Friday, August 24, 2012

Back to School DIY: More Than Just Your Regular Notebook

Those who know me personally and have taken classes with me know that I have never been satisfied with just regular notebooks when I'm in school. I just can't have the same deal as everyone else. I have to make everything my own! So I always brainstorm during the summer what I'm going to do to my notebooks to make them better than last years'. This year they have to be a bit extra special since I am starting at Parsons and of course, they had to be reflective of who I am and want to be as a designer. Since I don't have any materials whatsoever like I used to back in PR and I have a very limited budget, I was juuuuust about to give in to having regular, plain notebooks until I walked in to my school's nearest Utrecht art supply store and went nuts with their paper section. I took a bookmaking course in college with one of my most esteemed professors and never went back after that. I've been making books and my own paper for a few years now so I really appreciate a fine paper creation when I see one. One of my best books was covered in handmade marbleized nepalese lokta paper so I almost squealed with joy when I saw their HUGE variety as it instantly became one of my favorite materials to work with. Since I posted a picture on Instagram of my notebooks and have gotten a few requests on how to make them, I'll show you a quick tutorial on how I covered my notebooks. Bear with me, the pictures were taken with my phone's camera so they're not the best quality. 

As I mentioned above, I used handmade marbleized nepalese lokta paper, but you can choose any paper you'd like just as long as you don't ruin it when you moisten it. Go crazy! You can use magazines too and make a collage. What I did was basically Mod-Podging this to my notebook. I didn't want to compromise the beautiful texture and quality of the paper by covering it with plastic so I opted for this. Look how gorgeous the texture! One sheet was big enough to cover all seven of my notebooks and it only cost me $4.99.

You'll need:

• Notebook(s)
•Paper to cover notebooks 
• Neutral pH polymer (glue)
•Brush or sponge
•Iron (optional)

Step 1: Measure out your notebook and cut out the paper accordingly. I added about half an inch or so on each side just so I can fold in the excess and guarantee that everything will hold and be covered. 

Step 2: With your brush/sponge, apply glue evenly from the center outwards on the cover. It is VERY important that you use a pH neutral adhesive for this so over time, the paper will not suffer from acidity. I found this book making adhesive at Utrecht but one of the best kept secrets is that regular white school glue is basically the toughest thing you can use just as long as you apply some heat afterwards. Just make sure that it's not washable and is neutral. That's where the iron comes in after you've glued the paper on but let's not get ahead of ourselves. You can also use Matte Medium (for painting).

Step 3: Eyeball your paper placement and set it down over the glued cover. Flatten out any air bubbles. Since this paper has such rich texture, I let the wrinkles show. If you're using school glue, this is the moment to put your iron on a low setting and fix the glue with heat. Just gently run the iron over the surface until most moisture is released from the glue.

Step 4: On the reverse side of the cover, dab some glue on the edges and fold in the excess paper. Do the same iron procedure here if you're using school glue.

Step 5: Since my notebook is coil bound, I had to figure out a way to close off that end so I simply cut off the paper in between coils so I could tuck the excess paper un between. I dabbed on some glue and pressed down the tabs in between. The ones on top of the coils I let them on because they looked like fringe and I liked it, but you can cut those off if you like. If your notebook is not coil bound, simply continue the process on the back cover.

Step 6: Apply an even coat of the glue all over so you can seal in the fiber and the paper will last you longer. Doing this might give the paper some sheen, but it will not compromise the quality of the paper entirely and you'll still get the rich texture. Get between the cracks! Let it dry for about ten minutes and voilá! You're done! 

Easy, right? I'm really excited to show these off at school. I encourage you all to try it out. I think the result with this paper is chic, elegant, eye catching and interesting. I know I'm making a big deal out of school notebooks, but just think that you'll be carrying these around all semester long so it's nice to have something pretty to carry around and look at. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below. I'll be more than happy to help you out! Happy back to school, everybody!

Satchel: Leather Satchel Co. courtesy of 


  1. This is soooo cool and easy to make.I like learning things like this not because I might do it in the near future but it's a really helpful neat information to know ;)

    1. Well sure! It's always good to stock up on DIY tips even if you don't use them at the moment. You can also use them to experiment with other things! Thanks for your support, love!

  2. Great idea! Love how it look, really creative!


  3. Hey mama Remember I told you I wanted you to customize my laptop!! Well I like that design!! That looks like a nice pattern to put on my computer!!

  4. Wow, that looks so nice! And easy :)

    1. It is! It's almost the same technique used for bookmaking. You should try it out!

  5. Your blog is AWESOME! -This week is "Low Cost Fragrances"

    1. Wow! Thank you! I'm sorry I haven't posted lately, but school and workload is getting quite heavy! I'm glad you enjoy it! Your feedback really means a lot to me. ;)

  6. Hello! I just found your blog and I really like it, you can see you put a lot of attention to your posts. I'm not in school anymore but this kind of DIY tips have always intrigued me and this one looks really chic!

    I'm following you :)

    Besos from México!


    1. Aww, muchas gracias! I'm really glad you enjoy it. It doesn't necessarily have to be for school supplies. You can use the technique on any notebook, or even cardboard boxes for gifts!

      I promise I'll post things soon again, but school's been intense! Parsons really lives up to its standards. Take care!




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