Van der Spek Nomad TN

It was back in October 2014 that along with Janet Carr, I visited the Van der Spek workshop in Puttershoek, a small town south of Rotterdam. Janet Carr and I spent 3-4 days together along with Petra Van der Spek and her family.

During our visit we talked endlessly about organisers and planners of all types, makes and sorts. Before our visit we had spoken with Petra about the idea of creating a Van der Spek Travellers Notebook cover, but in a design unique to Van der Spek.

Van der Spek are renowned in the planner community for their high quality products, their excellent and friendly customer service and their ability to produce more or less anything you want in leather.

We must not forget that Van der Spek have what must be the biggest choice in types and colours of leather that I have ever seen which they can use to produce custom made to order planners in their own workshop.

So Janet and I thought that creating a Travellers Notebook cover wouldn’t be too difficult. So sat around one of the large work benches last October, we started to sketch out ideas and discuss different options and possibilities. I mistakenly thought that during our visit we would only be discussing these ideas, but Petra’s father is a fast worker and started creating simple prototypes of our design ideas.

The first and second versions were just a simple single piece of leather for us to try out some different stringing options, things progressed to version 3, but by our second day of discussions and trial and error testing version 4 was quite a fancy design with pockets and credit card slots.

We went away quite excited at the possibilities. Christmas came and went and Petra was busy with expanding the range of ring bound organisers and creating a much improved website.

We then in April organised the first ever Van der Spek meet up, which included a workshop visit with demonstrations of how things are made. The small but excited group sadly didn’t include Janet, which was a shame, but she was there in spirit I know.

After a wonderful buffet lunch Petra gathered the group around and then she produced from a box three prototype Travellers Notebook covers in three different styles and types of leather, and the designs of the covers had different options too.

When I posted photos of these covers on to the Facebook groups, things went crazy, the Van der Spek group run by Janet, Susan and myself went in to melt down, this was the first that the group had seen of these covers, Janet and I had kept quiet about the work we had done in October !!! The group grew by about 200 people in the space of 24 hours!

The Nomad gained its name a month or so later and has now appeared on the Van der Spek website for people to order.

In the past Petra has kindly photographed in detail how they make their ring bound organisers and she offered to do the same for two Nomad TN covers she was going to make for Janet and I. You can see the multicolour design that Janet went for on her own blog here.

I will try to explain to the best of my knowledge the process and the order of operations that go to making a Nomad TN cover.

For this cover I opted for just the basic cover in the natural hide saddle leather known as ‘Janet Leather‘ but in olive green (107), other colours are available. The only option I added was an elasticated pen loop, but it is also possible to add a set of pockets on the front inside cover and/or a secretarial pocket on the inside back cover as well or instead of. This set of options gives you a lot of flexibility to tailor the cover to your needs perfectly.

To see the full range of leather options and colours please see the Van der Spek website. At present only the cover with all options appears on the website, this will change soon. But you can contact Petra to request a different configuration. Prices start from €85 for just the basic cover plus VAT (if applicable) and shipping.

As this is a very picture heavy post I have added a break point after the third photo, click see more to see them all.

The leather is selected using the frame for cutting


The same process is also done for the inside.







The outside and inside are cut and ready
The outside is larger than the inside.


Leather for the pen loop is cut out.




All the component parts are now ready for stitching


First the pen loop is stitched, we chose a golden brown thread.


The inside of the pen loop has a strip of elastic attached to it.


Completed pen loop.


The inside cover is cut to accept the pen loop.



The pen loop being stitched to the inside cover.





Bontex stiffener is glued to the inside front and back cover but the spine is left clear.
Bontex is thin and very flexible and helps to keep the cover in shape.




The bontex is now in place.


Using a small amount of glue the outside is attached to the inside.


The edges are folded over, known as ‘booked’


The corners are delicately shaped and folded.




A gentle tap to flatten the leather.



The edges are now stitched.



Working all around the circumference of the cover.







The finished cover is carefully aligned on a jig.


The specially made punch is then lined up.
And the holes for the elastics are punched through the layers of leather.


Eyelets are pushed through the holes.


This is the inside of the eyelets


A press is then used to flare the eyelets






This gives a neat finish, the eyelets make it easier to adjust the elastics.


The interior of the finished cover.


And the outside.




The configuration of the elastics gives four equal length elastics



Shown here with four regular size booklets.

The cover is being shipped to me and should be with me sometime this coming week. I will take some more photos once it has arrived.

I would like to thank Petra Van der Spek for all the photographs.

Don’t forget to visit Janet Carr, This Bug’s Life blog to see the companion cover to this one. And if you haven’t joined us on the Van der Spek Facebook group yet… click through and send a request to join and you will discover the whole world of Van der Spek organisers, Hobonichi covers, Nomad covers and anything else Van der Spek makes… it is quite a large range.

If you have any questions about the Van der Spek Nomad Travellers Notebook Cover, please leave them in the comments below.

Finally here is Petra’s video about the Noman TN cover: