Introduction: Cheap and Easy Moleskine - "sort Of"

Picture of Cheap and Easy Moleskine - "sort Of"

I love Moleskine journals they are classy and always handy, but a bit pricey for the size (around $12 for one), excellent quality tho. I work in an office were we shamefully spend large amounts of paper, and good one, although always goes to recycle I came with a better idea of making "sort of" moleskine journals for my notes and sketches, this is my latest project.

Step 1: Materials Tools and Dimensions

Picture of Materials Tools and Dimensions

Ok, did i mention that in my work we trow away industrial quantities of paper? I can't imagine multiplying that same amount of paper for each office in the rest of the US, I don't even want to think about it., of course recycling its always a good thing but at the end encourages people to keep wasting paper, lets save some trees reusing it.

I was trying to do this project the fastest, cheapest and easiest way possible, so this is not a professional bookbinding instructable per se.

The main material is "recycled" paper 60gr.. (I collect pieces of good paper cut outs of architectural drawings)
I also collect pieces of cardboard for the cover boards
waxed thread or dental floss (this one is very handy and cheap, but i wouldn't recommend reusing ;))
Gaffer Tape
Utility knife
Pencils and a ruler
Small drill or hole puncher for paper
Paper clips

The Dimensions of the Moleskine Pocket size: 9 x 14 cm (3½ x 5½") , I did mine of 3.75" x 5.5", don't ask me why.
I folded 4 pieces of paper in half and I cut them to the dimensions above and I got 8 pages, I did 13 pieces to get 104 pages the Moleskine sketchpad has 100.

Step 2: Sewing and Final Touch

Picture of Sewing and Final Touch

I put the 13 pieces together between two pieces of wood, as a contraption to avoid movement and to create the stack. With a small hand drill I literally drill six holes (1/2" apart symmetrically spread) in the stack of paper to later pass thru the needle.

I use cheap dental floss as my waxed thread, easy.

Later I cut the cover board out of a piece of thin cardboard, 1/8" larger than the paper dimensions and 1/2" in the middle for the thickness of the stack.

As I mention before this is not a course on Bookbinding, so I did three very primitive sewings thru the holes tighten the stack as much as I could with the cover on and that was all.

With black gaffer tape, (which I prefer over duct tape) I tape the "backbone" which is the thickness of the stack of paper and the covers, to hide the stitches and the threads, also as a reinforcement of the back and as a final stylish touch.

Step 3: Final Products

Picture of Final Products

I have made a few of this guys and I'm very please with the results, although I always prefer a Moleskine one, but this a cool way to recycle and keep on sketching and writing on the cheap.


Fizik made it! (author)2015-05-10

Cool and cheap. Thanks

Cactuscat (author)2012-05-19

Used your instructable to make my own sketchbook. Can't tell you how awesome it is to be able to make something so useful! Thanks for this great 'ible! :D

a rigger (author)2012-05-12

"Gaff tape if usually free, but it only comes in half rolls." Ask any stagehand.

imagic (author)2010-07-30

This looks great, definitely gonna try it out. One question though, does the cardboard bend or is it stiff? I ask because I prefer hardback notebooks to the floppy kind that bends and leaves the cover with a permanent curve if you leave them open for too long. Thanks for the 'ible

yoyology (author)imagic2012-05-10

Reinforcing the corners of your boards with a half-strip of gaffer's tape makes them resistant to curling and adds a nice aesthetic touch.

Place the midpoint of one edge of the half-strip of tape at the corner of the board, such that the other edge of the tape makes a 45deg angle with each of the board edges. Wrap the tape around the inside of the board and trim.

arte.sano (author)imagic2010-08-02

The Cardboard is like the one from the cereal boxes, so it does bends, but you can use hard ones. thanks for your comment.

chijjmes (author)2012-04-06

Thanks for sharing! I don't have all the techy stuff as you did, so I did a Michael Shannon version using simpler stuff, but with your dental floss idea - that was just brilliant :)

Here's my version to share -

p4olom (author)2011-09-22

I wish I was as creative as you! Thanks for sharing your great work

Buzzsushi (author)2010-12-19

Could be split into more steps next time ;) but otherwise an awesome 'ible

tropiz (author)2010-12-12

good, thanks

sr1sws (author)2009-01-17

Nice job! As another poster pointed out, gaffer tape can be found in art supply stores. In Tampa, FL I've seen it in Pear Art and Supply. Steve

multiplecats (author)sr1sws2009-01-24

I'm having a hard time finding it in art stores around here, which is weird because although we're a small town, we're a college town. Oh well. If I get desperate enough I'll just order some online. In the meantime I just bought some Gorilla Tape. I chose it because the texture and thickness were more to my liking than duct tape, and I've read a lot that the edges don't seem to get goopy with tape mung like duct tape does. On first inspection out of the package, I'd have to agree - 96% less mung than the other guy. Time will give more reasonable data for processing. I think if I need to dull down the sheen any (although it's somewhat less sheeny than duct tape), I'll run over it a few times with some fine sandpaper.

*gasp* OH NO! you have turned away from the loyal and trusty legacy of duct tape? WHY, OH WHY!!

EpicZombie (author)orangewolf222010-11-26

ummm...... dude. I know duct tape is awesome,and it's the best tape eva,but it's not the end of the world really

orangewolf22 (author)EpicZombie2010-11-27

way to revive a dead thread, man

Gaff tape is soooooo much better, but I had the same reaction when I started in the lighting/sound industry haha

mbear (author)multiplecats2010-03-18

"...and I've read a lot that the edges don't seem to get goopy with tape mung like duct tape does."

You could fold the outer edges of the duct tape over (about 1mm) to eliminate that problem.

