I recently put my pretty board games on my hidden bookshelf door. But I didn’t want to ruin the aesthetic by adding the mix matched other board games I have. So I’m making them over by putting them in a book box and creating custom labels! I’ll be using the new Cricut Joy Xtra cutting machine for the decals. I’m so excited to turn board games to display books!
Thank you to Cricut for sponsoring this blog post. All opinions are my own
how to turn board games into display books
Let’s jump into the tutorial on the board game makeover!
If the video doesn’t work here, you can watch it on YouTube here. It’d mean so much if you’d watch the video! I’m trying to get better at my video skills so I can grow my YouTube channel. If you have a few minutes to watch this and/or subscribe, I’d so appreciate it.
- Cricut Joy Xtra
- Iron-On Vinyl in Holographic and Prismatic Glitter
- Easy Press Mini or Easy Press (the larger size is nice on the big books)
- Cricut Tool Set
- Transfer Tape
- Linen Book Boxes (I got 2 sets of 3)
- Dye for Book Boxes- Petal Pink, Coral, Golden Yellow, Teal
- Bookshelf Board Games
- Paper Mache Book Box
- Paint for Paper Mache Box- Tinted Ice
- Book Binding Tape
- Heat Resistant Tape
When I was working on my Hidden Bookshelf, I knew I wanted board games on them. I have some Vintage Bookshelf Board Games that are BEAUTIFUL! But they don’t sell every game I want and I already own games that I’d like to repackage to have look as pretty as the vintage bookshelf games.
Side note- why are board games so ugly to display?! And in such a variety of box sizes? There’s no uniform size and I don’t like that! It makes board game storage tricky. So this is my solution to that problem.
I’m also really inspired by the Instagram account That’s My Bookshelf. They take paperback books, rebind them, and design a pretty cover. I don’t know how to bind books, but I figure I can buy a book box and then put a cover on it to look like the vintage bookshelf games!
So that’s how this project came to life. Here’s the tutorial-
step 1- figure out boxes for games
Start by taking the book boxes and seeing which games will fit in which box. Put the games in the smallest size box possible. I put sticky notes on each box and wrote down a master list as well.
I also decided where on my shelf each book will go. I’m going to have the books on each shelf a different color so knowing the placement is important for what I’m doing.
step 2- add color to book box covers
Next, I went about making the white linen boxes a fun color. I was nervous about this step because I really didn’t want to ruin the boxes! To change the color on the linen books, boil water on the stove and add in a tablespoon of dye. I used the colors Petal Pink, Coral, Golden Yellow, Teal.
Put the book on a cookie sheet to contain the excess dye. Dip a foam paint brush in the dye bath and then use the liquid dye to cover the fabric in a wash of color. Note, for each color used, change the paint brush. I found it hard to completely clean out the dye between colors with the foam brush.
Let the books dry by sitting on a thick towel. You might want to layer the towel to make sure the dye doesn’t seep through to the table. Later I realized that a few of my books got a bit of an ombre look from sitting out and drying. When I do this again, I’ll flip the book every 30 minutes or so to help keep they dye consistent.
I am really thrilled that this experiment works! It doesn’t ruin the book to dye it and it’s a nice way to add a subtle bit of color. For me, having more color and less neutrals works better. Plus the dye can be really any color to work with any decor.
step 3- design the book cover design
And now, begin designing the cover for the book boxes. For this step, I am using inspiration from the Penguin Clothbound Classic books. They have a simple rectangular border on the cover and the spine, text with the name of the book (which will be the name of the game), and a repeated motif to represent the book subject.
To design my version of the inspiration, I’m using the software PicMonkey. It can also be done in Cricut’s Design Space. I personally use PicMonkey all the time, so I can make the designs faster in that software. After adding the elements and getting the design down, I save it as a PNG.
The first book box took me probably an hour to design. It got much faster once I had one down and could replicate what’d I’d figured out.
