Thursday, May 26, 2011

make a mini memo book cover

This is a reprint of a guest tutorial I did for the Southern Institute. Enjoy!

Well, hello Southern Institutioners! I'm so happy to be guest tutorialing here today. I met Jenny when she and Dana and a host of other talented ladies descended on Whipstitch for a class in Atlanta a while back, and let me tell you, that was fun. Delighted to do it again sometime, Jenny!

So a bit about me. I'm a graphic designer turned home schooling mom of two lovely girls. I love to make stuff and drink coffee, and even better if I can make stuff while drinking coffee. I write a blog, mmmcrafts, where you can find tutorials and see all my creative endeavors in sewing, papercutting, and felt makery. I also run an etsy shop where I sell my patterns and the occasional finished piece. Ok, enough about me, now on to the actual making. I'll wait a second so you can top off your mug.

Make a Mini Memo Book Cover

I love these inexpensive little 3.25 x 4.5 inch composition books. They are just the right size for tucking in my purse. I always seem to need paper to jot things down or keep an antsy child occupied, so I try to keep a supply handy. When I went to the Netherlands several years ago with my BFF, I took one as a travel journal and it was just exactly the right size and number of pages. You can find them at Wal-Mart, office supply and drug stores (and even a few places online), usually for less than a dollar US each.

So here's how to pretty them up with a nice re-usable cover. It can elevate a 77-cent memo book from plain jane to Gift Worthy.

You'll need:
  • this template
  • printer
  • letter sized card stock
  • scrap of decorative paper
  • craft knife
  • ruler 
  • glue (I used Fabri-Tac)
  • optional brad
  • optional embroidery floss
1) First step is to print the template at actual size on the back of the card stock. Then score on the dashed lines. I just use the back side of the craft knife blade to score, but be careful not to press too hard at the point. After all the folds are scored, cut out the template on the solid lines.

2) Use the provided spine pattern to trace and cut out a spine from a scrap of decorative paper.

It will be a bit longer than the cover, so it will overlap nicely when you glue it on and it is a cinch to get it centered:

 Then you just trim off the excess with your knife, and the spine is done:

3) Here's where you can opt for the brad/floss closure, or you can leave those off. If you want to leave it off, skip to step 6. If you are going to include it, insert the brad in the spot marked for it. I happened to have a decorative brad on hand, but a regular brass brad (like the one shown below) will work great too. Don't squish the brad down super tight. You want it to have a bit of play.

4) Now get your large embroidery needle out and thread it with a double length of embroidery floss that has a knot at the end. Poke through the card stock where it says 'optional string placement' and pull the floss through until there is about an inch left before the knot.

5) Put some glue on a small square or circle of paper and press it over the floss, flush with the knot and the hole. I just grabbed my circle punch and popped out a circle to use. Whichever is easiest. Make sure the glue has a nice bond over the floss.

6) Now fold all the flaps/tabs toward the wrong side and crease the spine folds. Since the scoring is on the back side, sometimes it makes a nicer fold if you fold the score backwards first, then toward the wrong side.

7) Glue the flaps to the tabs. Insert the memo book by laying the cover flat and inserting the front and back memo book cover under the flaps.

8) Wrap the floss around the brad two or three times to secure. Once you see what a good length will be, tie a knot in the floss and trim the excess. (Waxing the floss will also make it easier to wind around the brad.)

9) Cut out a label from contrasting paper and glue it to the front of the cover, if you like.


There! The cheap memo book is now a dressed up mini journal. Have fun. You can experiment with different paper color and pattern combinations. Use decorative edged scissors to give added cuteness to the spine. The possibilities are numerous. You might need to go get more coffee. Enjoy!

Thanks for having me here, Jenny!


  1. so cute! and cool that you all met. :)

  2. Thanks again for being our guest, Larissa! Your tutorial is wonderful!

  3. i love them! i have been trying to figure out a way to embellish some journals that i need to make for the young women in my church. i love the simplicity of these so much!

  4. Those are really sweet. I love marthafying stuff!

  5. great tutorial and adorable blog! nice 'meeting' you =)

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this GrEaT tutorial. I love little notebooks, although I can never remember to ACTUALLY write in them. LOL. I plan on making some for cheap and easy Christmas gifts.

  7. Hey Larissa,
    I love these journals so much. I was wondering if you have the template in regular composition notebook size?

  8. Hi, Riley! No, it's just in mini size!

  9. Too cute!! Just saw this on Pinterest


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