DIYdiy projects

diy project: brenna’s book page fabric

by Brenna

I love the look of old book pages. The toasty brown edges and pale centers of the pages pair perfectly with the stark black type. Simple design with such a vintage feel, but so fragile and brittle. To fix their fragility, I coated the paper with silicone. This technique preserves the fragile pages, making them flexible, waterproof and durable with a feel similar to oilcloth. With a little basic sewing, these plasticized pages are turned into useful durable items with a vintage appeal. Since I am constantly writing notes and ideas, I made a tiny envelope to hold note cards and a small book to jot ideas. Last, I made a cleanable writing pad for under our computer with a fall inspired elbow-patch mouse pad. Enjoy! – Brenna, paper & ink

CLICK HERE for the full how-to after the jump!


  • paper of choice (old book pages, decorative paper, newspaper, etc.)
  • household silicone sealer (must say “silicone” on the package)
  • scrap piece of cardboard to use as a small spreader
  • scrap newspaper to protect work surface
  • sewing machine
  • scissors
  • spray adhesive
  • scrap fabric
  • large piece of paper (at least 15 x 21)
  • piece of heavy poster board or chipboard with dimensions larger than above


For all projects except writing pad:

1. Lay out the paper to be coated atop scrap newspaper.

2. Squeeze out a heavy line of silicone all the way across the top of the paper.

3. Using the scrap piece of cardboard, squeegee the silicone down the paper spreading a thin layer of silicone over the paper. Let the silicone dry.

For the tiny notebook:

1. Cut a 6 ¼ x 5 ¼ inch piece of coated paper. Fold in half.

2. Insert 7–10 3 x 5 inch note cards or scrap paper into the fold.

3. Sew down the spine of the notebook to secure the pages.

4. Sew a loop of coated paper to the open side for a pencil holder.

For the envelope:

1. Cut a 5 ½ x 8 inch piece of coated paper. Make a fold 3 inches up across the short length of the paper. Repeat above the previous fold.

2. The short third of the paper is the flap of the envelope. Cut it into a soft triangle shape.

3. Starting on one side of the envelope, sew the side closed. Continue to sew along the edge of the flap and down the other side to close. This envelope holds 3 x 5 notecards.

For the writing pad:

1. Apply spray adhesive to the uncoated pages and stick them to the large piece of paper (mine measures 15 x 21). Overlap the pages slightly.

2. Sew over the edges of the pages and around the entire large piece of paper. I left some loose threads for visual interest.

3. Using the same coating method as above, coat the entire large piece of sewn pages with silicone and allow to dry.

3. If you are using this under a computer, cut a piece of scrap fabric about 6 x 6 for your mouse. I rounded the corners of the square using the edge of a glass as a template. Apply spray adhesive to the fabric and stick to the coated paper where you would like your mouse to live. Sew around the edges of the fabric to secure the fabric to the paper.

4. Apply spray adhesive to the chipboard and adhere the large sewn and coated paper piece to the chipboard.

5. Trim the edges of chipboard.


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  • Cute.
    But please don’t do this with anything you value since this is NOT going to preserve them. The acidic deterioration of the paper components will continue even underneath the silicone layers and eventually the embrittlement will mean whatever you make will be crispy and yellowed.

  • What a wonderful idea! I love it!
    I hope I will find, in France, the silicone to make a tablecloth or a place mat with book pages!
    Thanks for sharing!

  • I made a wonderful divider in a room in a similar way. I adhered the book pages to canvas with spray cement and then sewed the pages in channels to secure it onto the canvas : vertical every 5″ . The interesting thing I discovered was the effect the stitching had on the way the eventual product hangs. I hung the canvas from an old brass rod. If you try it, you might want to make a test, to get the right ripple effect you want. Isn’t the texture of old paper beautiful? I love your red zig zag stitches! Great post.

  • How long did you let the silicone dry? And did you do it on both sides? Great ideas by the way!

  • GENIUS!!!! I have been wanting to make a Halloween costume out of an old National Geographic map for ten years…this is the answer! Then post Halloween I could cut down the maps to make some simple bibs for my beautiful niece (never to early to start her geography lessons you know)…but maybe that wouldn’t hold up well enough…. can you get the same effect by applying to cloth? Hmmm…..guess there is only one way to find out :)
    Thanks for the SPLENDID idea!!!!

  • Brilliant!
    Silicone stinks when it is wet though!
    Have to do it on the next sunny day…There will be one more I’m sure!

  • thanks for all of the kind comments! to answer your questions…
    yes, this is regular silicone sealant typically used in the bath or kitchen. it is available at the hardware store, i found mine in the paint aisle. i let it dry for a couple of hours before i was able to work with it. i am not sure what the fabric is… it is a cotton voile i picked up at a local independent fabric store and it has no markings on it. sorry. and julia… yes, it is forever amber! too funny!
    thanks all!

