Crafterday: Notebooks

Here’s a simple tutorial to make your own notebooks out of recycled paper. This is a great way to reuse the one-sided printouts that we tend to accumulate, especially if we work in an office.


  • A stack of one-sided printouts with a blank side
  • Heavy card or cardboard for backing. Think cereal boxes, Post Express envelopes, etc.
  • Pretty paper, postcards or even photographs for cover
  • White glue
  • Clothes pegs or paper clamps
  • Box cutter & Cutting mat
  • Ruler
  • Pencil

Decide what size you want your notebook to be in. This can depend on the size of your available cover. You might wanna trim the paper to fit the cover rather than the other way around, especially if it’s a postcard or photograph.

I wanted to make a notebook that fits in my hand when I write, so I cut A4 papers in thirds crosswise. Do the same for your cover and backing. It’s okay for the cover and backing to be a teeny bit bigger; it’ll look tidier from the outside.

Here’s my cover, paper and backing.

Stack them together, keeping the blank side of the backing facing out. Make sure the side you want to glue (the spine) is even. This is important. The rest of the sides will likely be uneven unless you want to measure things to precision. But handmade means it will be imperfect anyway, so don’t sweat the small stuff.

Clamp them in place near the spine with your pegs or clamps.

Apply a generous amount of glue to the spine. Make sure you get it into every crack. Pay special attention to the cover and backing.

The paper tends to expand around the middle once it’s wet, so I usually put another clamp in the middle. This will depend on how long your spine is. Just make sure it stays flat while the glue dries.

This is probably a good time to mention that your notebook shouldn’t be thicker than how far your pegs can reach.

Leave to dry. Ideally, it should dry standing up. Never flat. Glue will sink with the direction of gravity so make sure it’s sinking into the spine instead of on the table. You can wedge it between books on the shelf or find something you can stand it in.

Once it dries, it should open up flat without falling apart. Give it a quick flip through to make sure the pages are staying put.

Now you need to cover the spine of the notebook. Use light but durable paper. Paperbags work. I’m using one that I got from Starbucks. They encourage recycling so this is a great way of doing it.

Decide how much paper you want to overlap both sides and cut out a strip across the bag. Snip open one end and measure out enough paper to cover the length of the spine. Cut and spread glue evenly on the inside of the strip.

I find it easier to put the strip down on top of the spine like this so I can make adjustments and make sure both sides get enough paper. Optionally, you can try it on before you put glue, and score out the paper where it folds over the edges so you have a guide.

Smooth the strip over the spine and make sure the edges are all glued down.

You’re done!

Of course, give it some time to dry before actually using it.

The pretty paper I used is from Moof and is the only component here that was bought new. You can use anything suitable. The last time I made these notebooks, I used my photographs.

Have a fun Crafterday!

Author: Georgette Tan

writer . poet . introvert . NSFW hand letterer . equatorial eclectic


  1. Hi Georgette! I am a fan of Moof and my fave is the paisley motif that you used in one of the notebooks.

    Where do you get Moof products in Kuching? I discovered my first Moof Corner at MPH Midvalley. There are certain craft shops (Craft Haven at 1Utama, D’Nata at KLCC etc.) that carry this line as well, but not as extensive as the offerings they have at a Moof Corner.

    I usually use Moof papers to make cards. Thanks for the notebook idea. Awesome!

  2. I love notebooks. I’ve got two on the go at the minute. One with “If found, do not publish” on the cover and the other one has “I’m going to change the world and this is my plan”. I’m probably not going to change the world but I do feel like I can when I use that notebook. :)

    These look absolutely amazing though, I’d love to try something like this. My sister’s tried her hand at notebooks before but that was always with a thermal binder. Me, I don’t have a crafty bone in my body and anything involving glue tends to end in disaster for me.

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