Moleskine Covers from Renaissance Art

I just posted about thinking about returning the Levenger Bomber Jacket and Cardinal refills that I bought as a birthday present for a friend.

I'm thinking the Moleskine Covers from Renaissance Art (link) might be the answer. I'm not a Moleskine fan myself, but I like that they are cheaper on a per page basis than the Levenger journals (said friend is a law student and money would be tight for refills since I don't think he'd take me up on my offer to supply him with as many refills as he'd like). Moleskines are also more readily available, especially good since there's no Levenger store where he lives (St. Paul).

Anyone have one of these and can speak to the quality? $30 for good leather quality seems too good to be true (or has Levenger completely brain washed me ;-). I'm sure plenty of people here use Moleskines for their journals - are you pleased with them?

Thanks for the help!

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I have the pocket size

It is a great cover. It was bigger then I expected but so far has been awesome. It is tough, and adds value to the Moleskine. The only problem I have had is that it is more difficult to access the pocket at the back of the notebook. Highly recommended.

Good to hear. I'm giving it

Good to hear. I'm giving it primarily as a journal cover so access to the back pocket might not be a big deal. Will really depend on how he ends up using it. Thanks!

Large version

I have a large moleskine cover with 3x5 card holders and really like it. I posted a review on the forums a little while back for it if you're interested.

If you're worried about refill costs though, they do versions of the 3x5 covers with composition books or spiral refills instead. They'll be a little bigger than the moleskine version so would probably a moleskine refill, but if your friend is stuck for cash, then a composition book can be had for a couple of dollars.
I just looked at the 3x5 cover and realized it costs quite a bit more than the plain moleskine cover you linked to above (the large 3x5 covers are closer to $100 than $30), so this might not be an ideal solution. However, you might be able to email them and explain your situation. Tell them you want a basic moleskine cover, but with the ability to take a cheaper 8.5x5.5 composition book. All of their covers are handmade as far as I know, so they may be able to accommodate you.

He's in law school so

He's in law school so hopefully the cost of the refill won't be an issue for much longer :-).

Thanks for the comment - I'll definitely look up your review. I think this sounds like a much better option for this birthday gift than the Levenger stuff I originally got him.

5.5X8.5 covers

Hi... I just joined this blog yesterday evening. It is my first post on any blog anywere so I hope this reply is helpful.

I have comments on 3 posts but will put them all in this one. Hope that is OK.

The 5.5X8.5 cover is available at Renaissance Art... it is just not apparent.

The cost for a simple cover is $28. If this is a good solution for you then this is what you can do.
Go to this link:
Select options and checkout. On the shipping page there is a Special Instructions box. Put in there that you would like the cover to fit a 5.5X8.5 spiral refill and it will get made. If you also put in there that you are the original poster for this on DIY Planner I will make sure to include, for free, one of our own 5.5X8.5 refills which uses the Arches Text Wove paper. The size is the same as the very inexpensive Robert Bateman 5.5X8.5 refill available at most art supply stores.

I think that 10 days for you to get something from us is quite a long time... actually, too long. Maybe it was during the holiday season but that is really not an excuse. Please go to the link above and email us with who you are. I will put a credit in your account for the shipping.

Re. the circa system... we are working on a modular system for those in the 8.5X11 size and the 5.5X8.5 size.

Hope this is helpful to all. By way of introduction, I am Arthur, the guy who started Renaissance Art on his kitchen table about 9 or 10 years ago. BTW... thank you all for your kind words about our stuff.


I just wanted to say welcome to diyplanner, and thanks for making great covers. :)


Welcome! Glad to have you

Welcome! Glad to have you here. I'll be emailing you directly via the company email address.

Welcome @artbeast

Welcome aboard Artbeast! Pleasure to have the person behind the most beautiful leather covers join this site!

Thanks for the great products!

nay nay


thank you all for your kind and welcoming words. I have to admit that my first post was quite a scary thing because I have never done any posting before and am unfamiliar with blog and forum posting etiquette. The people on here have it very easy to get over that.


