Stickers are fun, at any age. That was one of the first lessons I learned as a classroom teacher. Smiley face stickers on graded papers, goofy stickers as incentives, school spirit stickers – everybody loves ‘em. In fact, I love ‘em so much I used to hoard my favorites!
I see stickers everywhere. I get them as gifts in my subscription boxes. I see them plastering my student’s water bottles. I see bowls of colorful vinyl stickers in my favorite shops around town They offer a great way to personalize anything! But… being me… I’m not willing to pay for stuff that I might be able to make myself.
The good news is, you don’t need anything fancy to make your own stickers. Below are two options for how to make your own stickers without expensive machines or materials!
Option 1: Sticker Paper
Step One: Create a File
Open a new file in the word processor of your choosing. I’m using google docs in the screenshot above, but any word processor that lets you insert images should work. Now, just import your images! Remember: Not all clip art is public domain! You can’t sell, publicize, or claim these images as your own work unless you have proper permission. For example, I’m using images I found in a google search for this tutorial. I don’t have permission to redistribute them, so I can’t post them for you to download. I can, however, post my own original images. If you want to snag some coffee PNGs, check out my freebies page!
Step Two: Print on Sticker Paper
Once you’re happy with your document, print those puppies onto some sticker paper! You can find sticker paper at your local big box store, office supply place, or online. Printable sticker paper varies in price and quality. I’m using a cheap pack from Rock Paper Scissors that I bought off Amazon. Where ever you pick yours up, just make sure it’s printable on a regular inkjet printer.
Quick tip: You can also hand draw designs right onto this sticker paper! Make a completely one-of-a-kind sticker!
Step Three: Cut it out!
Cut those beautiful stickers out! You can use plain old scissors for this, or a blade if your stickers are particularly intricate. With an X-acto or precision cutter, you can actually kiss cut your stickers right on the page! It takes forever, but then they can peel off when you want them. See, just as good as a Cricut! Almost… much cheaper, anyway.
Step Four: Use it! Beautiful!
Stick those puppies where ever your heart desires! Tips: That easy matte sticker paper probably isn’t going to survive washing… so you might not want to use these for water bottles or outdoor projects. The good news is, you can find inkjet printable vinyl! It’s more expensive, but also more durable.
Option 2: Vinyl Book Cover
Step One: Print (or Draw) on Regular Paper
This technique is particularly flexible. Print or draw your designs onto any type of paper you want! Even thick watercolor or marker paper can work, depending on the project. Try some things out and see what you like!
Step Two: Cut it out.
Just like in Option 1, cut your designs out using scissors or a blade. If you’re using small, intricate designs with this technique, you may want to give yourself a wide border. The smaller the cut, the easier it is to mess it up.
Step Three: Arrange and Cover
Cut a piece of wax paper at roughly 8 ½ X 11 and arrange your cutouts on the page. Give them a fairly wide berth. Then, cut a slightly smaller piece of your vinyl book cover. You can get this by the roll on amazon or at your local office supply place. Like sticker paper, it varies in quality and cost.
Peel the corner of the book cover backing and stick to the opposite corner of the wax paper. Go SLOWLY! The trick is to peel the backing as you stick the cover down. You may need to rearrange and hold your cutouts as you go. If you mess one up, it’s okay! You might just have to remake that one sticker.
Finally, take a paper bone or hard plastic card and smooth the vinyl down onto the paper. Be sure to push any air bubbles out! The bubbles make a satisfying crinkly sound, so I like to go over my stickers until they “quiet down”.
Step Four: Cut It Out (Part II) and Stick it Down!
Give your vinyl a good ¼ to ½ inch around the sticker when you cut it out.
Cut around your stickers, giving them a good ¼ to ½ inch border (at least). If your paper is thicker, give them a thicker border. A thin border may look nice, but it runs the risk of peeling back. This is especially a problem on a curved surface, like a water bottle. Higher quality vinyl will have higher quality adhesive, so you won’t need as much border to stick it down. Experiment with different projects to find your perfect fit!
Once you’ve cut it out, peel the wax paper off the back of your sticker and put it on almost anything. These vinyl covered stickers will sustain a bit more wear and tear than their paper cousins, but the quality of the vinyl will determine their lifetime. The cheap vinyl book cover is going to work best on flat, paper projects. Permanent adhesive vinyl will work better for a bigger variety of projects, but it’s more difficult to work with.
Go forth and make stickers! Express yourself in all kinds of fun ways! Give them to your friends as gifts! They may not be the professional looking, gorgeous stickers you buy on Etsy… but they’ll be yours.