Oops. An unfortunate letterboard pinterest fail.

I felt so clever with my plan to alter my letterboard. As I gathered supplies, did the steps and took pictures as I went, I fully expected to knock your socks off with the finished product.

I’m sorry to say that instead of making something wonderful, I destroyed my letterboard.

It was absolutely a Pinterest fail.

Let me back up a second and explain why I tried this in the first place.

This is the letterboard in its natural black felt state:

It bought it initially to keep in the kitchen.

But I just didn’t like it in there. Our house is already pretty dark and with the dark cabinets, the black letterboard felt heavy and a little stark.

I loved having it in our main living space because the kids like playing with the quote and I think its funny to have a sarcastic saying or joke or inspirational quote nearby.

I came across an idea when I was collecting images and resources for my post all about letterboards (read that one here) that mentioned painting the felt to get a custom color. They used hot pink or something like that and while that was not the direction I wanted to go, I did learn that I could use a paint additive to make the paint usable on fabric.

My great idea was to use a neutral warm gray to paint over the black felt and tone the whole thing down. Can’t you imagine how pretty that would look to have a wood frame, warm taupe background and white letters? I liked the idea in my head very much.

I ran to the craft store and found the fabric medium and picked up two different colors of acrylic craft paint to use.

Here’s where I think I went wrong: I switched up the paint.

Instead of going with the craft paint, I pulled out leftover latex paint. My main reason was that neither of the craft paint colors was exactly right and I worried that if I made a custom mix I wouldn’t be able to exactly match it for second and third coats. So I went with a color of latex paint that I like (Rushing River by Sherwin Williams – it is what I used to paint the bathroom vanity seen here).  The fabric medium says to mix one part medium to two parts paint. I just eyeballed it.

Once the paint was ready, I taped off the frame with painters tape and got to work painting.

I started with a foam brush, but switched to a flat craft brush (pulled from my watercolor supplies) because it seemed like the foam brush was ‘scratching’ the felt and creating pills (is that the word?). The paint soaked in quite a bit and was very blotchy after one coat.

I waited overnight for the first coat to dry and added a second, then a third coat of paint.

After all was said and done, the final result was terrible.

The paint dried super stiff and scratchy and uneven. My tape lines are terrible and you can see black peeking through around the perimeter. The color looks blah and sort of clashes with the frame. The letters are nearly impossible to poke into the grooves.

Basically, I ruined a perfectly good letterboard.


I wonder if where I went wrong was with the paint choice. Perhaps if I stuck to acrylic craft paint, it would not have dried so stiffly. Maybe I should have added more fabric medium (like a 1:1 ratio). I wonder if I watered down the paint in addition to the fabric medium, if it would have been smoother.

Or maybe if I would have just left the poor letterboard alone, everything would have turned out better :)

This one was a real pinterest fail.

44 Responses to Oops. An unfortunate letterboard pinterest fail.

  1. LeAnne Martin March 26, 2018 at 1:24 pm #

    Thank you for being willing to post about a fail! :)

  2. Cindy B March 26, 2018 at 4:50 am #

    Did you know that you can make your own letterboard with corrugated board (from office supply store) and felt? I found instructions online – was thinking about hosting a craft party for friends. You cold find felt in your preferred color, cover the boats, and pop it into your nice frame. Voilà – fail to success!

  3. Julie Grover March 24, 2018 at 8:44 pm #

    I can’t help but notice the books in the pic. I’ve been thinking about getting the anatomy books by Julia Rothman. Do you like them?

    • emily March 26, 2018 at 9:59 am #

      I LOVE them! The illustrations are great and they are fun to reference or flip through or just put on a bookshelf because they are so pretty :)

  4. Carrie March 24, 2018 at 6:55 am #

    Sorry about the Pinterest fail! But you were brave to post it! I’ve had many. I think of you as the person who does everything perfectly- thanks for showing that you goof up too. Best of luck with the next letterboard

    • emily March 26, 2018 at 10:00 am #

      Nope! Not the one who does everything perfectly :)

  5. Ashley March 23, 2018 at 5:59 pm #

    oh no! at least you can say you tried! :) what about using a spray paint?

  6. ANNE March 23, 2018 at 5:09 pm #

    Maybe you could have used chalk paint ? I have seen it used on fabric on a couch ,to refurbish the

    fabric, and the surface actually gets soft, feels soft and fabric like.

