Moleskine notebooks have been popular for some time now, and for good reason: they are small and convenient, and can help even the most scatterbrained people stay organized. Of course, no Moleskine is complete without some personalizing modifications, but why rely on a few stickers to do the job when you can make the whole notebook from scratch?

Consider these instructions as a basic starting point for your own wallet-sized notebook. Potential must-have modifications are endless: a pen loop, a clasped pocket, a page marker … you get the idea. In addition to numerous personalization possibilities, it’s easy to transfer the booklet between covers to accommodate your changing stylistic and functional needs.

Project Steps

Iron on interfacing.

The interfacing attaches to the back (wrong) side of the fabric to stiffen it. This makes it more durable and easier to decorate, while preventing puckering. Center it shiny side down on the back of the exterior fabric piece and the interior fabric piece. Using a press cloth, iron to fuse.

Prepare the pockets, decorate and attach.

Attach the bias tape to one of the long sides on both pocket pieces. To attach the bias tape, insert the pocket fabric’s raw edge into the fold of the tape. Sew along the bottom edge of the tape, just under 1⁄4″ in from the finished edge. This will become the top, or opening, of the pocket.

The remaining 3 sides of each pocket are roll hemmed. Use an iron to fold over and press 1⁄4″ of hem. Then, roll the first hem over itself and press again. The raw edge hides in the fold of the fabric.

Decorate any of the pieces as you like, leaving 1⁄4″ perimeter around the interior and exterior pieces for the seams. Also, remember that the pockets will cover the majority of the interior of the book.

Center the pockets 1⁄4″ in from the ends and sides of the interior piece. Orient the openings to face toward the middle. This will leave approximately 1 1⁄4″ between the pocket’s openings in the center/spine of the cover. Attach by sewing around the bottom and sides, making sure to secure the rolled hem.

Sew together.

Face the good sides of the interior and exterior pieces together. Orient them identically so that the top of one piece meets the top of the other. Sew a 1⁄4″ hem (next to, not into, the interfacing) along one short side and both long sides, leaving one short side open. Turn the sleeve inside out so that the correct sides now face outward. Press the seams.

Insert plastic/cardboard and make the paper block.

If you are using plastic, score down the middle, bisecting the 2 long sides. This will create a flexible spine for your book. Make 2 more scores, 1⁄4″ on either side of the first score, to allow for the thickness of the booklet. Cardboard will fold easily for the spine, and should not be scored. Slip the plastic or cardboard into the sleeve.

Close the opening, fold in a 1⁄4″ hem on both sides of the opening and stitch closed.

To make your paper block, cut the letter-sized paper into quarters. Fold the quarter sheets in half, matching the short ends together. Stack together and pierce the spine 1⁄4″ down with a needle. Run a needle and thread through the hole and tie together. These pages will hold together nicely, but can easily be torn out if needed.

Assemble the book!

Match both ends of the elastic together and tie an overhand knot, creating a closed loop. Use the elastic to attach the booklet to the cover. The booklet can easily be replaced or exchanged, and receipts and other important papers can be slipped through the elastic band for safekeeping.


This project first appeared in CRAFT Volume 02, pages 124-126.