Photo Tutorial: Create Your Own One-of-a-Kind Phone Case Using Napkins, Glue, & Inspiration

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create your own cell phone case
Today’s post comes from Shira Z. Carmel, a musician, teacher, and designer from Jerusalem, Israel. I met Shira a couple of weeks ago and was quite impressed with her custom phone cover. When she told me she made it herself, I had to know how. Shira was kind enough to repeat the process, and take a photo of each and every step.

This process works with any phone – in fact, it works with any plastic surface, really. If you want to create your own cell phone case for a completely unique, handmade look, read on.

What You’ll Need

create your own cell phone case

To make this work, you’ll have to get:

  • A phone case made of plastic.
  • “Napkin glue,” which you can easily get at any craft store. I have “Mod Podge,” which cost around $4.
  • A nice napkin with a pattern or a cool picture on it (fancy patterned tissues could work as well).
  • A pair of scissors.
  • Optional: a paintbrush.

create own phone case

This is the cover I bought (it was just $7). It has two parts – we’ll use the hard plastic (pink) part.

The Process

The first step is to separate the top layer (out of three) of the napkin, so you’re left with a very thin piece of patterned tissue:

create own phone case

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Next, we need find a pattern that we like on the napkin, one that fits the size of the surface we want to cover:

create own phone case

Actually – I like this one better! Do bear in mind that white napkins become transparent in this process.

create a phone case

Now, cut the napkin down to size so it’s easier to handle:

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Next, coat the surface with a nice, even layer of glue. You can use your fingers (fun!) or a (clean) paintbrush:

create a phone case

Now we come to the most important part of the process. Carefully and quickly stick the napkin onto the adhesive surface. Start with the part that’s most important to you first, and make sure it’s in place:

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Don’t stick the napkin into place all at once. The most common issue with this process is getting tiny bubbles or wrinkles on the surface, so be gentle here, sticking just a bit at a time and smoothing things over as you go. If the napkin stats tearing, don’t panic: Just straighten it back into place; it’ll look fine in the end. And here it is – as you can see, there are some bubbles and cracks along the surface, but we’re going for a handmade look so this isn’t a big deal:

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Next, apply a nice, even layer of glue over the napkin (a top coat). The first layer doesn’t have to be dry, but you must take care not to tear the napkin up. This is a good time to start using the brush (be sure to wash it well afterwards):

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After the first top-coat, your custom case should look like this:

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Make sure you glue the sides, too, so the napkin doesn’t fall off or tear out:

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Now let everything dry for a while, and then put on another layer of glue.

After the second layer, carefully cut away all of the extra napkin bits so you end up with just what you need:

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Now, carefully clear out the hole for the lens, as well as any other holes:

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Apply a layer of glue to the sides of the holes you just cleared, so the napkin doesn’t start fraying from there:

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At this point, I decided the front end of the case seemed a bit dull, so I cut out a nice flower from the napkin and applied it individually using the same technique (initial layer of glue, then stick it on, then two top coats):

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If you apply the pattern to the front of the case, too, you have to get creative with how you leave it to dry:

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All that remains now is to let your design completely and fully dry. Give it some time – go have a cup of tea, or even turn in for the night and continue tomorrow.

Finally, it was time to fit the case back together:

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And this is what it looks like:

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The edges are slightly frayed, but it’s really a matter of how delicate (and lucky) you are. You can compare with the edges on this other design I made:

create your own cell phone case

With enough practice and patience, you can get to a truly gorgeous level of finish.

Makes a Great Gift

Do you have friends or family that appreciate handmade gifts? This is an inexpensive and fun way to show your love. And if you do create your own cell phone case like this, don’t forget to share some photos in the comment section below!

Once again, I’d like to thank Shira for taking the time to share this technique with exacting detail.

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10 Comments - Write a Comment

Reply

Lisa Santika Onggrid

Awesome. Why do we have to apply two layers of glue for the top coat?

Shira

Hi Lisa :) see reply above

Reply

Shira

the 2 layers are to ensure the cover’s strength.
This glue hardens into a thin plastic texture and the extra layer makes it stronger!

:)

Reply

Scott Macmillan

This is such a great idea for kids.They can use a little creativity and stand out from the herd.This is one of the better tips i have seen recently.I will forward this to my Grandkids.Thanks.

Reply

shira

friends of mine just informed me this technique is called decoupage!
:)

so happy you all like it!
Shira

Reply

Mac Witty

Sweeet and unique

Reply

syed asghar

Hi Shira,
This post is for those who want to try their own(custom) designs.But lack of interest they take on what is available to them. But this napkin thing is awesome.
1.They are easily accessible/available.
2. They are darn cheap and sometimes free.
3. And if you are not satisfied with the pattern you can change it in a blink of an eye with minimal effort and time.
Thank you for your inspirational post.
Keep posting.
Keep spreading the knowledge.

Reply

bry

Love this idea! I was wondering if you can do this with photos and if so, how? Ive seen people use mod podge to transfer photos to canvas…

Erez Zukerman

I would imagine that for this to work with photos, they would have to be printed on really thin paper. One (crazy?) option would be to photocopy them onto very very thin paper and try with that.

shira

Hi Bry!
I’m not sure this glue would be able to hold photo-paper, but if you find a stronger glue you can try gluing it to the plastic with the stronger glue, and then covering it with a second layer of this glue (cause it becomes transparent)

(better to test with a photo you don’t need and on a piece of old plastic first!)

there is a chance this would work with the mod podge as well, Ive never tried though! :)

good luck and let us know how it turned out!

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