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Folder 3X5

I always liked using index cards for notes and lists and that sort of thing.  And I like those “pocket briefcases” that Levenger makes.  But they can be a little large for shirt pockets, and they are also a little thick.  (I should probably say here that I have four different types of Levenger’s Pocket Briefcases, and would not part with them and still use them.  They are particularly nice in that most of them allow you to write on them without extracting a card.)  Anyway, this is my workaround, which is based upon an old letterfold technique.  I think this might be particularly nice for those of you out there who use a Hipster PDA, but who want something a little more elegant than binder clips (and which won’t scratch a wooden desk, etc.). 

Here are instructions (with pictures) for making your own useful index-card wallet thing out of paper:

Step One–Get a nice piece of paper.  The one below is a cut-out section of a shopping bag.  Despite the appearance, it is a rectangle (7 7/8″ X 9 7/8″).  This size will give you a card holder that is about 3 1/8″ X 5 1/8″.  You could use standard (well in the bizarro U.S. sense of the word “standard,” at least, where we still use inches without a trace of irony) 8 1/2″ X 11″ letter paper.  Shopping bag paper is very durable.  And sometimes it has cool designs like this on it.  My personal favorites so far are from two used bookstores in Burlington, Crow Bookshop (which has a picture of a crow) and North Country Books (which depicts a growling bear).  Using shopping bags is also almost-sort-of-like reusing stuff and being less wasteful, kinda.  Take any design you want to appear on the finished product and put that part face down, not like it appears below, but instead so that you can’t see the cool design at all, cause it’s facing down. . .


Step Two–Take the bottom right corner and fold it so that it exactly meets the top left corner and crease the fold.


Step Three–Unfold and then fold from one end of the crease you just made to the other end of the crease you just made, which will give you a new fold that should start at the bottom right corner and extend all the way to the top left corner.


Step Four–These two creases have made an “X” in the middle of the paper.  Fold now the bottom right corner so that it ends up exactly at that “X”.


Step Five–Then take the bottom left corner and fold it so that its crease ends up at the “X” in the middle of the paper and its corner overlaps the previous fold and lines up along its top edge.


Step Six–The next fold overlaps the previous fold, too.  And it’s crease also goes exactly to the middle of the paper (which I have turned now a little, for reasons that seemed to make sense at the time but which seem stupid and ill-conisdered now).


Step Seven–So now fold the top part down so that the point exactly meets the center of the thing.  This pointy part, let us call it “A,” will need to be inserted into the slots at which the arrows are pointing in the drawing below (as you fold the thing now in half along its crease).  It is a difficult manuever the first time, but it gets much easier after you do a couple. This whole sequence is called a “Daisy Letterfold” and is diagrammatically represented much more succinctly here: http://www.ghh.com/elf/daisy_l.html by John Cunliffe.  Cunliffe refers to the Daisy Letterfold’s creator as Nick Robinson, but I’m pretty sure I have seen this depicted in much older works, although not so well as Cunliffe does.


This gives you the thing shown below, which has a pocket accessible from the top, and a different pocket accessible from the side.  There is also a more secure pocket which may only be opened by unfolding the whole apparatus, although I rarely use that one.  I use the top pocket for blank cards and the other one for cards with stuff on them, because there is less chance of losing cards in the side pocket accidentally, although it has never happened to me. 


Unlike the leather “Pocket Briefcases” and other index card holders I have seen, this one accomodates a pen quite easily, without having to add a little pen-holding loop apparatus thing, which would in any case detract from the sleek design (and its ability to store groups of cards in card-files that are adequately roomy). 


Anyway, there’s that. 


1. Revision and Extension to Index Card Folder Diagram « Sure as a Blog Returns to its Vomit - October 27, 2006

[…] There has been a lot of action on this site in the last few days regarding the index card wallet, and I always wanted to clarify one point but had not got around to it yet.  So today is the day, before a lot more people have somewhat inadequate folders for their Hipster PDAs or index cards.  So, if you follow the instructions that I have already posted on this site as a modified daisy letterfold, you will end up with a folder that has a horizontal crease in it.  This is ordinarily O.K.  It works out fine if you are using paper bags or heavy-duty paper of some sort.  But if you are doing something fancy, or printing in colors on the paper, or using shiny types of paper, it looks kinda bad.  So here is the solution:  […]

2. Folding paper into a self-locking 3X5-sized shape « Sure as a Blog Returns to its Vomit - December 17, 2006

[…] Et voila!  The 8.5 x 7 becomes exactly 3×5 inches, suitable for putting in one of these nice folders, (also in this really bad picture below)  […]

3. Alternative Index Card Folder Design for Hipster PDAs « Pretty Good on Paper - December 29, 2006

[…] December 29, 2006 Posted by caveblogem in Other, how to, lifehack, Origami, Hipster PDA. trackback For those of you who want something slightly different from all of those paper folders for indexcards that you have begun to see all over the place, thanks to this site, here is an alternative design that I just discovered.  It is simple to fold, and a little more rigid, but must be folded from paper that is a little larger than standard size.  For the model below I used a very nice, heavy, ivory sheet of 11 x 17 inch paper that I cut down to 9 x 14 inches. […]

4. emily - June 18, 2008

i like this website.

