How to Make Beautiful Midori-Style Traveler’s Notebooks

Craft & Design Paper Crafts
How to Make Beautiful Midori-Style Traveler’s Notebooks
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Hello. My name is Gareth Branwyn and I am a notebook addict. I have co-designed/edited several notebooks, including the Maker’s Notebook, have handmade my own, and have an embarrassingly large collection of commercial blank journals.

So, it’s no wonder that I loved Linn’s latest video on her Darbin Orvar channel. In it, she shows you how to make a Midori-style traveler’s notebook. This is a type of unbound journal system with a leather cover and the ability to easily add and remove signatures (bound subsections) of notebook pages and other organizing materials that simply slide under the elastic string holding the book together. An elastic tie fed through a hole in the cover’s spine holds the cover closed when not in use.


Most of what you need to build a project like this you likely already have on-hand: tools for cutting, folding, hole-punching, and a printer for creating your notebook pages. You will also need leather for the cover, thin card for the covers of the notebook signatures, and the paper for the notebook pages themselves. For Linn’s book, she added a pocket insert made of cloth. If you do one of these, you’ll also need a sewing machine and whatever fabric you wish to use.

midoribook_9The first thing Linn did was to cut the leather to size (she decided to make her books 215mm x 265mm) and then she punched five holes for the binding, threading elastic string into them to create the binding string and the loop closure for the cover.


midoribook_6With the cover ready to go, Linn then printed and cut the notebook covers and pages to size and then punched and threaded each of these signatures with string. She made three signatures in her book: one with blank paper, one lined, and one with gridded graph paper.

midoribook_2With the notebook cover and signatures complete, Linn decided to create another accessory for her book, a set of fabric pockets. The back of this insert sports a full-sized vertical pocket, while the front section has a series of smaller pockets for holding money, credit cards, business cards, etc. She made a flap to cover these front pockets so that the contents can’t fall out.

I am so inspired by this project that I’m thinking of making my own and making additional ones to give out as holiday gifts. There is so much customization potential here. You can print out whatever types of grids and guides that you want, design your own notebook and signature covers, add you own unique reference section; there are so many creative possibilities here.

Imagine how amazing one of these would look with your own design embossed or stamped onto the leather cover and the covers of the signatures — and whatever other custom touches and personal branding you wish to add. Also, if you make your cover the size of an existing Midori, you can buy their notebook inserts and other accessories. You can also find Midori-style covers online if you just want to create your own custom innards. There are so many options. I, for one, am already having a ball thinking through all of the possibilities for my own notebook design.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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