The Do’s and Do Not’s of Decoupaging + My Own Fail

Guys. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been feeling extra crafty and wanting to try something new! With this adventurous spirit, I decided to try decoupaging some decor. I’d done it once or twice before so I assumed I was a pro. I assumed so wrong. ? Now I’d like to share my “Pinterest Fail” and my “Pinterest Win” and maybe teach you a thing or two along the way! My first idea was to design two prints and decoupage them onto 16×20″ canvasses. That doesn’t sound too hard, right? RIGHT?? Well, my frustration began when I started using my worst enemy, scissors. ✂️ ? ?

The Scissor Folly

I am convinced that I was absent from Kindergarten the day Mrs. Hegeman taught us how to use scissors. I’m pretty much incapable of cutting a straight line, so I thought I’d be “innovative” and show you an easy way to help you cut a straight line with scissors. I’m yet to find this easy way. ?

First, I tried putting a piece of painter’s tape along the line to cut, but the tape was crooked and I ripped my paper. Second, I tried folding along the edge to cut, but my fold was crooked. I ended up with this:

DO NOT: Try an innovative way to cut a straight line on your only print.

DO: Invest in a commercial-grade straight-edge cutter or a YouTube video with better tips. ?

Despite this frustration, I finished cutting and figured all would be well when I decoupaged them onto the canvas.

The Decoupage

I learned canvas-post-mortem that printer paper is tricky to decoupage because it easily wrinkles, due to getting wet. Which makes complete sense.

DO: Spray lightweight paper with a clear acrylic protective coating.

DO NOT: Literally dump Mod Podge onto your project. Or anywhere.

As I was pouring Mod Podge onto the paper because I am a clueless human being, my prints began wrinkling, tearing, and moving out of place. I was nervous, but I figured they would magically dry smoothly. I can’t believe I thought that. ? The second one turned out better than the first one, but unfortunately, I can’t use one without the other!

DO: Try again! ?

A New Resolve

Okay, so my canvas project didn’t turn out as planned, but I was determined to correctly decoupage something. ANYTHING. So I picked up my foam brush and marched onward.

To better prepare this time, I found a great article on, 7 Steps to Perfect Mod Podging.

How to Actually Decoupage

I was at Wal-Mart later that week and I found a simple “R” that I could decoupage, then found a cute piece of scrapbook paper at Hobby Lobby to go along with it. I kept the color neutral because I have no idea how we’re decorating upstairs yet!

decoupage mod podge letter

First, I learned that I’m supposed to prepare the surface with acrylic paint. It helps the paper bond to the surface and thankfully I had a bunch left from my canvas project. Then, I traced the shape of the R onto the back of the paper and cut it out successfully.

DO: Prepare surfaces with acrylic paint for better bonding.

decoupage letter, trace onto paper

Now that the surface was ready, it was time to decoupage. said to apply a moderate layer of Mod Podge onto the surface, not a pool of Mod Podge like the first time.

Now that it was covered, I placed the paper onto the surface of the letter and lined up the edges. Then, it says to “Smooth. Smooth. Smooth.” it until all the air bubbles are out. I used a plastic putty knife. This definitely could have come in handy with the canvasses! ?

DO: Smooth out the paper with a putty knife or roller to get all the air bubbles and extra Mod Podge out.

smoothing out mod podge

After that, I LET IT DRY! A crucial step that I also missed the first time. When it’s dry, THEN you can brush on the top layer of Mod Podge!

DO: Let the Mod Podge dry before applying the top coat.

Decoupage Letter on Display

Now, you have a beautifully decoupaged item! My confidence has been restored in decoupaging, and above all I’ve learned that I need to look for good instructions next time.

Have you ever had a “Pinterest fail”? I’d LOVE to hear your stories! Seriously, I go to whenever I need a pick-me-up!  This definitely isn’t my first fail, but that’s a story for another time!

Pin it for later!


6 thoughts on “The Do’s and Do Not’s of Decoupaging + My Own Fail”

  1. First time decoupaging here. 😬 what materials can be used to do this? I’ve seen several but just unsure.

  2. Kris Anderson

    Hi Hayley…question: is it humanly possible to trim the paper that is decoupaged to a piece of wood with an xacto knife AFTER the decoupage dries? I am very good with an xacto knife but not sure of the condition of the dried decoupaged napkin. I will be turning the piece upside down to trim. The piece is a wood pumpkin made out of slats of wood. The spacing between the slats are approx. 1/8-3/16 wide. Kris

  3. Thank you, thought for sure that I was probably the one person in the world that can’t cut a straight line(using a trimmer doesn’t always guarantee a straight line for me every time, have to slow down, take my time & use it correctly, then cross my fingers, put tongue to roof of mouth, close my eyes then, and only then will I get a straight line!) lol


    Andrea, whose glad to know she’s not the only one whose not a Pro with Scissors!

    1. Debbie follman

      This is really dumb.. i know but i have put the paper both sides up, face first and face up… not a thing transfers to the wood.. embarrassing

  4. Love the story!! And love your R!! I’ve have many epic fails especially Birthday cakes!! I always think I’m a master cake decorator only to be humbled over and over! Maybe I should take a class?! … nah….

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