Inserts: A Comprehensive Guide

You finally managed to select a TN cover and size. Now what? 

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There are so many types of inserts out there, that it can feel like you are drowning in a literal sea of them at times. It can be overwhelming.

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Never fear! The Comprehensive Guide is here! 

This guide will talk about some of the most popular brands of inserts out there, plus sizes, where to buy and how to make your own.

Sizes

  • Micro or A7
  • Passport
  • Field Note or Pocket
  • A6
  • Personal
  • B6 Slim
  • B6
  • Standard
  • Wide
  • A5
  • Composition/Portfolio
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Brands

There are several brands out there that have notebooks in the sizes illustrated above that can be used in your traveler's notebook covers. All can be found online and some local stores carry some of the brands discussed below.

Midori & Midori MD

The Midori brand is synonymous with traveler's notebooks as the original maker of the leather cover/elastic notebook system we have grown to know and love. Because so many new TN makers and companies began popping up over time, the word "midori" was being used to describe TNs in general, which caused confusion in the planner/TN community. Other words and phrases began popping up as well, such as "fauxdori." Midori ended up changing the TN company's name to Traveler's Notebook Company. Their inserts seem to still sell under the Midori name, and their paper quality is among the best out there. Their inserts are stapled.

They offer TN inserts in passport and standard size and their Midori MD books in A6, B6 Slim and A5. Paper ranges from blank, to lined, to graph and they even have printed planner inserts available with calendars and week on two page spreads. Their inserts are very affordable and can be purchased in certain local stationary stores where available, as well as online via various sellers/retailers such as Amazon.

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Moleskine

Moleskine offers softcover and hardcovers notebooks in pocket size, large cahier and extra large. Their softcovers are available in packs of 2 or 3 and their paper is available in blank, lined and graph. Their paper quality is decent and their spines are stitched.

Their large cahier inserts fit Wide sized TNs beautifully. They also offer planner books that contain the whole year.

Locally, Moleskines are available in Barnes & Noble stores, stationary stores and Target. Online you can find them via several retailers, including Amazon.

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Field Notes

These pocket-sized notebooks come in packs of 3, and paper quality is decent for the price. They are available in blank, graph and lined. Field Notes also releases colorful limited edition packs every year and many are highly sought after. They are sold in local stationary stores and many online retailers, including Amazon.

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Stalogy

These notebooks are thick, with hundreds of pages of thin graph paper. Many enjoy using these as journals, bullet journals, planners and brain dumping. Amazon usually has them in stock, but they do sell out from time to time with a couple of weeks wait time in between restocking. Stalogy books are a bit pricey, but with the number of pages they provide, they will last quite a long time. Their books are available in different colors and range in size from A6 to A5 and possibly larger.

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Muji

Muji is a Japanese brand. Their notebooks can be purchased off of their online store, Amazon and local stationary stores that carry the brand. In stores, their notebooks are very inexpensive. Online, via Amazon, their bound books come in packs of 3 or more for $5 and up. They offer a variety of sizes and their paper quality is decent, available in blank, grid or lined.

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Hobonichi

Another Japanese brand, Hobonichi is known for their planners that come in B6 Slim, A6 and A5. They use Tomoe River Paper, which is very thin, and their pages have grid lines, monthly calendars and daily pages for planning, as well as weekly spreads. They are quite popular for planning, art and journaling. You can purchase them off of their website, Amazon and other online retailers.

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Stillman & Birn

Stillman & Birn sketchbooks are my personal favorite brand of sketchbook. Their books are available in hard and soft cover and they are categorized into a series of paper types- some best for wet media, inks and water colors, while others are better for dry media. Having recently launched beige, grey and black paper books, they offer a wide range of options for artists and their books come in a variety of sizes, including pocket and wide/A5 sized. Their soft cover books are excellent for artists who love to draw and sketch in their TN on the go or at home. Stillman & Birn books are available on Amazon, Dick Blick stores and website, Hobby Lobby and other local art supply and stationary stores.

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Miscellaneous Inserts

Aside from all of the above-mentioned options, you can also find a whole world of inserts on Etsy. There are many Etsy shops that specialize in planner inserts and accessories of all sizes and types and you can even purchase downloadable files for you to print the inserts out yourself at home and reuse them as often as you need, which is usually the more affordable option. You can also find various notebooks in local stores that might fit your TN cover.

Making Your Own

Last, but not least, you can always make your own inserts. You can literally use any paper you want and you only need a few tools to make them. You can find several tutorials on Youtube, as well as step-by-step guides on blogs and Pinterest.


We sincerely hope this guide has been of some help to you. If you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me using the contact form on our website or leave a comment down below. I usually respond in 24-48 hours. 

