DIY Notebook Upgrade




Introduction: DIY Notebook Upgrade

About: A person who enjoys making things!

In need of a new notebook? I go through quite a few notebooks and decided to enhance my simple spiral bounds with some custom details!

I've added new covers as well as some goodies on the inside...calendar and folders : ) I used my own illustrations for these but you can use any images that you want, your drawings, photos, favorite images, specialty paper etc. !


Step 1: Check Out the Full Video Tutorial!

Step 2: Gather Your Supplies

Supplies Needed:


  • Hole Punch ( I used a 1/8" hole punch, you can find the same kind here , a typical hole punch is about 1/4" and will most likely be a little too big for your notebook holes.)
  • Paper Trimmer ( You can find the same kind here . Scissors/X-acto Knife/Ruler will also work)
  • Pliers ( I have this pack, comes with a few different types )
  • Computer
  • Printer
  • Binder Clips


  • Spiral Bound Notebook ( You can find the same kind here , mine measured 8.5" X 10")
  • Photo Paper
  • Plastic Cover ( This is optional but it gives the photo paper some protection from scratches. I got mine from the print center at Staples)
  • Letter Size Pocket Folder
  • Calendar Print Outs ( I downloaded mine for free here )

*This is a list of everything I used but there is tons of room for customization so adjust to your needs! : )

Step 3: Design New Cover

This is really the fun part of the project! For my cover I was inspired by Lisa Frank and Yoshi, two of my favorite things! I grew up with Lisa Frank gear and one thing that I remember most of all are the notebooks. Colorful, crazy and amazing : ) So I thought it would be fun to draw an illustration of Yoshi in the super fun Lisa Frank style!

I started out with a doodle. Yoshi being the main character and then adding some fun elements to the background. I wanted to be able to add leopard print and for sure a rainbow. The end result is really a compilation of everything I thought was fun and colorful, and I was super super super happy with how it turned out! : )

After the initial sketch I outlined the drawing in Illustrator and shaded it in Photoshop.

The other two notebooks I came up with are more of my drawings, a pizza lovers print and some happy goats. I love to draw and was excited to see these come to life as notebooks!

I printed out my images on glossy photo paper. This worked out perfect since the photo paper was pretty thick and the images printed out vibrant and colorful.

The design part is totally up to you so get creative and use something that you really love! It's also a good idea to consider the original size of your notebook cover so you can make a perfect match.

*I recommend using a thick paper for your cover so it is sturdier. If your paper is thin you can always glue it to a heavy card stock or the original cover to thicken it up.

Step 4: Remove Original Cover

The first thing you want to do is remove the original cover from your notebook.

Use your binder clips to secure your notebook pages leaving the cover free since it is going to be removed.

To remove the spiral, use your pliers to smooth out the bend at the end of the wire. You want the end to have a curve so it is easier to twist out of the notebook. Check out the pictures for a visual : )

Begin twisting the spiral out and continue until it is completely removed. This should come out easily.

Once the spiral is out, remove the cover completely.

Step 5: Attach Your New Cover

The next thing to do is to cut out your new cover.

Use your original cover as a template and trace it out on your new cover. Cut your new cover down to size. I used a paper trimmer but scissors/x-acto knife will work perfect too.

Next you want to add the holes for the spiral. Use binder clips to secure your original cover to your new cover. The first time I did this I marked the holes with a pen then punched out the holes, but another (faster) way is to punch through the original holes while you have the two covers binder clipped together, this also keeps the holes lined up a little straighter and you can skip marking them out with a pen.

I also added a clear plastic cover, calendar print outs as well as some pocket folders to my notebook. I'm really glad I added the plastic cover, it makes the notebook look & feel a lot nicer and will definitely help prevent any scratches to the cover. The calendar makes it more like a planner and the pocket folders gives some extra storage. If you decide to add any of these features, just repeat the same process as above to size the pages and punch out the holes for the spiral.

Once you have your new cover and extra pages ready, you can start putting your notebook back together. Decide how you want to arrange your pages (I positioned my calendar in the front and my folders in the back.)

I started with the new cover, plastic cover and calendar since these were going on the front. I laid these on top of my binder clipped notebook pages and secured them by re-clipping the binder clips one at a time so that everything stayed together. Then I repeated this process to add the back folders.

Once all components are in place you can start twisting the spiral back in through the holes. This went together very smoothly, better than I expected! As long as your pages stayed in place this should be very easy. I would recommend checking the back of your notebook every once in a while to make sure your catching all of the pages. Continue twisting until the spiral is back in place!

The last thing to do is to remove the binder clips and bend the spiral ends back into a 90 degree angle using your pliers. This will keep the spiral from sliding out. See the pictures for a visual : )


If you are adding extras like I did (calendar/folders) its helpful to remove some of your notebook pages to reduce any extra bulk.

Step 6: Write, Draw & Enjoy!

The last thing to do is write, draw & enjoy!

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    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Super Cute! U r very good at drawing, I wish I was that good. :)


    4 years ago

    Saw you do these on Good Day Sacramento! Gonna try this with my daughter.


    Reply 4 years ago

    Awesome! So cool that you saw it! You two have fun with it and post a pic when your done! Would love to check it out! : )

    Dashing Rainbow Dash

    When I get ahold of a sketchbook, im doing this to it.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Such a great idea! I used to do this with 6 week long planners that I carried around with me everywhere. I used to also cover the outside in a protective film. It made my planners more durrable.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks tomatoskins!! Always an arms reach away from a notebook haha! The protective cover definitely helps! : )