how to make a perfect bound notebook

It's amazing what you can learn on the internet, isn't it? Until last october when I stumbled across this tutorial and made this perfect bound notebook I had no idea it was possible to make your own professional looking notebooks. I've made a few since and thought it was about time I shared how on this blog.

Perfect binding is when you use pva glue to bind the spine of a book instead of stitching together signatures (groups of pages). It's mostly used in magazines or paperback books but is also a really quick and easy way to make your own notebooks. This is a great project way for using up or recycling bits of paper you have lying around from other projects.

Things you'll need to make your own perfect bound notebook

Supplies: Scrapbook paper, pva glue or Elmer's glue, ruler, craft knife, a cutting mat, a paintbrush or foam brush, a pencil, binder clips, scrap paper.

How to make your own perfect bound notebook

1. Select and cut your paper to size.

You can use any paper to make your pages, old books, graph paper or even maps but it's important to think about the size of notebook. Whatever you use as your cover needs to wrap around the front and back of your pages with a little bit over on each side.

I used 6 sheets of 12x12 scrapbook paper to make my pages and cut them each down to four 5.5 inch squares pieces. This meant that I could use a pieces of 12x12 scrapbook paper to make my cover and still have half an inch spare on each side.

Don't forget to use binder clips to hold the paper in place as you cut it. Use a bit of scrap paper under each clip to protect your pages.

2. Stack your paper and line up all the sides by tapping the stack down against the table top.

3. Secure your stack of paper using binder clips. It's important that the edge you are going to glue is completely flat. Any pages not flush with the edge will not get glued.

4. Use a paint brush or foam brush and apply a thin layer of pva or elmers glue to form the spine of your notebook. Let the glue dry and repeat. I applied four layers of glue before I was happy with the results.

You may find that as your glue layers are drying your paper begins to bow a little. I found the best way to fix this was to press the paper under some heavy books as the last layer dried.

Diy notebook using perfect binding

Making the cover.

5. To make the cover, glue 2 pieces of scrapbook paper together, plain side in. Doubling up the paper will help make the cover sturdier. Apply a thin layer of glue to the paper and leave to dry flat under some heavy books. Depending on the type of glue used you may need to leave it overnight to dry.

6. Take your stack of paper, line it up with the edges of what will be your cover and trace around it. You want the cover of your notebook to be the exact same height as your paper stack. If you don't want any pencil marks on your paper you could use an embossing tool like I did.

7. Place your stack on the cover. They should now be the same height but with a half inch extra on the right hand side.

Take your embossing tool or pencil and lightly trace down the spine of your stack. Lift the stack up on it's end and trace down the other side as well. Using a ruler and an embossing tool score your 2 lines. This will  be where your cover folds over the glued spine of your pages.

How to make your own diy notebooks

8. Next you need to take your ruler and measure out a 1/4 of an inch from each of the two lines you've just drawn and score. If you have a scoring board now is a perfect time to use it.

You should now have 3 sections made by your 4 scored lines. This means that when you open your finished notebook the cover will fold back in a crisp line.

9. Crease and fold your cover. Your pages should now fit neatly inside your cover.

10. The next thing you need to do is trim your cover to size. Line up your pages with the spine and trace down, do the same on both sides and then cut using a craft knife.

How to make your own notebooks using scrapbook paper

Gluing in your pages.

11. Open up your cover, take your paintbrush or foam brush and apply some pva glue to the center of the 3 sections. You want the most glue to be where the spine of your paper stack will go. Spread the rest of glue out to the 2 sections being careful not to go over your scored lines.

12. Press your stack of pages into the center and fold your cover around. Use scrap paper and bulldog clips to hold it in place and leave to dry overnight.

13. Once dry, decorate your cover and start filling your notebook.

Diy Notebook - using perfect binding


Hi, I'm Emma.

I'm a crafter, blogger and paper enthusiast living in the North West of England.

Gathering Beauty is the place where I share craft tutorials and diy inspiration. I started this blog back in 2013 as a way of sharing all the things I love and make. I share paper crafts, clay crafts, origami, printables and desktop wallpapers as well as the odd crochet and weaving project. I hope you find something here that inspires you.