DIY Fabric Covered Letters Tutorial

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Monogramming, initials, and letters spelling out baby’s name are all the rage right now! A while ago I had purchased these paper mache (cardboard-ish) letters from Joann’s for 60% off, but I could not figure out what to do with them. I had previously painted the number 1 for wee man’s 1’st birthday as well as some initials for my cousin’s wedding, but I found that even after multiple coats of paint there were still visible blemishes that showed through from the manufacturing of the letters. This time around I decided to go for fabric covered letters in hopes that they would satisfy the perfectionist image that I had in my head of the finished product.

What you’ll need:

  • Paper mache letters- available at Joann’s, Hobby Lobby and some online stores
  • Fabric (multiple colors/patterns, or all the same)
  • Poster board or thick paper
  • Craft glue
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pen/pencil

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Step 1: Iron the fabric that you’d like to use for the front of your letters. Then, lay your letter over the fabric, and cut around the shape of the letter leaving about an extra 3/4 inch of fabric all the way around.

In the case of the J, I cut a slit down the center of the fabric where the J curves, however since each letter has unique curves, you’ll have to sort of wing it. I do suggest at least starting a hole for letters like B where the gaps are in the center. If you don’t, you may find it very difficult to start a cut once you’ve begun gluing.

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Step 2: This step will be easiest if you chose an abstract or solid pattern rather than a geometric or linear pattern. I had quite a hard time getting the chevrons to line up and not be crooked. Pick a straight line on your letter (without curves or holes) to anchor your fabric. Apply enough glue that it will stick, but not so much that it blobs everywhere or takes forever to dry. Make sure you are applying the glue to the side of the letter and not the front. Once your glue is applied on the straight area, line up your fabric over your letter, and stick the part that hangs over onto where you applied your glue.

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Step 3: Following the same procedure that you did for step 2, glue down the fabric to the rest of the straight areas. Leave the curved parts alone for now. Doing the straight parts first will ensure that your fabric goes on straight and without any bubbles or creases.

Step 4: Now lets tackle the curved areas. Take your scissors and cut 1 cm wide slits in the fabric around the curved areas. I did this by using the letter itself as a stopping point for my scissors so that I did not cut too far forward. Just place the tip of your scissors up against the letter while you are making your slits. Once you’ve made your cuts, apply your glue. Then take each centimeter thick piece of fabric, pull slightly to make sure it will lay flat, and stick it down. I started a piece near the center of the cuts and worked my way outwards.

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If your letter has holes in it, follow the same procedure. Be sure to cut a slit at the corners if there is a 90 degree angle.

Once you’re done with this step, you should have a letter with the front side completely covered and the sides looking super messy. Don’t worry, we’ll fix that.

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Step 5: Now, we’ll start making the part to cover the sides. Measure the width of the side of your letter. Mine was 1 inch. Take your poster board and measure a long 1 inch strip. Depending on your letter, you may want to measure for more than one strip. Then cut them out.

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Step 6: Take one of your strips and use it to measure around your letter. Start at a corner and act as if you were gluing it down. Notice where the strip ends… is that where you want a seam? If not, then cut it so that it ends at a corner, and use another strip to make up the difference. Also, now is the time to measure how long of a strip you’ll need for the letter holes. Cut the length just slightly longer than you think it needs to be in order to avoid gaps.

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Step 7: Iron the fabric you’re going to use for the sides. Ideally, it should be at least the length of your measured poster board strips. Lay the fabric flat and place your pre-measured poster strips on top of your fabric. Cut fabric strips that are about a half inch wider on all sides.

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Step 8: Apply glue all the way around the sides of the poster strip. Then fold the fabric over all the way around the edges. You now should have fabric covered poster board cut to the exact length you’ll need to cover your letter.

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Step 9: Beginning with a corner (and doing it the same direction that you did when you measured), apply a generous amount of glue to the side of the letter. Stick down the strip. Apply the glue a little at a time as you go. Keep going until you’ve applied the strip to entire letter. It can be kind of tricky for letters with holes… I found it was easiest to apply glue to the entire hole, coil up the strip a bit, then apply it.

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Congratulations! You’ve created a modern and adorable accent for any room!

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Feel free to comment, ask questions, and post pictures of your masterpieces!

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