Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Meet The Family

Holiday Collection 2011
You're going to find it a little difficult to pick a favorite out of this bunch.  There's so much delicious, leather goodness packed into this collection, it's hard to know where to begin!

I'll start with my favorite of the day.

Ok seriously, this is one amazing leather journal cover.  I made one of these for myself this summer to test it, and it hasn't left my side since.  The leather cover is sized to fit a Moleskine Cahier journal, or a Field Notes Journal, but most 3 1/2" x 5 1/2" journals will work.  I'm in the process of making my own refills for this cover, and they'll be available in my shop in the next few days.

How many times in a day do you reach for paper to make a reminder note, or to jot down an idea? (I'm talking to YOU - Post It Notes people)  

This journal is just the right size to carry everywhere with you and keep close at hand on your desk.  I'm telling you, once you try this, you won't believe how you ever lived without it, AND you get the added benefit of a clean, organized desk.  What could be better?

I'm glad you asked!
The Leather Journal Box Set

I found myself using about one of these journals per month.  It quickly became clear I needed a place to archive these pieces of my history. I looked around for some pre made alternatives, and finally decided to make something myself.  The Leather Box
This piece has become my new favorite to make.  The leather is the same as the journal cover; a substantial, full grain bridle leather.  It's a dream to work with, and always-always turns out beautiful products. I think of this box as a sculpture. (you'll be seeing a lot more things made from this leather in the New Year) Even though the box can be used for many purposes, I like it best as a home for all my filled journals.  It sits on my desk along with the journal since I refer back to those filled ones quite frequently.  It's a conversation starter for certain.

The Leather Journal Box Set comes with the Leather Journal Cover, The Leather Box, and 12 Moleskine Cahier Journals.  This set will last a lifetime and get better with age.  You can find them here:

Up Next:
What is this and why you might need one.....

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Holiday 2011 Collection Preview

They're coming at us like a fast moving train...... The Holidays!  I've got your back for the upcoming holiday shopping season. My new collection of holiday gifts and gadget cases will be released on Tuesday November 1. Here's just a couple quick previews..........

I thought a lot about you when I was designing the pieces for this collection. I wanted to create things that you would like, and the kinds of gifts you love to give. Special, meaningful, and something really cool for that one guy on your gift list that has everything.  Oh my, I can't wait to show you!  Come back next Tuesday for the big reveal.....

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Thank You Steve.  For the inspiration, and for the MAGIC......

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn't really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.

-- Steve Jobs

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Two Quick Things

Two quick newsy things to start out the week!

Last week Amazon announced their new family of Kindles, including the new Kindle Fire.  I had the designs ready for these, and was just waiting on the dimensions.  I'm happy to say I've got the prototypes in development and will have the new Kindle cases in the shop within the next week or two!  Check back for the release.

I'm so fired up about this new Holiday Collection!  There's something for everyone, especially that guy on your list that has "everything".  Some really cool new stuff coming out for the season!  Check back on October 24 for the big reveal.

Have a great week!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Last weekend we were doing some projects around the house and I wanted to switch out my living room curtains.  I needed to update some old sheers to fit on the rods I had so I broke out my pins, thread and needle.  I did a hasty job of it, and thankfully no one will see it under the valances; but it made me think of the hand stitching I've been using on my "uncompromised" line.

I've been sewing since I was 9; including 12 years of 4-H, during college in Tailoring Classes, and in my professional life as a owner and manager of two different alterations shops.  One thing I know for certain; stitching by hand is important in construction, and it adds elegance and interest like nothing else can.

A couple little rows of hand stitching can make an ordinary design element like a flap closure into something extra-ordinary.  These rows of stitching on this iPad case attach a hidden strap and keeper underneath. This would have been much quicker and easier with a machine stitch, but it's so much more done this way.

The work horse stitch of this line is the Saddle Stitch. This stitch is what holds the pieces of the case together.  Two needles are passed through each hole then the thread is tightened by pulling both sides equally. 
I enjoy doing this stitch. The rhythm and cadence of sewing these pieces together is soothing and natural.

Then there are the specialty stitches. I use these as design elements and to make my work stand out. The Baseball Stitch is one of these. 
You already know this is my favorite!  It took a little time and effort to learn this stitch, how to adapt it to making cases (instead of baseballs) and to build the equipment in order to make it work. (see the Behind the Scenes page for a look at my husband Benny making me a stitching pony specifically for these cases.) It's all worth it though. I've been working on some new  things using this stitch, and I think you're going to love them! 

I also use hand stitched elements as part of the design, like the epaulette stitched straps you see here. 
You'll see this design element throughout the whole "uncompromised" line; from the iPad Cases, Kindle Cases, and even the journals.  

