diy wenesdays: matchbook notepads

for years now we’ve been making little notepads out of vintage matchbooks we find at local flea markets. they’re endlessly useful for jotting down notes, numbers, and various “to do’s”.  for this project we created a custom set to keep track of books, movies, and music we want to check out, but the best thing about these is you can make them in all shapes and sizes for whatever your needs may be. we also used our new favorite toy (a custom stamp set from the office supply store) to make a fun set of calling cards that we can tear out and give to new friends.

have fun!
derek & lauren

click here for the full project or just click “read more” below.

here’s what you’ll need:

-vintage matchbooks and/or card stock
-bone folder (optional)
-x-acto blade, metal straight edge, and cutting mat (or a papercutter with a perforating blade attachment) [like this one]
-staple remover (optional)
-custom stamp kit [like this one] (optional)

1. if you are creating a notepad out of a vintage matchbook, remove the matches by taking out the staple holding them in place. to make your own “matchbook” cut out a piece of card stock (about 4 1/4” x 1 1/2”) and use a bone folder to create creases for the top and bottom folds. The easiest way to do this is to line up your card stock with an actual matchbook of the same size and score your paper at the same points.

2. measure the area previously occupied by the matches and cut your pages to size. for added fanciness, and to make the pages easier to tear out, measure the depth of the bottom lip of the book and perforate your pages that distance from the bottom of you pages (approximately 1/2”). If you don’t have a perforator, you can achieve the same effect by running your paper through an unthreaded sewing machine.

3. stack the pages, and place them in the book. fold up the bottom lip and attach it all together with a staple (we found that our stapler could handle about 14 sheets of paper).

4. we labeled out notebooks using a fun custom stamp kit, but you can decorate them however you please.

  1. Laura says:

    what a great idea! i really like the calling card idea and the vintage look of the finshed product. excellent post!

  2. Holly B says:

    I’ve seen these before and loved them, and just made one up in like 10 minutes. Yay! It was a lot of fun…thanks!

  3. Sasha says:

    Fantastic idea. Helpful breakdown of steps too. Thank you for the pictures – much needed for the way I learn. Can’t wait to make my own set ASAP!!

  4. Anna says:

    This is brilliantly charming! Thank you.

  5. Daniella says:

    I absolutely love this idea! So many possibilities! Mini-zines! Love letters!
    Oh man, I am going to go matchbook CRAZY. Great idea.

  6. katie says:

    AH! perfect! I’ve been putting off business cards for a month+ and these are the perfect amount of function and fun!

  7. Elaine says:

    these are so fersh! <3

  8. This is a great idea! I just got a stamp set almost exactly like that and have been trying to think of ways to incorporate cute words… I’m definitely going to have to try this project.

  9. i love these! totally doing this.

  10. Patrick says:

    Being at work sucks the most when you find great ideas like this. Because now I sit here waiting to run home and make a few. Nice work

  11. Kristan says:

    Tiny, but charming! I think it’s particularly useful for little calling cards (or URL cards, as the case may be). Especially for artsy types (writers, musicians, designers) vs. business types.

  12. I second Kristan’s thought. Adorable.

  13. Erin says:

    These would make useful and charming wedding favors or very useful business card/swag.

    I’m going to make some of these…

  14. -m- says:

    this’ll make me think twice about discarding any old matchbooks!

  15. Laura says:

    DS does it again!! My last day at my present job is Friday and I’ve been trying to think of a handmade “little something” for all 12 people I work with, this couldn’t be more perfect for leaving my address et. al and a silly little message. TYTYTY!

  16. Allison says:

    great gift idea: make three to five of these little guys and put them in a cool box with a ribbon on top! thanks for the idea.

  17. ch says:

    You can buy little matchbook covers online from if you don’t want to fold your own. Would be an adorable wedding favor.

  18. Uh oh, another book to make! I love it, so cute with the stamp.

  19. LEAH says:

    this is too good! i have a giant bowl of matches that i collect from all over the place and have been looking for inspiration!