Front Pocket vs. No Front Pocket

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A default design feature of many Speckled Fawns notebooks is the external pocket. We have recently added the option to choose whether or not you want a front pocket to our listings. While the front pocket (both sideways and upright) can be very functional/useful, we understand that it is not a feature everyone wants for their ideal TN.

Not sure what you would use the external front pocket for? We've put together a list of ideas for you down below:

 

How To Use Your External Pocket:

  • to store receipts
  • cell phone pocket (depending on the size of the TN)
  • pocket for your ID/debit card/credit card (depending on the size of the TN)
  • pen pocket (depending on the size of the TN)
  • sticker storage pocket
  • to carry a tea bag on the go
  • to carry a packet of aspirin or other medication on the go
  • cash pocket
  • to store your keys 
  • to store your bus/parking pass
  • lip gloss/mascara/eye liner pencil pocket (depending on the size of the TN)
  • paint brush pocket (depending on the size of your TN)

 

External pockets can be sideways or upright. Upright pockets work better for pens, brushes and other similar tools, but both orientations are equally visually appealing.

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We'd love to hear how you use your external pockets. Got a unique use for them not listed here? 

Selecting the Right Traveler's Notebook For You

Traveler's notebooks have been around for a few years now and they are quite useful in a variety of ways. They can be used for planning, journaling, art, memory-keeping, notes, and so much more.

It can be tricky to navigate the sea of size options, spine widths and leather types, but here at Speckled Fawns, we are happy to assist in any way we can with all of your questions regarding sizing, inserts, add-ons and more to make sure that the notebook you choose is the right fit for you. Below is an in-depth guide with tips and information to help you make an informed decision.

Quick Lingo Guide:

  • TN= Traveler's Notebook (a cover that uses elastics to hold inserts; covers are typically made from leather, but many artisans in the TN community offer covers made from textiles, vinyl and paper)
  • FN= Field Note (referring to size, also known as pocket size)
  • A6; A5; B6; Micro; Passport; B6 Slim; Pocket; Standard= names of sizes
  • brain dump= A brain dump (sometimes spelled braindump, or brain-dump) is a complete transfer of accessible knowledge about a particular subject from your brain to some other storage medium, such as paper or your computer's hard drive. [taken from whatis.com]
  • inserts= the booklets/notebooks you use inside of your leather cover
  • patina= darkening effect that happens to leather over time due to age, use, handling, exposure to light, etc.

Let's start with purpose:

The first step to selecting a notebook is deciding what will you be using the notebook for. There are countless ways to use a TN. Below is a short list of what a TN can be used for:

  • planning
  • journaling
  • sketchbook
  • brain dump
  • notes for work
  • notes for school
  • memory keeping/scrap booking
  • recipes
  • habit tracker
  • fitness and health log
  • record keeping (finances, savings, etc.)

Choosing a Size

Next in the process, you will need to select the size that will work best for you. Speckled Fawns offers a wide selection of TN sizes. The most important thing to keep in mind for this step is to ask yourself, "Will I be carrying my TN around with me on a regular basis?" If the answer is yes, ask yourself "how much weight am I willing to support in my bag?" Larger sizes are great because your inserts will have so much more room for you to write, but they can weigh quite a bit, especially if you intend to stuff your notebook. Smaller sizes are perfectly portable, though can still weigh a lot depending on the type of leather and how stuffed the notebook becomes, but smaller pages also mean less room.

It all boils down to your needs. Do you write small or large? Do you intend to doodle in your book or take lots of notes? Will the TN sit mainly on a desk at home? Make a list of your needs and how you intend to use your TN to help you decide on a size. Our Leather 101 page has our sizing chart- click here.

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Sizes We Currently Offer:

  • Micro
  • Passport
  • Field Note
  • A6
  • Personal
  • B6 Slim
  • B6
  • Standard
  • Standard Wide
  • Standard Extra Wide
  • A5
  • Composition

One-inch spines are standard and have 4 inner elastics. Our 1.5-inch spines have 6 elastics and 2-inch spines have 8 elastics. Wider spines allow for more inserts to be added, and many people enjoy the look of "chunky" notebooks. Spines can also be reinforced for additional support, which comes in handy if you plan to use thicker books inside of your cover.

Inserts & Accessories

When you choose a size, the very next thing you should do is research which types of inserts and accessories are readily available for you to purchase for your TN. There are countless vendors on the internet that sell inserts of all sizes and types, from blank to custom-printed layouts for planning, journaling, etc. You can find inserts on Etsy, Amazon, Jetpens.com, Baum Kuchen and many other online retailers. Locally, Target and Barnes and Noble carry books that fit some TN sizes and you can even print or make your own inserts at home using a printer, paper cutter and stapler. Pinterest has tons of ideas for inserts, layouts, notebook setups and links to blogs with free printables. Accessories include zip pouches, laminated dashboards and all manner of stationary offerings and solutions, also available from the above-mentioned retailers and sites. 

