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Saturday, 31 January 2015

#NotJustAnotherNotebook - JANUARY ROUND-UP

Hello, lovelies.

As I type, it is trying to snow outside. We've been to swimming lessons, one girl has just gone off to gymnastics, and I am at home watching a bit of Gigglebiz with the other three girls. Yes, they are still young enough that they genuinely find Justin hilarious. Those of you without children will be blissfully unaware of what I am going on about. Needless to say, I feel I can multitask and write this at the same time as sitting with them.

So, one month in, I thought I'd give you a little round-up post of how #NotJustAnotherNotebook has been going.

To recap, I have set myself a personal sewing challenge to make notebooks to order throughout 2015 - with all the money (after minimal making costs) going to charities that support people who either have no clean water or no permanent roof over their heads.

This has gone so much better than I expected it to. A month ago, I was a bit nervous that I'd look an idiot, with no orders, other than one from my mum out of sympathy. At the time of writing, I have made 24 notebooks, with an order for another two received this morning. The total in the charity pot is already well over the half way mark of the original target I had set myself for the entire year. Woohoo!!!!

Here's what I've been making.


#1 was a gift for a friend's sister in law, Lou. #2 was ordered by my friend, Sue - she wanted a notebook to record happy things about family life in.

#3 was ordered by a lady moving home this year, so I appliqued a felt house onto the Joel Dewberry print I chose for her. #4 was for my friend Amanda - she has a crochet website (called Mad+ Threads), likes buttons, and reds, blacks and greys, and she gave me strict instructions to avoid anything twee. Message received and understood!

#5 and 6 were ordered by my friend Janet - the first is based on the logo of her swimming club, and the second was copied from a sketch drawn by her son, Izaak. He wins the prize for making me smile the most with his design requests. 

The next two were `in house' orders. My eldest daughter had asked me (quite a long time ago) for a special cover for her piano notebook, and came up with the design you see above. And, the same weekend, the five year old was going to a party of a friend from school - being in the zone of having big class parties, and not really knowing her school friends that well yet, I wanted to give something small and personal, that wouldn't just add to the pile of birthday stuff her mother would have to find room to house for after the party.

Orders #9 and 10 came together, from my pal Kally. The first was for her personal use - with instructions to use the colour purple and reflect her love of ice cream in ther design. I adore the vintage prints in this one - sent to me by my blogging friend Caroline. The other design was for her mother in law. No prizes for guessing her hobby is gardening!

My parents are big into model railways. They each have their own layouts, and often get asked to exhibit them. Notebook #11 was a special commission for the Coney Hill layout - I had to watch the quality of my stitching, knowing Mum would be checking it out!

The next few are all orders from friends. #12 was entirely my own design - bizaarely, I found this most difficult at first, as I had nothing to go on at all, and, like Mum, the friend in question sews. #13 is for Josie to record her half marathon training in.


#14 and 15 were ordered by a mum - one for her and one for her son. I loved her choice of wording on her son's notebook. 

#16 was another gift - I was pretty pleased to dig out this peacock print in response to the request for `peacock colours'. My friend Karen wanted a pretty piece of staionery to make her To Do lists look appealing. I'll let you know if #17 helped!

#18 is one of my favourites from the month. Made for my friend Clare, who is starting out in business. Someone else has pointed out you could rearrange the wording and send yourself a different message. I like Clare's choice of words, myself, and struggled a bit to hand this one over.

#19, 20 and 21 were ordered as future birthday gifts by friends from the baby music group I go to with Charlotte, The Frogs' Chorus. They'd given me guidelines on wording and colours.

The next pair were a good way to end the month - they came from a guy who heard about #NotJustAnotherNotebook through a link shared on Twitter (thanks, Janet!). One is for his wife - he provided me with a line from her favourite poem, and a request for autumnal colours. The second is a book for his 7 year old Harry Potter loving daughter.

I'll continue recording my progress on Twitter (@kitchentablesew) and Instagram (@notjustanothernotebook) - I'd love some more followers to help me spread the notebook love on social media, so please pop by and say `hello' if you are on those things.

#24 - I finished the month with one last self-funded commission, given as a gift for a friend.

In a week that commemorated 70 years since the liberation of Holocaust survivors from Nazi death camps, the words of one man called Max, interviewed on a programme on the BBC, inspired me. Asked how the harrowing experiences he went through in childhood had impacted his outlook on life, he replied, `I believe in kindness'. The way this old man had deliberately chosen to dwell on the glimmers of kindness he had seen in one German soldier, and, had consequently made the embodiment of kindness to be his one aim in life, seemed to me to have been a big factor in making him a happy man.

So, that's my month in notebooks.

It'll be interesting to see if this initial month turns out to be typical of the year. If I am to continue at this rate, I suspect I'll need to see a shift from the ratio of friends to strangers ordering.

The last month bought about a pleasing and rare thing. Having been sceptical over the idea and my initial pricing, my husband admitted he was wrong about something. I cannot remember his exact words, but it was something along the lines of `I may have been wrong about your notebooks. They have really taken off.'

He had been the reason I set my price at £10. My own instinct was £15, based on costs (£5) and time. From now, I'm going to charge £15.

To keep things nice and easy, and, to make sure the charities get a bit more money back from Gift Aid, I am asking people to make two payments - one to the charity website, and one to me to cover the making costs (I'd love to cover this myself, but, at the rate I am getting orders, it will end up making too much of a dent in my monthly budget).

If you'd like to order, here's what to do:

1. Donate £10 here - and remember to click Gift Aid.
2. Pay me through the Paypal button (below) to cover costs - £5 if collecting in person, £7 if you need me to post your notebook.


3. Email me with your design requests.


  1. Hey Janet - your growing collection of notebooks look amazing. I love how different each one looks and they fabrics you have used make each one special and unique.
    Glad you are still able to use the vintage scraps I sent.
    I still haven't finished my 1960's coat - it hasn't made it out of the bag since my last Sew Over It class in November - ooppps. Life seems to have got in the way quite a bit!
    Loved this re-capp - looking forward to the February round-up!

    1. Thanks, Caroline. I've been using more of the vintage scraps in my latest notebook makes. Progress on my coat is slow, too. Next winter, right?! x

  2. I love them all Janet! I've been thinking what I'd like my book to be for, and have decided it should be to record our adventures in our caravan. Design and words up to you. I've made my donation and will give you my £5 when I see you. Xx

  3. Oh my, you have been busy! Love how individual they all are, and so obviously tailored to the intended person.

    1. Thanks so much! I am loving the challenge of trying to come up with personal designs for each individual that orders.