Bellroy Note Sleeve Notebook Hack

I am a big fan of Bellroy products. I purchased my first wallet from them two years ago when I picked up the black Bellroy Note Sleeve and it has not left my pocket since. It is almost perfect! The leather and construction are top quality and the layout is so smart that you can throw everything you have at it and it will still be thin enough to fit nicely in your front pocket. It does however lack one important feature —space for a notepad.

This is obviously expected as it is a detail left unnoticed by pretty much all small-wallet makers, but this did not prevent me from trying to make it work.


In my opinion there are two ways of incorporating a notebook into a small wallet. You either find a wallet small enough to fit entirely inside one of the pockets, or you fit only the cover such as in a passport holder. Since the Note Sleeve is such a small wallet, the first choice would mean that the notebook would have to be absolutely tiny making it extremely hard to use it in any practical way. I therefore chose to go with the second method.


The choice of notebook is very important. At the start I used to make my own staple-bound notebooks which I cut specifically to fit the inside pocket of the Bellroy wallet. The problem was however that they took too long to make, they did not look very nice and they were still quite small. In the end I decided to go with the Moleskine Extra Small Volant Notebook.

It is slightly taller and wider than a credit card, measuring at 6.7 x 1 x 10.5 cm and so I had to cut the front cover to the dimensions of a credit card to fit inside the wallet’s left side pocket. In the end, the cover fit securely inside the wallet’s pocket also leaving enough space for cards.


In conclusion, I am very happy with this transformation. It addressed all the issues of the Bellroy Note Sleeve, making it my perfect pocket companion. The only issues that I can think of are that firstly, the notebook slightly protrudes from the wallet on the top and bottom. For me this is not a big problem as it does not offend me visually and it gives me some extra writing real-estate. If it is does bother you however you could trim the top and the bottom to address this issue. Secondly, the cuts with the knife are not as perfect as those cut from the factory. Maybe in the future I will invest in some better cutting equipment but for now I still never leave home without it.


Items mentioned*:
Wallet: Bellroy Note Sleeve Leather Wallet, Black
Noteb0ok: Moleskine Extra Small Volant Notebook

Knife: Precision Caving Knife
Corner Cutter (Optional): BCP Corner Cutter R5

Photography equipment:
Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

Other blogs about this topic: wallet review
Thegadgeteer wallet review
Rushfaster wallet review

* Please keep in mind that buying through any of the links on this website helps support, and keeps the site going. I appreciate all your support and thank you for visiting.

Pilot Parallel Highlighter Conversion

I was always a fan of reusable pens. I believe this was one of the reasons why I was attracted to fountain pens in the first place. I always hated having to throw away my highlighters every time the ink ran out even though the felt tip was in great condition.

Once I saw the Pilot Parallel pen naturally one idea sprang to my head. How about I use it as a highlighter? I quickly purchased a couple from the local art store and started experimenting. I chose the 3.8mm green version as its width most closely resembles that of normal highlighters.


Once you open the box, it comes with two cartridges and a bulb syringe for easy cleaning. The little plastic balloon is shaped to the dimensions of a normal Pilot cartridge and thus fits perfectly every Pilot fountain pen.


The first hurdle was how to fill the pen. It turns out that since it takes standard Pilot cartridges, the Pilot CON40 converters fit perfectly. Luckily I had one lying around from my Pilot Capless Decimo. While it worked fine and I could easily refill the pen like a fountain pen one problem became apparent. Its capacity was minute and it was no match for the ink hungry 3.8mm nib.

I ended up using the cartridges that came along in the box by rinsing them and filling them using a small syringe I purchased from Amazon. At some point I will try to convert this pen into an eye-dropper but until that day cartridges are the way to go.


The second problem was what ink. In the beginning, I started diluting normal fountain pen blue ink in water and trying to use that as a virtually unlimited source of highlighter ink. I could never though, for the life of me, get the proportions right. It was either too dark or way to light. I ended up giving up on the idea and decided to purchase a dedicated fountain pen friendly highlighter ink. My choice was the Pelikan M205 Highlighter ink.


Overall, I think this is a great substitute to a normal highlighter. It works as it should and the Pelikan ink looks great over printed text. There are only two problems that I can think of. One, the pen is way too long. As a desk highlighter it protrudes over all other pens in a normal pen holder and if you have a pen pouch or pencil case for the road, chances are it will not fit. Secondly, while the ink does not bleed through in even lower quality paper, it does feel a bit scratchy and it takes quite a bit of effort to hold in the proper angle to get a smooth consistent line. Ease of use in a highlighter is vital for me. When I read I want to focus on what I am trying to understand rather than how to hold my pen and I ended up using the normal felt tip ones quite frequently.

If you can however oversee the above I think the Pilot Parallel pen to be a great substitute to normal highlighters which will save you money in the longterm and minimise waste. For now I use my Parallel pens for what they were initially designed for. Drawing and calligraphy.


Items mentioned*:

Pen: Pilot Parallel
Pen: Pilot Fountain Pen Capless DecimoInk: Pelikan M205 Highlighter ink
Tools: Syringe
Converter: Pilot CON-40

Photography equipment:

Camera: Nikon D3300
Lens: Nikon AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-55mm

Other blogs about this topic:

Wonder Pens: Pilot Parallel Pen as a Highlighter
Writer’s Bloc Blog: Using Fountain Pens and Calligraphy Pens as Highlighters

* Please keep in mind that buying through any of the links on this website helps support, and keeps the site going. I appreciate all your support and thank you for visiting.