    Perhaps it was your choice of paint type.

  7. Sherri Farrell March 23, 2018 at 4:15 pm #

    Joann’s Fabric has letter boards with metal instead of felt, & when I got mine, they had grey & beige ones.

  8. Ginny March 23, 2018 at 4:01 pm #

    Well thanks for sharing the failure—also in that photo are two books you suggested a few years ago that are also failures. See my review on Amazon. Just saying . . . when suggesting books for children, always go with the very best. Those two certainly were not. Your other suggested reading lists have been very well done. Love to all your efforts, and thanks for the honest sharing.

    • Torey March 23, 2018 at 10:48 pm #

      Are you talking about the nature anatomy and farm anatomy books? I have yet to meet a kid that doesn’t LOVE these books. They are wonderful.

    • Abbie Miller March 24, 2018 at 9:56 am #

      I agree! Those books are wonderful!!

  9. Theresa Stewart March 23, 2018 at 2:32 pm #

    I see what you were trying to accomplish and I would have loved it too! Perhaps, (hindsight is 20/20 LoL) if you would have removed the letter board from the frame before painting, it may have banished the uncolored corners, then perhaps ran a sharp object every so often thru the drying process thru the grooves to unstick them and lastly to paint the frame a contrasting color. OK you can slap me now LoL.

  10. Melody March 23, 2018 at 2:22 pm #

    I’m sorry about your letter board. This reminds me when I tried to paint a beautiful side chair. I used fabric medium & acrylic paint according to directions. It turned out horrible; hard fabric & crusty. Epic fail! That’s how we learn though.

  11. charlotte Ciraulo March 23, 2018 at 2:21 pm #

    Be merciful with yourself and with Pinterest.

  12. Jody March 23, 2018 at 2:20 pm #

    Emily-I love this! Your blog is the very first one I ever followed, and it has always been my favorite. I started following about eight years ago, when my sister sent me a link to your site. She and I even had some “craft nights” with a few of your tutorials.
    I love your posts because they are the perfect balance of inspiration and real. This was real, but also inspired me to go paint something! ;) Thanks so much for sharing this. ❤

  13. Laura March 23, 2018 at 1:46 pm #

    So…will you try again with craft paint on another board?
    I know Hobby Lobby has gray ones. But, the gray is a cooler shade than you were going for.
    I’ve wondered if you could paint these. Glad to know it can be hit or miss.
    A for effort!

  14. Bethany March 23, 2018 at 1:25 pm #

    Acrylic paint is actually like a plastic when it dries so I really don’t think that even the medium would soften it that much! You almost needed to bleach the fabric and then dye it again (yeah, right!). Hahaha oh well… you need to get another one because your quotes are just too funny!!!

  15. Martha March 23, 2018 at 1:09 pm #

    We all have those little let-downs, but don’t be discouraged. You are half way up the learning curve! The paint mixture you used was fine for something like putting a block print design on fabric. Pillows, tea towels, and such. For the type of work you were doing the missing ingredient was WATER. After you mix the paint and fabric texturizer thin the mix down quite a bit. Then spray your object to be painted until it is also thoroughly wet. The paint will spread and sink in as you go. You have to do several coats, at least three, maybe more if you’ve got to cover dark or print fabric, but can sand lightly in between. I painted a chair with a fairly “rough” textured fabric and it came out much better than I would have expected. It is not scratchy or stiff feeling at all. That one was a win, but I have my tales of woe as well.

    • emily March 26, 2018 at 10:02 am #

      I should have used water :)

  16. Robin March 23, 2018 at 1:01 pm #

    Ah man that sucks…and like all those before me, thanks for being real. Now on to buying a new letter board :)
    And if it makes you feel any better I don’t think the Acrylic Paint would have made much of a difference.

  17. Jackie March 23, 2018 at 12:58 pm #

    Hobby Lobby has gray ones. I bought black this week at half price, and wish I had gotten gray, but it was only about $14.

  18. Sandra March 23, 2018 at 12:58 pm #

    I’ve used that exact medium with regular craft paint, and I think it dries stiff no matter what paint you use. I did painted flour sack tea towels and while they are really pretty, the ones with lots of paint are still relatively stiff after several wash/dry cycles. The ones that are the nicest are the ones where I painted a simple border or details at the corners. You live, you learn.

