Opinions / recommendation; and a cute idea for students

I am interested in the grade school composition journal below for a birthday favor for DD2's B-day:

Mead Primary Journal Creative Story Tablet

They are $1.60 each at Shoplet, with free shipping on orders of $45.00. I discovered it at a local store for teachers where it costs $5.00. I would like my 7 year old daughter to practice her writing over the summer. She chose this notebook since she likes the unlined area for drawing at the top of each page. I bought her one and then I got the bright idea to embellish it with Hello Kitty Duck tape and use it as a party favor for a childrens B-Day party.

I don’t want to spend $5.00 a pop for the composition books, plus the cost of Duck tape, especially the more expensive trade marked "character" Duck tape. I did find it on Ebay where the cheapest vendor is selling a bundle of 7 for $21.00 with free shipping (which comes out to appx'ly $3.00 each). I scoured the internet and found Shoplet, with the above listing. For the fun of it I went back to Ebay to see if I'd missed a listing from them there. It looks like they are the vendor with the $21.00 price for the 7 item bundle. The fact that it works out to cost appx'ly twice as much probably says a lot about Ebay fees.

I did find a no name Mead type, college ruled, marbled composition journal at the local dollar store --and yes, they are $1.00 each-- but I think I've already been spoiled by the whole idea of a child being able to draw a picture at the top of each page. Of course you could do that with the lines but it's not quite the same thing. Also, the special lines (with the red dashes subdividing the fat lines) should make it easier for new writers.

For anyone interested in trying this, I should tell you that the black and white marbling on the classic black and white marbled journal cover does show through the white Hello Kitty background so I may wind up using the yellow and white marbled ones. Even if the yellow shows through it will go a little bit better with the pink.

I wish I had more time (and money) to play with this. I'd love to experiment with a slip pocket on the front and perhaps a pencil holder.

BTW, for the craftier types that have a hard time finding projects for the boys in their life, this could make a cute item for them as well. You can get Spider Man or Sponge Bob Duck tape at Walmart for $6.00.

The trade marked character tape seems a little steep. You can only cover 4 journals front and back with one roll --which comes in 10 yards rather than the usual amount of 20 yards-- or 7 journals if you only do the spine and the front. However, you can cut the cost by alternating with a solid color which costs about $1.00 less and has twice the yardage.

I have taped up one generic journal so far and took a little bit of a gamble in laying the pieces of tape side by side rather than overlapping them and it was surprisingly easy. As long as you don't press the Duck tape down, and you maintain minimal "contact" while placing the tape, I found that you can gently peel it back up and re-position it if necessary. Although that might depend upon how glossy the cover is.

Returning to my inquiry, I'd really appreciate any info on Shoplet. If they are the same vendor they are rated well on Ebay but I did google the search terms "Shoplet" and "Complaints" and did find some issues but I bet you could find complaints on almost any online company. Maybe the question I should be asking is how much it matters if they accept Pay Pal.

One other question for those of you with kids, how horrible would it be if I made half with the Mead journals and the other half with the no name and made educated guesses regarding: 1) which kids might need the special ruled paper and 2) which kids would actually use it?

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comp books


I could swear these were on our school supply list last year for first grade.. They were readily available in August at office supply places, walmart, and the like.

I see 'primary composition books' have the big lines for new writers..I guess a subset of those have unlined-over-lines layout.

You might consider getting wrapping paper and spray glue instead of duck tape. That might be cheaper as an embellishment for front and back covers, not sure.


Shris, Maybe I'm looking at


Maybe I'm looking at the wrong time of the year: back to school season would probably be better. I suppose I could put off looking until then since DD's B-Day is at the end of August. Until then I could play with some more prototypes using the ones readily available at the dollar store.

Thanks for the suggestion on a more affordable material but I'm pretty much committed to the Duck tape in large part because its popular with kids these days and it's a great way to make something that would otherwise be dry and academic fun. Plus, it's surprisingly easy to work with.


I think they sell this style at Staples for $1

I think if you go to the school/eduactional supply area, they have FLIMSY cover, blue-book type booklets. I think they have Kinder, first and second grade books: the lines and the drawing area gets smaller the older the child gets. I think they come in blue, red and green covers.
The only drawback is that the covers are PAPER. They might be more work, but you could cover them with cardstock, then add the duct tape. If you have cardstock lying around, you could 'hack' them for $1 each. You'd really save money, but you'd need extra time--a commodity it sounds like you have.
Keep us posted!

