DIY How To Make Hanging Letters for Wall Decor

I'm doing a lot of DIY these days and so much of it is trial and error, I thought I'd share some of what I've done. Almost every project of mine has a first attempt that goes bust; I count the first time around as a trial-run because inevitably something isn't quite what I expected/as easy as Pinterest made it look.
After seeing cute ideas like this on nursery blogs, I decided I wanted to put my son's name on his nursery wall, too. Here's what I learned.

To make your own decoupage letters,  you'll need:
* Cardboard letters (since I hot-glued the ribbon to the back, wooden letters would have been too heavy.)
* Spray Adhesive
* Modge Podge- whatever finish you want- I used glossy. (I also got an applicator kit with a roller and squeegie, this made getting the paper flat easier but is optional)
* SHARP Exato-Knife 
* Paint Brushes- I recommend flat-headed ones and spent a dollar more to get the ones that don't shed
* Glue gun or other super-strong glue to glue hanging ribbon to letter 
* Some type of button/embellishment to cover the pin or nail heads
* Ribbon (as you'll see in a minute, I ultimately ended up with wide brown ribbon, after the first go-round was too thin for my liking)
* Paper with whatever print you want. 

Scrapbooking paper is great if you need a certain color scheme or design. Get creative with this: sheet music, an old work of literature from the Salvation Army, picture books, anything you don't mind cutting up would be pretty! I even thought about printing something with my LaserJet, if you do this you would just have to be careful and pat on the Modge Podge rather than brushing as not to smear the ink.

I got the letters at Hobby Lobby for $2.47 AND 50% off.

The first question was what to do with the letters: paint a design on them like this? Decoupage the letters?

I decided that to cut back on materials I would use something I already had, which is a very old "Mother Goose" book that was marked for library DISPOSAL... in 1980! Indeed.

{ Backstory Alert!} The binding is coming off and many of the pages are marked with crayons, but my dad picked it up at a book sale at the local public library right before I was born.

It ended up being my favorite book, and my Dad and I would sit for hours in his big leather chair and "read it" to each other before I could really read (I just memorized the nursery rhymes).

When I was decorating the Green Bean's nursery, I was looking for prints to put on the wall and came across some gorgeous nursery rhyme prints that looked awfully familiar-- because they were the same illustrations as the ones in my old Mother Goose book! Since the binding was coming off that antique anyway, I thought I'd pull out my favorite ones and mount them on the baby's wall. The frames came from Home Goods, $9.99 apiece.

The result was sentimental, simple, and pretty. {Backstory Complete.}

So when it came time to decide what to put on the letters, I pulled out that old Mother Goose book. I took out the most politically incorrect and/or depressing nursery rhymes and started chopping away. Really, did the farmer have to kill that pig just to have a word rhyme with "fork"? 
Now you are ready to get started.

1. I lined up what part of the page I wanted to glue onto the letter, and used the Exacto-Knife to cut around the outside edge of the letter. If it was a letter with curved lines, like "B," I did the inside curves after I had the outside cut. I found it was easier to do all the cutting PRIOR to gluing.

2. I sprayed the front of the letter with spray adhesive. (I use this kind from Scotch and it works great. They have a "super" version as well.)

3. I put the letter face-down onto the back of the page I wanted to show. I held it there for about 2 minutes, just to ensure the glue had grabbed the paper and it wouldn't move.

4. After I had cut and glued all the letters, I got the Modge Podge and ultimately did two coats (more would be fine). The first layer is important for edges, I did a lot of "pushing" of paper around the curves of the cardboard to make all the lines clean while it was still wet. The second layer was more of a sealant.

5. After the letters dry, it's time to get the glue gun and ruler. I used thumbtacks to hang mine, so I put seven thumbtacks in the back of the box they came in so they were handle-side facing me. I chose fleur-de-lis embellishments from the scrapbooking aisle to be my pinhead covers, and glued them onto the flat part of the thumbtacks then let dry.

6. Ribbon Time.
Oh Lord, how much ribbon I wasted doing this! I suggest finding the width you like and buying several rolls-- don't be like me and scrimp while at the store, only to come home and realize you don't have enough.  And don't be like me and go with one ribbon on a whim, only to decide you want something different, then have to go back and unglue everything you've already done.  

You will want to make sure the ribbon appears the same length so measuring the "give" is important. For letters with angles, such as "N," you should make the ribbon techincally longer because of the placement; when it's hung, it will look like the ribbon is the same length for all letters.
*That is in bold because I messed that up too, several times.

 7. The easiest way I found to get the right placement for the bows was to actually tie the bow around the top of the strip, so technically they are two separate pieces. You want the bows to be pretty and full... more for looks than function.

Then all that's left to do is hang. You can do it in one straight line a la Scarlett:
Or slightly alternating up and down, like Madison's (this picture was actually the inspiration for my whole project):
My husband came home to a LOT of holes in the wall, and that's because I've tuned out my math teachers since 1987 and eyeballed the whole thing. I wouldn't recommend this. Take the time to make sure where you're nailing the letter is properly aligned with the ones around it... or invest in some nail-hole filler.
The End.
Hopefully this will help someone else wanting a cute, inexpensive decoration for a child's room or wherever you may want your house to have a little personalization.  This is really a project you can get creative with, and I would love to see anyone else's end result!

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