NEW Sketchbook Cover For My Paris Sketchbook

5:35 AM

One of the cool things about planning out a trip to Paris so far in advance is that I have plenty of time to start playing with my sketchbook NOW rather than just before time to go. The image above shows my layout plans for my new sketchbook cover with the finished item at the top right.

I knew early on that I would be making a sketchbook to take to Paris as I wanted to play around with a variety of page configurations and I LOVE square format sketchbooks. I also wanted control over my paper choice. Using Moulin du Roy 140 lb. CP paper, I have already torn down four signatures of four pages each. The pages all have different folds and some of are different size though the overall size of the sketchbook pages is 5.75 x 5.5 inches. The cover is 6.25 x 6 inches...not quite square, but close enough!

The reason I make the sketchbook cover SEPARATE from the signatures is because I can easily take the pages or signatures in and out of the book. If I don't want to carry the entire sketchbook, I can remove a section. If—heaven forbid—I were to lose my sketchbook, there's a good chance I would not lose everything.

The other reason I like this layout is because it allows me to pull individual pages in and out to work on rather than try and rustle with a whole book. Once the signatures are bound, this won't be possible, but until they are it makes working much easier. The elastic loops securely hold the pages in place. Also, because I've been adding a lot of "extra" items (maps, stickers, stamps, ephemera, etc.) If the sketchbook gets too bulky to handle easily, I can slip a section out of the book.

Once my pages are complete (after I return from Paris), it may be that I didn't use all the pages/signatures I expected to. I can use these books in a different sketchbook. I have the option of binding the completed signatures into a more permanent cover (which is my plan) or I can continue to use the sketchbook cover you see in the images.

I used this system way back in 2014 on my trip to Acadia National Park and it worked tremendously well. You can see the leather cover I made for that trip here and read about it as well.

Leather vs. Material
When I started to plan out my journal cover, I was going to use leather and even made a leather cover. However, there are some advantages of using material over leather:

  • Pockets - It's pretty easy to sew a pocket onto a piece of material. Leather is a bit more challenging. The pocket allows me to carry a few pieces of ephemera, tracing paper, etc. and it's an excellent place to tuck items away until I can add glue them to the page. I only added one, but it would be fairly simple to add one to the front of the cover if you so chose. 
  • Pen Loop - You can buy a clip that has a pen loop to use with a leather cover, but they're metal and they add weight to the sketchbook. With the fabric, I incorporated a piece of elastic into the seam. The weight is negligible and it is more secure.
  • Speaking of Weight - Leather weighs substantially more than material and if I'm going to lug this sketchbook all over Paris along with my other art supplies and a cell phone and umbrella and so on, I want to stay as light as I possible can. By saving an ounce or two here and another over there, I'm saving my neck and shoulders a lot of stress and strain. 

How Did I Do It?
If you have basic sewing skills and a sewing machine, it's not hard to create a cover to your specifications. I read a lot of posts and watched a lot of videos on how to make a DIY fauxdori sketchbook cover, DIY Traveler's Notebook, and other combinations. There are a host of posts out there. Some of them do not require sewing.

Because I wanted a bit more structure to my sketchbook cover, I combined two ideas to make mine. You can see them here and here. I wanted a spine, but I wanted the soft flexibility of the DIY Traveler's Notebook cover.

The size, the number of signatures and so on are completely customizable so you can create a sketchbook that is uniquely your!

Are YOU Coming To Paris?!
Would you like to?! You know you want to! I am so looking forward to going to Paris. It's been a pleasure to start working on this project already. My sense of anticipation has already started to build as I learn and read and sketch. By the time I return home, I hope to have a sketchbook worthy of my experiences while I'm in the City of Light. I would LOVE to help you create a sketchbook that captures your love or travel and art into a sketchbook you'll cherish for years.

A small group of artists will be joining me and we'll be exploring Paris off the beaten path as well as some of the iconic sites. I will be providing spontaneous demos each day based on where we are and what we see. I will also be available to guide you and answer questions as you capture your memories and create a sketchbook like no other! I hope you'll come and join the fun! Come and check out all the details here and here.

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7 Creative Thought(s)

  1. All of my sketchbooks and travel books look so similar. I usually bind them before I leave and the get that well traveled look by the time I get home. I think I will try this on my next trip and see how I like it. Good luck on your trip to gay Paris. It will be a blast no doubt.

    1. I really like the flexibility you get with this kind of set up, Lisa, but the book doesn't have that tumbled-been-around-the-world look when you're done. Thanks for the lucky wishes!

  2. As I look at the top of your signatures I see that some are folded back upon themselves by a couple of inches. What is your reasoning for that?

    1. Good eye, Lisa! There are different size pages as well as different folds along the outside edges of the pages. This started because I didn't want to waste the paper. Due to the size, when I tore the pages down from a full size sheet I either had an extra piece of paper or a too-long page. So I decided to leave the paper long and then folded it back in. Then I started getting creative and made a gate fold on another page by simply moving the center fold. After that it wasn't much of a stretch to add a smaller page in that's half the size of the other pages.

      I did this when I went to Acadia and I loved having the different size pages to tuck little drawings and words on. I'm thinking I will be doing a lot of writing in Paris and that's what many of the smaller folded sheets and half pages are currently designated for. It may happen or they may come home covered with art or completely ignored.

  3. Dear Laure - the cover is just so lovely...It really makes your sketchbook sing. Thanks for sharing. May you find pages of inspiration in Paris. Hugs!

  4. I’m getting really serious about my Paris sketchbook and love this idea! Is your cover stable (hard) or is it flexible? I’ve looked at several tutorials and some use an old book. What did you use for the cover? Glad your post is detailed regarding the fold out pages and envelopes touch throughout. I can’t wait to get started on my sketchbook.


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