Ostrander, I did see those


I did see those composition books with the paper covers at Staples. However, in addition to being flimsy they have less paper; and I think they cost the same as the no-name classic version at the dollar store.

Also, although I am unemployed I am assisting my sister in the administration of my Dad's estate so I don't have a lot of time on my hands. Arguably I shouldn't have spent as much time and energy on this as I have already but it is giving me a creative outlet which I think is healthy. How often do you get to have fun with duct tape?


Compostition books

Funny you should bring this up. I recently decided that the calendar that works best for me is a Monday start monthly calendar made by Quo Vadis. It is the same size as a composition book, so I bought one to use as a data dump (capture or inbox). I found a pattern to make a fabric cover for it, with pockets on the inside for business cards and pens, and a pocket on the outside for papers. You can close it either with ribbon or with velcro. I am going to use ribbon because I hate to sew on velcro. If you sew, this would be a fun project, you could let your daughter pick the fabrics. Levenger makes composition books with a nice tooth paper.

rspoonbill, Sadly I do not


Sadly I do not sew. But that sounds like a lot of fun.


Do you remember where you

Do you remember where you found the pattern? I've found several, but none of them have extra pockets, inside or out.

Composition book cover pattern

I found it on the internet, made by Indygo Junction (googled the name of the company, then went through their patterns). The cover uses fusible fleece to stabilize and pad the cover,a separate lining, and shows different ways to add pockets and fasteners.

Indygo Junction pattern link and more!!

I found the Indygo Junction pattern and with a little googling I dug up some free instructions for similar covers, without the optional pockets. I also found a video with very basic instructions for a duct tape cover. The tween in the video used the same Hello Kitty tape that I did; however hers also has a velcro closure.

One of cloth cover instructions includes a good close up of a duct tape cover with overlapping strips of tape, which I successfully avoided. I think it was worth the extra effort. I'm not sure I would try doing the flower cut outs. Those look pretty labor intensive.

Indygo Junction - Composition Covers IJ882

Bloomin’ Workshop

Mommy Go Round - Composition Book Cover Tutorial {Get Your Cover On!}

You Tube - back to school- how to make a duct tape composition notebook

Tutorial: A super-simple way to cover a composition book



Thanks for the links. :)

No pattern, I just covered the front from top to bottom

The only one I've covered so far was pretty straightforward. I went from top to bottom and edge to edge.

I am looking forward to playing with it and trying to put a slip pocket on the front. Or possible making it a clutch with a pocket that has room to put more than a couple of pieces of paper in it ... with some sort of a shallow accordion pocket.


Okay, I guess I could wing it.

The patterns I've seen fall into several categories. Some simply use one layer and 'hem' all the edges, some use muslin or interfacing to make the cover sturdier/more opaque, but the ones I like best use two layers of clother and turn it inside out after sewing. Those look more 'finished', and it allows you to sew in an elastic loop to make a closure.

I guess it wouldn't be that hard to sew whatever pockets you want onto the outside cover before you sew it to the lining fabric. But getting the measurements and placement right might take some experimentation.


A pocket for a pen or two can be just a simple rectangle, but I think it might be easiest to make the extra external pocket for papers completely separately -- basically a pouch with it's own flap for closure, and then just top stitch that on three sides onto what will be become the outside front... Or will that seem too bulky?

Off to play.

BTW, I love composition books for 'idea' books. They are so non-intimidating! I feel free to scrawl down ideas without worrying about making them look neat or whether the idea turns out to be stupid or whatever. Hey, you only paid a buck for the book, it's not like a leather bound tome for the ages. :D


I agree--after dealing with a loss of a loved one, you HAVE to have a creative outlet. My thoughts go out to you and your family.
Not sure if you have a TJ Maxx store near you, but I saw some fun prints (feminine and masculine) at my local TJ Maxx. Maybe you'll have to shell out for the composition books but can save on the duct tape?


I've seen prints at Walmart, Target, Michael's, Home Depot, etc.

The girly prints include: Hello Kitty, pink polka dots, and surf flowers on blue background. Boy prints include yellow and red flames, Sponge Bob, Spiderman, Camouflage, etc.

