Notebook Tutorial

By Kylah Rail

I remember my first diary, *COUGH*…I mean, “journal”. My second grade teacher hardly began passing out those sweet little deceptively light scholastic book fair order forms, and my heart was already beating fast. Mostly though, the enthusiasm fizzled out real quick; you kinda needed money to actually do anything besides drool over the endless listing of books and, wait! What was this? A diary?! A diary…with a kitty-cat on the cover, and she’s pawing a red rose?! And it locks

Okay, this was the first scholastic order form I actually took home (for the sake of later pleading with my mother.) 

My first entry was deep; it went something like this: Today for lunch was hot dogs. 

I was smitten, kitten. I’ve been keeping a written account of my life ever since. 

Somewhere along the line I started making my own notebooks; which is almost as fun as later writing in them (but not as much fun as making one and then giving it away.)

Wanna make one?

Well I wanna show you a notebook so easy to make, you can just about finish it in the time it takes to boil some rice noodles!

Step 1 – Supplies

kylah You’ll need some kind of paperboard…an old cereal or, in this case, pasta, box work real nice.

Scissors, check. Paper, check. Thread and needle, check. Solid scoring apparatus, check (that’s the old bottle, and it’s going to make sure our paperboard and paper folds just right.) Paper, check. A paper cutter is great, but not necessary. 

*Not included in photo (how dare I?) is our awl, which isn’t technically an awl, but it kicks butt and later you’ll catch fine sight of our awl which does it justice.

Alrighty, now we’re ready.

Step 2 – Cut that paperboard down to size

kylah2In this case we’re going along with the preexisting size of the box’s backside. Maybe this goes without saying, but cut away the flaps; we are only using one panel of the box (but hey, if you have a cool idea for flap usage, by all means…)

Step 3 – Measurements


Uh…so at this point you will need a ruler if you are not using a paper cutter.

We are measuring the length and height of the paperboard so we then know what size to cut our paper.

Then we cut the paper.kylah4

If you aren’t using a paper cutter, this part is a bit of a drag. In my early days I used scissors; if you are using scissors, separate your paper into smaller, easier to manage (read: cut as neatly as possible) piles.

 kylah5Yep. Looks good.

Step 5 – The score

kylah6 We fold the paperboard in half and let our solid scoring apparatus do the work.

And then we do the same with the paper.

Which brings us to…the awl.


 Pst…I found this at the Repurpose Project! For about a week I had been thinking, “Gee, I really need an awl!” So I went into RP and finagled one out of a nail, some duct tape, and an old knob. I don’t recommend this…it worked okay.

A few days after said finagle, I was minding my own business, doing basic RP employee things (mostly, trash taking), when I literally turned my head to the right, at precisely the right moment, and there it was!

This little lover’ll pierce right through whichever heart and task you give it.

Like this one:

Step 6 – Make holes

kylah8When using a thick amount of paper, clamp the paper and the paperboard together on the second half of the score, this way the paper won’t budge out of place while you are piercing through (here we are puncturing both the paper and paperboard, making neat little holes for the needle/thread duo to thread though.) We’ll make three punctures, one at the top of our little book, one at the middle, and one at the bottom.

Step 7 – Binding


We snake our way through the holes. I prefer to go from the inside out at the top hole, but it really doesn’t make much of a difference. Just remember that if you go from the inside, you will eventually tie-out from the inside, thus your knot won’t be visible from the outside of your book (you’ll see what I mean in a bit.) Weave your thread in and out in an infinity motion a good few times…then tie your remaining thread to the nice few inches of tail you left at the beginning (do as the picture tells you; see that remaining tail up there? Keep it that way.)

kylah10Before tying off, make sure your thread is threaded real tight by pulling on both ends until the binding on the inside and out is taut. And then we tie. 

I hate this part. I go all rigid shoulders. It is important that the tie-off be tight, or else we’ll have somewhat of a sloppy, loose binding…but!!! It is nearly impossible to perfectly level the thread we’re tying! Haha. Oh well, as long as we end up with merely a reasonable amount of give.

Tie the knot at least three times, clips off the lengthy ends, leaving about a half centimeter of thread on each side of your super-knot. Then stand that pretty little thing up and admire your handy work!

(that’s step 7b)

Step 8 – Personaleyes


Get real personal with your notebook décor, whatever that means to you; paint it up, give it a wild collage, spill some coffee on it, leave it blank if that’s your thing.

I made our initiatory notebook into my cat’s first journal.

How’s that for full circle? (fur full circle? Haha! Sorry, I had to. That one is for Scott.)

kylah12Thanks for hanging out and making a notebook with me! 

Stop by the Repurpose Project for supplies (and take a peek at our new paper craft isle…heck yeah!); we’ll make you a sweet deal.

Then come back and show off your work. 

We love a show off.



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