  20. MsChilePepper says:

    You could also use different-size paint chips for the cover of the “matchbook”, so you could have larger cards inside. A regular matchbook being rather teeny and all. I’ve seen people make similar needle-holders with paint chips, too. Super-cute, and uses something that would normally be thrown away.

  21. These are just so cute! Do you use up the matches first! My dad collected match books for decades. Do you think he’d kill me if I did this with them??! t.x

  22. Bonnie says:

    Just have to say what a joy this website is!
    It is so beautiful and inspirational! Thank you for putting all theses great ideas, fabulous pictures, and fun interviews.

  23. Male says:

    Hi!! great idea!!!
    I’d like to know where to get my stamp Kit!!! do you have any idea? thanx!

  24. Renee says:

    I love these! And the Cal-Neva matchbook is a gem. I can’t wait to make something beautiful to but my “to do” lists on– I typically use the backs of crumpled up receipts.

  25. Lyn says:

    I was so excited to see these great match books! I use the matchbook design for my thank you cards when one of my necklaces is purchased. The outside says thank you and the inside has jewelry care instructions and my business card fits inside perfectly!
    Great to know this timeless design can be reused again and again!

  26. Miki says:

    These are super cute! I’m always reaching for paper in my purse to make notes on and these will be great to have on hand. Much more fun than post-its!

  27. Holy Smokes! I love this…note to self…must buy stampset!!! This is something I’ll definitely use. Hopefully my beau won’t mind if I just lift a few of his found matchbooks.

  28. yellow owl says:

    yesssss. i just whipped out three of these bad boys with some scrap. l + d — you done did it again. amen tootie and billie, i am gonna make that letterstamp set mine. also a perforator. just trying to do my part for the economy and all..

  29. Anna says:

    thank you so much for this nice idea!!! my first book is just finished..:) it even fits in my small wallet..supercool..:)

  30. Larissa says:

    shazam! I really like this. thanks!

  31. f00 says:

    love this! made a version pasting washi paper on the outside of a matchbook and my mom loved it. thanks!

  32. Lisa says:

    these are adorable! i have a massive bowl of old matchbooks and boxes as a display in my lounge room – i can’t belive i never thought of making my own! totally going to use these as thankyou cards for my wedding, and possibly as business cards as well :)

  33. Kristen says:

    Oh, wow! What a great idea. I have a ton of matchbooks from my grandparents’ travels through the US and Canada and have been wondering what to do with them now that I’ve used all the matches. These notepads will make nice gifts for family members!

  34. Notepads says:

    Those are so adorable, I would totally stick some of them on my refrigerator too to keep track of stuff I need.

  35. Woo Hoo says:

    this is a brilliant idea!!! thx!!!

  36. I love, love, love this!!! Great Idea! Will definately do tons of them!

  37. Janitha says:

    I was looking for a template to make matchbook favors for a baby shower. I am going to decorate the outside with a cute babyish image and staple in a wrapped mint. And maybe put ‘thanks for sharing our excite-mint’

  38. Jaclyn says:

    Take a look at my Saltine Cracker Matchbook notepads.

  39. Shikisha says:

    For my matchbook covers I do calligraphy on them. Mainly because I make them not as notepads but as gifts for my partner, so inside they have coupons like “one luxury milk bath” as opposed to blank paper.

  40. Missy5ft2 says:

    Thanks for the reminder! I went through a matchbook phase back in the late 90’s and used to make a ton of books and notebooks. Now I carry little notebooks all the time for blog & crafting ideas – matchbook style is perfect to tuck in your pocket or purse and go!

  41. Ali says:

    Hmm is anyone else having problems with the pictures on this blog loading?
    I’m trying to figure out if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog.
    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Hi Ali

      I’m sorry to hear that- I haven’t heard from anyone else so maybe we can trouble shoot one on one? Just shoot me an email at designsponge at gmail dot con and we’ll figure it out :)


  42. doro K. says:

    very cool and easy project.

    I linked to your tutorial on my blog – thanks for sharing!

    doro K.


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