Cover your Moleskine in Brown Paper

(He’s kidding, right? He didn’t really cover his moleskine in ugly brown papeAUGGUGHHUH)

(..UGUGHAOMIGOD, he actually did. So gross.)

Ok. Did you hear the story about the reporter who interviewed Steve Jobs about the iPod, and Steve Jobs was outraged that the reporter’s iPod was in a protective neoprene case, which made it a) look ugly, and b) not gradually pick up that “scratched stainless steel” patina? Maybe this is like that. Maybe a brown paper bag is uglier than sleek faux-leather. Maybe a moleskine should look like it doesn’t often drink beer, but when it does…

Or maybe raw brown paper is DIY-chic. Maybe you can’t tell your moleskine from everybody else’s. Maybe your notebook already takes enough abuse. Maybe a brown paper cover is a good idea.

Whatever. I got the idea for this about a year ago, and did it just to see whether I could. (The moleskine elastic, as you’ll see, makes this a little trickier than your typical book covering.) I’ve done it several times, because I kind of like it. I finally googled today to see whether anyone else had instructions up for this, and was surprised I couldn’t find any. So here we go!


  • Your uncovered moleskine notebook. I’m using a large, but I’ve also done this with small ones.
  • A brown paper bag. For the large notebook, I’m using a bag that’s 7 1/16 x 4 1/2 x 13 3/4; for small notebooks, you can use something as small as a lunch bag.
  • scissors
  • a pen
  • packing tape (optional – just for reinforcing some weak joints)

The Easy Part – a pretty ordinary book covering

This part is just like the book coverings you maybe made in school.

Cut down the seam of the paper bag, and cut off the bottom, so you have a large sheet of brown paper.

Fold the top and bottom edges of the paper down, so the book is the same height as the paper.

The paper folds create a sleeve, and you want to be able to slide the front cover into it. In fact, slide the notebook’s front cover into it now, and fold it back, around the book. If it looks like this:

…then cut the extra paper, so it looks like this:

Where it gets different

That elastic is getting in the way, right? Unwrap the book a bit, we’re gonna use the scissors – but read through this part all the way before you start cutting.

If you measure, you’ll see that the elastic is 1/4″ wide, and 3/4″ from the edge of the book cover (sorry for the blue-and-purple):

The trick is to cut some of the paper off of the cover-flap, so the elastics can get out. In this picture, I marked the parts to cut out with a black marker (the green arrows):

Make sure you cut on the back flap, not on the back cover. For some reason, I always screw this up – I want to cut the back cover. Don’t do that. Cut the back flap.

Leave at least 1/4″ between the cut and the fold. I cut a trapezoid shape, which makes it a bit easier to put it together, but it’s not that important. Here’s how it should look when you’re done:

You don’t have to reinforce this section with packing tape, but I’d recommend it – with the larger notebook, the elastic jerks this part of the cover around a lot, and the packing tape will make it last a lot longer. Don’t forget to do the bottom half, too.

Take the whole cover off the book – it’s easiest to put the back cover on first. Slide it in, so the elastic pops out of the cuts you just made:

Ok, this is the tricky bit – getting the cover on, and the elastic arranged right. Close the front of the book under, so you’re still looking at the back side of it:

Fold the elastic around the spine (to the right, in the above picture), so it’s holding the book shut. Here’s a close-up of the top of the book:

The hard part’s done! Wrap the cover around the back of the book. Before you wrap it around the front, take the elastic off again – you’ll need to open the notebook to get the front of the cover on. Open the front cover of the notebook, and slide on the cover flap. Pop the elastic back on, and…

All done!

Side Benefits

Moleskines famously sport that back accordion pocket. Covering one in brown paper like this means you can add two more: