Monday, February 16, 2015

DIY Clear Plastic Planner Cover Tutorial

I shared my DIY planner over on a couple of Facebook groups, and some people were interested in a tutorial, so I thought I'd go ahead and make one. I did try making a video, but my setup is just not working for me, right now, so it'll have to be a classic photo tutorial!

Materials you will need:
1) clear plastic placemats - I purchased mine on Ebay. Honestly, I'm not sure where else to find them! They're perfect for this project because they're sturdy and thick without being inflexible.
2) single-hole punch
3) cutting mat
4) metal ruler
5) utility knife
6) scissors
7) magnetic purse clasp (not in the photo -- oops!)
8) permanent marker in a dark color

Step 1a: First, determine what size you want your cover to be. If you have a cover that you like already, reference that. If not, you could do a quick mockup with construction paper to figure out what size you want to go for. I used the previous clear plastic cover I made, since I already figured out the dimensions I wanted when I made it.

Step 1b: Make a template for your new cover. I just traced my previous cover.

Step 2: Using your permanent marker, trace the template onto one of your plastic placemats. Then, place your metal ruler against the mark you made, and FIRMLY press it down. It will want to slip around a bit while you're cutting, so you REALLY need to press it down as hard as you can. I like to stand and lean my body weight down against it. I imagine it would be less of a problem if you have one of those metal rulers with the cork non-sticky bottom side.

Step 3: Using the ruler as your guide, LIGHTLY score the plastic. You want to do a series of very light passes across the plastic to get a clean cut. I learned the hard way that if you try to press too hard, the ruler will slip all over the place and the blade will stick in the plastic and you'll get a really messy, uneven cut. Patience is key! It shouldn't take more than 5 or 6 light passes to cut through the plastic. That will be your front cover; you can set it aside, for now.

Step 4: Trace the template onto your placemat once again. (You should be able to make both covers out of one placemat, easily, assuming your planner is A5 size or smaller.) Using your cutting mat and/or your ruler, figure out where the middle of your cover is, and draw a strap. The cutting mat makes it super easy to mark out a 1"x3.75" strap (which I then trimmed down to 3" but I wanted a bit of wiggle room while I was cutting it out). I hope the picture makes it clear enough what I mean!

Step 5: Very carefully cut it out, using the same multi-pass technique you used on the front cover.

Step 6: Now is the time to round off any corners you want smoothed!

Step 7a: I also like to punch holes at this point. I use a single-hole punch and a pair of scissors to punch my holes, because I don't want to break my Levenger punch by trying to use it on such sturdy plastic! I set the holes a little bit farther away from the edge than the Levenger punch, anyway, because I feel like it gives it more of a sturdy and finished look, rather than having the covers' inner edges be perfectly lined up with the pages. Does that make sense? It's just something I noticed when browsing through pre-made Levenger and Arc notebooks. Anyway! Moving on! to get the holes lined up properly, you can just trace a page or divider that's already been punched.

Step 7b: When I'm snipping the slots out, I like to use a scrap piece of heavy watercolor paper to help me avoid snipping the opposite edge of the hole.

Now you're ready to move on to the most finicky and bothersome part of the project! The clasp! I'm not sure what these clasps are called, actually, since I've had them for so long and they no longer have their packaging... but I'm 90% sure that they're for purse-making, and can be found in any Joann's or Michael's store.

Step 8: First, line up the end of your strap with the front edge of your front cover, as shown. Make sure the side edges of your covers are also lined up neatly. (Sorry for the sun-spots, by the way!)

Step 9: The magnetic clasps come with these little... washer-type thingies. Put one BETWEEN the strap and the front cover. This will make it a little easier to keep things neatly lined up later on, without moving the washer and messing up your clasp's alignment.

Step 10: Trace the washer onto the strap. (After doing this, I realized all you really need to trace are the two slots, not the outline as well.) Being VERY CAREFUL not to bump the washer, lift the strap/back cover away, and set aside. Thinking about it now, it might be a good idea to use some kind of repositionable/removable glue dots or something to keep the washer in place!

