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How to revamp a mobile phone with DIY vinyl decals

Ever wanted to spruce up your refurbished phone, but you weren’t sure how to? Well, good news. giffgaff has teamed up with Cassie Fairy, from the blog My Thrifty Life, to help you do just that. And with recycled materials, no less. Get in.

As a thrifty, money-saving blogger, I’ve always opted to buy secondhand tech and refurbished phones. There are huge savings to be made and it’s easy to upcycle your purchases using self-adhesive vinyl. These DIY decals are easy to make and they not only allow you to personalise your phone, they can also be useful to cover up any marks on a pre-loved device.

We have three easy projects you can do yourself, from the comfort of your own home, no matter what equipment you have. Enjoy thinking up a design or phrase that you’d like to create, or it could simply be your own name…

You’ll need: Small pieces of sticky vinyl - great if you have any left over from previous projects or someone has cuttings they don’t need Printer, paper and scissors Masking tape Cutting mat and craft knife Or a cutting machine

Project 1: Hand-cut text decal using a printer

Step 1

Measure the phone to find out what size decal you can add. Avoid any camera lenses and don’t cover any speakers or microphones.

Step 2

Create a chunky text design on your computer and resize the text to fit the measurement of your phone. Print out the text to use as a template.

Step 3

Cut out the letters & tape onto small pieces of sticky vinyl. Carefully use a craft knife and cutting mat (or scissors) to cut around the letters.

Step 4

Carefully peel away the backing and stick down the letters. You can use a ruler to help line-up the text.

You can create any slogan design you like - the key here is to keep the text blocky so that the straight lines are easy to cut by hand. You can use all one colour or go for a mixture of hues, like we have with this ‘FUN’ design. The text decal should easily peel off when you want to try another effect.

Project 2: Abstract design using wood grain vinyl

Step 1

This project couldn’t be easier. Simply cut a variety of geometric shapes from sticky vinyl then peel off the backing and stick onto your phone.

Step 2

Continue adding shapes to create an abstract design. You can trim the vinyl to fit the spaces you want to fill. Add or remove the sticky shapes until you’re happy with the design.

This project is great for covering up any scuffs on the back of a refurbished device as you can position the shapes to cover marks - or even the phone’s branding. The vinyl pieces can be peeled off when you want to try another project.

Project 3: Gold text using a cutting machine

Step 1

If you have a cutting machine, creating any design for the back of your phone is super-easy. Download an SVG file of your preferred design or convert a JPG into an SVG*. Then you can use the machine to cut it from self-adhesive vinyl.

*Note: You can convert a JPG to SVG, by either using a graphic design program, such as Adobe Illustrator, or GIMP (which is free). Or can use a free online tool.

Step 2

Use the cutting machine software to resize the design to fit the phone. We decided to make a script text sticker but you could choose a pattern or logo.

Step 3

Smooth down the self-adhesive vinyl onto the cutting mat and load it into the machine. Scan the mat (if your cutting machine has that option) and use the screen to position the SVG design over the scanned vinyl piece.

Step 4

Follow your machine’s instructions for setting the cutting depth and press start to cut out the design.

Step 5

Peel away the excess vinyl and carefully position the decal onto the back of the phone and smooth down.

The cutting machine makes it easier to cut out intricate designs and script text. But remember, you still need to be able to handle the sticker easily to position it on the phone. So make sure the text joins up. You can simply peel off the decal when you want a new look in the future.

Please take care when carrying out these projects. Stay safe!

If you want to learn more about recycling and upcycling head over to the giffgaff hub created to celebrate Recycle Week. Check out Cassie’s blog post about why refurbished tech is the thrifty option on Cassiefairy.com. If you want to check giffgaff’s great value and quality refurbished phones click here.

Project photography by Andy Greenacre, portrait photography by Gemma Scopes.