When you have a Midori Traveler’s Notebook, you need inserts to write and draw in. Lots and lots of inserts! And if you’re a stationery nerd, you just want to make your own and see what you can create. So that’s what I’ve done! Let me teach you how to make your own traveler’s notebook inserts from a spare sketchbook or dot grid paper pad. This will be a step-by-step DIY guide for cheap & creative inserts with lots of photos along the way.

I have been using a Midori-like Traveler’s Notebook for several months now and I love it! For those who haven’t heard of this, it’s basically a leather notebook cover with a system of elastic bands inside the spine where you are able to arrange paper notebook inserts inside. Over the years, I’ve heard several creative professionals mention they use the system for brainstorming, brain-dumping, commonplace books, bullet journaling, planners and anything under the sun that needs to be captured on paper. So I started investigating my options. Let’s jump in and learn how to make traveler’s notebook inserts, shall we?

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First you need a cover – Traveler’s Notebook Cover Options

Besides the notebook cover, you need inserts (paper notebooks that fit inside the leather notebook cover). I can buy name brand Midori inserts, but they are a bit pricey and not readily available to me locally. So I’ve been playing with my art supplies to make a few of my own. Want to see how I did it?

DIY Traveler's Notebook Inserts

How to Make Traveler’s Notebook Dot Grid Inserts

I am a former scrapbooker (or is that one of those things were if you were once a scrapbooker, you’re always a scrapbooker?).  But what this means is that I’ve got a LOT of paper supplies still hanging around. I am a stationery nerd, after all. I grabbed a few sheets of 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock – kraft paper colored – and my X-Acto knife, bone folder, and ruler. Then I needed paper. I found a great sketch notebook at TJ Maxx recently and the paper inside is a heavy art paper with a dot-grid printed in light gray. But if you’re not as paper-obsessed as I am and don’t have dozens of random blank notebooks just lying around, you could always pick up a Rhodia Dot Pad and deconstruct it for this project.

Here are the steps…

  1. Fold scrapbook cardstock sheet in half – set aside
  2. Cut the pages out of the sketchbook – you’ll need 12 pages
  3. Fold 12 sheets of dot grid paper in half
  4. Stack folded sheets together and add the scrapbook cardstock sheet as the cover
  5. Secure the spine with staples (or if you prefer, you can stitch it using this method of bookbinding using thread)
  6. Measure the height and width you need to fit your traveler’s notebook cover
  7. Trim off the excess edges of your notebook insert
  8. Done!


Here are the details with photos

  • Cut the pages out of the sketchbook – you’ll need 12 pages

If you’re using a recycled sketchbook, like I am, then you’ll need to cut the pages out of the notebook using a craft knife and metal ruler. In the picture below you’ll see I’m using a standard metal ruler. Those things can be dangerous when using a craft knife … so you might want to get a safety ruler that will guard your fingers against any knife-slippage-mishaps. Youch!


Use your craft knife and a metal ruler to cut the pages out of an existing dot-grid notebook


  • Fold 12 sheets of dot grid paper in half

Once you have all your pages out of the recycled sketchbook, you’ll need to fold them in half. If you’re using a dot grid paper, it doesn’t matter which way you fold. But if you’re using a lined page, make sure you fold it so your lines are going in the correct direction once your book is assembled. (I’m not admitting to anything, I’m just telling you to pay attention – sometimes stationery nerds don’t watch every detail. hehe)  To get a strong, crisp fold, I use a bone folder but any rigid straight edge will work (like the back of a butter knife).

Fold and staple travelers notebook

Fold your individual pages, stack them together, then staple the spine


  • Stack folded sheets together and add the scrapbook cardstock sheet as the cover

I like the craft paper cardstock that I’m using in the photos here, but you can use whatever you have on hand. If you’re like me, you’ve got a huge supply of scrapbook cardstock in a million different colors and patterns. One of my favorite brands is K & Company. Right now I’m working out of a beautiful page of double-sided cardstock called Jubilee Designer Cardstock.