Step 11: Carefully trace the washer holes onto the front cover, as well. Again, be very careful not to move the washer!

Step 12: Cut out the holes. If you go slowly enough, you'll be able to avoid scratching the plastic like I did. I was just impatient.

Step 13: At this point, you can now use a cotton ball or swab and some rubbing alcohol to remove all your permanent marker marks.

Step 14: Place the prongs of the thinner, "male" clasp part through the holes of your strap. You can elect to use the washers as well, but I didn't think they were necessary and thought they detracted from the look of the cover a bit, so I chose not to use them. If you do want to use them, place the prong through the holes, then place the washer over the prongs, so that the plastic sits between the clasp piece and the washer. Smash the prongs down!

Step 15: Before attaching the thick half of the clasp to the front cover, put everything together to test for alignment. Put the covers on your book, and place the prongs of the thick half through the front cover's holes, and close the clasp. If everything looks like it's aligned nicely and not crooked, you can go smashie smashie again, but if something seems off, you can trim the prong holes a bit until the alignment is improved. Things should be fairly aligned, though, if you were able to do steps 9-12 without shifting the washer.

After smashing both sides of the clasp and closing it, you'll notice that the strap sort of lifts the front cover a bit...

Step 16: If that bothers you the way it bothers me, you can fix it by giving the strap a gentle massage. Smoosh it gently around until it's conformed to the level of curve you need for the front cover to lie flat. Don't squish it too hard, or the plastic will crease.

See? All flat, now. =)

And you're DONE! Voila! Fun bonus tip: the excess plastic can be used to make matching clear page finders!

Hope you guys liked this little tutorial. If you have any questions, let me know and I'll try to clarify things. I'd love to see photos of your snazzy new clear covers! Comment below or tag me on Instagram, or post it on the Facebook "It's a Planner Party!" and "Planner Organization and Decoration" groups to share your photos!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Free No-Spend Printable

Hi, guys!

So, because I'm a broke-ass college student, I've decided I REALLY need to do a no-spend month, starting tomorrow. However, given that not only have we already gotten into February a full week, but also that February isn't even a full 30 days long, I decided to whip up a little planner insert that is non-specific to any particular month. It's 4 inches wide by 3 inches tall, and I simply laminated it and wrote the applicable dates on it in Sharpie, and the allowable exceptions on the back. Right now I have it bunny-clipped to my week page finder, but when March begins I'll be moving it to my new planner, where it'll fit into the binding discs.

Since this sort of thing may come in handy to others, I figured I'd offer it as a free download, here: Fill-in No-Spend Printable PLEASE let me know if there are any issues with the link or the download! I've never done this before, so hopefully it works just fine. You can comment here, or, better yet, DM me or comment on Instagram -- since that's where I'm most active, these days, I'll probably be able to respond more quickly.

I'd also be super stoked to see photos of the printable in use! <3

Monday, January 12, 2015


Hello, whoever may still be out there!

So, it seems that I've been AWOL, around here, for a loooonnng time. Long story short, I decided to become a college student for the first time. I'm going to a local college for an AA in Studio Art, and I'll (hopefully) be transferring to an area art college in about 2 or 3 years.

While getting into the habit of being in school again, I decided to put Etsy and this blog on hold. I've also decided that when I return from hiatus, I'd like to do a bit of an overhaul of the blog layout and whatnot, so we'll see how that goes. I'm currently working on a few fun new ideas! Having started school again, I needed to keep a planner, which then sent me down a wormhole into the world of hobby-planning, which is marvelous. So, in that context, I've decided to develop a few printable sticker designs and maybe offer up for sale the planner inserts I've designed for myself, as well. But that'll be a bit further down the road.

Aside from my newfound planner obsession, I'm also developing a great new plush pattern that I'm excited to share with you guys. Hopefully I'll have that completed by mid-February, and I'll be able to start posting again and reopen the shop!

Thanks for your patience in dealing with my long (and continuing, more or less) absence. <3