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Traveler's Notebook - Thoughtful Studio

Updated: Feb 27


Hello again!


Today I am sharing my DIY Traveler's Notebook made entirely with the Tess-A-Penpal paper collection from Thoughtful Studio.



Since I was little, I have always loved notebooks, especially ones with cute designs on them; Tweety Bird, Lion King, and Lisa Frank covered all my school supplies. (Can you tell I'm a 90s kid! 😄) So when I discovered people were creating their own TNs, I was super excited with all the possibilities!


I particularly like them because they are completely customizable, and with the option to switch out the inserts, reusable as well. I love them for jotting down quick notes, grocery lists, sketching, organizing and memory keeping. There's just something about writing things down on paper that an iPhone can't replace.


The Tess-A-Penpal collection's theme matched perfectly with the idea of the notebook. Both encompass the movement of ideas and creativity onto paper, which was the inspiration behind this project.


Through happymail and travel, we are able to make new friends and learn new things, which has been a fun part of my design team experience so far.


So finally, I will get started with the tutorial! 😂


To begin, I have to first mention that iammama24's videos on YouTube were a big help in learning how to create a laminated personal sized TN. I have since tweaked and changed a few things when making my own.


Ok! I first start by choosing a paper collection and picking out the pattern I want for the cover, the dashboard, the pockets, the pen loop and the three inserts. I like to use double sided paper because it's a little easier to work with. However, you can definitely glue two single sided patterned papers together as well. I like to use Fabri-Tac glue because it doesn't really warp or buckle the card stock.

For the inserts, I like to use plain paper, graph paper, and lined paper; roughly seven to ten sheets of each.


Once I've gathered all my papers, I trim everything down at once.


  • Cover: 7" x 8"

  • Insert covers: 6 5/8" x 7 1/4"

  • Insert papers: 6 5/8" x 7 1/8"

  • Dashboard insert: 3 1/4" x 6 3/8"

  • Pocket (x2): 3 1/2" x 4"

  • Pen loop: 1 3/4" x 1 3/4"


For the cover, I chose the pattern that would be inside the notebook and added the pockets. I put the two pocket pieces back to back and cut a curve on the corner. Then I put the tiniest spot of glue in the three corners, just to hold them in place while being laminated.



I used a score board to score the spine at 3 1/4", 4", and 4 1/4".



To decorate the notebook, I used the coordinating ephemera from the Tess-A-Penpal collection. I added some to the front and back of the dashboard insert as well as the cover.


Then I used a corner punch to round the corners on all the pieces.


Next, I pulled out two Scotch laminating pouches and trimmed them down as well.


  • The measurements (except for the pocket) include some allowance for trimming after laminating. You don't have to cut the pouches prior to laminating, but I like to trim the sheets before so I can save the extra bits. If you want to laminate the entire page without trimming first, you can trim after and use the extra as acetate.


I also made sure to take advantage of the side that is already sealed by making it the bottom of the cover or the side of the dashboard, so that I can butt up the papers against a straight edge.


  • Cover: 8 1/2" x 7 1/2"

  • Dashboard: 7 1/2" x 7"

  • Dashboard pocket (x2): 3 1/4" x 6 5/8" (cut through the pouch all the way so that each pocket piece is cut at the same time)

  • Pen loop: 2" x 2"



To make the dashboard and pocket, I took the two rectangles that I cut to 3 1/4" x 6 5/8", and put the shiny sides together. I put them alongside the presealed edge of the 7 1/2" x 7" pouch, and lined them up at the top. Then I left about a 3/8" gap and added the dashboard insert, lining that up with the bottom of the pocket and then put the whole thing through the laminator.


I used my envelope punch board to create the pen loop. I centered the 1 3/4" square on the board and punched the top and bottom. Then I placed it inside the laminating sheet and ran it through the laminator.



I added the card stock cover to the 8 1/2" x 7 1/2" pouch and put it through the laminator as well.


To open the pockets on the cover, I took an X-acto knife and carefully went along the edges of the pockets, making sure to not cut through the cover. Then I put it through the laminator a couple more times.


For the dashboard pocket, I just trimmed across the very top to create the opening.

I then trimmed the edges and rounded the corners on the rest of the pieces.


Next, I punched the holes where the elastic would go. I used a Crop-A-Dile Big Bite punch on the 1/8" hole setting. I punched a hole on the top and bottom of the cover on each of the score lines. The last hole was punched on the center score line half way down the cover.


I used some thin, green elastic I found in the jewelry section at Hobby Lobby to match the paper collection.



To add the elastic (blue arrows):


  • feed it through the bottom right hole from behind

  • take it up and through to the hole directly above it

  • bring it through the center hole next to it, from the back

  • take it down and through to the center hole at the bottom

  • bring it through the hole on the left of center, from the back

  • take up and through the final hole at the top


Before cutting anything, I made sure the elastic wasn't too tight or too loose, and that there was a tail (yellow arrows) at each end long enough to tie together in the middle.


Once I made sure the tails could be tied, I cut the end that was still connected to the roll. Then I fed each end up through the back of the center hole and tied them in the middle.


For the elastic that holds the notebook closed, I wrapped a piece around the book, making sure it wasn't too snug, and cut it from the roll. I brought the two ends together, tied them in a knot and cut away the excess.

Then I took the end, opposite the knot, and pushed it through the center hole from the inside.


Next, I folded the insert covers and filler papers in half to create three booklets.


At this point, I've seen some people staple them together, but I don't so that I can reuse the covers once the paper has been used up. Once they were together I added them to the inside of the notebook.


For the pen loop, I scored the laminated piece at every 1/8" and used a bone folder to help it curl. Then on each end I added a piece of 1/8" double sided tape. I attached it to the side of dashboard and reinforced it with staples. I then went ahead and added the dashboard to the notebook as well.


As a final bit of embellishment, I used some of the remaining card stock and ephemera to create a laminated bookmark and two matching paperclips.


-Super Quick Paperclip Tutorial-

Cut out an image you want to use

Trace around the shape you just cut out

Cut out the traced shape

Align the two cut outs so that they match up

Sandwich a paperclip between the cut outs

Secure using hot glue





You can find more creations from me and the rest of the Thoughtful Studio design team on Instagram and Facebook @thoughtfulstudio, as well as following the hashtags #madewiththoughtful and #thoughtfulstudioDT .

And of course, you can get these wonderful patterned papers here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/shopthoughtfulstudio?coupon=THOUGHTFULSTUDIODT

*Above link includes a 15% discount code, not applicable to Limited Edition item.


Thank you so much for stopping by!


-Jenni :)


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Meet Jenni
I Love bright colors, cute critters and creating fun handmade projects.

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