Journalling 009 -- Project Outline

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I’m being naughty again today, and picking up a journal prompt that I’ve really fancied for a while, instead of moving forward linearly. The prompt is to identify a project that I want to complete with my hands, and detail the steps / resources / help I will need. I recently got into crafting things with my hands, in various shapes and forms. Nothing of particularly good quality, but being able to express my creativity with manual skills is nice.

I’ve had my eye on a project for a while, which I’d like to try and create a first iteration of for one of my closest friends, K. She shares a lot of the same aesthetics that I do around physical artefacts (ie a medieval fetish), and appreciates a good custom gift. What I’d like to do, is to make her a custom notebook and leather notebook cover, which she can swap out for notebook ‘refills’ at her leisure. Ideally, integrated into the cover, would be a small piece of carved bone that acts as a holder or clasp to close the notebook.

There are several reasons that this appeals to me. Primarily, it’s that I’ve always fancied working with leather and enjoy making things for K because she gets embarrassed that she’s “not as crafty as [I am]”. For transparency’s sake, I don’t count myself as crafty at all; just willing to get mucked in. I have close to zero technical skill in the materials department. The next reason, is that it’s a good opportunity to try out a project as there’s a deadline. If I don’t have a deadline, I won’t do it. I also like the idea of this being a mixed materials project, and if it goes right then I can also implement some stuff with bone and the laser cutter Finally, I love notebooks so this will let me play around with making custom stuff for them.


As with any project, the main steps involved will be Research, Design, Implement in an iterative cycle that will teach me what goes wrong. The lower level steps that I can foresee at the moment are:

  1. Research basic leather sewing skills, and notebook cover designs
  2. Research basic book-binding skills (already done kinda)
  3. Design the interior of the custom notebook
  4. Design the exterior of the custom notebook
  5. Fabricate the custom notebook
  6. Acquire leather for the exterior, and leather sewing kit
  7. Measure and cut leather based on dimensions of the custom notebook
  8. Sew leather in accordance to the pattern derived from the Research
  9. Attach leather cord so that the cover can close and cover the notebook
  10. Carve a basic bone “thingy” that is attached the chord and allows it to knot over itself
  11. Test some leather cutoff on the laser cutter
  12. Option 1 If laser cutter on leather works nicely, derive a small pattern from somewhere and implement on notebook cover
  13. Option 2 If laser cutter on leather is nasty, leave plain

I’m sure I will learn of more steps, and can break them down further, but that’s good for now.


Most of my resources will be raw materials and some tools I haven’t acquired.

For the notebook itself I will need

  • Paper of some sort, a high gsm will be nice, yet it remains to be seen whether K prefers lines/squared/plain/etc or a mixture.
  • Covering, likely a high gsm coloured paper or a cardboard sheet.
  • Staples, for binding. The notebook won’t be particularly dense. Considering that each sheet of A4/A5 paper gives 4 pages when folded (presuming both sides are used) then 25 pages gives a 100 notebook.
  • Printer, in case I decide to make a version of the notebook with prompts / reflections. And to print a custom cover design.
  • Design software, in case I decide to make the version with prompts etc. Likely Scribus and Inkscape.

For the leather cover I will need

  • Leather Sewing equipment. An awl and leather sewing needle, and sinew or fake sinew.
  • Scrap leather, to practice on (acquired)
  • Leather, for the final piece
  • Bone, for carving (acquired)
  • Bone carving equipment (acquired)
  • Leather cord, to wrap around the cover (acquired)
  • The lab’s laser cutter, to test with.


Most of my help will come from the internet, as I don’t particularly know anyone who’s quite into the same crafts that I am. I’ve already been reading about designs that I like. I think I have a design in my head that shouldn’t be overly complicated, and my inexperience can be passed off as giving the piece a “rugged” look.

That said, I will be asking around some of the makers and craftsy folk I know; mainly at work. Even if they’ve never done a similar project there might be a “Oh well leather has this weird characteristic that…” or equivical tidbit that I don’t want to miss out on.

Suppose I’ll try to update folk on my progress at some point. I really should start this.