Choosing a Leather

This is perhaps the hardest part of the selection process. Everyone has different preferences for everything, including leather types, textures and colors. Some prefer smooth leathers while others love pebbly textures. What do you like? Whenever you have been out shopping and have seen/touched leather goods, what types did you like/dislike? That same assessment should be applied to your TN. The factors you need to consider when selecting a leather are as follows:

  • texture (smooth or pebbly/wrinkly, etc.)
  • color
  • thickness
  • firm vs. pliable vs. floppy
  • how the leather wears with time and use
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All leathers age and handle wear and tear differently. Some are tougher than others and can handle being tossed around without earning any scratches or markings. Some leathers "bruise like a peach" and the slightest touch can leave permanent marks/scratches. If you do not think you would enjoy a leather that "tells its story" with use, then stick to tougher leathers that are scratch resistant. Plus, some leathers are very rustic in nature and have a variety of scars, scratches and other marks such as bug bites, all of which are natural.

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Research

Once you know what you want in terms of size and leather type, it's time to do some research. When surfing our website to pick a notebook, use the checklist below:

  1. Which photos really grab your attention? What is it about that particular notebook design/leather that you like?
  2. Does the texture/color appeal to you?
  3. Read the description carefully to learn about the type of leather and the design's default features. Our listings detail what each notebook already comes with and which features you can add for an additional fee. Add-ons include pen loops, rivets, etc.
  4. Which add-on features would you want for your notebook? Pen loops are a must for some and rivets are decorative and add a charming flair.
  5. If the notebook you admire has an external pocket, which orientation appeals to you most- sideways or upright? How would you use the external pocket? Or do you prefer no external pocket?
  6. Check to see if the item is a ready-to-ship notebook or a made-to-order notebook. RTS TNs will ship within 1-2 business days, while made-to-order notebooks typically take 4 weeks. You are able to fully customize made-to-order items down to the stitching and elastic colors.
  7. Pop over to our Facebook page (here) and request membership if you haven't already. Our group page is a wonderful community of helpful Fawn TN owners who are always willing to offer photos, advice and evaluations of our leathers and designs to help others make informed decisions. Plus, our group photo albums have hundreds, if not thousands, of photos posted by our members showing off our designs and leathers from every angle and action shots of the notebooks in use. This type of research makes a world of difference when selecting a TN since you get to see the leathers in all sorts of lighting, environments, on-the-go and how they age.
  8. Message Annie (me! ^__^ ), our Senior Customer Experience Analyst, with any questions you may have about the leathers and designs you are interested in. 

Preparing to Make a Purchase

Take a moment to review Speckled Fawns' policies before you make your purchase. Our policies detail how we handle returns, exchanges, order changes and cancellations. It's important to know a company's policies before you make a purchase so that everyone is on the same page before a transaction is completed. Also be sure to read our Leather 101 page to get a better understanding about natural leather markings and scars. It's important to keep in mind that natural markings are not considered defects.

Last, but not least, it's time to add what you want to your cart and check out! Make sure you carefully read each of the options on the listing drop down menus and double check everything before you check out to make sure you have selected the right size(s), color(s), etc. and don't forget to make sure you have added all of the add-ons you want for your notebook(s).

We hope this guide has helped you in your quest to select the perfect TN for you. As always, please don't hesitate to e-mail us should you have any questions about anything.

Talk to you all soon! 

 

Boho Caddy Craze

We here at Speckled Fawns love to innovate, experiment and play, and I feel that our latest creations really speak to that. We want to offer products that are not only visually appealing, but functional/useful as well.

Chances are, if you are into traveler's notebooks, planners and journals, you also love stationary, pens, etc. Sometimes, it can be tough to keep those various items organized on your desk or work space. We've come up with a snazzy solution that we think you will love.

Introducing our Boho Caddies! Currently available in 5 lovely textiles with our Premium Kodiak leather making up the rim. These are sturdy and stylish and can stand on their own to keep your pens, stickers, notebooks and other goods in one place. Contain the chaos with a caddy!

They are available with or without a leather handle. Currently available in our Etsy shop at speckledfawns.etsy.com.

 

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In Love with Toasted Flan

We are having a love affair with our beautiful Toasted Flan leather. So much so that we have released a whole line of gorgeous bags and storage solutions for your everyday essentials, as well as travel needs.

These lovelies are currently listed in our Etsy shop and will soon be migrated to this new website. For now you can find them on speckledfawns.etsy.com.

 

 Toasted Flan Lunchbox Tote

Toasted Flan Lunchbox Tote

 Toasted Flan Toiletry Satchels

Toasted Flan Toiletry Satchels

 Toasted Flan Messenger Bag

Toasted Flan Messenger Bag