Hello everyone! This is Wendy with a great hybrid project.
Fall is my favorite time of year, for many reasons. One of them is that it’s back to school time. I know what you are thinking, that I love back to school because the kids are back to school. And, while I admit that it’s nice to have a few quiet(er) hours in the day, the real reason I love back to school is for the awesome sales on school supplies.
I love school supplies, but my very favorite is composition books, because they are the base for my favorite hybrid project, altered comp books. Composition books are inexpensive year round, but at back to school time and especially at back to school clearance sales, they are positively cheap. Keep your eyes open and you’ll usually be able pick up more than one for less than a dollar.
Some of you may be thinking, “What’s a composition book?” You’ve probably seen these around and just never knew what they were. Composition books are notebooks with a sewn together binding. They are usually 9 3/4″ by 7 1/2″ with a black spine and a patterned cover (typically black and white) that I like to think of as “crackled paint”. Once you cover that rather bold print with your favorite scrapbooking paper and a few embellishments, you have the perfect custom-decorated notebook. The possible combinations of decoration are only limited by your imagination. I love to make and give these as gifts.
To make an altered composition book you will need:
~A composition notebook
~2-3 printed 8.5 x 11 sheets of your favorite digital scrapbook papers in 1-2 (or more) patterns (For this example I’ll be using 2 papers from Mye’s new kit, Breathe, 2 sheets of the pink diagonal stripe and 1 sheet of the gray floral. You can print only a half-sheet of your second color if you are concerned about printer ink.)
~A paper trimmer
~Masking tape (I like 2″ wide blue painter’s tape)
~A craft knife
~A cutting mat
~Newspaper for protecting your work surface
~Adhesive for tacking down your embellishments (I like to use Glue Dots/Glue Lines and or Mounting Squares if I’m adding dimension to a flat embellishment.)
~Embellishments of your choice I frequently use buttons, ribbons, ribbon charms, and silk flowers. For this tutorial we will use 5/8″ grosgrain ribbon and a tag, butterfly, and word strips printed from Mye’s new Breathe Embellishments.
Step One: print out your papers and trim them to size.
For this example, I will be using papers from Mye’s new release for the Pixels and Co. September Company Stash, Breathe Paper Pack.
You can print them yourself on your home printer or you can take your paper files with you to an office store and have them printed on a laser printer. I just found out about this. I’m excited to try this as it is less likely that the ink will run if it accidentally gets wet. Next, you’ll want to use your paper trimmer to cut your papers into the rough shapes you will need for your notebook. I like to use a single paper on the back of my notebook and to repeat that same paper on the bottom 2/3 of my front cover with a second paper on the top 1/3 of the front cover. Cut the paper you want to use on the back of your notebook to 7 1/2″ x 10 1/4″. Cut the paper you want to use on the bottom front of your notebook to 7 1/2″ x 6″ and trim the paper you wish to use on the top of the front of your notebook to 7 1/2″ x 4 3/4″.
Step Two: prepare your notebook and work surface for gluing.
Spray adhesive is very stinky and very sticky. For this reason, I usually do this step outside. Spread some newspaper over your work surface to protect it from overspray. Lay the notebook on top of the newspaper. I usually start on the back cover, so I lay the notebook face down on the newspaper. Tear off a strip of masking tape about 12″ long. Very, very gently lay it down right along the seam between the black spine of the comp book and the glossy cover. You do not want the spine of your notebook covered in glue, but you do want the glue to go as close to the edge of the spine as possible. DO NOT press down on the tape. If you press down on the tape, it can tear the top layer of paper off of the spine when you remove the it. You don’t really want the tape to stick to the notebook, just to protect the spine from getting sprayed. Spray the notebook with a thin, even coat of glue, making sure to get glue right to the edges of the book/spine. Be careful to spray at a 90 degree angle to avoid coating the open edges of the notebook with glue. Carefully remove the masking tape and gently set it and the newspaper aside for reuse on the other side of the notebook.
Step Three: adhere the paper to the back of the notebook and trim.
