DIY iPad Case! or: How to Keep Your Really Expensive Toy Safe (on a budget!)

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I was recently gifted an amazing thing… an iPad mini.  (Squeee!)  I knew right away that I needed to get a case for it, especially because I couldn’t put it down and felt the need to bring it everywhere with me.. but after a few hours of searching Amazon & Pinterest, I realized that none of the overpriced, generic cases could do it any justice.  And so it began (yes I just started a sentence with and, get over it) – the DIY iPad case journey was ON, baby!

DIY iPad Case at

Somewhere in the corners of my mind I vaguely remembered seeing a video about how the Dodocase was made, and set out to find a DIY example of a case as proof that I could conquer this new endeavor with the idea that a little bit of glue, elbow grease, and a screen-printing squeegee could make my iPad case dreams come true.  Pinterest led me to Brandon from the Modern Day Pirates, and lo and behold, he had the same thought about the Dodocase and created a moleskine-type ipad case very similar to what I had in mind! So, I had my proof, and set out to gathering materials. Yipee!!

Here is roughly what you’ll need:

  • Something for the bones of the case. You can use binder’s board like Brandon did – ordered offline or found in a craft store (if you’re lucky), one of those vinyl-covered thin binders that you can find everywhere, or an old book. I happened to find a book that extended perfectly just beyond my iPad for about $2 at Goodwill, so I used that.
  • Something for the outside of the case. I had a few choices, consisting of old materials and large totes that I was willing to sacrifice for the sake of the perfect material. I settled on some leftover snakeskin vinyl (looks like leather!) from my DIY headboard.
  • Something for the inside of the case.  Any paper of decent thickness will do. I used a really pretty tiffany blue-ish cardstock that I found at Michael’s for ~$1.
  • Something to hold your iPad in.  Elastic was my choice! Brandon used little strips of leather. I like the elastic because it stretches and reaaaallly holds the iPad in. Again, I got this from Michael’s. You’ll also need some type of cardstock square to attach this to before covering the case.
  • Something to tear it all apart, to the right proportions. You’ll need tools to cut your materials (depending on what they are.) For me this was scissors for the vinyl and an exacto knife for the paper and the book destruction. Bonus – metal ruler for exact-exacto-ing.
  • Something to put it all together, that will stick. I used a combination of Martha Stewart’s craft glue from Michael’s and ModPodge. Any PVA (from what I’ve read… white) glue will do!
  • Precision, patience, and lots of books and weights!!  The reason this project turned out so awesome for me is because I really took my time to get everything right, and I used LOTS of weights/books/whatever I could find to press the pieces together whenever necessary for glueing.

Ok, here we go!

  1. Prep the bones of the iPad! If you’re using binder board, cut it to the size you want. (Prep for me meant finding the perfect book and then tearing out every page of said book.. man, does that feel wrong!!)DIY iPad Case Step 1: Destroy a book!
  2. Next, I prepped, measured, glued, and attached the elastic bands.
    So first, I taped the cardstock square I was using for attached the elastic bands to the iPad case. It doesn’t matter exactly where.. just as long as it stays in the same place, relatively, as you measure the elastic for each corner.DIY iPad Case Step 2: Prep & Set Elastic - Monrogue
    The picture can probably explain this better, but literally, the steps are:2.1. Tape cardboard square

    2.2. Measure and cut elastic – glue to the cardboard paper square. *NOTE – I did NOT leave the paper square attached while gluing. I actually made little marks where the elastic should go while it was still taped, then removed the square, and glued where the marks were.

    2.3. Once the elastic is dry, make sure that all 4 corners fit when attached to the iPad.

    2.4. Lay the iPad in the book (or on the binding board) to mark where the square will go. This is important since we didn’t line it up when taping it to the back of the iPad – the alignment that matters is the IPAD’S, not the cardstock. So lay the iPad in there, undo the elastic while holding it in place, gently lift the iPad, and mark where the square is going.Then, glue the card down and BURY IT IN THE HEAVIEST FLAT SHIT YOU CAN FIND. No, seriously though. Put a lot of weight on it until it’s dry. 🙂

  3. Next, it’s time to measure and cut your exterior material, then glue it on. I brushed the glue onto the cardboard of the book, and used a screen printing squeegee to help me lay it effectively without bubbles, from one end to the other. DIY iPad Case Step 3: Glue the outside cover - Monrogue
  4. After that is mostly dry (don’t forget to add weight whenever drying!), it’s time for the inside edges. This was a bit difficult with this material because it’s thicker – obviously… it was used on a headboard! So I actually squeegee-d each edge individually (folding the corners in like wrapping paper, and trimming where needed) and added a weight to each one for a few minutes before moving on to the next. Once all were reasonably tacky enough to stay down for more than 10 seconds without a weight, I added books/weights/everything I could find while we went out for food. DIY iPad Case Step 4: Glue the inside edges - Monrogue
  5. Now for the exciting, pretty part! This step is easy – just measure and cut your inside material/cardstock paper to size. I did mine 1/4 inch less than the book on each side (so measure from end to end and subtract 1/2 inch. Do this for each length.)DIY iPad Case Step 5: Measure/cut inside cardstock - Monrogue
  6. Once the paper is measured, you’ll want to lay it approximately where it will end, and cut neat slits to pull the elastic strips through.DIY iPad Case Step 6: Cut holes for elastic
  7. Finally.. glue the cardstock down (I used ModPodge specifically for this step), weight it, and let it dry. Now you are ready for AWESOME-IPAD-CASE-NESS!DIY iPad Case Step 7: Pull elastic through & glue cardstock
    THE END!

Assuming you have worked carefully, and with patience and precision, and that you were already in love with the materials you chose, you now have THE coolest iPad case you could have possibly imagined, for much less than a normal leather-bound case.

Totals for me:
Book from Goodwill: $2
Cardstock paper: $1
Glue: $2-3 (Estimating here since I already had plenty)
Vinyl: $5 (Also an estimate since I already had it)
TOTAL: Around $10-$11 dollars – and that’s adding cost to the things I already had laying around! How awesome is that?!

Now please enjoy the numerous glamour shots I’ve taken of my fancy schmancy case while you day-dream about what you’ll make yours with…

Monrogue DIY iPad case front cover homemade iPad case Outside cover - DIY iPad case at side view diy ipad case - closeup of edgework on iPad case

If you’re inspired to do your own iPad case project after this, please please share it with me! I’d love to see more like this as it’s really professional, effective, and pretty. Mine really keeps the sucker in there.. which I can vouch for when I accidentally tested it by throwing it off the bed one morning as I rolled over violently and it was flung onto the tile. iPad=safe and in the case! Woohoooo!!!

HAPPY DIY-ing!!!
XOXO Hannah

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  • jan
    October 15, 2013

    nice job!

  • Rob
    August 7, 2014

    This is brilliant! I plan to use an old moleskine hardback journal for an iPad mini case. I especially like the elastic corners…. Thanks for sharing!!