Jubilee cardstock

K&Company Jubilee Cardstock is my current favorite scrapbook paper to use in making my own notebooks.


  • Secure the spine with staples

I usually just use a stapler for this part, but you’re free to get creative and do a stitched binding method. This video by Sea Lemon is really good and she walks you through how to do saddle stitch with thread. But I’m a bit lazy and need immediate gratification (true confessions!) and prefer to use a stapler. In the pictures, you’ll see my old Sparco brand long-reach stapler. This worked for me for a while but it has its limits.  You can only staple about 10-12 pages before it starts to jam up. Then I discovered the PaperPro Long Reach Stapler and fell in love – and it can staple up to 30 pages at once!

Could you indulge me for a moment of stapler-obsession?  Not only do I have the long reach version for making my own notebooks, but I also have the PaperPro Executive that sits on my desk at work, the PaperPro Compact size that I use at home …  and even the ultra-tiny Nano PaperPro stapler that fits in my pencil case. I guess maybe I’m a PaperPro fangirl. I should get them all together for a family portrait or something. Oh boy… this is getting embarrassing.

OK – moving on. Staple the spine. Use whatever stapler you want to use, but you know which one I love.

  • Trim off the excess in both height and width

Regular Midori inserts measure 8.25″ x 4.33″ if you’re using the traditional traveler’s size cover.  But there are dozens of different size traveler’s notebooks nowadays, so make sure you check which size your notebook holds and trim accordingly. This step takes patience and a steady hand. Again, I recommend you use a safety ruler and a super sharp X-Acto Craft Knife. Don’t try to cut through the entire book at once, just take it bit-by-bit and make several passes until you’re all the way through the stack.

Be VERY careful with this step. Go slow and use just enough pressure to cut through a few sheets of paper at a time. If you want a much safer and easier way to cut the edge of your book, you might want to invest in a heavy-duty paper trimmer with a safety paper clamp. This is one that comes highly recommend: Giantex Heavy-Duty Guillotine Trimmer

Trim your Traveler's Notebook to size

Go slow and take it little by little until you’ve cut off the excess edge of your traveler’s notebook insert


These are the 3 inserts I’ve made in just the past couple of days. The yellow one is being used as part of a decluttering challenge I’m part of for the year – I’m using it to keep track of the stuff I get rid of. I just used some cute washi tape and an inspirational quote card to decorate the front.

DIY Traveler's Notebook Inserts

When I first got my travelers notebook, I expected to use it as a simple way to capture task and shopping lists, brain dumps and a bit of brainstorming. But I’ve found that I am using it for a lot more than just that. I’ve started a little art journal that’s got a bit of “smashbooking” twist to it (I’ll show it to you in a future post). I’d like to make an insert with watercolor paper too – I bet it’d be fun to use my little watercolor set since it’s so portable.

Supply List

  • Interior Paper – choose your favorite kind based on the purpose of your notebook. You can recycle a sketchbook you already have, or purchase paper like the Rhodia Dot Pad.
  • Cover Cardstock – check your local craft store for endless possibilities or pick up some Craft Cardstock or the beautiful K&Company Jubilee Cardstock
  • Paper Creasing Tool – I prefer the VINCINK Bone Folder but you can use anything you have on hand that has a straight firm edge (like the back of a butter knife)
  • Long Reach Stapler – I love, love, love my PaperPro Long Reach Stapler and recommend it for heavy-duty stapling. It can handle 25 sheets at once.
  • Cutting board – I just grabbed one from the kitchen but if you have a self-healing cutting mat, even better!
  • Metal ruler – so you don’t slip and cut your fingers off, pick up a safety ruler like the Helix Safety Ruler
  • Craft Knife – as a long-time crafter, I swear by the X-Acto brand. I’ve got 4 or 5 different craft knives and this is the one I like best – X-Acto Curved Grip Craft Knife

Show me yours!

Are you part of the Travelers Notebook community? I’d love to see yours… not just your inserts (homemade or not), but also your leather notebook. You know what I mean. They’re like candy for the soul! So please share.