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cassette tape notebooks

Last week I told you that flowers are in, very in. Well vintage is also very in, along with retro and old school. And though it might sadden you to realize it, cassette tapes are entirely old school these days. How many of us even own a tape player anymore? I sure don’t, though I refuse to get rid of a handful of my favourite old tapes.

What with your iPod or your iPhone or even your non Apple brand mp3 player (I hear that some people have those??), you sure don’t need to carry around cassettes, but they’re kind of fun to remember fondly. Here’s a project that combines the charm of such an outdated piece of technology with different functionality – notebooks!

What You’ll Need:

  • cardstock (black, white, brown and possibly a bright colour)
  • scissors
  • pen/pencil
  • gluestick
  • coloured markers
  • silver paint pen or sharpie
  • blank or lined printer weight paper
  • a paper cutter
  • cassette tape notebook template – number 1. under “Paper patterns and templates” (or you may want to design your own)

Putting It Together:

1) Make your template. Mine is based off the size of an actual cassette tape. You can draw your own, or print and cut out the template linked to above.

You need two rectangles (2 1/2 by 4 inches), one smaller rectangle with the top corners rounded and a round-ended rectangle cut out of its middle, two small circles (about 1/2 inch across), one small rectangle (about 1 inch by 1/2 inch), and one rectangular shape with inward-slanting ends – that center bit along the bottom of the cassette.

2) Trace the components of your template onto the various paper colours and cut out.


Here’s a tip for getting really neat lines when cutting with scissors: use the back of the blades. Do your cutting towards the back of the scissors, closest to the handle, and you’ll have more control and get cleaner lines.

3) Take your silver sharpie and draw a line around the edge of each piece A and of piece B, and also of each small circle (piece E). I use this technique a lot with my cards and other paper crafts. I find it gives a nice definition to the edges of things. Just run the tip of your marker carefully beside the edge of your paper, bumping up along the edge.

Do the same in a complimenting colour with piece C.

4) Take piece D and trace it onto your brown paper. Draw a slightly curved line across either end of the rectangle, then cut out these two ends.


5) Glue the brown shapes onto piece D. For detail, draw some fine pen lines on the brown paper to imitate  lines of wound up tape.


6) Take your two piece Es and draw six little silver rectangles from the edges, facing inward, at evenly spaced intervals.


7) Glue piece B to the bottom center of one of piece A. Glue piece C above it. Glue pieces D and E into place.


8) It’s all about the details: using a dark pen, draw a small “A” box on the top left of the cassette, with 2 or 3 lines across the top of the tape. Using your silver pen, draw small circles and rectangles on piece B, as shown.


9) Using your paper cutter, cut a stack of printer-weight paper the same size as piece A – 2 1/2 by 4 inches. Stack this paper between both piece As (front and back cover).


10) Take your pages and covers to a print shop to have them bound. I simply got the print shop to punch the holes for me, since I already had coil binding at home, recycled from old notebooks and calendars.

Be sure to explain to the print shop employee exactly which edge you want to have bound. They have a ton of things on the go for customers at any given time, and lack of clarity on your part might lead them to punch the wrong side. As happened here. Not that it’s a BIG deal, just kind of a pain.

They may also have to bind the short edge, depending on their machine. The first print shop I used was unable to bind the top long edge of my cassette notebooks, as this made the paper too short for them to feed into the machine. So there may be that limitation. You might just want to try another print shop, though; the second one I went to was able to bind the top edge just as I wanted.

You can do the hole punching yourself, by tracing an old spiral bound page and punching holes in the appropriate spots. You’ll have to repeat for every few pages though. This is what, in technical crafting terms, is known as a massive pain in the ass. I’d just use the print shop.

And enjoy! Write yourself some old-school notes.

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