I bet you noticed all the holes.  That's because you can't just poke a needle into leather and sew like you can on fabric.  The hides are tough, and either have to be pierced with a special leather awl or holes have to be punched to get the needle and cord through.  We punch all the holes by hand. (by "we" I mean "I" or sometimes my son helps. More on that later too....) Each hole is punched out, then coated with an edge coating. The coating isn't necessary, but I prefer the finished look instead of seeing the raw leather inside the holes.  Just a little quirk of mine. 

The last thing we do before stitching, is recess the stitching lines. This helps the thick cord lay flush with the leather.  Again, not a necessity, but it looks so nice, I can't resist this step.
I like to think my 4-H leaders and college professors would be proud of what I've done with this simple skill they taught me years ago.  This "uncompromised" attention to detail is part of what makes this line and these cases so special and irresistible. I hope you'll agree!

*Be sure to hover your mouse over the images. I put some extra little notes in there!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

New iPad Case

I've been using this burgundy latigo leather since the very beginning.  When I was creating this Baseball Stitch iPad Case with this beautiful burgundy latigo, it felt like "coming home"  The feel of this leather is amazing. It bends and molds into shape so well, is sturdy and strong, and I know it's one of your favorite colors just like it is mine.  The two button closure design is also one of my most popular case features. I wanted to bring all the best elements of my iPad case designs together with this new "uncompromised" leather iPad case.  What do you think?
(hint) mouse over the bullseye buttons for some additional features and behind the scenes details.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


On August 15 I'll be releasing my new fall line of Leather Journals, iPad Cases and other leather accessories.  But this launch is more than just new products.  It's a whole different philosophy and experience for you.  In the coming weeks leading up to the launch, I'll be sharing some announcements, secrets, and behind the scene stuff here on the blog. So check back every couple days and you won't miss anything!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Double Needles


In the process of designing my new fall line, I came up with this leather box to hold all my electronics chargers and cords.  It's 4" x 4" x 3" deep and is just perfect for this purpose!  I've even put a loose leather piece inside to keep things divided the way I want them.  I've been using this box for a couple weeks now for my iPhone charger, iPad charger, camera charger, and a couple usb cables.  My little point and shoot camera even fits in there.  I love it! It can sit on my desk looking beautiful and I always know where my chargers are. No more, "Have you seen my phone charger?"   When we go to the lake,  I can just throw it in my bag and I'm ready to go.

But I want to know what you think! Is this something you might use?  What about the size, bigger or smaller? Can you think of another purpose this little box might be used for?  This prototype doesn't have a closure on it yet, but I have a good one planned.  Do you think it needs some kind of strap? Let me know what you think in the comments.  I'd really like to hear your thoughts!

Before We Know It.....

All too soon the summer will move into its' last days and fall will be here. I've been spending a little bit of my vacation time getting ready for the release of our 2011 Fall Line of leather journals and cases. The big launch date is August 22, and I think you'll be pleased with the new items. In the meantime, here's a couple teasers.... (I'm only showing the black and white photos- the colors are a surprise!)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

New Today.....

We took the classic iPad2 Memo Envelope style case and upgraded it!  Our signature Baseball Stitching up the sides make this case special.  Heads will turn when you carry this case!  Available at
What do you think??

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day 2011

The last couple years I've written about what Memorial Day means to our family.  This year I couldn't think of anything new to add but didn't want to let this day pass without saying anything.  This morning in the quiet before anyone woke up, I remembered this movie.

It's my wish that every American could see this film. If you see a soldier today (or any other day) please thank them for their service. Sometime during this Memorial Day, please take a moment to remember our Fallen, and the sacrifice they made for our freedom.

"Taking Chance" is available on iTunes, Netflix, and most likely at your local video store.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Milestones, Perspective, and a Thank You

Three years ago today, I listed my first journals in my Etsy shop.  This was one of the first ones I made.

I remember in those early days trying to find my "voice" in making my journals. What could I do that hadn't been done before, what kind of book could I make that would set my shop apart from all the others on Etsy.  The answer eventually came when I started making something I LOVED.  The basic journal I wrote about  here was the beginning of the journey I'm still on today 3 years later.

