My Material Life

Make Your Own Storage Sleeves, Portfolios, Binders

I made this sleeve to store and transport the drawings from my fashion illustration class.  I already had a nice ITOYA portfolio from a previous drawing class, but it’s sleeves were too small, and the plastic sleeve I found with my art things was too large.  So I made a new sleeve that is the perfect size for my drawings by combining three favorite materials – high density polyethylene sheets from TAP plastics, Dura-Lar (a polyester film that replaces the sheets of acetate I used to use) from University Art, and duct tape.

To make the sleeve, I cut a sheet of plastic (polyethylene) and a sheet of Dura-Lar 1/2″ larger than my paper size.  To do this, I used a cutting mat, a utility knife, and a metal straight edge.  A cork-backed metal edge helps a lot when cutting the plastic because the metal tends to slide on it.  Loops of masking tape on the back of the edge will keep it from sliding too.  The edge doesn’t slide as much on the Dura-Lar.  It’s easier to cut both materials with a fresh blade in the utility knife.  You also want to make multiple scoring lines along your metal edge before you cut through either material; you won’t be able to make a cut on the first pass, so don’t bother to try.

Once I cut my red plastic backing and my Dura-Lar, I put the two sheets together (Dura-Lar on top) and cut a piece of duct tape that would span across the bottom of the sleeve.  I used the Duck brand of tape in the color/pattern, Cosmic Tie-Dye.  I let about 3/8″ of the tape show on the front of the sleeve (the Dura-Lar) and folded the rest to the back (the red plastic).  The duct tape is very forgiving, so you can reposition it if you need to before you fold it to the back.  I used scissors to trim the ends and did the same thing for both sides of the sleeve.  I left the top open of course; that’s what makes it a sleeve.  If you wanted a handle you could probably fashion one from duct tape or maybe punch two holes on either side of the tops of the back and front and thread some kind of string handle through them.

You can also use polyethylene sheets with loose binder rings to make your own portfolios and binders.  You simply cut your sheets of polyethylene to your desired size and use a hole puncher to make holes in both your front and back covers where needed.  Above you can see a sketchbook I created for a drawing class using four binder rings and a cut-out in the cover that shows the title and class information from the first sheet below.  The sheets in the book were pre-cut with holes; I used photo corners to attach the sketches I wanted to present to my teacher in the book.

I also use the polyethylene sheets to create my own binders for all kinds of things.  I must have ten to twelve of them around the house holding recipes, work samples, sewing and knitting articles, etc.  I use plastic sleeves to hold the various documents and punch holes in the covers to match the holes in the sleeves.  The great thing about these is that you can stack them and open them as shown in the photos above – you can’t do these things with your typical binder.  For labels, I clip little round tags to one of the binder rings.

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