Hands up if you have an unloved passport holder sitting in a drawer somewhere. Fancy turning it into a DIY travel notebook? It’s quicker and easier than you might think!
In this tutorial, I’ll show you how I upcycled one of my old passport holders into a small traveller’s notebook set where the notebook is removable.
So when I’ve finished writing about this year’s adventures, I can simply remove the notebook and replace it with a new one.
The great thing about this project (besides being quick and easy) is that it also makes such a sweet little notebook gift.
It’s also a lot of fun to completely personalise your very own notebook set – all thanks to the papers you use for the cover and whether you add any additional embellishments to your project like I did.
This pretty flower charm came from a piece of broken jewellery. Don’t you just love upcycling things and giving them a new purpose?
Anyway, I’ll stop gushing about this little project now and get into the details of exactly how to make your very own little DIY travel notebook set. Let’s get crafting!
Psst! If you have a visual learning style, then head to the bottom of this blog post for my video tutorial. Enjoy!
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How To Make A DIY Travel Notebook Set (By Upcycling A Passport Holder!)
Supplies You’ll Need For This Project:
- Your unloved passport holder
- Mini notebook (either store-bought or handmade)
- Scrapbook paper or cardstock (I used this stunning Tim Holtz paper pad)
- 2mm elastic cord
- Ribbon, seam binding or fabric trim
- Corner rounder
- Scrap paper or book pages
- (Optional) Button, charm or other embellishments
- (Optional) Bookbinding needle, awl and thread
- (Optional) Sewing machine and thread
You can find many of these supplies – alongside other products I love and recommend – via my Amazon favourites. Click here if you’re based in the UK, or click here if you’re based in the US.
Step 1: Resize your notebook to fit your passport holder (if needed).
Ideally, your notebook (whether store-bought or handmade) fits inside your passport holder. If it doesn’t, you’ll need to trim the cover and papers down to size.
You can do this by removing the papers from the cover (by either cutting the binding strings or opening up the staples) and then trimming everything using a paper trimmer or guillotine. You may need to do the pages in batches.
Note: I used a small notebook I found in a charity shop to make this project.
Step 2: Personalise your notebook cover (optional).
If you want to, you can personalise your notebook using scrapbook paper or cardstock.
Measure your notebook and cut two pieces of scrapbook paper or cardstock to cover the front and back of your cover.
Make sure you leave a small gap near the spine on the front and back as this will make it easier to glue the cardstock onto the cover without affecting how the notebook opens and closes.
Glue a length of ribbon, seam binding or fabric trim along the spine to cover the gap between the two pieces of cardstock.
Trim off the excess cardstock and ribbon.
You can leave your notebook cover as is. Alternatively, you may want to stitch around the cover using a sewing machine.
This will give your notebook a cool look while also adding an extra layer of protection that glueing alone won’t achieve.
You may also want to glue a label or bookplate onto the front cover or add further embellishments. It’s totally up to you!
As I was using a piece of Tim Holtz scrapbook paper, my notebook didn’t need much embellishing. A simple label (also from Tim Holtz) was all it needed.
Once your notebook cover is ready, you’ll need to bind the pages back into the updated notebook cover. I recommend a 3-hole pamphlet stitch as shown in this tutorial.
Step 3: Add an elastic binding and closure to your passport holder.
Cut a length of elastic cord to serve as your binding and closure.
You’ll need a piece that’s long enough to stretch along the spine of your passport holder, around the width of it and then a bit extra for tying knots.
I measured mine by running it from the top of my passport holder to the bottom and then around the whole thing. I then cut it a bit longer than this – just in case.
Once you’re happy you’ve got enough cord, take your elastic through the middle of your passport holder (from top to bottom).
Bring the two ends to the outside and tie a tight knot in the middle of your spine.
Check that your binding is tight enough to keep your notebook in place while also allowing enough space for you to take it in and out when you want to replace it.
Note: Instead of tying a knot along the spine, you could add an eyelet to the middle of your spine to thread the cord through. My eyelet setter doesn’t have a big enough mouth to enable me to do that, which is why I chose the knotting method instead.
Next, wrap the two ends of your elastic cord around your passport holder and tie a knot.
Alternatively, you can thread the ends through a button, charm or another embellishment to give your closure a pretty finishing touch. I used a charm that came off some broken jewellery for mine, which gives it a beautiful, feminine finish.
Step 4: Make an ephemera pouch (optional).
If you want to make an ephemera pouch to keep stickers, notes or other small mementoes from your travels inside, then you can easily make one using a 6×6 piece of scrapbook paper.
Score your scrapbook paper at 2.75 inches and fold your paper along this line.
You may want to give your ephemera holder a softer look by rounding your corners with a corner rounder or pair of scissors.
You can even cut a tab shape if you prefer this look:
Fold two pieces of paper or book pages in half. Make sure they fit within the size of your pouch.
Glue up two sides of each piece of paper to make pockets.
Run a line of glue up the middle of one of your pockets and attach it to the back of your pouch.
Run another line of glue up the middle of the other pocket and attach it to the first pocket.
Finally, run a final line of glue up the middle of the other side of the pocket and close up your pouch.
You should now have a cute little ephemera pouch with two pockets. Slip this inside your passport holder for safekeeping.
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If you prefer to watch video tutorials, then you can see exactly how I made my DIY travel notebook set in this video:
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I hope you enjoy upcycling your unloved passport holder into a DIY travel notebook. If you have any questions about this project, then please drop me a line in the comments below and I’ll reply asap!
Or, if you’re after even more easy upcycling projects, take a look at some of my other tutorials and ideas now.
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