Review: Kapdaa Offcuts Notebook

The folks at Kapdaa contacted me from India to offer a sample of a very cool concept: notebooks covered in leftover fabrics from clothing. An offcut is the material that remains after the clothing pattern has been cut out. Often it just goes to waste, but Kapdaa uses these remnants to make attractive cloth-bound journals (as well as other product like iPad sleeves and bookmarks). They have 3 lines, all hand-bound in India:

– Formal offcuts (such as Pinstripe suits offcuts);
– Casual offcuts (including Casual shirt offcuts); and
– Indian offcuts (Bright cheerful colour offcuts).

kapdaa notebook1

I received a 4×6″ lined journal. It’s covered in a dark navy pinstripe fabric with a pleasantly soft feel. The binding is nicely done, with tight squared corners and everything precisely aligned. I personally prefer rounded corners and less cover overhang, but others will like this just fine! kapdaa notebook8kapdaa notebook7

The endpapers are black, with some information about the company. I love the way black endpapers look, even if they aren’t very practical for being able to write your name! There is no ribbon marker, pocket, or elastic closure.

kapdaa notebook2kapdaa notebook4

The binding opens completely flat. The ruled lines are a medium grey, with a bit of extra space at the top. The paper feels very smooth. The cream color is just slightly cooler than the paper in Moleskine notebooks.

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All my usual pens worked well, with fountain pen ink looking a little lighter in color than in does on some paper. Show-through was average, and there was no bleed-through except with the Accu-liner and Super Sharpie.

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The company is still just getting off the ground, so there’s no retailers or pricing information yet, but you can follow their Facebook page for the latest news. If this early sample is any indication, I think they’ll be a nice addition to the many notebook brands in the market.

Questions From Readers

Our extended family of notebook fans are always passionately searching for the perfect notebook. I’m often stumped by the questions I receive, so once again, I’m crowd-sourcing the research!

From Q:

Hi, I was wondering if you know of any places selling clear plastic covers for Moleskine Cahier or Volant pocket-sized notebooks? I have a passport cover that will just fit the width, but the height is about 10mm taller than a passport, so the ends stick out.

I have seen places selling artsy covers for Cahiers, but I am looking for a clear one.


Tom asks:

Forty or fifty years ago, whenever I went into a five-and-dime or drugstore, there was a stationery department. In this department there were always the little 6-ring pocket size notebooks. Actually, they usually were in two sizes: those that took 3”x5” pages, and those that took 4”x6”. But there was another variation. Some had the rings on the long side of the notebook, and some had the rings on the short side (the top). Now I am lefthanded, so writing in a small notebook with rings on the left is very difficult, so I always preferred the top-bound small notebook. Unfortunately, I have not been able to find the top-bound 6-ring 3”x5” notebooks for at least thirty years, although the side-bound variety is still common. Nowadays, I am forced to use a spiral-bound (top-bound) pocket notebook, which is only marginally satisfactory for my purposes. My question is, do you know of any vendor anywhere in the world that still sells a notebook of the type I desire?


From James:

I’ve been reading Philip Hensher’s book The Missing Ink: The Lost Art of Handwriting. In the last chapter he alludes to a shop in Geneva that stocks his favourite notebooks but – provocatively – declines to mention the name because he claims the staff are so “up-themselves”. Here’s the footnote quote in full:

I have a succession of notebooks, each about the size of my palm, bound in bright leather so you can’t mislay them about the house, with the perfect addition of an elastic cloth strap to stop the pages from flapping open and, more usefully, allowing you to keep your pen and notebook together and not to have to go delving into your man-bag saying that you could have sworn you had a pen with you. The notebooks are Swedish in manufacturer, and I would tell you where I get them, but the shop in Geneva is staffed by such up-themselves shop assistants that I really don’t think I want to put any more custom their way. Still, their notebooks are gorgeous, well worth it if you find the shop through your own initiative” (page 255)

Well, my initiative is to contact you! Might make an interesting blog post. If you know the answers (shop & notebook) please let me know!

The store could be Brachard, which I only know of via this post at Palimpsest, but no Swedish brands are mentioned.  Rationella and Ordning and Reda are two Swedish brands I’ve heard of. A Rationella notebook is featured in this post.


