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  • Writer's pictureBel Mills

Got Notebook Paper or Envelopes? You Can Make Books!

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

"What paper should I use to make books?"

It's one of the most common questions asked by beginning bookbinders.

Underneath this simple question is a hidden belief: I'm going to mess it up if I don't use the right stuff


Sound about right?

Okay, I have good news. Everyone can let out a BIGGGGGGGGG sigh of relief. (wow, I just did, and it felt good) Because the BEST paper for beginning bookmakers is......wait for it.....the paper you already have!

That's right. You most likely already have, right in your own home, all the paper you need to make lovely, functional and clever handmade books.

You beginners ESPECIALLY shouldn't worry about "proper" paper when you're just starting out. That keeps you from getting started, and you should just get started.

After all, you can always upgrade to fancy paper later, if you want to. But if you're like me, you won't want to. Making books out of salvaged paper is just too much fun! And ordinary paper can give you fabulous results.

Don't believe me? Let's break it down:


Whether gridded or lined, the pages leftover at the back of any notebook are more than suitable to use as pages in your handmade books. And after all, why should that paper go to waste? Have a look at some of my favorite books featuring notebook paper that I've made over the years.

See what I mean? And that's just the beginning! LOTS of paper you find around the house is endowed with wonderful qualities that make it very well suited for bookmaking! For example....


Envelopes are far and away my FAVORITE material to use in upcycled bookmaking. They can become covers, they can become pages, they have functional pockets, they are AMAZING. Here is just a sampling of the book structures I've created over the years incorporating the humble envelope. You can check my classes HERE to see my current offerings in envelope books.

Stay tuned for the next post in this series: "Got Cardboard Boxes? Then You Can Make Books!"

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