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Through some trial and lots of error, we finally came up with a feasible way to make some vinyl-esque stickers. Using a combination of shipping labels and clear vinyl laminate we achieved what we think is the cheapest method with the best results. Sure, there are better ways to make them, like buying printable vinyl sheets, but this way is much cheaper and the results are pretty decent.

What you'll need

  • Printable shipping labels - we recommend full sheet labels; the stickiest you can find (we recommend checking eBay).
  • Clear vinyl laminate - this can be found at just about any home improvement store (Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.) It's usually located near the cabinets along with the drawer liners.
  • Something to smooth the laminate onto the paper (squeegee, scraper, etc.)
  • Printer (any kind will do)
  • Design software (nothing fancy - you could use Inkscape, paint.net, etc) Inkscape is what we used.
  • Scissors or paper trimmer

Make sure you check out the video, it shows a bit more of each step than the images do. Please enjoy and if you make it or something like it, we'd love to see it.

Step 1: Designing the Sticker

The whole thing of course, starts with your sticker design. You could do any shape you want, but the easiest solution would be a square or rectangle design. This will be even easier if you have a craft paper trimmer, especially a sliding cutter. We designed ours in Inkscape. Try to avoid curved cuts unless you're really good with a knife or scissors.

Step 2: Printing and Sticker Paper Selection

The next step is to print your design onto a good quality sticker paper. We tried a few different kinds and found that the standard scrap booking sticker paper or really any of the other big box store brands didn't work so well. They would lose there adhesion over time. So, we decided to try shipping labels instead. This worked great. They are super sticky and near impossible to remove once put in place.

The best we had found to this point came in a pack of 100 sheets and only cost 10.99 on eBay. These are super easy to find if you search for them on eBay. So, to this point we are at .11 cents per sheet or about .02 cents per sticker. Not a bad start.

Step 3: Choosing a Laminate

The next thing we wanted to do was give the sticker some protection and a little bit of that vinyl shine. In our first attempt we tried using Mod-Podge. It didn't work so well and it was prone to streaking and causing the colors to run.

The alternative was a type of laminate sheet. Luckily, we found a roll of clear vinyl laminate at our local home improvement store. It is advertised for laminating documents and pictures, but is sold along with the drawer liners or contact paper. A roll of this is about 5 or 6 dollars and you can get a lot of sheets out of it. About 72 sheets to be exact, if you get the 36 foot roll. So that puts us at about .08 per sheet or about .01 cent per sticker.

Step 4: Applying the Vinyl Laminate

To apply it, you need to roll it over the sticker sheet while pressing it down at the same time. A squeegee or some sort of smooth scraper works well for this. We used a drywall mud smoother. The main thing, is to keep the air bubbles out from between the sticker sheet and the laminate.

Step 5: Cutting Out the Stickers

Once the laminate is applied, you simply removed it from your work surface and cut them out using whatever method you choose. We used a paper trimmer for the straight edges and a pair of scissors to round the corners.

Step 6: All Done!

So, that's it. The total amount per sticker using this method is roughly .03 cents per sticker. Which is very cost effective if you don't mind putting in the time to make them which isn't a substantial investment anyway. We were able to make a sheet of these from start to finished stickers in about 4 or 5 minutes and most of that time is spent cutting.

For those who are interested, here is a cost breakdown (minus the cost of printer ink):

The sticker paper – $10.99 total about .11 cents per sheet / .02 cents per sticker

The contact paper – $5.48 total about .08 cents per sheet / .01 cent per sticker

We hope you enjoyed this DIY project and the video that goes along with it.
If you have any questions or comments please let us know, we'd be more than happy to help you out. Thanks for checking out this Instructable.

