Things to consider before making a Traveler’s Notebook

Hello everyone! I think it is fair enough to say that I have made a decent amount of traveler’s notebook in my life (check out my Traveler’s Notebook Collection video). Each time I made a traveler’s notebook I have learnt something new to improve my previous techniques. Ideally, you would like to craft a traveler’s notebook with very little time but also want a beautiful, finished product. It is okay to not make a perfect traveler’s notebook at your first try, but I can promise you that it gets better with practice. So, here are some things that I think you should consider, before making a traveler’s notebook.

Get proper cutting tools. I have tried a few options but the best one is a rotary cutter. It is easy to use and the sharpness cuts through any thickness of leather without struggle. Invest in a good rotary cutter. I bought mine from Amazon for £10.

Sharp blade means better protection. A craft cutting mat is a must! You do not want to damage any surface while cutting leathers. The cutting mat goes hand in hand with rotary cutter. They are your must have tools.

Make a cardboard template. If you have plans on making several traveler’s notebook then a template will make your life so much easier. Cutting the leather in a perfect dimension is desirable when making a traveler’s notebook because the mistakes are noticeable once you close the leather cover. To lessen your pain on measuring a perfect dimension each time, make a perfect template that you can use as a guide when making a traveler’s notebook. By using a template, you  save several minutes on measuring and cutting the leather.

Create a template on the computer. This is something that I have done recently. I do not trust myself to create a perfect cardboard template. Therefore, I have created a template on the computer with the dimension of a traveler’s notebook. I use it each time I want to make a traveler’s notebook. I simply print the template and cut my leather on the template as a guide. That simple! Let’s not forget that the dimension of each sides will be very accurate and straight because the template was made on the computer. Here is a picture of my pocket size traveler’s notebook template. Please note this is a picture of my template, not the actual template with dimensions.

My pocket size TN template.

Leather can shrink with water based dye. It is annoying but it is true. You have to keep in mind that if you are going to use a water based dye or paint (like acrylic paint) then your leather will shrink by 3-5mm. It is a very small amount of shrinkage but can be noticeable. You cannot prevent the shrinking but you can prepare for it! You simply have to add the 3-5mm length to your measurements before cutting the leather. Just to avoid all the fuss, I create my template on the computer with the additional 5mm on each side.

Round the corners. The traveler’s notebook looks professionally done with rounded corners. That is my personal opinion. I love to round my corners using a 5p coin. It always gives me a beautiful finish. If you do not like the radius of a 5p coin, then find something smaller to use as a template.

Glass nail file (optional). I have found that if I file the round corners with a glass nail file, then my corners looks and feels smooth. I also like to file the edges of my leather after I have cut it to size. You do not have to use a glass nail file. Any nail file will do. I happen to have some spare glass nail files that I bought from Primark for £1 and they are robust. I just love the feel of smooth surface once I have filed the edges down!

Decide on the holes. I do not like the strings to be very close to the edge of the leather. It causes the leather to buckle. It looks something like this:

The strings causing the leather cover to buckle at the spine area.

In order to avoid this, I like to place my holes 1cm below the edge of my leather.

Just like cutting the leather pieces straight, you must place the holes straight as well. Holes that are not aligned are very noticeable, once you put the strings through. To ensure that your holes are aligned, you can draw construction lines on your leather piece. Or, do as I do, draw the construction lines on the template that you have created on the computer. This way you have very little chance of messing it up!

We have come to the end of this article. I hope these few tips will help you to decide and make a perfect traveler’s notebook!

That is all folks! I bid you farewell!

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