Oct 12, 20164318 views

The Case for Custom Covers

Some time ago I bought a set of the SUCK UK A5 Tab Notebooks on a whim. I liked the idea, the tabs, the color-coding, and the threaded binding. But there were two problems with them:
  1. Fountain-pen performance was awful, and
  2. I couldn't figure out a meaningful way to use them?
FP performance was not an issue as I had made up my mind they would make a great gift for my mom (she prefers ballpoint), provided I could figure out a way to utilize them.
The most obvious answer would be a Midori-like solution, but I doubted that the end result would perform as hoped and that it would look at all presentable. Still, I could not shake the idea. So I left a comment with a pic of the Suck UK for @AllegoryGoods on a discussion board of one of their drops. Chad replied that they love custom projects like this, and so a few months, and many emails later, what you see in these photos was the outcome.

Now, what I paid for the cover is significantly more than what a typical A5 leather cover retails for. However, this is a one-off, made-to-order, custom cover; hand made in the USA. And I believe the cost was justified. Especially seeing how well Allegory made it work. It feels like a single solid piece, not a loose mess. The mounting setup works so well you'd think the notebooks were fused to the spine. All 'notetabs' open flat and writing on any page of any of them is as easy as on a conventional notebook.

Moreover, in an earlier post I lamented the lack of reasonable options for those interested in a B5 cover. And while I am very happy to see Massdrop and AllegoryGoods come through for us,
I needed one three months ago. Again my best option was to have some covers made to order, and since my wife is never wrong, I went shopping on (ehem) Etsy.
I ended up with a paper-on-fabric cover from Bulgaria for my Apica Premium CDs,

a fabric cover from Poland for my Stalogy,

And a leather cover from Ukraine for my Book of Ra.

All of them were made to order blindly on provided measurements alone. And yet, all of them fit nicely, though the leather cover is a bit on the snug side. Even more impressive than the fit, were the prices; the fabric covers were both under $30 and the Leather cover about $40. Prices include delivery to the States.
Though fabric has its advantages, the blue leather cover is my favorite. Nevertheless, I will still join the the B5 Allegory drop, despite the difference in price. Because, lets face it, I got lucky with the fit and I do want another leather cover for my Apicas.

Would you invest in a custom cover? Do you think it is worth the risk? Or the money?
I would argue, regardless whether you go the more expensive but safer route with local artisans, or a more affordable albeit riskier overseas option, that having a cover made to order is a more rewarding experience, and well worth the money, the risk or the time.
Have you had a cover made to order? Would you care to share your experience with us?

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I bought a custom cover for my planner binder a while back. ($50?) But, I ended up ditching that system for the dokibook not a year after. I still love that cover, though. Because you can use binders for a ton of things, I still get to see it. I also have several leather covers for sketchbooks and notebooks. (Between $50 and $75)

To me, custom covers are never worth the price unless they can be 'refilled' with new blanks. If the can be refilled, totally worth it.
No one's asked the crude question yet, so I will. :) How much was it, if you don't mind me asking...
Let's just say similar to what you'd expect to pay for a custom key cap set ;)
More than a CRKT, less than a Ferrum Forge...
More than what I paid for the other three combined.
One-off items such as this are difficult to put a price tag on. The process itself detracts from their value... you simply cannot.... $175. I paid $175 ... for the Allegory that is.
The paper/fabric cover was $25,
the fabric was $27,
and the blue leather was $38.
All prices include shipping from Bulgaria, Poland and Ukraine, respectively.
That's actually a pretty good price for a custom leather piece like this. Congrats on such a beautiful piece. Thanks! :)
That allegory case is almost exactly what I'm looking for. Does any one know where to buy one?
This cover was made for me to order by @AllegoryGoods. It's a custom one-off piece.
I think your only option would be to contact Allegory Goods and have one made according to your specifications. They love custom projects.
I have tried to find these three vendors on Etsy without success. Can you be of help? What category did you use to find them? Thanks ..
Just search for their shop names:
Love this. Yes, I'd risk
The custom leather cover with the green thread looks wonderful. I'd love one of those in A5. It appeals to me as it lays flat compared to my Filofax Holborn.
I am a huge fan of custom covers, though am uncomfortable about leather (am vegetarian). I
love the one you had made from Bulgaria. Could you post links to the etsy companies you used?
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I wouldn't do them the disservice of calling them companies :), but here they are:
--the paper-on-fabric cover from Bulgaria by ChippokeNeshta
--the fabric cover from Poland by bycubalibre (not a typo), and
--the leather cover from Ukraine by InCarne
Thank you!
I bought a leather cover for smaller notebooks (like Field Notes) off of Etsy and it has served me well. I must admit I have used it less and less to reduce "bulk" in my everyday bag. I usually just care a Field Notes for work stuff and a Life Vermillion for personal stuff.
@Theroc - They all look great! Thanks for sharing the photos.
As for the "Case for Custom Covers" I see many covers out there. I often find one or two things that I'd add or eliminate. It worked well to design one with the features I wanted. Luckily, I have someone who was able to sew some covers and pen rolls. They certainly have been useful.
Like many, I love the leather cover. Really, there is no comparison to a leather product. The look, feel, durability and of course that nice leather scent :) Can't beat the real deal. Unfortunately, yes the prices are a big part of the decision. Well, I should say, for myself anyway.
I haven't looked at the B5 drop yet - I will do so. Still debating making the 8.5"x11" for the bagasse I use most often for everyday höpö höpö and ink play :) Thanks ! Off to check out the drop !
I love the photo. Are the inserts part of the product as well, or did they supply the notebook(s) as well as the cover? Are the inserts fountain pen friendly? Thank you.
@wa9xwa9x - The photos were shared by @Theroc - They are cases he had made. I think they all look great and functional. You'll have to ask him about who/where he had them made. I believe he said he designed them... and I think his design has features I'd look for, and not over the top with "things' that get in the way. They are perfectly minimal and not too cumbersome to be useful.
It often surprises me when I see mass produced items that "just miss the mark" and either miss the things needed or add more than what makes an item useful or add extras that make an item more complicated than functional.
Often they are out of reach, price wise, for an average consumer like myself. Not that I believe they are not worth the MSRP. For example, I'd gladly spend that amount on someone else, as a gift fot, but wouldn't spend it on myself.
Foolish as that sounds, I am happy with the covers a friend sewed for me :) Life is what we make it and if we make it work.. it's all good :)
All three look really nice.
Would I risk? I probably would if I'd seen there work online prior.
As for price, hell, the fake leather Life covers are $34. I think they all look well worth the price you paid.
Thanks for the write-up.
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