I bought a bunch of notebooks online. When I finally received them, I was pretty disappointed with the cover.
So I decided to make custom covers for them. Craft time! (:
Notebook you want to cover
Scrapbook paper or other decorative paper (gift wrap, magazine pages, print out wallpapers from the internet, etc.)
Double stick roll on tape
Other odds & ends (like ribbons, strings, stickers - avoid stickers which are raised - it won't look good with the laminating)
Laminating sheets (From office supply stores) or clear Contact paper (more cutting involved)
Step 1: Background Paper
I used a scrapbook paper pad I bought from ACMoore years ago. It was originally $20 but I had a 50% off coupon (They usually have coupons online you can print out) The $10 I spent on this pad has been well worth it! I've used this pad for tons of things from gift wrapping to making cards.
Anyway, choose a sheet of paper you'd like to use as the background image.
Take the notebook cover and lay it over the paper that you want as your main background.
Trace around the notebook cover and then cut it out. Be sure that you go all the way up to, but do not cover the holes. If you end up covering them like I did, just trim the paper little by little (I used a ruler & a pencil so that it's somewhat straight) until it fits perfectly.
Step 2: Complementing Designs
Next pick out another paper with complementing designs and cut it out. I ended up using 3 different scrapbook paper sheets for this notebook. Save the scrap papers! Go nuts on this step!
Step 3: Lay Things Out - Glue It Down!
Lay your design out and try out different things before gluing things down with the roll on double stick tape.
Once you're satisfied with your layout, start gluing things down.
After laying it out, I decided I wanted to put a ribbon on it so I put the ribbon (backside up) on a scrap piece of paper and then rolled the double stick tape dispenser over it while holding the end down. The ribbon then becomes a sticker-of-sorts and you can just stick it wherever you want. Trim any ribbon that goes over the paper (tip: use sharp scissors and turn the paper over).
This is the roll-on tape I used:
Step 4: Glue It on the Notebook
Once you have everything layed out and glued down to your background page the way you want, its time to glue your new custom cover to the notebook.
First things first. Apply the double stick tape all the way around the edge of the notebook. You don't need to be very precise with this since we're going to laminate the cover anyway.
After applying the tape to the notebook, it's time to put your customized cover on. I do this by starting with the edge furthest from the spiral.
Have the spiral part closest to your body then keep your pointer fingers on the top edge (the long edge) while your palms are on both short edges. This is to ensure that your paper is covering the notebook, but not going over the edges of the notebook. Make sure you're not covering the spiral holes. Once everything is put on right, press your custom cover down on the notebook (where your tape is) to secure.
Step 5: Lamination!
Now its time to laminate! The laminate sheets I got are glossy. They're like sticky transparency film only a little more on the flexible side. If you decide to use the clear contact paper, your final design will be matte.
The sheets I used are here: http://www.amazon.com/C-Line-Adheer-Laminating-Sheets-65001/dp/B0006HWAV4
Clear Contact Paper is tons cheaper and can be cut to size: http://www.amazon.com/Tact-24F-C9E18-06-18-Inch-Multipurpose-Adhesive/dp/B001NPDFF8/ref=pd_sim_hg_1
For the contact paper, lay the contact paper over the notebook cover and trace at least a 1 inch border around the cover, then cut it out.
For the laminate sheet, just take it out of the box. The ones I have were 9"x12" (:
For both, remove the paper backing and starting from the edge of your design closest to the spiral, get the laminate sheet/contact paper to meet the edge of your design. Again, don't go over the holes of the spiral. Keep an eye on either side as you're doing this, making sure that they're as even as possible.
If you're using the contact paper, peel off the backing only an inch at a time as it is less forgiving to mistakes than the laminate sheets.
After you've got your clear sheet over your design properly, rub, rub, rub! Rub around your design's edges to really get it all in there and nice-looking.
Step 6: Completion
Now, cut off the corners of the clear sheet for folding.
I like to fold over the short edges first, then the long edge.
Since my notebook was 8.5X11 I only had a half an inch on either side of the laminate sheet to fold over. I ended up having to use tape to secure the laminate because it wouldn't stay. This shouldn't be a problem if you have a smaller notebook or are using the contact paper.
And that's it!
Your custom notebook is complete!