Take your trimmed paper and very carefully line up the edge of the paper with edge of the spine. You don’t want to lay the paper down onto the notebook until you have the edges of the paper and the spine butted up against one another. The spray adhesive is very sticky and it is nearly impossible to realign the paper once it has come into full contact with the glue on the cover. When the edges are aligned, gently lay the paper down, working from the spine to the outside edge to avoid and wrinkles or air bubbles. Press down softly over the whole surface of the notebook to make sure the paper is evenly attached to the cover. Next, open the notebook and place it cover down over a cutting mat. Using a craft knife, carefully trim away the excess paper off of the cover being cautious not to undercut or cut into the notebook cover.
Step Four: repeat step two.
Now you are ready to work on the front side of the notebook. Mask the spine of the notebook with the tape, place it on the newspaper, and apply the spray adhesive. Gently remove the tape.
Step Five: adhere the papers to the front of the notebook and trim.
I usually put the paper on the bottom portion of the front cover first. Figure out how far up the notebook you want the bottom paper to go (for me it’s about 2/3 of the front or approximately 5 1/2″ up from the bottom and place your paper accordingly. Again, carefully line up the edge of your paper with the edge of the spine and lay it down even working from spine to outside edge. Repeat the process again to place your last paper onto the top of the notebook. You will want to just barely overlap the top paper over the edge of the bottom paper. It’s ok if the seam is slightly crooked or even if it has a tiny gap, I always cover this seam with embellishments, ribbon, or a strip of paper. Trim the excess paper off of the notebook as described in step three. You are now ready to decorate the notebook.
Step six: add your embellishments.
This is where things get fun and where you don’t need step by step instructions so much as you need your own creativity. Generally speaking, I use my embellishing to cover the seam between the paper on the top of the front of notebook and the paper on the bottom of the front of the notebook. One of the easiest ways to do this it to cut a strip of paper approximately 1/2″ wide and place it over the seam, making sure its edge is flush with the spine, trimming the outside edge if necessary. Spray adhesive or Glue Lines/Glue Dots are a great for this. Another favorite of mine is to run a Glue Line from spine to edge over the seam and to cover it with buttons. For visual interest, I’ll vary the size of the buttons, choosing carefully so that the buttons end at the edge of the notebook and don’t hang over. For this example, I’ll show you how to place a ribbon across the seam without leaving ragged edges visible on the front of the notebook.
Cut a length of ribbon approximately 12″ long. Lay it over the seam on the front cover, aligning it so it looks right to you. On the left side of the cover, right next to the spine, use your craft knife to poke a small hole on either side of the ribbon. You are not trying to make a hole through the cover, just to make a visual mark you can use as your beginning and end points in the next step. Set the ribbon aside for a few minutes and open the notebook. Place it so the front cover is face up on top of your cutting mat. Carefully, use your craft knife to make a cut in the cover from one mark to the other. You won’t be able to make it all the way through the cover with one stroke, you will have to repeat the cut several times until you have a 5/8″ slit in the cover next to the spine. Lay the end of your ribbon over the slit and use the dull side of your craft knife to push the ribbon through the slit from the front to the inside of the cover and pull it through until you have about 1 1/2″ inside the cover. You may have to pull the ribbon back and forth until you can get it to lay flat through the slit. Secure the ribbon to the inside of the cover using Glue Dots/Glue Line.
On the front cover of the notebook, gently pull the ribbon across the front of the notebook, attaching it to the notebook with adheisives if you desire (I like to hold the ribbon in place with some Glue Line or Glue Dots) and then wrap it around to the inside cover about 1 1/2″. Trim it to length if necessary. Secure the ribbon in place on the inside of the cover with adhesives.
Now you are ready to add the finishing touches, in this case they are the tag, butterfly, and word strips I printed and cut out by hand. Turn the tag so that the hole is to your right. Attach the butterfly to the left side of the tag and the word strips on the right side of the tag to the tag with the adhesives of your choice. (I used mounting squares to add dimension.) Now attach the tag to the front center of the notebook over the ribbon and you are done!
Altered composition notebooks are one of my very favorite hybrid crafts because of their versatility and creative potential. I hope you’ll love them too. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go hit a back to school clearance sale or two!