DeathZap (author)2010-01-31

i can only say two words about this: Great, great!!!

nomeoslo (author)2009-12-12

Descriptive instructions - easy to understand.  I also like the way you incorporated your kitty - cute.   I plan on trying this out very soon - thanks for posting. 

Capelare (author)2009-08-11

Coulro (author)2009-07-20

Awesome man, I plan on making some moleskins-ish later this week. Thanks for the instructable!

ComfortableShoes (author)2009-07-12

try the trumpetvine PDF tutorial a poster above put int their comments, the stitching style is easy and you don't have to glue it if you don't want to, but the style of stitching used in this won't let your note book open flat, whereas the sewing in the trumpetvine PDF will lie completely flat. Good instructable though. way to recycle!

foxfirekenzie (author)2009-06-07

I will be using your instructions for making my wedding sign in book! So glad I found this. Thanks!

beauwalker23 (author)2009-04-01

This is a great idea/job! cant wait to make one. i love moleskins. just the feeling of having one with you :}

Im bear (author)2009-01-21

Thanks, this is going to help me sooo much (: Great job :D

multiplecats (author)2009-01-13

This is a nice Instructable! I am making one as we speak, but will have to opt for the more traditional book binding method since I don't have a drill. There is an excellent and simple tut on how to bind at

I can't find anybody local to me that sells gaffer tape, though. I'm not exactly sure where to look, so that's probably the real problem. The big box home repair stores don't stock it, but they have painters tape/cloth tape, only in blue and gray though. I thought I'd just use duct tape but I seriously have hit my duct-tape-covers-for-everything quota for a while. lol

Also, with folding the pages, I'm just going one page at a time. It makes it easy to be pretty precise with the fold that way. It's really time consuming like this but it's nice busywork when I'm just listening to music or catching up on some tv.

Replying to myself because omg, I had the same link as another commenter from months ago! lol It's a great link!

Ruettiger (author)2008-07-07

I tried this one out and although I was really impatient it turned out to be a semi recognizable sketchbook. It didn't look nearly as professional as yours though. Thanks for the cool intructable you saved me money from having to buy expensive boring sketchbooks.

In my opinion, I think their very fancy. I sure like my Moleskine! Now, does anymone know how i can modify a over?

gymnastmoose (author)2008-09-30

your book will probably stay together better than mine though.

gymnastmoose (author)2008-09-30

I made one of these, but I changed it a little. I put 4 sets of 8 standard sized pages then folded them in half idividualy. I then drilled a bunch of holes in them with a drill press. I sewed them together and cut a minilla file folder and cut it to the size of the book. Then I glued a peice of scrapbook paper over it. It worked really good!

Sarjex (author)2008-09-28

That's very slick. I'm going to try to make a few of these! Thanks for the documentation. Also, cute cat.

jedrm (author)2008-09-09

Nice tutorial!

I made an entryin my blog about your instructable.

Maybe you can add a black garter and a stringy bookmark to make it more Moleskine-ish :)

I found a nice tutorial about DIY bookbinding of Moleskines here


ChristianR (author)2008-02-14

I love the idea! I work in a "regular" office where a lot a paper is printed on one side only. I made a first prototype yesterday made by folding letter size sheets in half, and binding them so that you cannot unfold them, thus making a half-letter-sized "moleskin" with blank pages. I made the cover out of a cereal box from my personal recycle bin. I'll try to make future covers a bit harder, but this is a good start. Thanks for the great Instructable!

yomero (author)ChristianR2008-05-16

i just did the same thing, but instead of sewing the covers i taped them on to the first and last page, y used some adhesive vinil i had laying around, great instructable.

arte.sano (author)ChristianR2008-02-14

I'm glad the you like it, I'll like to see yours, show us some pictures. cheers

ultrauber (author)2008-04-13

Look's like a great notebook for a journal.

oculus1857 (author)2008-02-15

I ordered a sewing awl and a little book on binding, used, from amazon for myself. I will use your tutorial with the techniques I learn. I like the Gaffer's tape, but don't know where to go to get some. I might have to look for some other tape in the mean time. I work in a place that tosses a lot of printer paper. While it has words on it that doesn't mean you can't make a cheap sketchbook out of it. Ceral box or soda box or some other thin cardboard will totally work. Combined with dental floss this will be an awesome deal for me. ThanX!

arte.sano (author)oculus18572008-02-15

Gaffer tape can be found at any art store, I bought my long time ago, around $20 for a big roll. I Like it better than Duct tape because duct can get all sticky over time, you may try medical tape too, although is thinner and can get a little messy too. Now, the dental floss trick is a very good one,it can't be anywhere easier. good luck!

alicaurusrex (author)2008-02-15

Awesome!! I am gonna try it :)

Lost Moai (author)2008-02-09

Your books look great! Very clean and neat. I can never get my edges to line up so. Nicely. +1 I only question the recycling part of your instructable. It seems that this is the first use for all the paper you're making your pages from. If there is already stuff printed on it, where are you going to write?

arte.sano (author)Lost Moai2008-02-10

I work in an architectural firm, we print a lot of drawings, many prints are smaller that the total length of the paper that we later have to cut out, I have collected the scrap of those drawings, otherwise the go to the recycle bin, many times they have rest of drawings or text on it, which still looks good, but more often they are perfect pieces of blank paper in random sizes, so why not do something useful with it. I've make this journals out of pieces of random 42" x 8" which is almost enough paper for making one journal. I also use some of the prints that are not good, for wrapping paper for gifts, pretty neat stuff too.

zaxl (author)2008-02-09

Great tutorial, also a nice idea to bind used books or to make your own, like downloaded e-books. Thanks!

joejoerowley (author)2008-02-09

Wow these look great! Well done!

rupamagic (author)2008-02-09

great instructable, they look very nice! thanks for sharing!

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