As someone who is a big fan of pretty notebooks, and uses a lot of them, I was sooo happy to learn how to make my own! Now I'll never run out, and there are so many options for cool covers. I think the atlas covers are my favorite right now, but I'm thinking about using old sheet music and comic books as well!
You can watch the video or read the steps here, whatever you prefer.
What you'll need:
- Thick paper or thin cardboard for the cover
- Lined or blank paper for the inside
- Paper cutter or exacto knife, cutting mat and ruler
- Awl, old seam ripper, or other sharp, thin tool
- Sewing needle
- Sewing thread
Step 1: Cut the Cover
First, cut the cover to size. I’m using thick paper with a nice double-sided print on it. But you can use lots of different types of thick paper or thin cardboard. Just make sure that it is thick enough to hold its shape, but still thin enough to fold nicely.
Cut pieces of about 18 by 12 centimeters (7 by 5 inch) for each cover. This results in a finished notebook of 9 by 12 centimeters (3,5 by 5 inch), which is a good size to fit in your back pocket. But of course you can make any size that you like.
Step 2: Cut the Paper
Next, cut the paper to fill the notebook. I’m using an A4 (letter size) notepad with lined paper and I’m taking 6 sheets of paper for each notebook. But of course you can also use blank paper or grid paper, and use more or less sheets.
Fold the top sheet in half to mark the center, making sure to line up the lines. Then cut the stack of 6 sheets in half so that you end up with 12 sheets. Make sure to cut the paper right on that fold, in between two lines, so that the lines on the paper will line up when I put the two stacks together.
Leave the sheets the size they are, which is too big for the cover, so that you can cut them to the exact right size once you assemble the notebook.
Fold all the sheets in half, taking 3 or 4 sheets at a time. With the12 sheets of paper, you'll end up with 24 pages in your notebook, meaning you have 48 sides to write on.
Fold the cover in half as well.
Step 3: Make Holes
To prepare for the stitching, make holes in the back of the notebook, through all the layers of paper. This will make the stitching a lot easier. I tried sticking the needle straight through the paper, without making any holes, and trust me, your fingers will thank you for making the holes first.
I’m using the sharp point of an old seam ripper to do this, but you can also use an awl if you have one, or another sharp and thin tool. Start in the middle and work your way out, making the holes on top of the lines to make sure they are nicely spaced. Make an uneven number of holes for the best stitching results.
Step 4: Stitch the Back
Thread your needle with normal sewing thread and double it up. Start on the inside of the notebook, at what will be the bottom side, and go out through the first hole. Go into the second hole and tie a double knot with the tail. Don’t cut the tail off yet, because you’ll need it later.
Continue by going out through the third hole, into the fourth, out through the fifth, etcetera. When you come to the top, work your way back down, passing the sections you have not covered yet.
When you reach the bottom again, you’ll end up at the same hole as the tail. Tie another double knot with the tail, and cut off the ends.
Step 5: Cut to Size
With the notebook folded open, cut the top and bottom of the paper to size. I’m using my paper cutter, but an exacto knife and a ruler will work just as well.
Next, cut the sides to size. Close the notebook first, because if you do this while the notebook is still open, the edges won’t line up when you close it. My paper cutter doesn’t reach through all the layers of paper, so I’m finishing by using an exacto knife with a metal ruler and a cutting mat.
And that’s all there’s to it! This is a pretty quick and easy project, and if you set up a little assembly line you can very quickly whip up a whole bunch of these.