To design the covers, I first measure the spine and cover so the design will fit nicely. Then I make the rectangular border a little smaller than the cover or spine size. I type the name of the game in caps. Last, I find an image that represents the game. Like a doll head for the Barbie Game or a 1 for Uno.
If you want to use the designs I came up with, I also have them available as a free download.
To download the game covers, just put your name and email in the form below. You’ll get an email right away with how to download. Plus you’ll be subscribed to my weekly newsletter! If you’re already subscribed, go here to download.
The linen book boxes come in a small, medium, and large. Here are the label sizes and what games (in my experience) fit in each box-
Small– 4″x6″ (cover) 1″x6″ (spine). Games that fit- Phase 10, Playing Cards, Exploding Kittens
Medium– 6″x8-1/2″ (cover) 1-1/2″x8-1/2″ (spine). Games that fit- Uno, Dominoes, Yahtzee
Large– 8″x11″ (cover) 2″x11″ (spine). Games that fit- Rummikub, Barbie Game, Pictionary, Sorry, Jenga
Note, all these game labels are included in the free downloads above.
step 4- cut the book cover
Now that the designs are complete, it’s time to use Design Space (Cricut’s software) to print the covers for the board games. For each game, I matched the color of the iron-on or vinyl to the color of the book box. I find this best fits the look of the Bookshelf Board Games. It’s good to know the material that’ll be cut before using the software.
Open the design of the cover and corresponding spine in Cricut’s Design Space. Make sure the size is correct for them both. When that’s right, click the “make it” button in the top right hand corner.
Choose how the material will load. For smart materials, choose “without mat.” For other materials, choose “on mat.” I used the new Joy Xtra iron-on and for that, I choose without mat. For the vinyl, I used some I had on hand so for that, I put it on a mat and cut it that way.
Next, you review the artwork. There is where it’s really important to mirror the design if it’ll be ironed on. With the linen book boxes, I’m using iron-on. For the one paper mache book box, I’m using vinyl (which does NOT need to be mirrored).
Then you set the base material. There’s a short list of the most popular items. If what I’m using isn’t on that list, I click “browse all materials” to find what I’m using.
Now all that’s left to do is load the material and press go! The machine takes it from there and cuts the design. Note, if using iron-on make sure that it is loaded shiny side down.
When the cut is finished, push unload.
step 5- attach the book covers
Since the book cover is cut, let’s now attach it to the book boxes.
To prep the material, take the weeder tool and remove the excess vinyl or iron-on from the cut material.
For the next thing, you want to MAKE sure to double check what is the front and back of the book. That way you can place the cover right sides up on the front. I know this sounds like a silly step, but speaking from experience, it’s needed. Especially since the front and back of the box look the same, but the back section is attached to the “pages.”
Then, take the weeded material and place it on top of the book. Make SURE to line up the cover so that it is parallel to the book box.
iron-on the cover
For the books I’m adding iron-on, I took my Easy Press and set it to 400 degrees, I put a piece of cotton fabric over the iron-on, and pressed the Easy Press onto each section of the book for 60 seconds. Let cool down for 10-15 minutes.
Once cool, the plastic sheet should easily lift right off and reveal the beautiful book cover!
Here’s the mistakes I made with the iron-on I wanted to mention so you don’t make them. First, I was ironing and thinking the plastic back would come right off the iron-on without cooling off. Wrong. Plus that was way more stressful, took longer, and didn’t look as good.
Second, I used glitter iron on and a little bit was pulling up. So I took the Easy Press and without the plastic or the fabric, I put it right on the glitter. It was a HUGE mistake! It caused the iron-on to bubble up and get on the Easy Press, pulling it off the book box. I was so upset! Later, I cut out more iron-on for the problem areas and fixed it, but it was a hard mistake to learn from.
