The World’s Niftiest iPad Mini Case

Some Assembly Required

December 12, 2012 | 28 Comments

A few weeks ago, this image comparing the size and corner radius of an iPad Mini and Moleskine notebook made the social media rounds. And it got me to thinking.

If you are like me, you have a narcotic affection for Moleskine notebooks. I have a drawer full of them, filled with good intentions. (And by good intentions, I mean blank pages.) If the size and shape are such a good match, I figured I could make a nice cover out of one of them. So I did.


You too can make one , with minimal effort and expense. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Hardcover Moleskine Large Notebook – They retail for $18, but you can find them at Amazon for $12ish. But hey, you probably have one in a drawer, the remnant of a previous jonesing.
  • Tack N’ Peel – Amazon sells this, but you can also find this at a crafts superstore like Joann for less than $10. (And you can often find a discount coupon in their free iOS app.) I recognize that the thought of using an adhesive material on an elegant iPad might cause you to great anxiety. Fret not.
  • 1.5″ wide fabric ribbon – Pick this up while you are at Joann in the color of your choice. And men, stop it. There are no conclusive studies linking ribbon handling to testosterone decrease.
  • Some kind of adhesive – I used a glue stick out of my kids’ craft drawer. Spray adhesive may also work.
  • A sharp knife with a short blade. – If, by chance, you were in my wedding party, you got a Leatherman like one pictured below as a gift. The rest of you are on your own.

1) Carefully cut along the seam between the hard cover and the front and back cover pages of the notebook. The shaper the knife,  the cleaner the cut. Be careful not to poke through the cover as you cut though. It’s thin.


2) Cut the ribbon to match the height of the cover. I went with a color that most closely matches the interior, but get as fancy as you like. Coat one side of the ribbon with the gluestick and press it into place. You’ll need to make sure you leave a little slack in the middle, especially if you want to fold the cover all the way behind itself.

This is where the gluestick vs. spray adhesive debate comes into play. The gluestick doesn’t have as strong of a bond, and I had to reattach it a few times in the first several days. It seems to be holding up fine now. I suspect the gluestick offers a little more give than the spray adhesive would, which helps with the different tensions on the ribbon between a closed cover vs. a folded back cover.

3) Press the permanent side of the Tack n’ Peel to the center of the back cover. Make sure it’s the permanent side you stick to the paper, because the side that isn’t stuck to the paper is going to stick to your iPad. Read the instructions on which is which. The permanent side is meant to be, you know, permanent, and you don’t want permanent adhesive on the back of your iPad Mini. Because it’s permanent.

I chose the to leave the legendary back pocket in place, so I put the Tack n’ Peel on top of it. It makes a nice place to store a soft cloth (see below) and the cover for the other side of the adhesive. You might fear that it is too flimsy this way, and you may be correct, but I’ve not had any issues so far.

I used the entire Tack n’ Peel from the package, but you could get by with much less — maybe half, or even two small strips. My iPad Mini isn’t going anywhere when attached to it, so much so that it takes a little patience to remove it. When I do remove the iPad it peels away with to residue at all. This is, of course, because I made sure to attach the permanent side to the cover itself. Because it’s permanent.


4) Now, take a deep breath and remove the paper from the non-permanent side of the Tack N’ Peel, because the permanent side is attached to the cover itself, right? RIGHT? I line up the iPad with the bottom and right side of the cover. This leaves me just enough space to clip a stylus to the pocket above the cover, if you’re into that kind of thing.


…And you’re done. You should find that your new case pairs nicely with a macchiato.


  • I want this for c-mas. 🙂

  • I want the iPad and the case for Christmas.

  • DodoCase has been creating these since the first release of the iPad. Give it a look: The major difference is that these cases actually protect the device using rubber and bamboo.

    • byjohnchandler

      Thanks for comment. I guess I assumed the Dodocase were so widely known (and Portenzo as well), that I didn’t think to mention them. I had a Dodocase for my original iPad, and later a Portenzo case for a Nexus 7 that I especially liked. But I didn’t like the additional bulk that came with the wood frame. This case was somewhat inspire by their newer case that seem to use a similar kind of adhesive only — I’ve not seen on in person.

  • right about now… I’d take the coffee.

    • byjohnchandler

      I’ll buy you one next time you’re in Austin. 🙂

  • This is a really awesome project–thanks for posting! A few questions,
    1) How long do you think it’ll take before the adhesive wears out?
    2) When you close the moleskine, does the ipad mini line up flush against the long edge? (I want to make this for myself, but I want to ensure that there will be a little lip that will keep the ipad mini from protruding outside of the closed moleskin just in case I drop it.)
    3) How does the thickness of a moleskine compare with the thickness of an ipad mini?

    • byjohnchandler

      Tim, thanks for commenting:

      1) I don’t think it will. Your supposed to be able to rinse it off as it loses stick to renew it.
      2) It doesn’t protrude, but it is just about up to the edge. This isn’t necessarily the most protective case option.
      3) iPad Mini is probably about 2/3 of a moleskine.

      Have fun!

  • Locanizares

    Great design! I look forward to trying it when I get my mini.

    is it possible to use this case in it’s current design in landscape mode (like for watching a video)?

    • byjohnchandler

      Thanks for the comment. If you mean as a stand, it probably wouldn’t be stable enough.

  • Dallas Peters

    Awesome. I too have that drawer of empty moleskins. Now to get a mini. 😉

  • Dyanna Delaney

    Love Moleskin, got IPad Mini for Christmas now need someone to follow ur instructions and make it for me

  • I have a question, what about the camera hole?

    • Please reply. Thanks!
      I’ve already completed all the steps (excluding the tack n peel) and I would like to fmd out how to drill or carve a camera hole in. yep, I actually take pictures with my ipad. 🙂

      • byjohnchandler


        I didn’t account for a camera hole in mine. Love to know if you come up with a good solution.

        • Dermot

          Use a belt punch?

  • I also have some a good tip, add some magnet tape and you’ve got yourself a Smart Cover.

  • Nikie

    I love this idea! One question though, the ribbon you purchased, I’m having a hard time figuring out where you placed it here. Is it on the inner spine?

    • byjohnchandler

      The inner spine was cut out with the pages, so that the ribbon is covered the black of the outer spine that would appear otherwise. It’s glued to the paper on the front and back cover, on either side of that gap.

  • Love it, love it, love it. Am on it this weekend. Project! Yay! (overexcited from macchiato consumption).

  • Brett

    Thanks for the tutorial, I think I’ll give it a go as I too have plenty of Moleskins sitting around.

    I hadn’t hit your site before, but could totally tell you were from Austin based on the table and the coffee as I too frequent Houndstooth.

    • byjohnchandler

      Let me know how it turns out. Or maybe you can show me in person.

  • I made my Moleskine iPad Mini case!
    I amended the design by buying a cheap back cover off eBay and sticking that rather then my iPad to the Tack n’ Peel, but apart from that I followed John’s instructions and it worked super-well, thanks John! Pics here:

    • byjohnchandler

      That looks great. I’d like to see a picture or two without the iPad in as well if you are willing to post some.

      • Some photos of the inside of the case, without the iPad!

        • byjohnchandler

          Thanks! I like the hard case to hold it in, but it looks like it sticks out a little from the cover?

          • It does stick out a bit I must admit, but wanted to be able to pop the ipad out quickly (and often) as my children use it sometimes and I put it in a tougher case for them (youngest is 3, and quite ’fiesty’ :0) )

            Am already planning a festive variant using a red Moleskine and green ribbon (or tinsel!) to cover the inner spine.

  • byjohnchandler