Fabric Covered Binder Tutorial

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

No matter how technologically advanced we become, I still love a good hard copy, nicely organized in a pretty binder.  But my issue was my binders weren't pretty.  In fact, they were well worn and simply the standard stark white.  So to give my binders and office space a bit of a makeover, I decided to wrap my binders in fabric:
This DIY is very similar to the tutorial for our Fabric Covered Shoe Boxes.  Not only is it easy and affordable, but it allows you to customize the colors and textures for your space!  Customization for a cheaper cost than the store versions?!  Gotta love that!

What You'll Need:
I used old, worn 1/2" white binders I already had
Rotary Cutter and Mat OR Scissors
*You could use Fabric Glue, it typically dries clearer, but I found Tacky Glue did the trick, just be sure not to get the stuff on the outside of the binder, depending on the fabric you use it may visible through the fabric*
I found this stripe upholstery fabric in the clearance aisle at Joann's  marked down to $4 a yard.  Making my 1/2" binder makeover about $1 a piece.
To Make:
Cut a piece of fabric leaving approx a 1/2"-3/4" around the border. 
 Then iron your fabric, this step is crucial to ensure a smooth surface.
 Center the binder onto the fabric and secure the top and sides with clothespins, this ensures the fabric stays in place as you start working on the bottom section.
 On the bottom right corner, cut out a square/rectangle.  This step solely removes excess bulk that would otherwise be glued onto the binder.  If you look closely, you don't want to cut directly up to the corner of the binder, but rather leave approx a quarter of an inch:
 Once you do that on the bottom right hand corner, do the same for the left corner.
From there it's time to glue.  Start from the center working your way outward.  Being sure to pull the fabric somewhat taught and ensuring it goes on straight.
 Once the bottom fabric is in place secure with clothespins.  This helps it to stay in place while it dries.  Now do all the same steps above for the opposite side.
 Once the top and bottom are glued it's now time to do the sides.  To finish off the edges you'll want to first bring in your corner like this:
 Then add glue (photo bottom left).  Bring up and secure in place (photo bottom right).
 Again, secure clothespins and allow to dry.  Once almost dry remove safety pins and cut two pieces of fabric that will fit over both sides.  To give a professional finish, be sure you spend the extra time ensuring this piece of fabric is cut straight and iron to ensure a smooth surface.
Once the fabric is cut (photo bottom left) slide a section of it under the binder clips (photo bottom right).
 Then carefully open it up like a book ~ keeping the fabric straight, but still under the binder clips (photo bottom left).  Add glue, the press the fabric in place, ensuring a straight finish.
 For excess glue use a foam brush (or your finger) to smooth out and lumps and ensure the edges are glued down.
 Do the same for the other side, let the binder dry entirely, then fill and enjoy!

What organization projects are keeping you busy?


  1. This is such a great toutorial! I started following you a few months ago, and I really love all you ideas! I was just looking at my old pre pinterest decor notebook the other day. It's kinda interesting to see all the ideas I still love, and the things I can't believe I used to like. Just like you I was wishing the notebook was prettier. Also I have the same picture of the yellow bathroom in my notebook :) so pretty!

    1. I'm right there with ya! Those pre-Pinterest binders can be a hoot! And yes, it's fun to see where your style has evolved and what you still love. Thanks for following along, have a great day and go pretty up those binders ;)

  2. I love this idea for DIY cookbooks! Thanks for the tutorial!

  3. "horrible theory", like my use of the word "incorrect" might be a bit harsh, but I do appreciate your passion.

    I don't advance my interpretation with 100% certainty, and I feel like I was honest enough to present a table showing evidence for both sides. The ambiguity was the frustrating part, not any belief that implementations were "incorrect".

    Your point about base10 is well-taken and does give me pause.

    However, I want to push back about the padding argument. Since neither left nor right padding was mentioned, the ambiguity remained. I reasoned thusly:

  4. Why would you need to pad non 5-bit multiples to the left?

    This argument is key. The quote from the page is this: “If the bit-length of the number to be encoded is not a multiple of 5 bits, then zero-extend the number to make its bit-length a multiple of 5.”

    As an example, take a 32-bit (4-octet) number, like 01100001011000010110000101100001 (which in decimal, is 1633771873). This is NOT a multiple of 5-bits.

  5. Why, just because it is not a multiple of 5-bits, should I zero-pad it to the left with 3-more bits, or 8-more bits?

    Left-based zero padding, DOES NOT CHANGE THE VALUE OF THE NMUBER at all.
    crockford32NumberEncoding(01100001011000010110000101100001) --> "1GP2RB1"

    crockford32NumberEncoding(0000000001100001011000010110000101100001) --> "1GP2RB1"

    The statement from the page,
    “If the bit-length of the number to be encoded is not a multiple of 5 bits, then zero-extend the number to make its bit-length a multiple of 5”

  6. is quite a strong statement of the form: "If then ". I can't believe it was made with the knowledge that the action has no impact whatsoever, otherwise it is completely irrelevant and can and should be removed.

    If padding to the left does not matter, then all that remains is padding to the right, which DOES matter. It was actually this sentence in the specification that gave me pause as I was familiar with how base64 encoding right-pads and inserts "==" in the output string as indication of the padding.

  7. If we right-pad, we get
    crockford32NumberEncoding(0110000101100001011000010110000100000000) --> "C5GP2R80"
    and "C5GP2R80" != "1GP2RB1"

    I don't know what Douglas Crockford meant the specification to REALLY be. I would love him to find this page and answer. Most people interpreted it as a base32-radix encoding with a single number. Me too.

  8. Sorry for the strong words, I saw it on Hacker News where the title was "Why most Crockford32 Implementations are Wrong". The hubris of this statement made me overlook the more tentative wording of the post.

    "Left-based zero padding, DOES NOT CHANGE THE VALUE OF THE NMUBER at all."

  9. And it's exactly the reason why it's chosen! Padding the shortest binary representation of a number to the left introduces no ambiguities, since the first digit is always a 1 (for non-zero numbers), whereas padding to the right would make decoding ambiguous ("10000" could correspond to 1 or 10 or 100...).

    Of course padding is only necessary if you start from a binary representation of the number and want to transform it into a base 32 representation. You don't need it if you compute the base 32 representation from scratch:

  10. 1100001011000010110000101100001 (base 2)
    = 1GP2RB1 (base 32)
    = 00001 10000 10110 00010 11000 01011 00001 (base 2)


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