Pauline is looking to purchase or trade for some limited-edition Field Notes. If you have them, email me and I’ll put you in touch with her:

I am desperately seeking the following and have had no luck whatsoever. I seek a set, a Tattly Hustle set and one sketchXchange notebook.


From Thomas:

I am looking for a sketchbook (no lines, dots, or grids) with the pages made from vellum.

From Jane:

Do you know of another notebook that is the same size and thickness of a Moleskine Volant Extra Small, but that doesn’t have perforated pages? I don’t mind if it’s a little thicker, but I know the Moleskine Volant Extra Small is hardback and too thick/clunky in my pocket.

The Moleskine Volant isn’t actually hardback, so I think she means the extra-small hardcover Moleskine notebooks, which do not have perforated pages. I believe Writersblok had some small notebooks similar to the softcover Volants, but they might have had perforations too. Clairefontaine has some smaller sized staple-bound notebooks that I don’t think have perforations.

From Levi:

I’m working doing some research for a feature film that takes place San Francisco in the starting in 1958 and spans 10 years. One of our characters is a reporter and we would like to have the perfect looking notebooks for him. we should be able to source or replicate the books but I am wondering if you could give us a suggestion as to what the perfect notebooks (he might have different ones throughout the film) would look like. (a photo would be amazing, a brand would also be a great help.)

I was born in 1968, so I only know what I’ve seen in movies and photos, and I think reporters seemed to have pads that were spiral-bound at the top. But I’ll bet some other readers might have more suggestions.

If you can help with any of these questions, please comment! Thanks as always.

Palimpsest’s Stationery Store Series

The blogger at Palimpsest does us all a great service with a fantastic series of posts about favorite stationery shops around the world, mostly in Europe. Each is well-documented with photos:

Evripidis in Athens, Greece:

Pen to Paper in Brighton, UK:

I love visiting stationery shops when I travel. Even though the major brands like Moleskine and Clairefontaine are globally ubiquitous, there are always some local gems that you won’t see just anywhere. I’d love to compile a list of the best places to buy notebooks in countries around the world– please share your favorites in the comments!

Moleskine Monday: Valerie’s Journal Pages

I love the way Valerie Sjodin is using her squared Moleskine to create beautifully decorated journal pages. So much color and texture. And it’s part of a great project– a journal with a page devoted to each letter of the alphabet as a prompt for exploring different aspects of the journaler’s life and personality.


See more at visual blessings: X-Y-Z Moleskine Journal Pages.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Wandeka

This week’s addict was blogging about a list of things she wanted to do before her 31st birthday. Among them:

#14. Join a STATIONERY ADDICTS support group.

Here’s her story about why:

I have come to terms with the fact I have not yet outgrown the childhood nickname “Paper freak” – dubbed so by my loving siblings….

My parents knew they could get my heart racing by tossing me a legal pad or even those blank pads without the cover that serve as quick “phone-message-takers.” Birthdays were easy for them. No need to think about dolls or such (though I got one of those too occasionally), coloring books were fine, but it was the journals that made me so excited I could jump out of my skin. They once told me they caught me sleepwalking and they said I kept stooping to scoop up some imaginary thing and then walk back upstairs to bed and I don’t remember the dream but I can bet good money, I was cradling my paper.

Once, one of my sisters got me a simple one with a brown cover and a lock on my thirteenth birthday and the way I acted, one would think it was lined in gold. Then, another year as an adult, another sister gave me a more grown up version. It was a hand-made hardcover journal with sewn tan pages held together by bamboo! It was an absolute beauty but I knew she got some sick pleasure in watching a grown woman act like a lunatic over a dead tree.

That was when my journal collecting began in earnest….

Read more at Days 3 and 4 – Buy Just ONE LAST Journal (#13) Join A Stationery Addicts Support Group (#14) | 31 Days to Age 31.  She also has a post about art journaling, and
you can see more of Wandeka’s artwork at

Happy belated 31st birthday, Wandeka! Welcome to your support group!

Sketchbook Art

Another great compilation of sketchbook art: 50 Beautiful Sketchbook Drawings for Inspiration.
Below are a couple of my favorites.

