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for crafty people

Upcycling a Notebook


Why not chat with the artist, Towst on the forum?

I get through a lot of notebooks and whenever I buy a new one I'm attracted to a certain kind. The problem is they can be very expensive. On the other hand a basic notepad is extremely cheap. Inside they are just the same so why not smarten up the cheap version.

- Cheap notebook
- Patterned paper
- Craft Knife
- Scissors
- Glue & a Glue gun
- Ruler
- Cutting board
- Sticky tape
- Sewing Machine and thread
- Trinkets, ribbons and other decorative items


Step 1

Cut the paper for the spine of the book 2” wide and a little longer than the height of the book. Cut two pieces of the main paper a little bigger than the book.

Step 2

Line up the three papers, ensuring the spine is overlapping the right side of the main paper back and front by a small amount and use sticky tape to stick them together on the back. Using a sewing machine sew the paper together with zigzag stitch. If you have any other paper or card elements you may want to sew them to the cover at this stage. If so glue them in the centre so they stay in place while you sew around the outside. Remember that your cover is a little larger than needed at the moment so you will need to centre elements to the size it will eventually be cut to.

Step 3

Spread glue over the front cover of the book making sure you get plenty at the edges and corners Stick the cover to the front of the book, glue the spine and roll the book over the paper to ensure the spine fits nicely. Sometimes it's easier if you score the paper on the back so it folds neatly. Lastly spread glue on the back of the notebook and stick the back cover down. Smooth out any air bubbles.

Step 4

Open the front cover of the book and lay it flat on the cutting board. With a sharp craft knife carefully cut off the excess paper following the line of the notebooks cover. Repeat this step with the back cover.

Step 5

Cut a length of ribbon that is about 1.5 times the height of the notebook. Put the ribbon inside the cover of the notebook so the end of the ribbon folds over onto the front cover and the other end stick out the bottom of the notebook. With mine I attached two charms to the ribbon by cutting up the centre of the ribbon about an inch and threading each side through the charm and then tying the two sides together to keep the charms in place. Next I glued the ribbon to the top front of the cover with a glue gun. If you have a flat trinket, ribbon slide, sticker or card shape etc. that you want to use instead simply use the glue gun to stick it on top of the ribbon end. The ribbon bookmark should poke out the bottom of the book by an inch or so, cut off the excess at an angle and fray check if needed.

Step 6

Lay any other decoration you want over the cover to see where to place them, and glue in place. I used a piece ribbon down the length of the coordinating paper and glue the ends of it on the inside cover, a fish button, some banner tags that I stamped and a sticker.

Step 7

Cheap notebooks are often sold to students and so the manufacturers sometimes print a school schedule or conversion tables on the inside cover. I covered that by cutting some paper a little bigger than the book gluing it in place and trimming it down in the same way as the cover was done. I then added a pocket by cutting a piece of card to size and gluing the three edges and sticking it in place.

If you want to make your cover more hard wearing, especially if there are many paper or card elements, you may want to coat it with mod podge. If the edges are rounded or the paper isn't smooth on the edges use a nail file or piece of sandpaper to smooth them.

Other Ideas

If your notebook has a thick card cover you could cut a window in it, place the cover in place around the book but don't glue it down yet, draw the shape of the window on the back of the cover through the hole in the book so you know where to cut the cover later. Use clear plastic cut from packaging like blister packs that a lot of products now come in, a little bigger than the window and glue it to the front of the book (before you cover it). Fill the window with small beads or glitter and glue another piece of clear plastic on the inside cover to hold the contents in place. On the front cover make a little cardboard frame for your window, draw a frame or simple put some tiny beads or glitter around the edge.

If you don't have patterned paper make your own with printer paper and use stamps to stamp all over it in same colour ink, allowing some to be more faded than others, or randomly sponge ink over the paper in places or lightly colour patches with pencil.

Crumple plain card stock for a textured effect for a banner piece or for a grunge effect simply stain a coffee ring onto it. The great thing is you don't need to go out and buy new stuff for this project just use whatever you have left over from other projects.