What I would love to find is an unusual designer print for men in faux steel "diamond plate". It's made by a company called Platypus. I don't suppose you saw that at TJ Maxx?

There are a couple of TJ Maxxs and Marshalls near me. I'll have to check them out.

Man Prints !

Masculine Fabrics for Men - from Favorite Fabrics
Mr. Fixit Brown Pegboard by RJR Fabrics
Tossed US Coins Fabric by Kanvas of Benartex
...and others :)
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

Diamond Plate !


First link: Diamond Plate fabric by evenspor

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

Cool. I did find an online


I did find an online vendor with the Diamond Plate duct tape that I could pay for with Pay Pal.

Unfortunately it won't be here in time for the girls to give to DH for Father's Day, but I can tell him it's coming.


It the ebay source...

This one ?
(Third link on the list you get from that Google query :)

I know he will enjoy it whenever he "gets it" >:D
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

No I found then "lost" an Ebay listing for Dia Plate duct tape

Once I misplaced the Ebay listing I then had to scour the web for an online source that seemed to have secure encryption and that I could use Pay Pal with for additional peace of mind.

I tried to go directly to the source: Platypus / Designer Duct Tape or their sister site "Fortis Designs" but I had problems with the shopping cart at the first site and the browser didn't seem secure. The second site seemed secure and the price of the tape was the same but the shipping was more expensive. (It was free on the first site with the purchase of 5 rolls).


This - right ?


Shipping costs as much as a roll - ouch !

EDIT !!!

$8 per roll thru Amazon with Super Saver free shipping - that means spend $25. An acceptable condition to me.

AND !!!

List price is $7 per roll, but when i put 4 rolls in the cart and picked the cheapest shipping, the total was $24.48 (-3.32 for quantity discount)

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

I sent email to designerducttape.com and got an answer !

I asked:

Is Platypus Designer Duct Tape available in any retail stores in the Washington DC area ?

'cuz that's where I live.

And the response...

We are in most of the Toys R Us stores, but only about 6 patterns are represented. I don't have our independent retailer database with me this weekend, but can let you know on Monday.
It's an unlisted promotion, but if you buy 5 rolls of duct tape on our website, you get free shipping and it's only 1-3 day delivery.

Rob Jordan
Head Honcho

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

Ygor, I did just order some


I did just order some diamond plate as well as Designer Duct Tape's pirate motif and three Duck Tape designs from TapeBrothers.

I emailed Designer Duct Tape several times and Rob was very good about getting back to me. He did mention Toys R Us but I thought he said they only carried the Denim, otherwise I would have driven the 20 minute to the closest one, or given them a call. In any case, I'm guessing they don't carry the diamond plate.

If he does get back to you with a list of the other designs let me know.

Thanks for all of the input.


wallpaper bands or mural strips

Hi Cath,

I'm late, as ever, with this but... when you're wandering around the dollar store you could check and see if they have any wallpaper/contact strips with the characters you're interested in on them.

I've often seen remaindered wallpaper strips and dado rolls at our local discount shop. The ones I've seen are self-adhesive or just need dampening to stick, and are for a child's bedroom. The ones I saw were about 10 inches high and 4 yards long and could easily be used to cover a few books

Edit -
For example, here's an 18 foot long border for under $3 http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Anna-Krajewski-Noahs-Ark-Children...

The diamond plate duct tape has landed!!!

As expected, it didn't arrive until after Father's Day but my husband seems happy with the diamond plate duct tape.

Thanks for all the suggestions.


Pictures, please

A link to Flickr or something.
I'd like to see how it turned out.
Please ? :D

Woof! that was a nice run of postings! Thanks, folks, for the motivation.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson) ***

I'm way overdue to post a photo

If you can believe it, I've never posted a photo ... anywhere. I am way overdue.

DH takes most of the family pics with the digital camera and he uploads them onto the computer.

I did try the flickr thing once in an effort to collaborate with my sister on a family calendar for Christmas gifts but that didn't work out due to poor picture resolution. That was probably a couple of years ago. Would I be able to track that account down with my email address?

Or should I set up a new one using an internet pseudonym, perhaps a variation of my member name here?

Of course, I'd have to put a photo worthy prototype together first.

As always thanks for all of the input and encouragement.