Posts filed under DesignWorks

DesignWorks Standard Issue No. 11 Note Pad Review

DesignWorks Note Pad

The Standard Issue Note Pad from DesignWorks is, despite the bland name, a remarkable notebook from a small Franklin, TN stationery shop.

The No. 11 note pad is a 3.5 x 5.5 inch reporter-style notebook that features a clean spring aesthetic and a smart elastic band to keep the notebook closed when not in use. With 120 lined sheets, there's plenty of space to fill up on these ledger-lined pages. Unlike a lot of the popular pocket notebooks these days, the inside covers are completely empty. According to Vanness, the paper is acid free with a light blue-gray soy ink for the lines. Overall, it's a neat little package that looks great sitting on your desk.

DesignWorks Note Pad Closed

The notepad is a bit on the chunky side due to the number of included sheets, but it's not so thick that you can't slip it into a pocket. The sheets are all firmly attached to the strong glue binding and does not include any perforated sheets at the back. You can tear sheets out of this notebook, but I wouldn't recommend it since it will start to look a bit weird. The notebook is built well enough that it could take the abuse, but I also like that it's pretty.

Inside the notebook, you're greeted with a friendly ledger-style ruling printed in a light gray/blue ink. The paper is smooth and perfectly aligned. I've really been impressed by the build quality in this little notepad. A lot of attention was given to the small details of this product, and it shows. Speaking of quality, let's look at one of the best attributes of this book: the paper.

DesignWorks Note Pad Writing

With small notebooks in this price range, I don't typically expect great things in the paper quality department. I'm happy if they handle gel and ballpoint pens well and don't completely fail in the fountain pen area. In the case of the DesignWorks notebook, the paper is exceptional. It's a smooth paper that handles fountain pens wonderfully. I haven't noticed any feathering whatsoever — even with wider nibs. There's a small amount of show-through, but it's minimal and leaves the back of the page perfectly usable. Nibs glide over this paper with little effort, and ink seems to dry moderately fast. I have to admit I was surprised by the quality of the paper because there was no indication on the notebook or their website as to what kind of paper was used. Typically, if a brand doesn't boast about their paper, it usually isn't fountain pen friendly. That's not the case with this notebook; I'm not sure what paper they use, but it's great for fountain pens.

DesignWorks Note Pad Open

Despite the excellent build quality and paper used in the notebook, there are a couple of downsides. My biggest complaint is the limited ruling options. In the "Note Pad" line, you only have one option: ledger lining. It's a bold choice, and one that I've never willingly picked. I find it clutters the page since I use notebooks as actual ledgers 0% of the time. A standard lined paper would have been a much better choice, but I'm not the designer. Despite the heavy lining choice, it's still a fun notebook to use. And, as far as ledger lining goes, it's somewhat minimal with only two columns.

DesignWorks Note Pad Field Notes

My only other complaint has to do with the binding. It's a strong binding, but it also prevents the pages from laying flat without assistance. This isn't a huge problem for a reporter-style layout, but it does bug me. Over time, I think this will improve, and I'll probably appreciate the strong binding as the notebook ages and continues to hold all its pages in place.

The Standard Issue No. 11 note pad from DesignWorks was a pleasant surprise in a vast sea of pocket notebook options. At only $9, it's a good deal, especially considering the paper quality.

(Vanness Pens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


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DesignWorks Note Pad Comparison
Posted on January 24, 2018 and filed under DesignWorks, Notebook Reviews.

DesignWorks Standard Issue Notebook Review

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(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter.)

This is the first time I've used a DesignWorks notebook, and the experience was a bit mixed. There are some features I love about it, and some that didn't work very well for me.

The DesignWorks Standard Issue Notebook is a hardcover, spiral-bound notebook. The spiral is twin-ring, brass colored and is only bound at the top and bottom third of the book. The rings are wide--about an inch in diameter. They're already starting to bend a bit after only light carry--so they're already beginning my primary pet peeve of ring-bound books. They also tend to snag at the cover or pages when I'm closing the book. Of course, the rings allow the book to lay flat or fold over on itself--so there are upsides, too.

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The front cover has a pale green crosshatch pattern, the logo, and a sticker label. The sticker on mine is crooked, which drives me a bit crazy. There's also a list of the notebook's specs printed directly on the cardstock. It's useful information to have, but I don't particularly like having it printed on the front. At the upper right is a narrow elastic band that serves as a pen loop. This is one of the features I like. It's not quite stretchy enough to handle a very wide pen, but most will fit fine. One advantage to the wide rings is that you can hide another pen in there if you need to color-code on the go.

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The back cover has another crooked sticker that repeats the notebook specs, and the company info. The inside front cover has room for all your contact info and a map of the time zones. The inside back cover has conversion charts. The notebook comes with a removable stencil ruler that has all the marks and icons you need for planning or bullet journaling. The stencil is definitely my favorite feature of the book. It's sturdy and handy, and I think I'll be using it long past when this notebook is full.

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There are 192 lined pages that have the months and day numbers listed across the top. The left margin has a column for your bullet icons. The rest is pretty open form--it's not too restrictive of a layout, so it could be used as plain lined paper as well. The pages aren't perforated, so if you need to remove one, it will have the dreaded fuzzy edge.

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When I first felt the paper, I thought it would probably be a pencil or ballpoint-only notebook. But the performance totally surprised me. There was light show-through, but no bleed-through for any fountain pen I tried with it. Huzzah! It showed shading nicely, too. The dry time was very long with wetter inks, though. Overall, I'm thrilled with its performance. It's also acid-free, which is always a plus.

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When it comes down to it, I don't love the binding, cover, or attention to detail with this product. But the paper is lovely enough that I'm definitely going to check out some of their clothbound books. All their products seem more than fairly priced, especially for good paper. As tempting as the nice paper in this books is, I can't get past my pet peeves with the cover and binding. I'll probably hand this one on to the kids, and they will likely use it for nefarious planning. Except the stencil. I'm keeping that part.

(Vanness Pens provided this product at no charge to The Pen Addict for review purposes.)


Enjoy reading The Pen Addict? Then consider becoming a member to receive additional weekly content, giveaways, and discounts in The Pen Addict shop. Plus, you support me and the site directly, for which I am very grateful.

Membership starts at just $5/month, with a discounted annual option available. To find out more about membership click here and join us!

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Posted on December 21, 2017 and filed under DesignWorks, Notebook Reviews.