How to make a Traveler’s Notebook
A traveler’s notebook is simply a leather book-like cover that holds several notebooks with elastic bands. They originally came about as a way for busy people on the go to have a place to jot down their thoughts and keep them safe.
Picture this, have you ever written down a grocery list or a list of things to do and forgotten what you did with the list? Or maybe you’re a sticky note champ, with stacks of sticky note slips piled high with things you need to remember.
What is a traveler’s notebook and why is it so amazing?
With a traveler’s notebook, you can keep all of those ‘don’t forget to’ notes together in one place. All together in one notebook that travels with you wherever you go. No more getting to the grocery store and realizing that you left your list at home.
A traveler’s notebook isn’t just for grocery lists and things-to-do though. Use it as your overall planner and record keeper. Each elastic band can hold three notebooks so you can carry several different planners with you. From a health journal to a food diary to a business planner and many in between, your traveler’s notebook is as unique as you are.
Finished measurements for this traveler’s notebook is 5” x 7”.
- A sheet of tooling leather – anywhere from 1.8mm to 3.6mm thick and at least 10” x 7”.
- 5mm Elastic Cord
- Rotary cutter
- Leather hole punch
- Corner rounder
- Exacto knife
- Trimming and scoring board – similar to this
- Scoring stylus
TIP: For the notebook cover, use leather that is at least 1.8mm to 2.0mm thickness. It will give you a good notebook with a soft leather feel and it works up nicely.
Here’s a link on Amazon.
Leather that is 3.2mm – 3.6mm is thick and makes a wonderful notebook.
You can also find decorative leather sheets at Michael’s.
Or you can use decorative faux leather sheets like these.
Just pay attention to the layout of the design. You’re going to fold the leather in half lengthwise, so notice how the pattern is going to look. Some designs will end up sideways rather than right side up.
Also, these designer faux leather sheets are not very thick, so you’ll want to get maybe a contrasting design or solid color to stitch to the inside giving your book a more rigid feel.
We’re going to make a 5” x 7” notebook.
TIP: Traveler’s notebooks come in many different sizes. The size you make will ultimately depend on the size that you want and the size of the leather that you purchase.
Using the rotary cutter and cutting mat, cut your leather to 10” x 7”. Round the corners at ½” using the corner rounder. This may not cut all the way through so carefully use the exacto knife to finish trimming the corners.
If you are using the designer faux leather, cut two and stitch together. Then round the corners at ½”.
Let’s make a paper template to use for marking the leather and where to punch our holes. Cut a sheet of cardstock to 10” x 7” and round the corners at ½”.
Score the short side at 3 ½”. Score the long side at 4 ½”, 4 ¾”, 5”, 5 ¼” and 5 ½”.
TIP: The scoring marks will depend on the size of the notebook you are making. You first want to find the exact center of your book for placing the hole that will hold the closing strap, so you’ll score in the center on the short side and the center of the long side. For this book, the center of the short side is 3 ½” and the center of the long side is 5”. The other score lines on the long side are placed at ¼” apart, two on each side of the center, giving you a 1” spine for your notebook.
On the long sides (top and bottom) of your template and at ¼” in from the edge, punch three 1/8” holes on the three center score lines.
Now where the two center score lines meet, using an awl, poke a hole in the center of the template.
Using this template, punch the holes into your leather.
Cut a piece of elastic cord at 11” and tie a knot in the ends (together) as close to the end as you can.
Push the looped end of this cord through the center hole in your leather, from the inside to the outside. You may have to use the awl to get the cord through the hole. Pull the cord tight so that the knotted end is up tight against the inside of your notebook.
This is the strap that is going to keep your book closed.
Cut another piece of elastic cord at about 36”. This piece is going to be weaved back and forth in the 6 holes you made at the top and bottom of your book. This is what is going to hold your planner inserts in your book.
Thread one end of the cord up through the center hole of the top of your book (from the outside to the inside) and pull down to the center about 4 inches.
Take the other end of the cord and thread up through the left side hole of the top and pull all the way through.
Continue to work with this end of the cord and thread down through the bottom left hole, from inside book to outside and pull snug. Thread back up through the center hole on the bottom from the outside to the inside.
Thread down through the center hole at top of book, from inside to outside. You will have to hold the other end of the cord, that is already in this hole, out of the way. Pull snug.
Thread up, from outside to inside, through the hole on the top right. Thread down through the bottom hole on the right and pull snug.
Hold the center cord out of the way and thread up through the center, bottom hole.
TIP: You want this cord snug but not too tight or it’ll bend and crease your notebook.
Now tie a couple of knots with the two ends, pulling the knot tightly so that it does not come undone.
Your traveler’s notebook is now finished and ready to fill with planner inserts.
You can find planner inserts on Creative Fabrica or make your own. What kind of planners will you fill your notebook with?