5. Vivian - September 20, 2008

i’m psyched to try this!!! many years ago (i think in a past life!), i was doing some vocational-aptitude tests and came out super high on one using these visual-perceptual skills! it had pictures of a rectangle, with random squares, triangles, etc., of different colors, positioned in certain ways after being “folded” in. The task was to select which of 5 choices would be the UNfolded version.
anyway, my family has teased me for years because i rearrange my furniture often. i can walk into a room and visually rearrange the furniture instantly. YOU MUST HAVE THIS SKILL, too!!!
oh, and btw, now i’m a psychologist!

6. caveblogem - September 22, 2008

Thanks, Vivian, and you’re welcome and all that. Flattering, but I don’t think I have that skill with furniture rearrangement. Sounds like it would be a nice skill to have, though, being a sort of feng-shui savant.

7. Reza - November 1, 2009

This is not just a great design, it is a cure for ADD.

A few years ago I read an article about a multi-billionaire businessman (I think it was Warren Buffet, but not sure) uses index cards to run his business. He has an index card for each company he owns and writes down his thoughts and to-do’s. To remember his thoughts and think of new ones, he would shuffle through his cards any time he had a chance. Perhaps using the index cards is the secret, I thought. So, I decided that I was going to try this method hoping that there is some causality between using them and the multi-billion dollar enterprise.

Clearly, I now needed a place to put the index cards. A nice leather holder, I thought at first. I looked through the Inernet and I stumbled on what appears to be a favorite site of yours, Levenger. I was shocked to find that I had to pay $40-80 for a leather holder. ‘No way I’d get to a billion if I buy stuff like this,’ I thought. So, I looked for a DIY alternative and found your design.

A few years back, my wife and I took a trip to Napa wine country a few years ago and accumulated a bunch of paper bags from the wineries. I used a bag from one of my favorite wineries (Miner Family Vineyards). Great cab. It was a black bag with their really cool logo. Anyway, I made my index card holder using your instructions.

Cave, I gotta tell you, though I’m not much closer to a billion dollars, this little folder has cured my ADD. I can’t live without it. It organizes my crazy life. It looks really great. And, it’s a great conversation piece at business meetings. It tells people that the owner is not only organized, but thrifty, resourceful, believes in sustainability and has good taste in wine. Awesome design. Thank you.

caveblogem - November 1, 2009

Reza, what a nice thing to say. Thank you so much. I’ve always hoped that somebody out there would actually use some of these designs. I think they are pretty cool. I use the paper kind now exclusively, and predominantly the type pictured above, although I still use a leather one to store extra note cards in my book bag/briefcase thing. I hadn’t heard that story about Warren Buffet. It would be pretty nice to have one card for each company you own, or own a company, I suppose.

When I wrote that post, I used those Levenger things, but I stopped a couple of years back because of some really horrible service from Levenger. I haven’t purchased anything from them since.

8. Mili - March 23, 2011

I think I must be some kind of freak in that I have recently decided to switch to 6×4 cards from the 3×5 I used to use :-) Problem is, most of the copious resources available are for 3x5s, including this one which is way more interesting and useful than all the others I’ve seen so far, so I am just squirming to try it.

i am really mathematically challenged though, so I wanted to ask you if you might be able to figure out what dimensions the initial sheet of paper would have to have to end up with a holder that fits those damnable six -by-fours ;-)

Then to show my thanks I will direct you to the instructions on how to make a levenger-like holder for your cards – you know, with the nifty corners ;-)

caveblogem - April 20, 2011

Sorry to take so long getting back to you. I haven’t been blogging lately and all that. . . If you use a standard (in the US it is the standard, at least) 8 1/2 X 11 Inch sheet, this will come out at 3 7/8 X 6 inches. Is that close enough?

9. Marjorie Pillos - February 2, 2016

I’m so glad I found out about this! I’ve had hassles with just holding index cards in my binder. Now I have something smaller and accessible for them!! :) I really like this idea

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