    I do like that you shared this story though – and I would have thought it a great idea too!

  19. Annah March 23, 2018 at 12:58 pm #

    Could you maybe bleach the fabric then actually dye it a different color?

  20. Shannell March 23, 2018 at 12:54 pm #

    Good stuff. Good to know its not just me that starts a Pintetest project/idea and is like “what. was. I. thinking?!”

  21. Emily Pitts March 23, 2018 at 12:52 pm #

    You should see what spray paint would do to it now, it might even it out, but I guess it wouldn’t make it easier to put the letters in. Oh! Maybe try to remove some of the paint with thinner? Blot it off with a rag? Might as well experiment now 😉

  22. Deb Thompson March 23, 2018 at 12:46 pm #

    I’m so sorry…but also…this was great!
    Poor letterboard!

  23. Leslie Geissel March 23, 2018 at 12:43 pm #

    It does not look that bad. I would totally use it. I do like the gray color, it is nice. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It only looks bad to you up close, look at it from far away and I am sure it will be great. You can always purchase a gray one on Amazon, they have dozens of them. Enjoy!

  24. Maureen Benke March 23, 2018 at 12:36 pm #


    I entered Gray Letterboards in the Google Bar and Letterfolk carries them…..

    Hoping to Help.


    • emily March 23, 2018 at 12:46 pm #

      I should have probably just bought a gray one :)

  25. Shelley March 23, 2018 at 12:19 pm #

    This is why I have followed you for years. You are so real. This made me crack up, as it is totally something I would do. Thank you for sharing your funny story. And I’m sorry about your letterboard. :(

    • Lauren March 23, 2018 at 1:49 pm #

      I totally agree! 👆🏻

    • Katy March 23, 2018 at 6:53 pm #

      Yes. I love Emily for sharing this!

  26. Katherine March 23, 2018 at 11:11 am #

    huh. kind of like framed cardboard, when you rip the top layer off. i mean, if that’s what you were going for you really nailed it…


    • emily March 23, 2018 at 12:46 pm #


  27. Madaline March 23, 2018 at 10:43 am #

    Maybe try this one off Amazon! haha


  28. Meggles March 23, 2018 at 10:09 am #

    This made me laugh so hard. Thanks for this. I am losing my mind lately. My husband is stationed overseas, we have three kids, I am working on my master’s, and trying to get the house ready to sell. I can stay on top of all those things, but recently, my brain decided it was overloaded and stopped paying attention when I was backing out of the driveway. I banged into the tree in our yard and now the car may be totaled. I don’t know why, but your Pinterest fail made me feel better because it is so funny.

    P.S. We are moving to the Bremerton area for the Navy, so not too far from your neck of the woods…we are New Englanders, and love where we live, but I can’t wait to explore the PNW!

    • emily March 23, 2018 at 12:47 pm #

      Oh no! Sorry about your car. It sounds like you have just a few things going on right now: ) Glad my fail story made you laugh. And yes, bremerton is not too far!

    • Elly March 23, 2018 at 1:58 pm #

      Navy wife to navy wife- hang in there!!! We were stationed in Bremerton 6 years ago! LOVED it! Such a beautiful and peaceful part of the country! …we are currently getting ready to PCS to Japan!

  29. Krista Ercin-Maurer March 23, 2018 at 9:52 am #

    Sorry about your board! But man, have I had about a million Pinterest fails! Makes me feel a little better. ;) Also, have you seen that Letterfolk have white, grey, and blush felt options for their letterboards? https://www.letterfolk.com/pages/letter-board-collection

  30. Dani March 23, 2018 at 9:03 am #

    Haha! I love that you shared the project with us anyway! I feel like the queen of crafty fails, so this definitely put a smile on my face. Your website is new to me, and I’m so glad to have found it!

    • emily March 23, 2018 at 12:48 pm #

      Welcome! So glad you’re here :)

  31. E.W. March 23, 2018 at 8:41 am #

    I have no thoughts about ‘where you went wrong.’ I just wanted to tell you that’s something I would totally do. And, my sweet husband would just shake his head. I have more than a few Pinterest fails under my belt. Pinterest strikes again!

  32. theresa March 23, 2018 at 8:16 am #

    Bummer!!! Any chance you can order a new one (in the color you like!) and call it a business expense?!

    It stinks when a project fails, but it’s always better than not trying at all 😘

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