This may come as a surprise to some of you, but this journal I made in 2009 is to this day my very favorite to make and to use.
This journal was the best of both worlds - a hardcover journal combined with hand binding - This is the book I love to hold in my hands, and my Go To journal for personal writing.  Unfortunately, it was very expensive to make, took a lot of time and didn't sell very well.  I only made about 6 of them before discontinuing them.  But, you just might see them make a comeback in the future. Now that I have more experience, better suppliers and more awesome tools, I could re introduce them.  Hmmmm.......
The future of journals here at J. J. Boyles are going to look something like this-

I'm saying a fond farewell to my beloved Burgundy and Black Latigo leather and moving in the direction of these hand colored leathers.  The leathers I'm using for these journals are rich and tactile. The colors are delicious (really I could go on and on about them....) and in the end, these things combined will make a journal that is more personal, and unique for just you. There's lots more exciting products to come in the next few months. I'm deep into planning new lines that will be released soon....

Making these things, running my shops and taking care of my family fills my days with happiness. (mostly) But the bottom line is this isn't rocket science; we're not changing the world with these things I make with my hands.  I try to remember the words and thoughts behind my tagline: "It's What's On The Inside That Matters" Writing in your journal just might change your world, having a cool case for your iPad that you use to change your world might be making a difference.  My hope is always that these things you order from me will become a big part of you, and how in some way you're changing the world, and those around you. 

A Thank You
As I was preparing this post for my anniversary, I tried to think of the most satisfying part of having an Etsy shop for these last 3 years.  Making journals and iPad cases is fun, all the things I've learned about working with leather has been invaluable, developing new designs and systems to get them made has been very rewarding, but all these things aren't the best part.   The thing that makes me anticipate each day, and continually work to improve is YOU!  I get such a kick out of talking with you, answering your questions, working with you on something special for your loved one; it makes this job not really work.  3 years ago when I listed that first journal, who knew I would still be having so much fun - all because of you.  Some of you I just get to say "Hello" and "Thank You", and others of you I have the privilege of getting to know a little better.  

You may not know this, but sometimes when I'm sewing the buttons on your iPad case, or wrapping the strap around your journal, I think about you.  I imagine you opening up the box and holding your journal in your hands, or putting your iPad in your new case for the first time. In my heart I hope it takes your breath away, just a little bit, or that you say to the person next to you, "Wow! Take a look at this!"

I wish I could send each one of you a thank you note, and mention all of you by name, but that might be a little long.  So from me, Julie to you, my sincerest Thank You for 3 great years.  Each one of you have made a huge difference in my world!  You're the best, and I hope you'll visit again soon......

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I can't help it, I just want to shout about it!  Tomorrow will be my 3 year Anniversary of opening my Etsy shop.  Doing this one little thing in April 2008 has changed me, my family, and burst wide open a whole new world of possibilities for us.  I'll have a little retrospective tomorrow, but today I would like to announce....
Yes, you read that right.  I've never had a sale in my shop, but tomorrow sounds like as good a time as any!  For tomorrow only (starting at midnight tonight....I'm sure I'll still be up!) take 20% off any item in my Etsy shop.  That includes the great new items I'm adding today.... a Leather Moleskine Cover, One Year Journal, Memo iPad case Saddle Tan Baseball Stitch iPad Case and MORE.  You will use the coupon code --   320   -- when prompted during the payment process.  So come shopping today, and snatch up your favorite tomorrow!  See you then......

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Spring Collection 2011


Even though there are a few more pieces to be added, our new Spring Collection 2011 is ready to be released!  I've worked and waited all winter to show you these new pieces.

First, we have "shoes" for your iPad!

The idea for these designs came to me during the busy holiday season last year.  After the holidays, I did a lot of research and looked at A LOT of men's shoes.  The Penny Loafer, The Kilt Flap, and the Wingtip are the final results.  The Saddle Shoe will be the final design in this series and is on its way soon.

I'm very fond of this design, not just because of the unique added "shoe" pieces but the basic flap style and hidden closure is like a blank palette for me. It leaves an open space for all kinds of new and interesting options.  The hidden closure is a small strap and keeper just under the flap.  

The hidden closure is also featured in this Riveted design.

These iPad cases feature a flap that is a little longer and 3 antique nickel rivets.  Just the right amount of spark!

Our signature Baseball Stitch pieces are the highlight of this Springs new looks.
I took the two most popular elements of all my iPad Cases and teamed them up.  The button closure is so classic for iPad cases, and finishes this look beautifully. There's also an iPhone case!
A Baseball Stitch Kindle Case
And one more leather iPad Case with a Baseball Stitch feature on the back side rounds out this series.
I'm really excited about this Spring Collection.  All the iPad cases fit the iPad2 -with or without the Smart Case-  and the original iPad. These photos all show a baseball red thread, but are also available with Brown Thread.  Expect to see these popular cases for more platforms like the Macbook Air, and Macbook Pro.  Those are coming very soon as in the next few weeks!

But the biggest news of all is..........
you'll have to check back in tomorrow!