By Sophie Henson:

By Kristopher Bernard A. Garcia

Lost Notebook Becomes a Book

This is a cute story:


Earlier this year, Lisa Rao, an editor at Simon & Schuster, saw a segment on Good Morning America moments before she walked into an editorial meeting.

“I had my iPad and pulled up the clip and told them, ‘You have to watch this,’ ” Rao recalled about a story that involved a Walmart employee in suburban Sacramento, Calif., who found a spiral-bound notebook that contained 157 rules handwritten in a childlike scrawl. The book had nothing in it to identify the owner; Raymond Flores, a Walmart associate charged with corralling shopping carts, had found it in the parking lot. But he flipped through it and decided it could not have been discarded intentionally after reading rule no. 154: “Protect this rule book.”

So Flores, 20, posted a photo of the book on his Facebook page, hoping to reunite book and author. No luck. Then he contacted the local Fox TV affiliate. That story got picked up nationally.

By the time Rao and the rest of the S&S editorial team watched the GMA report, one thing was abundantly clear. “Our publisher, Valerie [Garfield], said immediately: ‘We must find the owner!’ ” And when Rao did, she offered the – co-authors, it turns out – a contract. And this October Simon & Schuster will publish Isabelle and Isabella’s Book of Rules, a jacketed hardcover in a “gifty” trim size, written by Isabelle Busath, age 10, and Isabella Thordsen, age 8, with illustrations by Priscilla Burris.

Read more at Lost and Bound: A Misplaced Notebook Finds a Publisher.

Below is a sample spread from the book, which comes out in October 2013.


Lost and Bound: A Misplaced Notebook Finds a Publisher


Available for preorder on Amazon: Isabelle and Isabella’s Little Book of Rules

An Unusual-Looking Notebook

The Tumblr site Things Organized Neatly is often a good place to spot notebooks. When people lay out the stuff that’s in their bag or on their desk, a notebook is often included, though usually they are recognizably Moleskines without any distinguishing wear and tear.
This entry does seem to feature a Moleskine (upper right corner), but it also has a very intriguing notebook in the middle of the page.

With an orange ribbon marker and orange elastic closure, I’m guessing it’s a Rhodia Webnotebook, but the outside of the notebook has either been painted white or there’s some paper glued on. It looks like it might have a student’s weekly class schedule on it.

notebook webbie w schedle
Whatever it is, I like the looks of it.

Notebook Addict of the Week: Ruth Ayres

This week’s addict was another one found via the wonderful Sharing Our Notebooks site. I just couldn’t resist this photo!

Going through my notebooks, I find a driving force in my life is asking questions. It’s a strategy I’ve returned to across time and genre. Check out these notebooks…see the sticky tabs? They mark the pages where I’m asking questions. Questions are one of the lifelines to keeping my notebooks alive.

About Ruth:

Ruth Ayres’s mission is to change the world through story. Ruth’s story. Your story. His story and her story. She does this in her professional life as a K-12 writing coach for Wawasee School District, a presenter about teaching writers, and a blogger at Two Writing Teachers. She does this as a writer, playing with many writing projects, and on her blog Ruth Ayres Writes. She does this as a person in  ordinary life, collecting words and photos in order to remember the tiny moments that add up to big living. All of this leads to lots of notebooks filling up the spaces of her life.

Read the full post for more of Ruth’s insights about how she uses notebooks as part of her writing process:
Sharing Our Notebooks: Ruth Ayres: Fierce Wonderings.

Check out Ruth’s book too: Day by Day: Refining Writing Workshop Through 180 Days of Reflective Practice

From the Mailbag

A few quick links from my overflowing email inbox– thank you to all the readers who submit tips and new product news!

Suede-covered notebooks by ORCA.

Leather notepad holders by Tusked Crescent

Make your own Midori Traveler’s Notebook inserts

K&Company Smash Notebooks

Fabrice’s Notebook Art

Walt Whitman’s Pocket Notebook

The Hobonichi Techo Planner:

Online stationery boutique Inkthistle

First Page Last: 18 Journals. 30 Years. (2013-1983) A Serial Blog.

Good Nature Notes

The Inspiration Pad:








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