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DIY Midori Style Traveler's Notebook

A Midori style traveler's notebook is a great project - it's simple to make, and you can use whatever material you have on hand. I love the flexibility of this system, and the fact that you can keep several different books within one cover. In this Instructable, I'm going to go over making the leather cover, the paper notebooks and a fabric insert with some pockets that can hold cards, receipts, money or whatever.

The Cover — Notebooks

To create this, you'll need:

  • Leather
  • Cutting mat
  • Square ruler
  • Cutter
  • Small hole puncher
  • Mallet
  • Elastic band
  • Marking pencils
  • Small ruler
  • Razor blade

First of all, let's pick some leather. I'm working with three different kinds here - dark brown which is more like the traditional Midori style, lighter brown and veg tanned. A medium thick leather, about 3-4 oz weight is great. You can either find this at the leather store, however they also sell small pieces at the craft store which would work great.

Cutting & Punching

Now, measure out and cut the leather — I made mine 215 mm x 265 mm. I'm using a rotary cutter, however you could also use a regular razor blade or scissors.

Next, I fold the leather in half, and mark out places for the holes, right in the middle. In total I made five holes. Using a hole punch will ensure the holes are cleaner.

Elastic Band

For the elastic band, I got a good arm's length, and cut that to size.

Now, this is how I do this. I first fold the band in half and insert it in the middle of the book, leaving a loop on the other side. Then I pull each side through the holes like so. Make sure the loop in the back is still there, Then I insert a book and tie it tight. Of course this is easy to adjust to make it tighter or looser.

Paper Notebooks

Of course you need notebooks inside, so let's make a couple!

You'll need:

  • Hardstock for the covers
  • Paper
  • Paper cutter
  • Large paper clips
  • Mallet
  • Awl
  • Thread
  • Needle
  • Razor blade

I decided to make three books — one blank, one lined and one graph paper. I'm printing the lined and graph on both sides on thin 20 lb ivory paper, and using thicker 24 lb cotton paper for the blank book, for sketching.

Folding the Paper

Making notebooks is super simple — I fold the paper in half. Then I arrange them in bunches of three.

Next, is cutting the paper to size, I chose to make my books 118 x 24 mm. It's a lot easier to cut this to size with a good paper cutter. Once everything is cut — insert paper and hardstock, it's time to bind. I'm using 12 sheets for my notebooks.


So arranging with paper clips. Marking out where the holes should go. And this is what I do. And then punching through with an awl.

Finally sewing the books together. I like to start in the middle, go to one side, go down and overlap.


Lastly, I trim the edge, by putting a ruler down and lightly scoring a bunch of times with a razor blade. The trick is to have a sharp blade and not push too hard, just do it over and over until the paper is all cut.

And then you're ready to put the books in the Midori. And to put additional books in, I simply tie another elastic band through two books. Then those two books can slip underneath the middle book, and it's all held in place.

Fabric Insert With Pockets

Now I love the idea of a system! So I decided to make a little extra insert that could work as a wallet, or just a pocket system for cards or whatever. To do this, I first measured out some canvas the same size as one of the notebooks. I cut out smaller sections as well, one larger piece for each side, and shorter sections for smaller pockets.


Then I sewed the pieces together. So a pocket section for one side with places for cards, and a blank pocket on the other side. Then I connected the two side sections to the middle piece, and sewed around the edges, leaving the pockets facing inwards open. I also added a little flap over the cards so nothing would fall out. And then that slips in to the Midori book really easily, and you can use these pockets for receipts, money, your phone or whatever.

Conclusion — Watch the Video!

So, as you can see, this system is really very simple, and I love how you can have several books in one cover like this, and switch them out as you need it. I also think a little insert like this is kind of cool and makes it even more functional, and I've been keeping receipts in here when traveling, and it's just nice to have some extra pockets.

I made my notebooks a touch wider than the traditional style Midori notebooks because personally I like that size better. But of course, this is the beauty of DIY, you can make it whatever size you'd like, and I can still fit Midori notebooks that you buy in here as well. Now there really isn't much to this system, which is why it's so great to make yourself. And of course you could either add to your existing system by making additional notebooks, or a new cover to your existing books, or you can start a brand new system.

For a much better perspective, make sure to watch the video to get a much better perspective on all the steps!


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