  • Love this idea and your execution. I tried it immediately. Unfortunately, my silicone never got completely dry – it stayed very tacky. Did this happen to you? I solved the issue by rubbing some talcum powder on the paper and it was perfect – just more matte than shiny. Curious to know if anyone else has had this problem.

  • What a great idea and one that I’ve bookmarked for future use!

    Do you think you can use the silicone on fabric, too? I can think of a ton of ideas to use it for if it works!

  • Heidi — I also had the issue of the paper remaining tacky. I thought maybe this is because i bought silicone caulk instead of sealer? I’m not even sure if there is a difference! I’ll have to try the talcum powder. Thanks for the solution! I really wanted this project to work :)

  • Lynn – i bet that’s it! i’m going to go hunt down some silicone sealant! i’m also thinking of backing it with tyvek to make it less rippable. or maybe sandwiching two different papers with tyvek in between? i’ve got some beautiful scrapbook papers that would look great paired with the book pages…so much fun!

  • Silicone is really, really really, really smelly!
    Tried this trick to seal the inside pocket of a book purse, came out well but decided I can’t handle the fumes to try this more than once until my dreams come true and I have a studio w/ a screened in porch someday.

  • This would make a cool fabric to recover an old chair with…maybe sheet music or some of your children’s artwork (I have an artist and she’s 20, so years of artwork I’d like to preserve and display somehow)

  • I love these ideas. For the notebook, if you make two small loops for both the front and back covers and stager them so they alternate front back, you could even “lock” the notebook with the pen and protect your paper even more.

  • thanks! I have a ton of old books, even large heavy old encyclopedias that I’ve done stuff with, but didn’t know about silicone. I’m thinking now I’ll make placemats and use them for big family dinners – stuff on the mats will be conversation starters!

  • PS: would mod podge work as well as silicone? I’m new to this so don’t really know!

  • My daughter would love a purse made out of this! And how about using sheet music or maps instead of newspaper! The options are endless!! Thanks! :o)

  • This sounds like a terrific project! Wouldn’t wearing a mask reduce the smell? Sounds like it needs to be used in a well ventilated area when using a large amount. I’m going to have to give this a try. Thanks for sharing.

  • Hi! Just came across your post, I’ve been looking for a way of making my origami wedding bouquet waterproof in case it rains. Where do you get silicone from though – a hardware store or a craft store??

  • ♥♥♥ this! I have a book in japenese/chinese that this will work perfect for! I bought it for origami but this is soooo much better!

  • It’s a greet idea, but do you put the silicon on both sides?
    Greetings from Holland

  • Love this idea…I have an old cookbook from my Italian grandmother and wanted to share with my cousins, but didn’t want to give up the cookbook. I’m going to make 39 copies of one of the pages where she made notations in the margin in Italian, and make the envelope (39 of them) to share with my cousins. I’m hoping to copy the page 39 times and use a copy instead of the actual book page…the book is in bad shape and I don’t want to tear it apart.

  • For those looking to save the paper in its current stage: Some 20 years ago I cut up a newspaper into 2 inch squares. I left one square as the control and in turn soaked each of the others in different home preservatives as recommended by whomever, from milk to hair sprays . Then I put all out in the sun all day to yellow as they in fact did. The one soaked in Borax dissolved in water to this day looks new. I did not have milk of magnesia on hand that day but I have heard that mixing that with club soda is a good preservative. I do not know if they would undo the ravages of time but the Borax seemed to stop further action. Try your own experiments using solutions with a base rather than an acid, see what works for your project. If you don’t like the smell of silicone perhaps there is another glue you can tolerate.

  • The silicone I used never dried, either. It was very sticky. Anyone have any ideas? Did you use a certain brand?

    • Silicone that is to old will not dry. Learned this the hard way sealing our slider door, what a mess it was to clean up.
      When in doubt buy new.

  • I gave this a try today and was impressed that the silicone does basically create a plastic coating on the paper, but I had serious difficulties creating a smooth surface.. Not sure if anyone has any tools they recommend? I am covering a large surface area. I am going to be shooting on this surface as well and was disappointed how shiny the silicone dries but maybe I’ll try coating it in talcum as others have!

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  • Hi, I use pva to make paperfabric . . . it is like laminating papers in glue which then hardens . . .I am sure that process would work with this too . . . i.e.layer up the pva glue as it dries

  • Can you write on top of this ? I am wanting to make a book cover for a Bible – I am wondering if this will help paper be more durable – but would like to be able to doodle on it. Thanks