Planner: Part 2


I showed you how I constructed the structural part of the cover in a previous post. Today, I’m going to discuss how I made the cover.

Planner Cover Dimensions
Planner Cover Dimensions

The first thing to do was determine the dimensions. In part 1, I posted an image that included my design sketches. To the left, you see a crop of that image showing how I determined how wide to make my cover fabric. Each side is 7.5 inches, and the spine is 1.5 inches. 7.5+7.5+1.5 = 17 (not really) I added 0.5 inches to allow for the turns at the corner of the spine. So 7.5+7.5+1.5+0.5 = 17. With 0.5 inch seam allowances, the width became 18 inchs: side*2 + spine + turns + (seam allowance)*2 = width of cover fabric. The height of the cover fabric was simply the height of my cover plus 2 seam allowances.

When I sewed up the cover, I used a 0.375 (3/8) inch seam allowance. I figured if the cover was too loose, I could always go back and sew the seams at 0.5 inches. It turns out the cover is not too loose, and I needed that additional 0.125 (1/8) of an inch all around.

Pocket Design
Pocket Design

I knew that I wanted a big zippered pocket. I thought I wanted a pocket to put my journal in, so that meant a big pocket about halfway up the side and all the way across. And why not add more pockets for small crap? So I figured that I’d put 2 small pockets in front of the big pocket. I ended up not doing that. But I get ahead of myself.

This application is a hard wearing application. That means it calls for interfacing, and I wanted a fairly stiff interfacing. I don’t keep craft interfacing in my stash. I had to buy some. But once I got it home, I cut 3 pieces: outside cover, inside front, inside back and basted all three to the pretty quilting cottons.


For the front pockets, I decided to have three, but not the three that I had originally designed. You can see the big zippered pocket in the image to the left. That pocket is sewn down on 3 sides, so it forms another deep pocket behind it. The third pocket is the wide pocket that runs across the the entire inside front and is about half the height of the front. The back pockets are one big pocket with a seam down the middle. They are about 2/3rds of the height of the cover. I haven’t use them for anything (yet?).

Attaching the binder
Placement Lines

Deciding how to attach the rings was easy. I sewed and turned a tube which would be sewed down to the cover, and the rings would use snaps to close.

Deciding where to attach the rings wasn’t as easy. I placed the rings on the cover and closed it; I wanted to be sure the spine had enough room to close straight up. Then I had the brilliant idea to compare placement with an index card binder that was intact. I transferred those measurements to my cover, placed the binder ringers, and checked things by closing (and opening and closing) the cover. While I had the rings in the right place, I drew lines to indicate ring location. I wanted my “ties” to be just inside the rings. Because I was not successful at taking the picture from directly above, things don’t quite line up in the image captioned Placement Lines. It’s really important to have those placement lines. I had to remove the rings to measure for tie length. Without the markings, I’d have no idea where to put things.

Below are a couple of pics of the completed cover.

If you are one of my five regular readers, you might recognize the fabric on the planner cover. I screen printed it with Crafty Chix in San Ramon. (All posts here. That specific fabric is here.) I used that fabric as the starting point to pick fabrics for the planner. The orange and yellow stripe and the red rose fabrics were fat quarters and were, probably, 20 years old. The leaves fabric was used to make a vest for my husband.

New Planner


I made myself a planner. I started by assembling pins on Pinterest. I had all my pins in Calendars / Organizers, but that board got too big. I now have the following boards:

I used the Bee Planner (pin) as my starting point. I loved her idea of using the binder rings from an index card binder. The only problem that I had was that I was unable to get the brads out. The same designer (Ahhh Designs) made a similar cardboard version (pin).

Sizing Sketch and Calcs

My design process began with considering what size paper to use. I thought about being able to buy preprinted pages, but I’ve done that at work using work supplied, very nice binders, and I end up using a fraction of the pages. I also considered using one of those work supplied binders, for which I have a hole punch, but I decided to give the 2-ring binder a try. So after much thought and consideration of my available resources and my needs, I decided to use 1/2 of an 8.5 inch by 11 inch (American letter size) for my pages.

Inside Cover Design

If you take a look at my sketch to the left, you can see I was considering a larger size, 8.5 inch by 6 inch … larger and in landscape mode. If I recall, I was thinking that would be a nice size to write on. I must have read about it somewhere. Anyway, with my preliminary paper size chosen, I looked into how much bigger the binder would be. This involved some leg work. My binder clips mount on the back cover, not the spine, so I had to find a similar binder to see how much larger the covers should be than the papers (and the dividers and tabs). Somehow, I determined that the width of the covers should be 2 inches wider, and the height 2 inches higher. So for the 8.5 inch wide paper, my planner would have to be 10.5 inches wide. That’s too wide. I backed off to the 1/2 sheet of letter size, which meant a cover that was 7.5 inches by 10 inches. That is not a small planner. For the spine, I used the same width as on the index card binder, or 1.5 inches.

Paper planner with binder hardware

To ensure that the planner was not too big, I made one out of paper. The image captioned “Inside Cover Design” shows the paper model of 2 covers and spine taped together with masking tape. This also allowed me to check the placement of the binder clip and see how a piece of paper fit in the planner. I went back to a index card holder to determine how close to the spine the binder hardware should be. I also considered whether or not put the binder hardware in the center, horizontally. If I want tabs on the tops of section dividers, the binder hardware might be better off being closer to the bottom. I distinctly remember thinking that, but I put my binder hardware in the center.

Backside of cover foundation

I use matte board scraps to make hard bound books/journals. It’s not as sturdy as book board, but 2 layers is quite strong. It’s much easier to cut than book board. For the planner, I choose 1 layer of matte. The matte board is reinforced with fabric, and then it is covered by another layer of craft interfacing and fabric. I think I use a Fiskar Rotary Paper Trimmer to cut paper, matte board, and book board. Mine uses a little blade and isn’t rotary. I have to cut the book board on both sides, but using the ruler on the cutter, I get a nice sharp edge.


Once I had my covers cut, I glued a piece of paper on them. This was to test the size again. If I decided the size was too big, I could easily rip the paper and cut my covers down. I forgot to take a picture at this point, but you can see the paper in the “Backside of cover foundation” image. I used a fat quarter of quilting cotton that I’ve had for one or two decades.

Testing binder location

Before moving on to sewing up the cover, I made sure the binder location would work. That is, I made sure the cover opened and closed while I had the binder lying on back cover.

I decided to leave it for a while to see if changed my mind about the size.