Repeat the step of placing the iron-on on the spine then setting it with the Easy Press as well. It’s especially easy to get the spine crooked. And then it looks bad on the shelf. So this is really important to get right! See above- my crooked Uno spine. I wish I would’ve used this heat resistant tape to hold the spine designs in place.
vinyl on the cover
For the vinyl, use transfer tape and put it over the weeded vinyl.
Then, remove the backing on the vinyl. Put the transfer tape onto the front of the paper mache book and use a smoothing tool to press the vinyl onto the front and spine. Carefully pull the transfer tape off the vinyl to reveal the finished book!
Repeat for the spine.
Step 6-put board games in boxes
Finally, put the board games in the boxes. For most of the games, this is an easy step of transferring the contents from the old box to the new book box.
When transferring board games with long boards, it means cutting down the board. For this, we looked at a board in one of the Vintage Bookshelf board games. We used Clue. It’s folded in 1/3rds so we copied how that’s cut and folded.
We first cut a long cut down 2/3rds of the middle. Then for each of those sections, we scored two lines so the board to fold there. One of them we cut and taped with book binding tape. But just scoring (cutting the board 1/2 way through) on that section so it can fold is better
To cut the board, use a ruler and a utility knife or exact knife. Put a cutting mat underneath so the table doesn’t get cut.
The result is a board game that can fold much smaller!
It doesn’t look as pretty on the back. Though, if we would’ve scored that cut we wouldn’t have needed the tape and it would’ve looked better.
But, when the game is open, it looks good and is great for playing!
Plus, now the game can fit in a more compact, pretty box!
And here are the finished books on the bookshelf! After finishing the hidden bookcase project, this was my vision for the games so it’s really great seeing it come together!
Each game board book is different and I love how they look on the shelf.
My dream with my life is to make everything pretty AND functional. I want to play games and I want the board games to look nice while they’re stored.
Yes, it’s a lot of work to create these, but I think it’s totally worth it for the result.
If a cutting machine and materials are needed for this project, that’d be about $250 more.
So there’s how to turn board games to display books. I hope this project inspires you. And helps you when making something with a cutting machine for your house! Please let me know in the comments if you have questions.
Cricut Joy xtra review
Cricut recently released their newest cutting machine- The Cricut Joy Xtra! It’s a great medium size- bigger than the Joy. It boasts an expanded 8.5-inch cutting width, can cut up to 4′ long. This allows you to create stickers, tags, and cards from a selection of over 50 compatible materials like vinyl, iron-on, and card stock.
One of my favorite features from the Cricut Joy is creating cards. The Joy Xtra also has a card mat which makes it so fast and easy to cut custom cards!
If you don’t have a cutting machine yet, the Joy Xtra is a great one to start with! A Cricut is a versatile device designed for precise cutting of a wide range of materials, enabling you to create lots of different projects. These machines can be utilized for personal crafting, to enhance your small creative business, or to customize presents for your loved ones.
product features of the Cricut Joy Xtra
Wirelessly connect– the Cricut Joy Xtra uses bluetooth to connect to your computer or the Cricut Design Space App. Less cords make it easier and faster to craft!
Create on the app– the Cricut app is simple to use and learn. No previous crafting experience is required!
One blade– the Cricut Joy Xtra comes with one blade installed and it can cut all the materials compatible with the machine. Even thick materials! No changing out the blade for different projects.
Print then cut– there’s a new print-then-cut feature which is great for creating stickers with the new Printable Sticker Paper! You print the stickers with your home ink jet printer and then the sensor located on the machine’s left hand side can cut around them!
Full-color– with the compatibility of the Joy Xtra and an ink jet printer, creating with color and a cutting machine is now possible! Besides stickers this means making full-color personalized t-shirts with printable iron-on, labels with printable vinyl, drink-ware with water-proof stickers and more!
Self-Alignment- Just load and go! The Joy Xtra will align the materials for you. That means no mat is needed with the Joy Xtra smart materials (which saves a step). Though there is a mat available to use materials you already have at home.
Cost– The Joy Xtra costs $199 USD
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