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Back to School DIY Doodle Notebook Tutorial (with Printable!)

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I must be on some sort of printable kick! This is my second week in a row posting a tutorial with some variety of free printable. I have to admit that it’s really fun! This week’s post is also in honor back to school season for the Blogging Business Artisan’s August challenge. I’ll admit that this isn’t the most sophisticated way to create a little notebook (or the most sewing machine friendly…), but it’s a lot of fun and a great way to make custom little notebooks for doodling, notes, and reminders. I don’t know about y’all, but I love carrying a little notebook around in my purse to jot down ideas and lists.

DIY Pocket Notebooks (with Printable!)

For simplicity’s sake, these notebooks have a finished size of 1/4 of a sheet of 8.5″x11″ printer paper. You can make them smaller if you’d like to do more cutting! I used regular, plain printer paper, but nicer paper would make the notebooks, well, nicer. With some resume paper, for example, these little guys could make a great homemade gift idea!

Supplies for DIY doodle notebooks

  • A piece of cardstock
  • Regular printer paper (I recommend using 8 sheets)
  • Paper cutter
  • Sewing machine with thread and a needle you’re willing to dull
  • A couple binder clips
  • Sea Friends Notebook Covers printable (optional)

sea turtle notebook

How to make your own simple notebooks

1. If you’re using the printable, go ahead and print it out on a sheet of cardstock. The images are already lined up so they’ll be placed correctly! If you’re drawing your own pictures, I advise cutting the cardstock in half and drawing before assembling the notebooks. It makes drawing so much easier and you don’t have to start the project over if you make a mistake!

supplies for diy doodle book

2. Cut you paper and cover in half to make pages that are 8.5″x5.5″. I’ve tried notebooks with 8 and with 10 sheets, and I think 8 is easier to work with.

cut the papers and covers

3. Fold one sheet of paper in half for each notebook. If you’re making two notebooks, for example, fold two sheets in half.

fold one sheet of paper in half

4. Clip the cover, image facing out, to eight of the half-sheets you prepared in step #2, making sure a folded sheet is the top one on the stack.

cute sea turtle notebook cover

clip pages and cover together

5. Using a needle (that you will probably never be able to sew fabric with again…) and a sewing machine, carefully stitch down the folded center

line. I recommend using a stitch length of 3 or 4 – smaller stitches can basically perforate the pages and make them rip out easily.

sew down the middle


book sewn down the middle

6. Carefully fold your notebook in half along the stitched line. Some of the pages will probably stick out a little – this is normal! You can trim the edges if you’d like.

uneven edges

7. Enjoy your awesome new notebooks!

DIY cute seahorse notebookI have to admit that I feel a little cool for drawing these two sea critters. I’ve never thought of myself as someone who can draw, but I’ve had lots of fun doodling recently. I’ve realized that not being able to draw realistically doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy drawing! Plus, it’s really nice that Papi Chulo encourages me and always acts impressed by whatever I’ve managed to get on paper. =)

Do you enjoy carrying a little notebook around? What do you use it for?



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{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Katie March 27, 2016, 15:32

    Hi Natasha! These are adorable and your pictures are absolutely gorgeous! What’s your policy on sharing images? I’d like to use one of your images but I don’t want to just steal it. Could you let me know if this is a possibility?

    • Natashalh March 27, 2016, 15:45

      Hello! What are you looking to do with it? If you want to use a photo for a link up or something, that’s totally fine. I’m also totally okay with you using one of the sea critters for a personal use project , even if it’s a larger scale personal project (like for a class project or birthday party or something). I hope that’s helpful and thanks for stopping by!

  • Louise Bader September 2, 2014, 16:37

    Aw adorbs! <3 love love love I am so (at least i think) im really good at art like that your little turtel made my day and seahorse but it's just so cute I might steal your idea and put it on the cover of my math note book but I love this idea so cute!<3!!!!!!

    • Natashalh September 3, 2014, 06:54

      Thanks – I hope you enjoy using them!

  • Sarah ~ Magnolia Surprise August 30, 2014, 06:19

    Great idea and your little guy-guys are the cutest! I’m good to write stuff down, and then never look at it again… grocery lists remain on the table while I’m at the store, for instance! But I do carry a small notebook around to pretend I’m organized :p

    • Natashalh August 30, 2014, 12:53

      I’ve forgotten the grocery list before! Even if I do forget, I find that physically writing things down helps me remember a bit better.

  • Paige @ Little Nostalgia August 29, 2014, 04:16

    SUPER cute. I’m a notebook carrier, too. I have a couple of them stashed around the house, plus my day planner that has a huge space for each day. I’d just lose my mind if I didn’t write everything down.

    • Natashalh August 30, 2014, 12:54

      I’m glad I’m not the only person who still keeps a physical planner! Mine is pretty small, but it feels far more satisfying to write things down instead of just punch them in my phone calendar.

  • LeAnn August 28, 2014, 10:58

    What a GREAT idea! These would be perfect stocking stuffers, too!

    • Natashalh August 28, 2014, 19:23

      Yes – they would be! It’s never to early to start on handmade gifts.

  • Edi August 28, 2014, 08:52

    These turned out so cute! And you’re right, perfect for sticking in a purse.
    I love that your man is so encouraging of you, your business and your talents 🙂

    • Natashalh August 28, 2014, 09:35

      I am incredibly thankful that he’s so supportive and encouraging! It’s especially nice on those days when there are two sheets of ‘drawings’ that look like mutants instead of seahorses. =)

  • julie August 28, 2014, 07:22

    I have a notebook in my handbag, in my work bag (which is much bigger to fit all my stuff in) in my desk drawer and by my bed. I love notebooks! The cuter and prettier the better! I learnt the hard way that if you have a great idea you should write it down asap otherwise it just disappears into the ether!
    Your little books are so cute, I’m thinking I could personalise them for all my little nieces. I’d better write that idea down quickly!

    • Natashalh August 28, 2014, 09:36

      I know exactly what you mean! I frequently find myself thinking “Now what was that idea I had?” Thanks so much for stopping by!

  • Duni August 28, 2014, 05:10

    Aww…your sea creatures are so CUTE! I’m impressed!
    I probably need to get a proper paper cutter in order to make notebooks 🙂

    • Natashalh August 28, 2014, 06:23

      Yes, a paper cutter really helps! Mine is only okay. It has a fold out arm, which is handy for space saving, but it also means that you can easily mess up and make cuts that are at an angle because the top bar wasn’t perfectly extended. It’s funny – the sea turtle worked out so well and quickly for me, but I drew about two pages of seahorses before I got one I liked!

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