Thursday, January 26, 2012

Altered Notebook Tutorial

I love turning composition notebooks into something special. There is just something so satisfying about creating something pretty and functional from an ugly $1.00 office supply.

Today I’m going to share with you my technique for making these fun journals.  Not only are they inexpensive to make, but once you get the hang of it, you can make them pretty fast.  So, let’s get started! 

The first thing to do is take your decorative scrapbook paper and attach it to the front of the notebook.  Do this by taking strips of double-sided tape and placing it on the outer edge of the four sides of the notebook.  Be sure to get the tape close the the edges.  Carefully put your paper in place by lining it up with the black binding of the notebook.  The paper should be overlapping the other three sides of the notebook. Press firmly.

To trim the excess paper, open the notebook and flip it (as seen in the photo).  Pressing down on the cover, use your craft knife to cut the paper right up to the edges of the notebook.  This can be a little tricky sometimes, so go slowly, be careful, and most importantly, make sure your blade is sharp!  Working on a “self-healing” mat makes the cutting easier, and saves your work space (I found mine in the quilting section at Jo-Ann’s).  Use three straight cuts without cutting around the corners.

With a scissors, trim the paper at both corners.

Flip the notebook over, and repeat the same steps for the back cover
Next, cut about 14 inches of the ribbon for the bookmark.  On the inside back cover, in the upper left corner, squeeze out a thin line of fabric glue about 1 inch long.  Press ribbon into place.

The next step is to attach the ribbon to the front.  Squeeze a thin line of fabric glue out where the binding and paper meet.  Press the ribbon into place.  Trim the ends.

Now take some of the ribbon and tie a little bow.  Keep the bow loose because the next step is to take a 4” piece of embroidery floss (that matches the ribbon), and loop it through the knot of the bow.  With that in place, you can now tighten the bow up.  Next, take the embroidery floss and thread it through your charm. Leaving a little room for the charm to dangle, tie the ends of the floss together with a tight knot.

Trim the ends of the floss.
The last step is to place some fabric glue in the middle of the ribbon on the notebook, and attach the bow and charm.

...and that’s it!
When I make these journals, I also cover the inside front and back cover with white heavyweight scrapbook paper.  To do this, I just use the same method as I did to cover the outside covers (make sure you glue the bookmark ribbon on first).  Covering all sides isn’t necessary, but it gives the journal a more finished look.  However, some people like having the information that comes printed on the notebooks (especially if they are being used for school).

Needless to say, there are countless variations of materials that can be used.  When I make them for gifts or my Etsy shop, I use my own art and photos that I print out on my ink jet printer. 

Here are some of the other embellishments that can be used...

sheet music
vintage jewelry
silk leaves and flowers
scrapbooking items
jewelry charms

Be creative and have fun with it!  You will find so many uses for these.  I use mine for my daily lists, prayers and scripture, notes, and creative thoughts and inspirations.  It's nice to have a special hand-crafted book to write in. They also make a great gift that you can customize for someone special.

Here are some of the journals I have made...

If you have any comments or questions, drop me a line!  Until next time...

Enjoy God’s Blessings!

Jane  <><


  1. Your instructions are so clear. Your journals are beautiful.

  2. All of your journal looks so nice. Thanks for the tutorial. I might have to break out my supplies and make one.

    1. Thank you Jo. It really is a fun project...give it a try :)

  3. Thank yo for posting this. I have some of the notebooks at home, I'll have to try to make some. They are lovely!

  4. I love these notebooks Jane! And there is now a link on my blog if you still want to follow. Sorry it wasn't there before. I blogged about 3 years ago but was rusty when I took it back up a couple weeks ago. Just getting back in the swing of it! Blessings!

  5. Jane, Thank you so much for the lovely journal and cards. I am so in love with them, and they are perfect for an event I have coming up this weekend. You also did a phenomenal job on packaging and shipping them. I am so impressed- so much that I wrote up al ittle thing on my blog about them. I hope you'll check it out.

    I'm also wondering if you wouldn't have any ideas for doing some custom journals for my daughters. They both love princess themes, and the youngest is really into minnie mouse and dora. The thing I loved most about your journals was the quality of your photography and paper you used. If your interested, let's talk! :)

    All the best, Sarah


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