Tag Archives: upcycled

Way Back Craft: Recycled Binder

In thinking about Back to School season, and the accordian file that I upcycled last week, I thought about a project I did for my daughter a couple of years ago. Then I realized, while I posted a photo of it in a collection of other upcycled/recycled projects, I’d never really talked about it here on my blog.

Here is the story the way I told in August of 2008, on craftster:

This craft starts with a story.  My 13 year old daughter’s middle school is huge.  The kids have less than 5 minutes to get from class to class and they don’t always have time to go to their lockers.  Many of them carry large binders so they can have multiple classes worth of work with them all the time.

Last year, we bought this binder for her, in an attempt to give her a place to keep all her things.  Within a few months, the rings in the binder blew out.   The handle is on the back of the rings, so the weight of the contents pulls down on them, causing them to fail.

So, time for a redesign.  How about a binder cover/bag that has the weight in the opposite direction and that can have the 3-ring binder changed when needed, without losing the rest?

I think this may be one of the coolest things I’ve made and I’m ridiculously pleased with the way it turned out!  It holds a 3″ 3-ring binder, which cost about $6 at the office supply store.  Everything else was recycled or I had on hand.


Outside back – the binding was hand stitched on the outside.  There was just too much stuff going on inside to do it the opposite way.   Cool sparkly fabric was a gift from hardhatcat.


The other side, standing up – the strap is recycled from the old binder.  The strap clicks onto a large split ring.  The bits of ribbon were from a sheet of samples someone gave me.   The denim was cut on the bias so it has give.  Oh, and the denim was leftover from a project that a friend of mine did.  She gave me her leftovers!


inside – the accordion files, back mesh pocket & zipper are all recycled


The accordion file, recycled from the old binder.  It was a bit hard to stitch around, but I managed by moving my needle over to the far left.


All that’s left of the original.  I used a razor blade to take it apart.  Razors are the friend of anyone that recons heavy duty materials, but they take a sure hand.

More photos of the binder cover/tote here.

My daughter loves it, especially the “bag” aspect, freeing up her hands and making it’ll be easier to carry her stuff.

Happy Crafting!

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Upcycled Accordion Folder


This whole “business owner” thing has a lot of learning curves. Taxes…blech! Legal stuff..blech! Unforeseen storage issues…creative opportunity!

After a couple of months of getting the Sewhooked Shop off the ground, I had a whole tote bag full of receipts, paperwork and odds ‘n ends that I need to keep track of.  There isn’t a spare foot anywhere in my workspace for a filing cabinet and, as they say, have laptop will travel. I need to be portable.

After contemplating what to do with the mess of papers and such, I headed to our family storage location for paper, folders and general office/school supplies. A giant figurative light bulb danced gleefully over my head at what I’d found.

An accordion folder. Really? How did I not know we had that? The answer is, I did, but I forgot. It was tucked away with the kids’ school supplies. It’s something I used when both of them were very early in their school careers, before I realized that no mere accordion folder could ever cope with the massive amount of tree carnage that is elementary school.

I think this folder was probably around when I was at least in high school. In another lifetime, my dad was a school supply buyer. The bonus of that when I was a kid was all kinds of nifty and creative supplies! I’m pretty sure that this was a remnant from that time that my mom passed on to us when our own kids were little.

Supplies:

  • Accordion folder with with a cardboard shell
  • Fabric Remnant
  • Batting Remnant
  • Spray adhesive
  • Glue Gun
  • Ribbon
  • Mailing Labels
  • Pliers, if needed

Accordion Folder Upcycle Project

So, I find this. Cutesy and functional. I like the functional, but not so much the cutesy!

First thing’s first, tear away the cardboard exterior, doing as little damage as possible.



There’s an elastic band that is used to close the folder. Yank that out from behind and put it aside. We’re going to do something totally different for our closure!




On the opposite side is the button that the elastic goes around. We’ll bend it and wiggle it until we can pull it out of the hole with minimal destruction.

Now, that glue needs cleaning up. We’ll peel all that away.

Much better!

Now, the fabric. How about a remnant from another project? This fabric made the centers of the blocks on my Friendship Star quilt.

Oh no, it’s too short! Ideally, it needs to be a few inches bigger on each side. And, it definitely needs to be ironed!

Not to worry, just add a bit of another fabric to one end. That’ll create a lovely front!

For a touch of magic, spray basting. Because this is a permanent application, regular spray adhesive will work, too.

I think a little padding will be nice, and I just happen to have this bit of leftover lightweight batting from another project.

Now, we’ll spray baste the fabric to the batting. Spray the batting and not the fabric and, of course, we follow manufacturer’s instructions!


Add spray baste to the outside of the decorative cardboard. It doesn’t matter at this point which end of the folder is front or back, as long as we get it even!

Hmm, now about some pretty ribbon? This was saved from a gift The Big Guy gave me for Christmas a couple of years ago.

There are lots of adhesive options at this point, but after seeing how the folder was originally constructed, I think we’ll break out the trusty old glue gun!

We’ll make it extra pretty by gluing each corner down first.

Glue and repeat!


Nice, all four are in place now!

Now, we’ll fold the four sides and glue those in places. This bit might be tricky because we want it taut, but not too tight.

Lots of glue is necessary to make sure all the layers stay in place.

With all the seams glued, it looks so pretty!

It’s all ready for ribbon now!

The ribbon cut in half and glued in the center of each side is just the ticket! Gluing it directly to the cardboard gives it some extra durability.

Both sides are in place, so now it’s time for the final steps!

Let’s put the accordion back in the folder! We’ll sit it right in the center.

Let’s get it all straight so that we don’t have a weird end sticking out or anything! Start at the bottom and swipe the glue back and forth just like it was originally. Be fast, the glue dries quick!*

*Do not, repeat, do not glue the bottom of the file to the outside cover! It needs to be able to expand and contract, or, ehem, accordion. 😉


For extra security, we’ll add more glue up the sides and around the top.


Squish the side hard!

Keep smoothing it until it feels like it’s set. We want the bonds to be nice and firm! With all the glue in place, we’re done! Wow, that was quick.

We’ll change the categories up with some leftover mailing peel and stick labels. A couple of the originals still apply!

Isn’t that nice?

This is a file folder I can travel with. I might even bring some crayons.

Happy Crafting!

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