The new 4x6 planner I may be able to finish before January - Sharing some ideas and posing a few questions

I've tried them all, DIY friends. Like all of you, I've tried any number of sizes, pages, and combinations. But the bottom line remains, I never pay $60 for a pre-made planner and I always have a blast working on my own custom planner.

I didn't even make a planner for 2013 because my 2012 planner was an unmitigated disaster and I never used it. I used a disc binding system, but I made the mistake of binding it from the top instead of the side. I also used cheap filmy plastic as a cover. And finally,I made it too thick and too complicated. Which is something I am always apt to do.

I'm just in the infancy of the project, so there is time. That, and I have to be able to afford ink for my printer (can you believe how expensive even the Kodak ink has gotten?!). Nonetheless, I want to at least start designing the pages and deciding what all to put in there. First of all, I'm going to streamline my calendar pages. 2012's beefy planner was about an inch and a half thick and it only had half a year in it. I might go to a two-week per page format or even month to a page format. I got to thinking about it and I realized I really only use the calendar pages to write down the very few appointments I have and the days when bills are due. So I really don't need that much writing space on the calendar.

Aside from streamlined calendar pages, I was considering these types of pages too:

- A couple to-do pages: I don't use them a lot, but I use them on occasion, so I'll probably put two or three double-sided pages in there and reprint as I need them.

- Grocery list pages: I use these a lot, so they're going in.

- Random note pages: Again, I use these a lot

- I tried to use my finance pages, but I fear the ones I created were a little too complex. If I include these at all, I'll likely revamp my pages. If y'all have any suggestions or have a good template, let me know.

- In the past, I've included too many creative pages. I'm a writer and I included these as a way to provide me something to work on when I get bored or when I just need to write something random. Sadly, I never used these. Nonetheless, I'd like to include some manner of prompts or something. Again, this is something I'm going to have to ponder in order to come up with something I'll actually use. Once again, if you have any good suggestions or templates, let me know.

The rest is all up in the air. We shall see if I can actually manage a functional planner that I will use.

One of the major problems I'm facing with this is an appropriate cover. Covers for 4x6 sizes aren't common at all and 3x5 cards are just too small for my taste and the printing gets too tricky. Have any of y'all seen anything online that may suit? If not, do you know of a good (easy) fabric pattern for one? Other ideas? *What I want is something with a few card slots and a pen loop. Maybe a zipper. I'm going to try to come up with my own design for a fabric one, but I'm still not very good at sewing and therefore don't always know what I'm doing when I'm coming up with designs. :p

Hey, y'all, thanks for taking a moment to read this. DIY has been rather slower than I like lately and I felt the need to provide some activity.

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Do a google search for e-reader cover patterns and wallet patterns. Pinterest is a good source too. That should give you somewhere to start on sewing patterns. They may not be perfect, but if you take a bit from one and a bit from another, and draw things out before you get out the scissors, it should work fine.

On prompts--I would make a prompt page with nothing but prompts, and then use blank notepaper to write. If you make a zillion forms, you'll never use them, or you will use one up and not another, or whatever. I used to use to-do forms and note forms and all kinds of forms, but the longer I go the fewer forms I use. It really doesn't have to be that custom. You can make a ruled sheet do almost anything, and a lightly gridded sheet will do even more.

I like making my own covers for things. I have a stock of cover-weight plastic, and I have some paperboard. You can even cannibalize the flexible cutting boards at walmart if you can't find anything you like better. I have been known to use a heat-sealer on pocket protectors to make different interior pockety things. I have also sewn my own purses and wallets looking for the 'best' arrangement. *shrug* Nothing is ever perfect but you can get to 'good enough for a while'.. :)


following your progress

I will definitely be following you on this project. I have fallen in love with the Arc mini which, at 4.25" x 5.75", is close to 4x6. And I, too, am looking to customize. Just haven't gotten started Please add pictures. I just love DIY, work-in-progress pictures. I am looking to use fabric for my covers with board in between to make them nice and sturdy.

Lucy the Literacy Lady, Literacy Intervention Specialist

my planner cover

I was thinking about using interfacing and the iron-on vinyl coating stuff for mine. I want to use the planner cover as a wallet too, so I want it to be soft and flexible. As I mentioned above, I'm still a novice sewer so I may be biting off more than I can chew, but I will eventually get it right once I start. I have a basic design and I'm still working on how to execute it. I always manage to do better if I design it myself.

Here's a link to my first drawing if you're interested:

I'll probably have to come up with some other manner of closure because I don't have a pair of pliers for the snaps, but I might just buy one for future projects anyway. It all depends. My budget is always limited, so I'm going to have to gather supplies gradually.

I probably will use one of the Arc mini covers for the actual planner. Generally it works better if the cover is a tad smaller than the pages and cover slots. At least that's what I've discovered through using bought covers/padfolios/etc.

