Mini Review: DIY Notebook—Moleskine Cahier Style

21 03 2012

WEEP, MOLESKINE! YOUR REIGN OF TYRANNY IS AT AN END! ... oh who am I kidding, millions of people will still buy Cahiers anyway.

I love the Moleskine Cahier, but for all the wrong reasons. Let me explain. The Moleskine Cahier plain notebook contains what is by and far literally THE WORST PAPER I have ever encountered in my life. The only thing worse would be newsprint, or napkins. Used receipts would be a step up. And that terrible paper is why I love it. I use these notebooks for pencil sketches, and since the paper is so shoddy I’m not inhibited by the art-blocking psychological worry of wasting good paper. I end up drawing more, being more loose and creative, and I make better drawings as a result. I also like that the notebook is thin, so it has a low profile when I carry it in my already notebook-laden bag (what’s the point of leaving the house, really, if you don’t have at least ten notebooks with you?). Now, I like this notebook, but I’m not insane. I’m not going to pay top dollar for a product that I value CHIEFLY BECAUSE IT IS SO HORRIBLY CONSTRUCTED. I might as well staple five dollar bills together, draw on them, and throw them out the window. But, my friends, these are simple notebooks. After a bit of Googling I settled on this tutorial, and got to work on making a proof-of-concept prototype.

Bound left-handed-ways. Also, if you don't know Blenheim's Ginger Ale, it is the best ginger ale in the world. Period. Exclamation point. Semicolon; no exceptions.

Since I was using thin weeny repair-kit thread, I doubled it up. The tutorial said not to, but I like living dangerously

Then I made another prototype when I was bored at work (there’s often a lot of downtime) and realized I still had my needles and thread with me. I had just finished a delightful box of Triscuits, and it served me well in my boredom-fueled-craftmaking.

Delicious notebook

Cut the corners off Battlestar Galactica style, cause I'm cool like that. Also because I didn't have a corner rounder at the time.

Concept proven. Buying actual supplies was now justified. My local pen store had a 100-page pack of typewriter paper for $1.00 that was almost an exact replica of the thin, cheap Cahier paper. An additional 99 cents (plus tax) at the A.C. Moore scored me a 22in. x 28in. piece of black posterboard, and for 39 cents each I picked up five different colors of thread. Additional expenses include: $1.69 for another needle (pack of needles) (the ones I had were either too small or too big), $3.59 for a corner rounder (thank you 40%-off coupon), and $2.39 for super glue (couldn’t find any around the house). I already had a large needle that I used in place of an awl, and an X-acto knife for cutting the board and trimming the paper edges. Time took maybe a couple of hours? I’m not sure; I love doing stuff like this so I didn’t time it. End result:

It looks just like a real notebook!

Gotta be reppin' some turquoise

WITH POCKET, BOOYAH. Also note that this notebook is left-handed bound.

Materials expense per notebook: 20 pages ($0.20), maybe three feet of thread (comes to about $0.05 worth of thread), 8.5in x 15.25in of posterboard (about $0.21 worth of posterboard), and a wee bit of super glue (we’ll be generous and say that it was maybe $0.20 worth of glue) = $0.66 per notebook
Plus tools investment: Needles, corner rounder, superglue: $7.67
Total cost for making a set of 3 notebooks, including tools: $9.65

And now I’ll never have to buy another Moleskine Cahier again. :D