Tuesday 17 September 2013

How to: Cereal Box Notebook

Because I am a serious and well adjusted adult, for the past week I have been eating those variety pack cereals. You know the kind - eight mini packets of regular cereal. When I was little, me and my brother would eat these and then use the empty packets to play shops with. Even now, it seems a shame to simply throw the packets away, so I came up with this idea - making them into notebooks!

You could do this with any cardboard box food packaging (I'm already thinking of making one from an Earl Grey tea bag box).

You Will Need:

  • Small Cereal Box
  • White Paper
  • Patterned Paper
  • Scissors/Craft Knife
  • Awl
  • Sewing Needle
  • Embroidery Thread
  • Ruler
  • Glue

First up, you need to remove all unnecessary parts of your box - you only need the front and the back.

I then glued some patterned paper over top of the cardboard side of the box, but this is optional - you can keep the inside of your notebook plain if you want.

Now, you're going to need to make some signatures. If you are using the same size box as I am, here's how I did it:

Split an A4 sheet of paper into 4 equal quarters. Fold each of these in half, and then place them all inside each other. This way, you can make one 16 page signature from an A4 piece of paper.

Make as many signatures as you want - I made ten for a 160 page notebook.

On the inside of your two notebook covers, mark a dot 2cm from the top and the bottom and 1cm in. Using an awl, make 2 holes in each of your covers.

Open out each of your signatures, and on the middle page mark 2 dots - one 2cm from the top and the other 2cm from the bottom. Using an awl, make tiny holes at these two dots.

When you have done this to each of your signatures, fold them back in half. You're now ready to start sewing up! The technique I'm using here is coptic stitch, a binding which allows your notebook to fall completely flat when open.

Tie a knot in the end of your thread, and thread it through one hole in the first of your signatures. The knot should be on the inside.

Start with the back cover of the notebook. Thread your needle through the top hole you made earlier, so that the needle goes from the outside of the cover to the inside.

Pull this tight. Now, you're going to need to wrap your thread around the stitch you've just made.
To do this, put your needle to the right of this stitch, with the back cover facing you. Push your needle through the gap in-between the back cover and your signature and pull your thread through.

Then push your needle through the same gap, but this time to the left of the stitch. Pull this tight.

Now, push your needle through the first hole in your signature, where your knot is.

Then thread your needle through the other hole in the signature, so that you have a length of thread running through the middle of your signature.

Then thread your needle through the other hole on the back cover in the same way as you did with the first, and then wrap your thread around this stitch using the method described above.

This time, instead of returning your needle through the signature hole you came through, you are going to thread it through a new hole in a new signature (see picture below).

Then thread your needle through the other hole in this new signature, so the thread is running down the middle of your signature.

Now you're going to repeat the method of wrapping your thread through the previous stitch as described above. Each time you do this, you need to wrap your thread around the stitch immediately below the hole you have just come out of.

This time, you will be wrapping your thread in-between your first two signatures. When you have done this and pulled your thread tight, thread your needle through a new hole in a new signature. Repeat these last few steps until you have one signature left to bind.

You need to attach your front cover at the same time as binding your last signature. Here's how to do it:

Thread your needle through the corresponding hole in the front cover, from the inside to the outside.

Before pulling this tight, slot your final signature in-between the front cover and the top signature, where it will be when sewn in place.

Wrap the thread around the stitch two signatures below, and pull tight.

Thread your needle into the hole in your final signature, so your needle is inside the last signature. This can be fiddly, as thread will be covering the hole, so be patient and take your time (and don't stab yourself with the needle - ouch!).

Now thread your needle through the final signature hole, so the thread runs through the middle of this last signature.

Thread your needle through the last hole in the cover, from the inside to the outside and pull tight. Wrap your thread around the stitch two signatures below, pulling tight to keep your pages close together.

Thread your needle back through the final signature hole, so it is in the inside of the signature. Tie a knot close to the pages of the signature, and cut away any remaining thread.

Ta Daa! You're finished! This can be quite longwinded, but it is exactly the kind of mindless project you can easily complete whilst watching The Great British Bake Off (might actually have to try making a Dalek biscuit tower myself one day).

I'd love to see any photos if you try this, or if you use any different food packaging. If you've got any questions (coptic stitch can be confusing at first) just leave me a comment and I'll try to help you!


  1. I thought I would visit your blog and it is all so cute ! I like this tutorial in particular, I would never have had the idea myself ! Does the cereal cardboard hold well over time ? I find it quite difficult to craft with in general...

    1. Hi Violette! Thanks!
      The cereal cardboard holds surprisingly well, although if you're looking for a particularly tough notebook I'd recommend a thicker cardboard.
      I once had a primary school teacher who told me I should never really go into making things (I was always very clumsy), but if you enjoy something, then I think that you should do it regardless.

      Charl x

  2. I will try to double the cereal cardboard with something thicker then, maybe felt to give it a more "luxurious" feel - thanks for the answer !