Sometimes my best projects are happy accidents! This Mother’s Day gift for my aunt started off as a checkbook cover and ended up as a cute handmade notebook. Want to make your own?
For the cover, I used this tutorial from RebeccaMaeDesigns. It’s originally for a checkbook but my finished cover was about 1/8 inch too narrow. (If you do want to use this pattern for its intended purpose, I recommend increasing the widths from 6.75 to 7 inches.) But we’re just gonna cover the notebook today. Cute enough that it doesn’t need a cover!
- Sturdy material for the back (I used cardboard from a cake mix box)
- Stack of papers (I used extra sheets from two half-used notebooks)
- Scissors or rotary cutter
- Self-healing mat (if using rotary cutter)
- Pencil and ruler
- Rubber cement
- Binder clips
STEP ONE: The back of your notebook. I wanted to use recycled materials so I started with empty cake mix packages. One layer didn’t seem sturdy enough to me, so I decided on four layers (probably would have been enough with three, though).
I used my rotary cutter to trim down the cardboard pieces. The size can vary but mine were perfect at 5 1/2 by 2 7/8 inches. If you don’t have a rotary cutter and self-healing mat, you can use a ruler and pencil to draw some guidelines and then cut with scissors.
With all four pieces cut, I used rubber cement to glue them together. Then I set them under a heavy book to dry overnight. You can skip this step if you’re starting with a heavier material, like store-bought chipboard.
Another optional step: After drying I stamped both sides of the back with “Handmade with Recycled Materials”. Just a little personal touch, but you could easy have a stamp made with your name, your business’ name, or your logo. Or glue a printed piece or even patterned paper to pretty it up!
I’m not going to make a separate step for cutting the paper because it’s that simple. Get a stack of paper, cut it to the same size as your back piece. I had two half used old notebooks (one from a hotel, one from a forgotten high school class). I shuffled the pages for a little variety. Again, easier with the rotary cutter but scissors will do.
STEP TWO: Putting it together. Make a stack with the finished back piece and cut sheets. Line up one edge and secure on both sides with binder clips. I used an extra piece of cardboard along the front just to help hold it down. Just make sure the front piece isn’t lined up or it’ll be part of your notebook!
And now we get to glue. I used rubber cement again, applying liberally along one side. You’re gonna need a few layers (three seemed enough to me) with about thirty minutes of dry time between layers. The first two layers look pretty lumpy but that third layer smooths it out nicely.
The last layer needs a few hours to dry. Mine was still a bit tacky around three hours, but some of that is just the nature of rubber cement. Even if you were careful, there will probably be stray lumps and swipes. I used a rubber cement eraser to rub away the extra, but most of it can be rubbed right off. For the front, just tear away the first for a clean look.
You’re done! Put it in a cover, toss it in your bag, set it on your desk, and start writing notes!