Hi Arthur, Just wanted to

Hi Arthur,

Just wanted to chip in with my praise for your products. I will be ordering soon - once my boyfriend decides on which option he wants to go with for his moleskine journal. He actually ordered me the pocket-sized pouch in December. He talked to someone (probably you!) on the phone about adding a pen loop and he was really impressed with the follow-up. I love the pouch I have, it's beautiful and I take it everywhere.


Thank you. If he waits a few more days he will have more stuff to decide on.


Hahaha, now that I know

Hahaha, now that I know that, we will wait! I'm excited to see what you have up your sleeve.


Hey Arthur,

I've looked at your website and been captivated by your beautiful work.

I was wondering, though, is there any thought or plan to provide non-leather works from your company? I don't use leather (pesky vegan that I yam), but love well-crafted, hand-made articles.


used to do paper covers, now use 100+ year old damaged books

I have a good friend who is vegan. I made him a recycled book from an old book from Norway.

We used to do paper covers. It was so long ago. I laminated 3 sheets of colored handmade paper together, put another raggedly torn piece on the spine and then just sewed them up with the same paper we have now. Very time intensive making those covers. I still have some laying around... somewhere.

On a very limited basis I make recycled books from 100+ year old damaged/unrestorable books. I use the covers, title page if it is still there, and the spine.. if it is still there and then sew the hand torn paper of choice across the spine with 2 colors thread and 8 needles (4 straight and 4 curved). Because each book is a different size I need to make a separate paper tearing template and signature punching guide for each one. On a good day I can make one, start to finish, in about 4 hours. For the true DIYer I might do an instructional video series on making one of these and post it on our blog when we get that all set up.

I can use this same technique with any sort of cover though... cereal to cigar boxes or any set of book covers will do... or, I could just paste some paper on binders board and use that for covers. The old books just add a certain amount of Romance to the whole thing. A book I have chosen to make for myself in the future is titled The Traveler. It is about 150 years old, has red and blue marbled papers on the cover with a leather quarter binding and corners. Spine and title pages are intact so the spine will be made into a bookmark and the title page will be kept inside to remember this books origin. The rest of the book is either missing or messed up.

Seeing innowen's recent post made me remember all those colorful handmade papers I still have. If I photographed them, I wonder if anyone on this forum would like to have some... assuming they would be put to good use. I have not used them for many years and they must be feeling negleted and lonely.

Maybe some day I will work up the courage to create a new Giveaway topic... paper scraps, leather scraps, materials from the past... that sort of stuff. I am pretty new to all of this forum stuff.


Lovely work!

I would love to be your apprentice. I adore the idea of recycling unrecoverable old books - romance indeedy!

Thanks for the reply. I might try to talk you in to something one of these days if I can find an old book - or maybe get you to post that instructional vid.


Beautiful discoveries

Hi Arthur.
Thanks to this forum, I just discovered your site.
I, for one, would love to see how you do it. Bookbinding is an interest of mine that I keep meaning to try. I've done some minor repairs but have only begun reading on the topic. Your mention of colorful handmade papers brought great memories to mind of me and my sister making homemade paper one summer from the blooms of my grandfather's wild rosebushes. We made packs of the stuff for Christmas gifts and used it for years for letter writing.

Your papers sound beautiful - whether you give them away or not - there's always the options of either using them as memo pages or book marks. I tend to buy bags of cast-off art paper (by the pound) for just such applications. Thanks to your post I'm starting to think about binding some of them together. :)

Thanks for the inspiration.

Just a follow up...

I did end up ordering the Moleskine Journal cover from Renaissance Art. I am one seriously happy customer! It is beautiful! The leather is so nice and it fits the moleskine like a glove. I'm actually trying to decide if I want to have them custom make a cover for my Circa Agenda ;-).

The turn around time was very fast too. I think it shipped a day or two after I ordered it. This was especially surprising since I ordered it between Christmas and New Year's and I had it monogrammed. The shipping took about 10 calendar days though. I chose FedEx Residential Ground. I went with the cheapest shipping since I didn't need it until the end of January anyway, so still a respectable turn around time.


I just saw the one link to the site and started drooling! I can't wait to look though all it has to offer. What lovely things to add to my collection.