If you are looking for this post to answer the question “What is the ultimate Bullet Journal” you will be disappointed. I don’t think that there is one as we each use our journals in unique ways. Though I stand open to correct this statement as I think the Archer and Olive journals are pretty close and I’ll let you know as soon as I put mine through its paces.
As soon as you start looking at different price points and then the materials that you plan to use within your journal it becomes hard to recommend one that will suit all so for today I’m sharing the notebooks that I found to be great and the reasons why.
*Please note that this post does use some affiliate links.
Leuchtturn 1917 notebooks are the notebook of choice for a lot of Bullet Journalists. Mine was a gift from a friend and I loved it. I had the ruled notebook instead of the dot grid but at the time I was writing more than I was drawing so it was perfect. This notebook has a lot of quality features like:
- 2 ribbons
- Index pages
- inside pocket
- numbered pages
- elastic closure
I have used calligraphy pens and inks and I have had some bleed through, also I’ve used stamps and carried out swatch tests and again there was some bleed through. If I wanted to just write and folow the rapid logging, this is a good notebook for it but as I want to sketch and have a lot more art in my journals I had to move away. I also wasn’t a fan of the hardcover but to each their own.
The paper is silky smooth and is a joy to write in. It is also cream/off white which I prefer. The notebooks come in a wider range of both colours and paper options( dot grid, square, lined). This notebook is in my list because this is the notebook that taught me about the luxury of quality materials and that if I love the experience of writing in my journal, I am much more likely to keep using it and create a new habit. This is also the notebook that led to my washi collection, ahem.
If you want a full detailed review of this notebook then head on over to the Little Coffee Fox and watch her put it through testing and use.
I absolutely adored my Lemome Dream Tree notebook. Mine was a dot grid notebook and the dots are spaced 0.5mm apart on archival quality paper (roughly 100 -120gsm). The cover is a grey suede and is flexible and warm which I absolutely. While Lemome say there is no bleed through this wasn’t the case with either of my brush pen sets. This paper also does not take watercolour well or even the watercolour pencil from Faber Castell that I got away with using in other notebooks with less thick paper.
When I say that this was the clincher for me it really was. This was the only reason I chose to switch notebooks. I loved this journal so much I agonised for weeks over swapping but in the end, I did. If watercolour really isn’t a big deal for you this would be my notebook of choice. It was beautiful to use with ink, though with a little bleeding in the heaviest of cases, it was enjoyable to write in. The pages are cream/off white which may bother some people/instagramers. The best thing about Lemome is the price. At around 10 Euro/9 Pounds it really has some of the best quality paper around.
I have a weakness for tonal paper and this is a beautiful sketchbook. The paper quality is good but it doesn’t feel like the 120 gsm it is. I’ve seen this notebook used as creative planners as their tonal pages give a warm background to spreads layered with lace, again you have to check out the gram and particularly this post by Jann Plans Things.
This notebook lies on the creative side. It’s perfect for sketching and it takes watercolour too as long as you don’t throw a heap of water at it. The paper is smooth and is perfect for working with Indian-ink pens, fountain pens and acrylic markers, as well as other water-based pens with minimum abrasion. You can easily work on two pages in one art piece as the book is thread bound in layers and stays open flat as you work. It also comes with handy ribbon so you can get straight back to work if you are sketching on the go.
I feel like I’m stepping into Filofax territory here and that really is a whole other beast. Before I got into notebooks I was a huge Filofax fan. This is why I made the decision to move to a ringed planner after my Lemome notebook. My thinking was to add different kinds of sketch paper and I could have different sections for writing and work and keep it all in one place. I really love my YHH cover, the paquality that came with it is pretty thin and not great for anything except pencils really. I have been glueing sheets together to be able to use it the way that I want too but as I’m adding in sketch paper I was pretty happy.
The one vital piece of information that my brain forgot was that my hand hits the rings in the planner as I write so I will be converting this to a traveller’s notebook system as I love the cover and it is a good size and will hold my Hahnemuhle and my new Archer and Olive together. This system is what allowed me to figure out what it is I wanted. I need a hybrid system that allows for sketching and watercolour but that I can also write and stay on top of my job and being a mum. If you are happy with working on your spreads outside of your planner and you like using digital printouts for your planners then this could be a good option for you. It fills that void between bullet journal and Filofax.
Butterfly Budget Planner
Of all the notebooks on this list, this is the cheapest and that’s not the only reason it’s on the list. I purchased this notebook in Tesco and I wish I bought two. The paper is thick and holds watercolour, it’s cream and I love the cover. Its A6 size is perfect for doodles and to practice lettering. Don’t rule out Dollar/Pound/Euro shops from your notebook searches, they can often surprise you.
Check the binding and paper quality before you purchase and if in doubt buy one and run home and do a swatch test of your favourite materials. From the above notebooks you would think that I only use tried and true journals but in fact I will buy notebook just for it’s cover.
Whatever system or notebook you choose make sure that you enjoy using it. You don’t have to have the most expensive materials, in fact, this is something that Christine My Linh mentions in her videos and she also has a nifty tutorial for making your own. Whether that it is you love the colour or brand, as long as you have it with you and it makes you want to open it and add to it then your journal is working.
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