the foamdori

WARNING: image heavy post (and WordPress has decided to place some pictures in whatever position it likes!) Please use these instructions to make your own “dori” style planner for personal use only and not for commercial use (i.e. do not sell for profit).

As most of the readers out there know, I use the bullet journal system in a cheap Piccadilly journal. It was relatively inexpensive – AUS$12 to the AUS$32 Moleksine, which, in my opinion, has fallen off the high quality wagon anyway, so you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference these days. (As a side note, thanks again for visiting my bullet journal system post. I still get an average of 50 views a day since I posted it in January!)

A few years ago, I was mesmerised by the Midori Traveler’s Notebook (MTN for short) and went in search of stockists in Australia. There were a few vendors online (e.g. and Kinokuniya only stocked the refills, and the prices ranged from AUS$70-$110. I actually got to hold one of these damaged bad boys at Kinokuniya (it had a massive scratch mark across the front), and yes, I love the feel and smell of leather, and the craftspersonship was impeccable, but even when it was ‘damaged’ they were still selling it at full price (AUS$100 in 2012). I became disillusioned, and started looking at buying leather fabric and making my own version of it. Leather fabric is NOT cheap, and when you buy cheap, it’s CHEAP (and crap). Then I tried making it with different materials. The first one was just the recycled covers of old Moleskines, which ended up being too bulky and I thought, “I may as well be using a Moleksine!”. The second one was made of thick felt, and after nearly 2 months of use and being battered around in my bag, it started looking manky (pretty sure ‘manky’ is Aussie slang I’m using, right now), and it started to fall apart and pill at the edges. The colour also started to run after it had a brief encounter with an open water bottle in my bag. So I gave up!

Lately, however, I’ve reignited my obsession with MTN – I even joined a FB group! – and decided to experiment with more materials. There are online vendors who are making ‘fauxdori’ and selling them for a fraction of the price. Even so, I can’t afford AUS$50+ for, essentially, a piece of leather and some elastic – and yes, time and effort of these vendors to make them. I have a lot of respect for what you do, but the pragmatist in me just keeps reminding me of how simple it is to make. I’ve watched the YouTube videos of those who have made ‘fauxdori’ and they are a fantastic resource. But, as I was saying, this time around, I decided to make what I like to call the ‘foamdori’ (I’m sure someone has probably already made something similar and called it the same thing) and it cost me just under AUS$25.

photo 1

Below is a list of the materials I used with rough estimates of cost (in AUS$) and store location:

  • A4 size foam with adhesive backing (Riot Art and Craft stores) – $3.00
  • fat quarter spotted fabric (Big W) – $2.50
  • Sullivans 36 pack eyelets 5mm (Lincraft) – $6.25
  • black tube elastic (or hat elastic) (Coles) – $2.00
  • J. Burrows purple 3 pack notebooks (Officeworks) – $10.00

photo 2

Because this was, in fact, an experimental sample, I have no ‘how-to’ pictures to show you guys, just the finished product itself. Plus, it was a stinking, humid Brisbane day (32degC with 70% humidity), with no air-conditioning, and I’m pretty sure my work station was littered with various empty cold beverages. Hah. If you would like written instructions, comment below and I’ll post them up at a later date.

This is what it looks like inside with no notebooks:

photo 6

This is what it looks like with notebooks:

photo 4

I changed the threading configuration for the elastic. I know a lot of the videos I’ve watched use two different elastics – one for the insert and the other for the closing band. I used one for both. Basically, the threading comes out through the middle eyelet and closes the foamdori. It just means that once you’ve closed it, it actually also tightens the hold on the inserts inside. Once I figure out how to make videos, I’ll post up a quick demo.

This is the foamdori with two J. Burrows notebooks side by side:

photo 5

This is the bottom of the foamdori:

photo 3

Now, the real MTN uses rubber bands that you can purchase to hold more than one insert together. I had soooo much elastic left, I decided to cut out sections and tie them at the end. I kind of like how they turned out and it’s a nice embellishment to the finished product.

This is how it looks like when it’s closed:

photo 7

For the cover itself, I bascially stuck on the fat quarter to the adhesive foam and cut out, them measured where I wanted to place the 5 eyelets. Easy :) The only downside is that the product label for the adhesive foam was a b@#$h to peel off (see below next to elastic insert band), and it’s left a crappy mark on the inside of the back page. Also, I thought I wouldn’t like the fabric fraying so much, but it has grown on me. Just like the authentic MTN and fauxdori are meant to be imperfect, so is this little beauty.

photo 9


Other posts in the Decade Thirty Planning series: Bullet Journal System, Chronodex + Bullet Journal, Organisation Stations

9 thoughts on “the foamdori

  1. Pingback: Dori Roundup
    1. Hi Paula! Would love to see pics of it when you’ve finished but only if you want to share :)

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