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I've been crafting embellished notebooks for years now, and although plenty of other crafters also make notebooks like these and have ...

Two Shabby Chic Gift Crafts - a tutorial

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I've been crafting embellished notebooks for years now, and although plenty of other crafters also make notebooks like these and have also done tutorials on them, I haven't ever seen them done quite like mine. So I thought it'd be a fun craft to share, especially with Valentine's Day coming up. These would make an awesome handmade gift for the loves of your life. 

Also, while I'm at it I'll show you how I make these sweet little gift tags--they're so easy and giftable!

 First thing is to get some mini composition notebooks. These can be found all sorts of places {Walmart, Walgreens, Dollar Tree} and for dirt cheap! You will also need pretty scrapbook paper. I usually cut a 12x12 sheet in half and use the half size for one notebook.
 Using a sponge brush, and holding the front and back covers out with my fingers, I spread an even, but thin, layer of Mod Podge onto the notebook.
 Then I quickly place it on the backside of my scrapbooking paper, working the edges so that they adhere well. I usually don't have to worry about bubbles unless I use a thin scrapbooking paper. The heavy weight paper is better for avoiding issues with bubbles.
 Work quickly to smooth it down and fold your notebook closed, and quickly stretch the paper over and around the notebook so it's snug. I've learned the hard way not to adhere it with the cover open and let it dry that way--that method usually produces rips at the crease.
 Before it gets a chance to dry well, make sure your notebook pages aren't sticking to the covers.
 I usually make several notebooks at a time, assembly line style is always the fastest, and I let them sit for several minutes to dry some before moving on...
 Next you want to gently cut away the excess paper, getting the edge as flush as possible with your book cover. You don't want overhang!
 They're already pretty! You could even leave them finished here, but I like to do quite a bit more embellishing... so continue if you dare...
Aren't they sweet?

I like to cover the inside as well, so I use pages from old books.

Cut out several pages and trim the edge so that it's straight.

Once again, using a spongebrush, apply Mod Podge to the inside cover being careful not to get Mod Podge on the notebook paper. Remember to coat the edges and corners well, but use a thin layer. Too much Mod Podge causes paper to bubble and wrinkle.
Apply it, smoothing it quickly and working the edge up to the binding as close as you can get it...

...then once again, trim the excess off as flush with the notebook as possible.

I think covering the inside makes it just that much prettier and finished, and also leaves a pleasant surprise for someone upon their first time opening it.

NOTE: If your notebook cover is curling out, like mine in the picture above, have no fear! In fact, this works to our advantage later.

ALSO: If your book page ends up sticking to the notebook paper {as shown above}, no worries...
Fixing this is as easy as ripping the page out.

Next, chose your stamp. These notebooks were for an Etsy order I received and the customer requested "P", but any pretty stamp will work. I always use Staz-On ink pads, they're the best when working with Mod Podge as the ink won't bleed or run once it's set.

Each notebook get's a stamp, slightly off center to the right.

I also like to do crown stamps! Or birds... or anything pretty. Sometimes I even use Mod Podge to apply a pretty image or cut out. Get creative!

Using a felt ink applicator {mine is from the Jim Holtz line, available at Michael's} I use the same ink to give the edges a distressed patina. I love the way this step makes the notebooks pop! If you don't have a felt ink applicator, you can use the ink pad directly, lightly brushing the edges with the pad. That method, however, applies the ink more severely and is best done with an old, slightly dry ink pad.
So pretty! I love an aged look. I also do the inside cover pages as well:
Then, using a sewing pin, I apply Swarovski crystals to the stamped image. This step adds a little bling to the notebook.
My favorite way to apply the crystals is to dip a pin in Mod Podge and touch it to the backside of the crystal, which will stick to the pin and be easy to place.
Like so:
Almost done! But not quite yet....
This is optional, but it's my favorite way to finish off my notebooks. I brush on a layer of matte finish Mod Podge all over the outside cover. This step makes my notebooks extra durable. Another advantage is that it causes the cover to curl back in, and that makes them close up so nicely.
I've seen lots of embellished notebooks for sale in craft boutiques, and all of them have had the same problem that really bothers me: the decorative paper easily peels off the notebook, especially at the covers. I've been able to prevent this from ever happening to my notebooks by lightly tapping my sponge brush {just barely damp with Mod Podge} against the cover edges. It seals the paper, and I've NEVER had mine separate. It was hard with one hand to get a photo of this step, but hopefully you get the idea:
Now it's time to dry, carefully prop them up like so:
You will find they dry fairly quickly.
My final touch is to add a ribbon & bow. No craft is complete without a bow, right?
Stretch your ribbon under the front cover and tie in a bow or knot on the front.
To seal the ends and keep them from fraying, very quickly and carefully run a lighter over the end. This works with any ribbon made from a synthetic material {do not use this on cotton or wool ribbon!}
See how it changes the ends from frayed:
To straight & sealed:
I like to use a dot of hot glue under my bow to keep the ribbon in place, and...
Ta-da! All done. So pretty!
They are an excellent handmade gift for friends, teachers, etc. Or keep them for yourself, everyone likes their things to be pretty.
My embellished notebooks do have a lot of steps, but the finished product is so worth it. They're classy and chic, and well made! {I can't believe some tutorials have people apply the scrapbook paper to the notebooks with cheap scrapbooking tape! Do I sound like a craft snob??? I try for the best quality in my crafts. Tape just doesn't do it...}
I let my daughter use one for her "notes".
She likes it!

Next, the gift tags! These are easy and much faster to whip up. I get my pre-strung tags at the office supply store, and give them a coffee bath for 10-15 minutes. Hot coffee works best. Then, remove them and let them dry on paper towels until dry.
The coffee stain makes them look old and gives them a pretty patina. Then, I stamp a pretty image on one side, and use a "To & From" stamp on the back.
You could stop there, but sometimes I like to add a little bling, so again using a straight pin, I apply some Mod Podge to the stamped image.
And then glitter and also a Swarovski crystal:
Let them dry and those pretty crystals set.
Now they're ready to be used or gifted!
That was easy, wasn't it?
I think these would make an excellent Valentine's Day gift!
As would the notebooks.

Thanks for stopping by
happy crafting!

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10 *´¯`* ℓσvεℓү cσммεηтs *´¯`*

  1. Heather I love these! I have done something simular with regular. Notebooks (reall cheap during back to school season)... I would love to craft with you sometime!

  2. I love Modge Podge. I think I'll start a blog that is nothing but an ode to MP.

  3. What a beautiful idea! Thank you so much for sharing with us crafty junkies. Can't wait to try this!

  4. How fabulous are these? Just lovely and like you said - the perfect handmade gift! Thanks for sharing all of crafty (and super classy!) tips. xo

  5. This is amazing! So so glad I found your blog I love craft projects I will definitely be trying this out I think they would be wonderful as gifts for friends!


  6. Love these tutorials, Heather. Is there any way possible way you can do one on making paper streamer rosettes?


  7. Amazing tutorial! I like it! You are so creative, perfect! Natália

  8. These are beautiful, but your little girl breaks my heart with her cuteness!

  9. I love this idea and thank you for posting it. Very elegant and cant wait to try one myself.


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