Last week I shared a bunch of really fun ways to print-and-cut your way to a cute and organized binder! And while I personally use my printable dividers and tabs a ton, I also really like to make my own tabbed dividers using cardstock and my Cricut Explore. Not only is cutting out my own tabbed dividers super convenient and budget-friendly (I can usually whip out a set in a matter of minutes using supplies I already have at home!), but this method also allows me to customize them precisely for my unique needs and preferences. Whether I want three tabs down the paper or 10, square tabs or fancy corners, all the same color or multi-colored pages, standard-binder size or smaller, solid paper or patterned…you get it…the customization options really are endless! Today I want to show you how to make tabbed dividers on a Cricut Explore so you too can see how quick and easy it is to customize any binder!
I’ve shared this idea here and there a number of times (Back-to-School binder, DVD dividers), but I’ve never really dived into the nitty gritty of how to actually make them! Today I am going to show you how make tabbed dividers with any number and shape tab, as well as similar file-style dividers that could be used for various purposes!
To make your own tabbed binder dividers, you will need:
- Cricut Explore
- Access to Cricut Design Space
- Colored Cardstock (if you are making dividers for a standard-size binder, you will need to use 12×12″ cardstock – these stacks are my favorite!)
- Hole punch (I like this one because you can adjust the hole placement!)
How to Make Basic 3-Tabbed Dividers
Every project on the Cricut Explore starts in Cricut Design Space, so let’s start there! Open up a “New Project” and place two objects on your canvas: a rectangle and any label/tag/tab shape you prefer. I used “Label” from the The First Few Years cartridge.
Size the large rectangle to fit the paper that will be inside your binder. For a standard binder, make this rectangle 8.5×11″.
Determine how many tabs you want on your dividers and duplicate the label that many times. These dividers will have three tabs down the page, so I replicated the label three times. Bump up the labels RIGHT next to each other, and use the Align tools (up in the top toolbar) to line them up along the top. Next, select ALL THREE TABS at the same time and re-size the entire GROUP to match your paper length (in this case, 11″). At this point, the tabs are the perfect size to fit down your divider page.
You can hide the middle and right-sided tabs while you work on the far left tab. Nudge the tab down until it overlaps with the rectangle image. You may certainly decide how “high” you want your tab to sit, but I recommend using the + in the middle of the image to line up the center of the tab with the edge of the divider. Then, use the “Align” tools to align both the tab and the rectangle all the way to the left.
Once you have the tab placement exactly where you want it (make sure they are aligned left!), select both objects and hit the “Weld” button on the bottom right toolbar. This will combine the two shapes into a single tabbed divider!
Psssttt – If you are unfamiliar with the Weld tool, learn more here!
To make the other two tabs, start by duplicating the first divider and then “Flipping” it (in the top toolbar) horizontally. Now you have the far left and the far right tabs complete. For the middle divider, use the same steps as above, but instead of aligning to the left, align the tab and rectangle to the middle before welding. Once complete, you will have three perfectly customized dividers that can be cut from any 12×12″ paper you wish!
Expanding on this Idea
Before I show you what to do with the tabbed dividers after they are cut, let me show you some quick ways to tweak this concept to suit your style and preferences!
First, don’t forget that you can use pretty much any shape as the top tabs! Below, I used a more curvy shape to make the tabs.
Here are some other shapes I played with too!
By using the same Weld concept with these different images, I sure could create some really fun dividers!
Also, you can essentially make any size and number tabs you wish. Instead of three, let’s make the tabs smaller to fit 5 down the page!
Start with the same tab and rectangle (sized to your paper size), but this time place 5 tabs end-to-end and align along the top.
Again, select all 5 tabs and size them ALL to be 11″ to fit the length of the paper.
Nudge the tabs down until they are at a height you like…
…and then Weld them one at a time to an 8.5×11″ rectangle. Just like before, start with the far left, far right, and middle tabs by using the Align functions on the top toolbar. You will then need to manually space the 2nd and 4th tabs between the sides and middle. If you don’t want to create all 5 manually, remember you can flip any dividers horizontally to be the reverse side. Before welding together, always ensure the tops of your tabs remain even!
Once you have your tabs designed and Welded together, use your Cricut Explore to cut out as many as you need on whatever 12×12″ paper you like!
I’ve only shown 3 and 5 tabs here, but you can essentially make as many tabs as you want using these same steps! Also, you can adjust the size of the dividers you make by simply starting with smaller rectangles! So.many.options, my friends!
Finishing Off the Tabbed Dividers
Once the tabbed dividers are designed and cut, there are a few steps I like to take to finish them off and make them a little more durable.
First, I like to use clear packing tape to reinforce both the tabs themselves and where the holes will go. Even if you don’t want to have “laminated” tabs, I do recommend taping the long edge of the paper for the holes. To do this, simply fold a length of clear packing tape over both the tab and the long edge…
Use a scissors to trim away any excess tape (both along the tab and the bottom), and then use a hole punch to transform your cuts into dividers that can actually go in a binder!
Although your tabbed dividers are ready to be inserted into any binder…
Making File Dividers
Finally, this concept can also be used to sort and organize more than just binders! The tabbed files can be used in any filing system! In fact, I used the exact same concept to create the dividers for our DVD boxes!
Instead of adding a tab shape to various spots along an 8.5×11″ rectangle, I added a single tab centered along the top of a 6×7″ rectangle! Since these dividers were smaller, I could cut them out 4 per page. I then finished them off the exact same way with tape and labels!
As I shared last week, I really like to take the extra step of making my own matching/coordinating dividers for all my binder organization. Sure…I could just grab a set of dividers at an office supply store or the Target Dollar spot, but both these methods (this one and the one I shared last week) only take a bit more time and give me the ultimate look and function I crave for my organization solutions!
If you’re getting ready for back-to-school or assembling your own organizational binder (such as a kitchen binder, Important Documents binder, etc), give this project a try! You too might get addicted to making your own office supplies 😉
Have a great start to your week! I’ll be back on Friday with storage solutions for our last few papers types: kitchen papers, shopping papers, and sentimental papers!