<p>A corner cutter (corner rounder punch) that cuts a rounded corner is better than scissors. </p>
<p>Or a fingernail clipper :)</p>
Looks great thanks<br>
Great idea! This is off topic but I noticed you tried Mod Podge but it made the ink run. The way you stop this is by spraying the paper with a couple coats of clear acrylic fixative. Then you can use any of the Mod Podges. One good one that would be extremely durable is the Dishwasher Safe Mod Podge. Thanks again!
<p>Cool. Didn't know about that. Thanks for letting us know. That would come in handy on other projects.</p>
<p>I have done something similar but I use the hot laminating pouches. If you put two pages of stickers back-to-back and then put them in a laminating pouch you get both pages of stickers laminated and the machine squeezes out all the bubbles etc. To peel the paper off the back I just use a piece of sticky tape, stick the tape to the paper and peel it back.</p>
Im having a fog. How do you separate the laminate to get to the sticker and how will it be sticky to apply to glass,etc? Maybe im missing a step when I'm reading. Very interested in learning this technique as well
<p>The laminate doesn't peel off the sticker. It protects the sticker. Basically these are just sticker labels laminated on one side and cut out.</p>
<p>Nice! Those look really great. I wasn't aware of this technique. It looks like it works wonderfully. Thank you for sharing that.</p>
I make vinyl decals to sell but, have to say i love this idea. I use a plotter to cut with so i do a lot of layering. This would be an awesome alternative when you have a design where it bleeds from one color to the next and dont have the expensive color cutters. Fabulous idea!
<p>Very good use of simple materials to achieve a good product..... in other words <strong>WOW!</strong> <strong>Way Cool</strong></p>
<p>Thanks. Glad you liked it.</p>
<p>damn..cool...thx guys</p>
<p>You are most welcome.</p>
You didn't take into account the cost of the printer ink in the price per sticker. The printer at work costs and average of $0.12 per page. I've used weatherproof shipping labels by Avery and they hold up to being on a water bottle in a bucket of ice water. They do however cost $0.09 each but virtually no labor!
<p>I wasn't aware that there were weatherproof shipping labels. $.09 doesn't seem too bad. I didn't take the printer ink into account because I am not sure how much it costs per sheet with our printer. We refill our cartridges for fairly cheap, so I can't imagine it's too much. Thanks for the tip on the weatherproof labels I am very intrigued by this.</p>
<p>I really like the concept of using the laminate cover sheet. The last stickers I had professionally made for my wood shop cost an average of 2 cents each and are only 1.25x1.25 which barely leaves the image large enough to be legible. Kudos, you may find one of mine in your mail box soon :)</p>
<p>Awesome. I hope to see one soon. And I agree. The ones you can get online are really nice, but we couldn't justified the price and the amount that we would have to order to get a decent price. This is just a nice solution for all of the frugal people out there.</p>
<p>I've made stickers using this method before and you can get very good results from DIY efforts. I have switched back to gourmet lamination (Avery, specifically, from cheaper GBC) because I prefer the waxed-paper backing that I find substantially easier to peel (GBC has plastic backing that flexes exactly the same as the lamination, so it's difficult to pick an edge apart.)</p><p>One problem is that it's not waterproof. It looks like it should be, but the exposed edge of the paper wicks water. It does dry, so if you use an ink that is not water-soluble (e.g. color laser; some inkjet) it will work okay for the occasional drop of water. If your ink is water-soluble, the text will bleed if it ever gets wet and end up looking very bad. In theory you could print on a plastic label (e.g. <a href="http://www.uline.com/BL_1267/Uline-Weather-Resistant-Laser-Labels" rel="nofollow">these polyester ones which I've never tried</a>) then laminate and it'll be thoroughly protected.</p><p>Another cool option is to use clear labels (<a href="http://www.uline.com/BL_1241/Uline-Clear-Laser-Labels" rel="nofollow">like these ones I've never tried</a>). Obviously this would work best if you have a background that complements your ink color, so typically a light background (silvery, mirrored, etc.) for dark inks.</p>
<p>Wow! Thanks. Very good suggestions. Very helpful. I know for a fact that these are not waterproof, but the price is right. I guess it depends on your intentions. Thanks for sharing this advice.</p>
<p>Try leaving some outside to see how they stand up to UV rays from direct sun exposure. I suspect they'll fade pretty quickly when exposed to the elements, in which case you'll want to find another type of vinyl for using outdoors. I bet there's some Oracal vinyl that would work without driving the cost up.</p>
<p>Awesome advice. We didn't design these for outside use, but I suppose some people would need them to stand up to the elements. I think they would most likely fade as well. I'll have to look into the Oracal vinyl. Thanks for the suggestion.</p>
<p>Great idea to check on the UV exposure. I'm going to try this with some club labels. </p>
<p>This instructable stands out as a very good example of how to think around a need to come out with what you want at a price no commercial company could dream of. So... Well done on a number of levels.</p>
<p>Thank you very much. Really glad you liked it.</p>
<p>you might try using an edge rounder from the craft store to round th edges rather than a scissors. They look like a little stapler and work like a hole punch. You just stick the edge in the mouth, press down on the button and voila! Perfectly rounded corners. They get a lot of use on pictures, especially the wallet senior pictures.</p><p>But, then again this is just a cosmetic step. A company I order from frequently throws in a bookmark and sticker with every order and their stickers are square edged. Depends on your preference.</p>
<p>Very cool. I had never heard of one of these. Thanks for the suggestion.</p>
Sometimes you can get clear contact paper at a place like Big Lots or Dollar Tree or other discount store. But don't put a lot of gasoline into your search. That alone can drive up the cost. Make it an item on your list of &quot;also - buy&quot; items when you go for other things such as office supplies.
<p>You can even get it on Amazon fairly cheap if you lump it in with some other items.</p>
<p>you might try using an edge rounder from the craft store to round th edges rather than a scissors. They look like a little stapler and work like a hole punch. You just stick the edge in the mouth, press down on the button and voila! Perfectly rounded corners. They get a lot of use on pictures, especially the wallet senior pictures.</p><p>But, then again this is just a cosmetic step. A company I order from frequently throws in a bookmark and sticker with every order and their stickers are square edged. Depends on your preference.</p>
<p>you might try using an edge rounder from the craft store to round th edges rather than a scissors. They look like a little stapler and work like a hole punch. You just stick the edge in the mouth, press down on the button and voila! Perfectly rounded corners. They get a lot of use on pictures, especially the wallet senior pictures.</p><p>But, then again this is just a cosmetic step. A company I order from frequently throws in a bookmark and sticker with every order and their stickers are square edged. Depends on your preference.</p>
Very good explanation. Going to try this. Thanks for sharing.
<p>You're welcome. If you can, post an image back, so we can see how it turned out for you.</p>

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