Arts and Crafts Homeschooling

DIY Homemade Poetry Notebooks

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Over the past year, I have made numerous notebooks and journals. I’m practicing and developing prototypes to sell, but I also enjoy making them with The Tornado. Truth be told, she isn’t as excited about making them as I am, but she loves having personalized books for her notes, detective work, journaling, and now, her poetry.

We have been studying classical poetry and have been writing our own. In fact, we recently wrapped up our author study of William Blake and I had an idea to create  our own poetry journals to keep track of our own creations, as well as phrases/poems that we read and enjoy. I have kept a poetry/quote journal on and off for as long as I can remember and it’s fun to look through some of them now and reread what I have written/found.

Here’s how to make your very own composition-styled notebook at home. This is a long tutorial so take some time to read it before you dive in to making one.



  • Glue: Elmer’s Glue-All or PVC Glue or Mod Podge. I love Mod Podge but for notebooks, but when I am making them for everyday use (not to sell), I just use Elmer’s. I also use Elmer’s Stick Gel Glue for the spine and embellishments.
  • Magnetic Cutting Mat & Magnetic Ruler: Save your tabletops and keep your lines straight with this. I have a separate green one for fabric and use this one for paper.
  • Ruler: You will need a second ruler, too.
  • Utility Knife: This is self explanatory, but you will need one.
  • Binder Clips: I would never be able to do any of this without these. I am a shaker, so this helps me steady myself.
  • Stylus: This is a double sided pointy tool and used for poking holes. You can use anything you have on hand, but if you can buy one, please do. It will save your sanity.
  • Nail file: Just use an old worn out one. You will need this for smoothing out your page edges.
  • Pencils: Just one with a sharp tip.
  • Decorative Tape and Scissors: Self-explanatory
  • Embroidery Thread and Needle: Any color is fine. You will also need a needle (medium size).
  • Paper Cutter: (not pictured) but you should have one of these if you find it difficult to cut straight (like me).
  • White Printer Paper: Regular letter size.
  • Photo or Scrapbook Paper: I used a photo from an old calendar. I tend to recycle paper and other materials.
  • Heavy-Duty Card stock: I buy mine on sale at JoAnn’s Fabric.
  • Piercing Block: I use my old iPad case but you can use anything that does the trick.


bookbinding1_5 Make your cover (1-3).

– Cut your card stock paper to 8.5″ X 11″ as that is the size of the printer paper that we will use to fill the notebook. You should also cut your scrapbook paper or image to fit the cover.

– Using the liquid glue, glue your picture/paper to your card stock. Be sure to move slowly and smooth as you do to prevent the paper from wrinkling.

– Allow it to dry by pressing it between two books or something flat and heavy. Once dry, fold it in half carefully.

Make you signatures (4-5).

A signature is a block of paper made up of several booklets, that is glued or sewn together then placed inside of a cover to form a notebook. Composition notebooks are made using one signature of multiple pages.

– Fold printer paper in half carefully. Be sure to press firmly on the seam, smoothing with your thumbnail and making the page as flat as possible. You will need fifteen sheets.

– Make three booklets of five sheets each. Do not fold all five pages together at once as you will not get the seams flat enough. Instead, fold pages separately and slip one sheet into another. Again, you will have three stacks.

bookbinding6_10 Prep your signatures and cover (6-10).

– Stack your three booklets, one on top of the other to form your signature. With your magnetic ruler, mark every inch with a dot. Leave your magnetic ruler where it is, and with the other ruler, draw a line at each of the points, down the other signatures. This insures that your holes will be lined up.

– Open one signature (all five sheets) and place atop of the cover. Use binder clips to hold them in place. Place on your binding block/piercing mat (iPad cover) and using your stylus, poke a whole through all the sheets, at each dot/marking. Be firm and twist your stylus a little as you pull it out. This will open the hole wider. Continue until you have poked holes through all signatures.

– Now remember, a composition notebook has one signature with multiple sheets, right?! Combine all booklets into one but make sure that you have them facing the right way (all holes should be lined up). Hold them together with the binder clips and use your stylus to insure that all the holes are open.

Sew your notebook together (11-13).

11 These photos are pretty self-explanatory. Make sure you put your cover on top and make sure that all pages are facing the correct way bu lining up the holes, before you begin sewing.

– Keep your tail long and on the outside of the spine. Make sure you knot your thread.

– Go up one way, weaving in and out of the holes, and then come back the other way.

– Once you are finished sewing, knot the thread by going under the last stitch, form a loop and go through the loop to form a knot. Do this twice. Your knots should be on the inside, then go back through to the outside, and make another knot.

– Cover the spine using the gel glue with a piece of construction paper, scrapbook paper, or book cloth. Or, just leave it.

Finishing touches  (optional).optional

– You may notice that the printer paper is much longer than the cover. If that is the case, you can trim all pages and the cover down. Using your rule and your utility knife, cut through the layers to make an even line.

– After you trim, you may have jagged edges that need to be smoothed. Squeeze the pages together and smooth with the nail file!