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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Quick Notepad Gift Tutorial

What? You don't iron your money?

If you do, you'll probably have a conversation much like this:

Hubby: What are you doing?

Me: I'm ironing money.

Hubby: Why?

Me: Because the bank didn't have any new bills.

Hubby: So why are you ironing old bills?

Me: So they will be nice and flat, of course.

Hubby, mumbling something about lunacy and heredity as he walks away.

Money is always a good graduation gift, but it's so boring to just write a check. This is a fun way to give your graduate a gift he or she will remember.

If you can find new bills, you won't have to have that conversation with your spouse, but it seems that banks in my area don't always have nice, new bills, so I had to get the best they had and then iron them.

Once you have twenty to twenty-five crisp one dollar bills (or any denomination you wish), you can make a graduation "notepad". It's really easy. In addition to the money, all you need are a couple of pieces of cardboard, some padding compound, and a top-sheet you can make on your computer.

You can buy padding compound any place that sells printing supplies. Online it's about $14 for a quart. I don't use it often, and have a few ounces that have lasted for years. You can also buy chipboard at these places, but it's just as easy to use cardboard from a thin box, like a cereal box.

Cut two pieces of cardboard the same size as the bills. Place one with the good side down and place the bills on the printed side.

The top-sheet is optional, but I think it's fun. If you don't use a top-sheet, you can make a money band to go around the finished money pad. For my top-sheet, I just used Microsoft Word and made sure everything fit between the perimeters of a dollar bill. I used Word Art to make the heading, and then wrote a message to the graduate. It looked something like this:

Cut it down to the same size as your money. I don't have a paper cutter, so I just use a quilting ruler and an old blade in my rotary cutter. I put a bill under the ruler to measure.

Then put the top-sheet on top of the bills, and top with the second piece of cardboard. This second cardboard is just to protect the top-sheet.

For a thin pad, like this one, you can use big paper clips, or clamps on the sides. For a thicker pad, or multiple pads, a better clamp is needed. I'll discuss that with the next project below. The red padding compound does stain, and even the white will drip, so do this over a surface that can be easily cleaned or put some papers on the floor. Extend the clamped pad over the edge of your counter, and then just paint the padding compound across the top of the clamped sheets and let dry. You can use a small brush, or even your fingertip. Wash out your brush with water. It takes about thirty minutes to dry, and then use a knife with a flat blade to cut off the top piece of cardboard.

You can make a lot of gifts with your printer and padding compound. The end of the school year means teacher gifts as well as graduation gifts. As a former teacher, I can tell you that practical, consumable gifts are very much appreciated. And who can't use a notepad? You can make them for teachers, friends, and even yourself. I love lined notepads, and like to keep one on my refrigerator for grocery lists. When I saw this pack of multi-colored notebook paper, I knew I had to make some shopping list pads out of it.

I started by cutting off the hole-punched side, leaving me with a 7x10.5 inch sheet. I used WordArt again to make two personalized sayings, and printed twenty-five of them. Then I cut the sheets in half, and then repeated with another set of sayings. That gave me enough for four sets of notepads.

I cut five pieces of cardboard 3.5x10.5 and placed them as I did the money pad, good side down, with the twenty-five sheets on top. Then I stacked the four sets on top of each other and placed the last piece of cardboard on top of the stack.

I tapped the stack against the counter to align all the pieces, and carefully placed a painting stir stick across the top and another across the bottom, and secured them with clamps. Just a clamp on each side here would have made them bulge in the middle. The stir sticks keep it uniformly flat.

Then, I painted the padding compound across the end, and waited for it to dry.

After it dried, I cut the four pads apart with a sharp knife and also cut the top cardboard off. To finish, you can glue a magnet on the back, or leave plain. Those freebie flat magnets work well for this too.

And that's it. You can put together any number of paper crafts: Page a Day Calendar, Chore Coupons, or Award Coupons. You can even put your business cards into a pad to keep them together.

I've linked to these linky parties:

The DIY Showoff

Fine Craft Guild


  1. Thank you for this. such a great idea. come link it up with us. new party every wednesday...

  2. What a fun project! Thanks for linking to my party, please stop back and show another project...it's been awhile since I've washed any money but it does look brand new once it's ironed!

  3. i cracked up laughing about the ironing the dollar bills. it is just amazing the crazy situations we get ourselves into when doing creative projects.

    Fun idea. Thank you for linking it up with us at the DIY CRAFT TUTORIAL LINKY PARTY at

  4. The "Mrs Gomez" has the last word, made me smile!

  5. Oh My Goodness!! This is genius! I love this project, and can't wait to try it :)
    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment. I love spray paint, and am so happy to have found a way (thanks to my sis) to store it all! I've been known to run to Home Depot, buy a couple of cans, and then come home to find the same paint, in some random place...crazy. I also wonder if they think I'm out tagging at night or something (mid life crisis?) ;)


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