Or, rather, dilemmas…
Look at that cover. That's such a nice cover.
See that cord? That's all that holds everything together. I don't think it's really secure enough for a thicker notebook like a 1951. Also, the 'official' refills are usually only 64 sheets; the 1951 is 96 sheets.
If you can't read the text in the above images - Officeworks lists the 1951 as being 140mm wide x 210mm long x 10mm high. Milligram lists the Midori Traveler cover as 22cm long x 12cm wide - not the right size at all. And that price...yeah nah.
Add the USD$15.25 for shipping and covert, and this case is roughly AUD$70. Yeah, no.
This is definitely not for an adult.
That lock is nice, but yeesh, $55 and shipping! And I'm a bit wary of the company.
As always, when faced with a dilemma like this, the thought always occurs: ‘I’m going to have to make this myself, aren’t I?’
After seeing the Smiggle case, the first part of the solution seemed obvious: put the pen case and notebook cover together.
This was even more obvious after a quick test at home showed that my Kakuno, when capped, is the same length as the width of the A5 1951.
The Smiggle case is designed to fit one or two notebooks in its mesh pockets, plus having pockets in the blue insert for pens and such. If I orient the pen pockets the other way, I have room for elastic loops for a ruler and a mechanical pencil as well. I could hold the 1951 safely in the case with some bands of elastic.
Take a look at the Smiggle case again. It isn't clear in this view, but the blue section is only attached on its left side - it folds over as well, so there's also space underneath/behind it.
So, this was the design I sketched up.
Look, I'm not an artist.
I couldn’t figure out how I’d get the pens and the ink vials to fit, because it turns out that the 6ml vials Goulet Pens (and some others) use for ink samples are bigger than I thought. (Look, I’m bad at eyeballing things, ok.) I plan to do a moving centre panel like the Smiggle case, but the third section will have pockets for a bulb syringe, ink vials, and maybe some tissues or a suitable cloth.
So, I had the rough idea done. Seemed straightforward, right?
Haha. Hahahaha. Ha. No.
Yeah, funny story, turns out that fountain pens are slightly different sizes!
Top to bottom: Pilot Kakuno, Lamy Al-Star, Kaweco Perkeo. Their body diameters are 13.4mm, 12.8mm and 12.9mm respectively; the body length and total closed length are all slightly different too.
How to make the pockets the right size? I’m never going to remember which pen goes where, so I can’t make each pocket fit a specific pen’s diameter.
Easy answer. I took the largest-diameter pen from my wishlist, and used that as my template. The optimal pocket width is 14mm.
Not every fountain pen comes with a clip as standard. My Kakuno has a roll-stop bump, rather than a clip. Kaweco Sport pens have an optional clip that you (usually) purchase separately. Lamy pens are mixed on clips and not.
So, I couldn’t make the pockets too long, or I’d be unable to retrieve my clip-less pens. But if they were too short, the clip-less pens wouldn’t be secure. What do?!
Easy. I took the capped overall length, and subtracted the cap length to determine what the best option was. Too long, and I’d have to account for caps in the pocket width. Too short, and the pens would fall out.
I calculated the difference between cap length and total closed length, but then I remembered that the caps overlap the bodies a bit. I then tried calculating the cap length as a percentage of the total closed length. Most pens’ caps are around 40% of the total closed length, though the Kaweco Skyline and AL Sport caps are almost 70% of the total closed length.
Averaging the calculated values returns that the average cap is 48.5% of the pen’s total closed length; based on an average total closed length of 126.6mm, the optimal pocket depth is 66.1mm.
(Feel free to comment if you think my maths might be wrong though. I’m not always the best at it.)
So, after this, I tried arranging the items I wanted to carry in the case. Well. Turns out, I have to do a center panel, because it just won’t all fit. That’s fine, but…
Cardboard can fold, and loses all structural integrity when it gets wet. So my thought was, let’s cut up the cover of an old display folder, since it’s a fairly thin and flexible plastic but it is plastic. And I already have some I can use.
This is what I mean. I've also seen them called 'presentation folders' or 'portfolio display folders'; the official name is 'comb-bound folder'. They usually have clear plastic sleeve inserts.
But this led to…
How could I stitch the lining to the outer? Wouldn’t one or the other end up tearing? And, was there a way to secure the plastic stiffening without ruining the liner or outer? (Obviously, hot glue is out.)
After doing some searching, I found this blog post about installing an invisible zipper in a lined dress, which gives me a pretty good guideline. Now, obviously, the context is different, but the overall gist is the same - stitch the liner and outer to the zipper independently. I plan to use extra-strong thread as well, just in case.
Still doesn’t solve the issue of securing the stiffener during sewing though, but I’m sure I’ll figure something out.
So, the final design looks more like this.
Like I said, I'm not an artist. I didn't put the measurements on here, but I will in an update. I also haven't decided on the actual liner, or the outer material yet. The closure is going to be zipper plus two straps, and I want to make another version for SCA camps that looks more like a book or other period-appropriate accessory.
You may notice that there’s now two extra pen pockets. One of these will hold a mechanical pencil, and one will hold an extra pen with a ‘fun’ ink in it (because turns out I’m into those).
I mulled over the issues for several weeks, while the cotton drill I had originally bought to make a bike seat cover (I’ll explain in another post) gathered dust on a shelf. It wasn’t long ago, though, that I made the unpleasant discovery that I’m going through an ink cartridge or CON-40 converter’s worth of ink per week in my medium Kakuno. Suddenly, the two boxes of cartridges I bought with it seemed like a less sure supply. I had my ink samples, and eventually a bottle of Robert Oster Australian Sky Blue…but now I had to carry tissues and a flush bulb with me. The pencilcase I bought at the start of the year wasn’t going to fit everything anymore. I had to start leaving out most of the stuff I didn’t need (rollerballs for the BuJo colours other than blue, the stamps, the sticky flags) and I had nowhere else to put it.
So, I decided - I’ll just make the center panel to begin with, to hold my single current pen and the other bits and pieces. I’d figure out some way to carry an ink vial, pipette, tissues and flush bulb alongside.
The rest would have to wait.
Tune in next time for constructing the center panel!
As I plan to do with all of my craft/other process posts, I’ll update this post as I go with links to the other parts. Hopefully, they won’t be too far apart…
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