do it a few times so it won’t come undone.
Now that it’s secure, you can trim the short piece. Next, continue poking the needle through the holes, flipping the notebook each time.
Step 9: Tie a knot
Once you reach the end, slide the needle and remaining thread through the previous stitch.
Then, tie a knot. I recommend knotting six or seven times so it’s extra secure. Then, trim the excess thread, leaving just a few millimeters after the knot.
Step 10: Fold the notebook
Remove the binder clips and fold your notebook along the line you sewed so the cover is facing out. The notebook probably won’t want to close at first; it will help if you place it under a stack of heavy books for a little while.
The alignment of the pages may have gotten a little messed up during the sewing process, so use scissors or an x-acto knife to trim the pages and the cover if needed.
Step 12: Cover the spine
As you can see, the spine doesn’t look particularly nice right now. Take your washi tape and use it to cover the spine. Make sure the center of the strip of tape is aligned with the spine of the notebook. Press down of the tape and trim the excess.
If you want, brush mod podge or glue on the spine so the tape is secure.
Step 13: Decorate!
Use special papers, magazine cutouts, stickers, washi tape, pens, markers, or something else entirely to customize your notebook. Make it your own! I cut out a monogram with the washi tape I used for the spine, placed it on the notebook, and covered it with mod podge. The mod podge is optional, but it prevents the tape from peeling later on.
And here’s the finished product!
Wasn’t that so much easier than it looks????!!!! After you’re done making your notebook, please post a pic in the comments, or you can email it to me! (firstname.lastname@example.org) I’d love to see what you make!