Inspirational Notebook Folders upcycled from old clothes

Here's my latest clothes upcycle for this year's challenge to upcycle old clothes into things to sell for my daughters' school carnival.

For this, I decided to try and use up this pile of notebooks and pencils etc that I bought for a few cents last year and they've sat in my stash waiting for months to be used for something useful!

I decided to make a similar folder to one I've made before:

This time I changed the measurements, the pockets on the inside, the embellishment on the outside and the way the folder closes.

Here's the measurements of fabric you would need to make these inspirational folders:

2 pieces stiff cardboard 10 x 15cm (4 x 6”)
1 outer piece fabric (denim) 26 x 17 cm (10.25 x 6.5”)
2 pieces inner fabric (patterned) 17 x 13cm (6.5 x 5”)
1 piece inner fabric (patterned) for pencil pockets 8 x 13cm (3 x 5”)
1 piece inner fabric (patterned) for notebook pocket 15 x 13cm (6 x 5”)
1 piece inner fabric for front quote background
1 piece fusible webbing approx  8 x 8 cm (3 x 3”)

For the fastening
1 button
1 piece elastic - I used the adjustable elastic with ready cut holes reclaimed from the inside waistband of an old pair of jeans! You could also just use regular elastic and snip a hole in it to fit the button through!

For the inspirational quote:
1 piece white fabric, or I used calico - size of A4 piece of paper
1 piece fusible webbing - size of A4 piece of paper

To print the quote onto the fabric - make a template of your quote - or whatever you'd like printed on a simple Word document on your computer. I printed a lot of these quotes at once - if you'd like a copy of my template, click here to download.

Then cut a piece of fusible webbing to the size of an A4 piece of paper. Then iron this to the back of a white piece of fabric - or I used calico. Carefully cut the fabric to the size of the paper and then you have your sheet of fabric ready to print.
Simply put this sheet of A4 fabric into your printer as you would a sheet of paper (making sure the fabric side is up) and hit print!

Once the quotes are printed on the fabric, you can cut each one out, peel off the backing and iron onto the front piece of your folder! I've found through trial and error that black ink works great and survives washing, but coloured ink washes out.  If you iron the printed words once you've finished attaching them, I've read the heat sets the ink into place. I don't know if this is true, but I always do it just in case and my black ink has never washed out!

So for the front of the folder - I ironed a piece of fusible webbing to the back of a scrap of fabric from the inner of the notebook folder. I checked it was slightly bigger than the size of the quote I was going to use. Then I ironed the background and the quote onto the front right half of the denim outer piece of fabric, and applique stitched around both squares.

Then I followed my tutorial to construct the folder - missing out the decorative strip at the back and the flap with velcro for closing it.
I stitched on a button just to the right of the quote and centrally. 
 (the button was reclaimed from the shirt I cut up for the inner fabric).

For the pockets on the inside - you can adjust to fit any kind of pens, pencils, erasers and notebooks you have. Just lay them on top of the pockets and pin along where you want to stitch.

I had a pen, pencil and eraser to fit on the left. I also added one extra pencil pocket. On the right I put the notebook in and stitched down either side of it. It's also the right size for other small notebooks you can buy.

The idea is that these folders can be refilled with other pencils and notebooks over time as the others get used up.

For the fastening, I decided to make use of some elastic I'd reclaimed from an old pair of jeans from a previous project. It's the elastic you get in kids pants that you can adjust the waistband size with.

Perfect for closing these notebook folders. I simply stitched the elastic into the folder as I closed the final edge, then closed it by fastening onto the front button and trimmed the edge!

I'm really pleased with these little folders.

And I had fun choosing the quotes to put on them:

This is one of my favourites to tell my girls when they're grumpy about doing something they don't want to do!

From my clothes upcycling stash I used up a pair of blue jeans, a pair of stretchy red jeans, a pale green shirt, a pair of black trousers and a pair of camouflage shorts to make these folders. 
(the second pair of blue jeans and the beige skirt in the picture didn't get touched)

That fabric made 13 folders in all, 

and I still have some scraps left over - together with waistbands, pockets and zips that I'm sure can be used in future projects!

To see the other things I've made so far for the clothes upcycled school stall, go here.

To keep up with more of my clothes upcycling challenge this year and plenty more upcycling ideas and inspiration, I'd love if you followed me on Facebook



  1. These are awesome! I'm not very crafty, so I always admire those that are. I also love the idea that this craft reuses! I followed you on FB to see all of your other creations.


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