I started on my calendar pages today. I'm doing two weeks per page to cut down on the bulk. I'm still trying to decide what extra pages I want to include. I can't use too many because as I mentioned, my last 4x6 attempt was WAYYYY too thick and bulky.

sewing plan

Interfacing is a good idea.

The magnetic snaps for purses are cool, and you can bend those tabs over with your fingers. I use extra interfacing around them so the fabric doesn't fatigue too bad. I like the really thick, stiff stuff you can use for making fabric boxes for that area. Likewise button and loop type closures are good. Since you've got zips or flaps on all your pockets, the security of the overall closure is a little less of a big deal, so even a small flap with sew-in velcro is an option.

To stiffen your outside covers, you could also use a flexible cutting board rather than interfacing or that stiff stuff I mentioned earlier (I have used Pellon double-sided fusible and various weights of lighter stuff). If you are going to iron-on vinyl the outer fabric, you could even use cardboard or paperboard as a stiffener, since the fabric itself will be moisture resistant.

good luck, looking forward to seeing your next installment. :)


The internet is awesome

I've been looking up a lot of sewing articles and how-tos about using vinyl coating and interfacing and what-not and I've decided to use sew-in interfacing despite the challenge it poses to beginning seamstresses. I figure my Grandmother never used iron-on interfacing, so why not try it myself. It solves the problem of combining iron-on interfacing with with vinyl fabric.

I've done a few more drawings, but mainly for figuring out the different components of the wallet/planner and the measurements of the finished product. Now I have to do some more of the individual fabric pieces and how I'm going to put them together.

It seems like a convoluted way to go about it, but I've never been good with patterns and if I do it the hard way the first time, I'll understand it better.

I think I might try Sketch-Up for the final plans. Seems like it would work well for sewing patterns.

*Okay, so maybe not SketchUp. It's a lot more complicated than it used to be. And no longer free it would seem. Wow.

*Realized I had the right diagram-making software all along - EDraw MindMap.

Edging tape

Have a look at card making, scrap booking and quilting supply websites. You can get decorated, cloth based adhesive tape. Like a softer, prettier, thinner version of duct tape.

It would be a nice way to give a strong but flexible edging to your planner

As Lucymae pointed out, the

As Lucymae pointed out, the Arc mini which, at 4.25" x 5.75", is close to 4x6.

You might want to reuse the thin plastic that was incorporated in your 2012 planner to make dividers.
If possible, color code them.

Some years ago, I found out on this forum the true cost of printing grids on printer paper at a local big box store versus buying a letter size Rhodia pad.
The numbers were not in favor of the D.I.Y solution.

Even worse If I wanted to do all my printing at home.


I find that a yearly calendar, and printouts for the busiest months, weeks and days are sufficient.

People in academics or other fields with long term set schedules can probably print the monthly pages 3 months in advance.

I use pre-punched and printed sheets of grid, smooth recycled paper in Junior/half letter size format.
For my page a day notes or/and journaling; project outline (writings, ideas); conferences and/or lecture notes and diagrams.

Grocery lists and random notes are written on a recycled paper notepad.
The Grocery master lists one for each type of goods at the grocery store: shelf, cold and frozen are kept inside page protectors because I use them every time I go shopping.

To do list are digital only.

To boost creativity I like:

The Six Thinking Hats or any color coded method.
I color code a lot and it is very effective for me.

But the word trigger or quote method might work better for you.

You could keep a list of words that trigger your imagination, some examples are authors, film makers, painters, technical innovations, countries, music genres...

And another list of favorite, brilliant, irritating and funny quotes.

For finances, a spreadsheet in letter format with lines for months and columns for investments, bills, other expenses which amount fluctuate such as groceries, wardrobe/beauty, hobbies,big projects... Make sure you have a set place to keep your receipts in your D.I.Y planner.

Hope this help!


Thanks for all the suggestions. I looked briefly at the Six Thinking Hats method. When I have more time I'll read the article more carefully. Looks like an interesting way to go about new ideas, but I don't think I could use it for everything. I haven't tried much color coding because it generally just over complicates things in my mind. But I think it would work well for problem scenes and sticky spots.

As far as the planner cover/wallet, I still don't have all the supplies, but I'm getting there. I've got a bunch of other projects in mind that I'll likely try first just to hone my skills. My Mom is a fantastic seamstress and she's given me some good advice and even offered to give me some tools and supplies.

I've had a few ideas for prompt pages and the bi-weekly calendar may turn out to be exactly what I need. A poet friend of mine who has slowly but surely become fairly well-known wants to start a magazine with me and a few other writers, which will make it necessary to plan my writing time more efficiently. And I'll need to think of ideas around a theme more often, so I'm thinking prompt pages for the specific themes my mad genius scatterbrained friend comes up with.

And I HAVE TO START SCHEDULING MY FREE TIME! To a degree, anyway. I hate the idea of planning every minute of every day, but I'm going to have to set aside certain days after work for certain projects if I'm going to get any of them done. Especially now that I have deadlines.

When did I get so busy?!