Altered Composition Notebooks, Journal, Scrapbooks – Book Cover

I originally got this idea from my friend, Ginger. She had an altered composition notebook and a pen to match. I loved it! I had to have one and so I made one for myself…. and have been making them ever since!

I use them for bible studies, ideas, brain dumps, recipes… you name it. Here is how to make one for yourself. Oh, and I also have a version that is more “professionally done”. I’ll post about that one too.


  • Composition Notebook
  • Coordinating Cardstock
  • Strong Adhesive such as Xyron 900 Permanent Adhesive , Krylon Spray Adhesive, or Snail Adhesive
  • Paper Trimmer
  • X-Acto
  • Ribbon
  • Decorative elements

This is a really great gift idea and it cost under $5 for the notebook, papers, and pen. The materials I am using are from Stampin’ Up but you can get some great coordinating papers from the $1 tree. Mrs. Elizabeth’s paper packs come with enough coordinated papers for the entire set and you will have some left over.

You can turn this:


Into this:

I have made many of these over the years and what I have discovered is that all composition notebooks are not equal in size. They vary from 1/5 of an inch to 1 1/4 inches. For that reason I am not providing measurements. I have found the easiest way to make this style of notebook is to just glue the paper on and use an exacto knife to cut away the excess. If you want measurements then you can measure the notebook from the edge of the spine cover to the edge of the notebook. Then measure vertically, from top edge of the notebook to bottom edge.

I use snail adhesive to put the cover on. I have used liquid glue, glue stick, and spray and I find this works much better because it is less work and I find a cleaner hold. I have not tried using a Xyron but I hear it works great too.

Glue your first sheet of paper to the front. Then lay it on top of a cutting board and use an exacto knife to trim around the edges. Repeat this for both sides.



Next, measure out a 2 1/4 inch strip to cover your side binding. Then we will place the binding cover on the side of the notebook. I start by placing it on the book (no glue) and get it how I want it and into that shape. Once the paper is shaped where I want to affix it then I add my snail adhesive to it and put it in place.

Then choose a ribbon to use that will serve as a bookmark. I keep some of my ribbon in these mason jars. I cut a piece of rubber to fit inside the rim and then pull some of the ribbon through and then screw the top back on. It works great for my ribbon scraps. It makes it really easy to get to and it makes for easy clean up and storing. And it is in a canning jar… I just love canning jars!


Measure out the ribbon by placing it at the bottom of the front of the notebook and then pull it to the top and back down through the center of the notebook. See photo for a visual.

Use sticky strip to adhere the ribbon.

The last step is to embellish it with elements of your choosing. I am going to use some rolled paper flowers and punch art.

Clean up your mess as you go. You will be happy that you did!

Tada! There is your altered composition notebook!

You can also use Modge Podge to seal it. I personally have not had any need to since I keep my notebooks on my desk but if you were more active with them then this might be necessary.

Here, you can view the professional style covered composition book.


  1. LOVE your tutorial…best one I found so far. Going to make a MOMMY&ME journal for my 19 month old &i. I’m starting early so maybe we can have collection for years to come :).

    Thank you!!!
    Ps which glue do u “prefer” for the cover & spine???

  2. Hi! I just made these for my two little girls for their writing journals! Thanks!

  3. Okay, Amy, my daughter and I just made the professional version of these. It turned out cute and now she is at her friends house showing off. 🙂 We tried the rolled paper flowers and I think I used too wide a strip …. So can you blog about making these ornaments, please. (Maybe I should google it or try U-tube.) Anyway, thanks for the fun project.

  4. I make these with my teen grief groups during our first session. We use old magazines and collage in memory of their loved one while we talk about our losses then they have a journal in which to put their thoughts as they heal in their grief. They love it, even the uncrafty ones.
    Thanks for sharing a more elaborate style.
    Psalm 40 ministries

  5. Ladybug and I did this….so much fun!

  6. These are so neat!! I cover my composition journals, too but not quite as fancy as creative as this! I use magazine clippings. LOL
    I love this though. I’ll have to check out Wal-Mart or the Dollar Store for some fancy paper. 🙂

  7. Cool idea, Amy. I have found that a brush of clear nail polish on the cut end of a ribbon will keep it from fraying and give some body to it’s shape.
    Some of my crafty kids are going to love to personalize their school notebooks this year.

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