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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Fabric covered letters, for wall or door decorations - great for children's rooms

I wanted to make a decoration for my kids' rooms, something for their walls that would have a bit of impact, and really personalise their rooms for them.

I decided I'd like to make their names to go on the main wall in their rooms. Now you can buy, ready made, personalised letters and names from companies on the internet, but they're certainly not cheap. I decided to have a go at it myself.

You can buy ready made letters from most craft and DIY stores. They can be made from acrylic, MDF, wood and even cardboard. To make the project easier, I decided to look for a plain sans-serif font. A sans-serif font is a name for letters that don't have the little fancy flicks and curves on the edges and tips of the letters. You can choose to use these types of fonts on letters if you like, but it make the job a little bit harder (make that a LOT).  Eventually, I found a great discount, on these letters. They're made from painted wood. They were on sale at the clearance branch of a trendy stationery store, that carries all sorts of fab, retro-style items for the home and office too. As some of the letters were slightly damaged (small chips, scratches, little dents etc) I got them at a super cheap price.

Now, the benefit with these letters, is that they were pre-painted. If your letters are plain and not painted, you can easily paint them yourself. You can use remants from your household paints. 
A non-fabric way of making your letters look fab, is to match up some of the main colours in 
your child's room, and paint your letters to match.
Kids acrylic paint is also good to use too, as a cheap alternative. 
It's also a great way to use up leftover spray paint cans.
Most of my letters were white, which was the base colour that I wanted anyway. A few of the letters were black. Now, as they were in limited supply at the discounted store, I didn't have much choice with these. Luckily, we still had a can of satin-finish white paint, leftover from a previous project. I lightly sanded the black letters, and gave them two-to three coats of the paint. (This type of paint needs a few hours to dry in between coats).

Now you've painted your letters, it's time to choose fabric. I took my kids along to my local (and favourite) haberdashery store. I got them to choose some fabric that they liked. Now a cheaper alternative, is to have a search through your fabric that you already have, and see if there's anything that they like in that. Or, if you're looking to make this as a surprise, look around until you find something that really suits and represents your child's personality.  I only needed less than half a metre each of the fabrics. 
The amount you need will depend on the size of your letters.

Once you've got your fabric, iron it and, lay it, right side down, onto a table, or floor. Lay your letters out onto it, face down. Try and work out how you can make the best, economical use of the fabric. 
You need to make sure that you have a one-two centimeter gap around your letter. 
Now using a pencil, lightly trace around your letters. Once you have traced them all out, remove your letters and cut out the fabric pieces. Re-match up your fabric pieces to their relevent letters.  

Working with one letter at a time, coat the front of the letter with kids/craft type PVA glue. Give it a really good coat. Now turn your letter over and place it, face down on the wrong side of the fabric, ensuring you still have your 'border' around the letter. Turn the letter and fabric over, starting at the centre gently squeeze out creases, and air bubbles. Repeat those steps until you have covered all of your letters.

You can use paper instead of fabric for the above steps. I've done this myself on a smaller lettering project. You can have good results, but I've found that on larger surfaces, that the paper can tear easily, once it's wet from the glue, so go slowly if that's what you choose to use.

Leave to dry overnight.

To get nice, tidy edges on your letters, use a craft knife, to slowly slice off the excess fabric. This is best done with the letters remaining face down, on a cutting mat (or an old, thick magazine).

When you've finished cutting out your letters, they need a protective coat, to stop grubby fingers leaving dirty marks :) You can easily protect them with a simple, thin coat of the same PVA glue. If you'd like a shinier finish, you can spray your letters with a glossy type of varnish. 
*Be aware that spray-varnish eventually yellows slightly.

Now to attach your letters to your door or wall, I used a velcro-system, sold by a major brand over here. You can also attach your letters with a heavy duty permanent tape, found at most major DIY stores. 
(Don't forget to prepare all of your surfaces before attaching them, to ensure they stay up.)

Now stand up and enjoy the surprised look on their faces when they get home :)

This project could also be used to make an impact in other rooms in the home.

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