Skip to Content

Decorate Journals – aka, How to Fix a Craftfail

See how I turned a craftfail into three usable projects! Learn how to decorate journals and fix a fail instead of throwing it away.

See how I turned a huge gold leaf journal craftfail into three usable projects! Learn how to fix a fail instead of throwing it away.

Recently I had one of the biggest series of craftfails of my life. Let me explain. You see, I’m kind of obsessed with gold leaf lately, and I was getting bored with the standard issue surfaces like paper mache, clay and wood.

I decided that I wanted to try gold leafing on a different surface, so I went to Michaels and picked up a couple of journals – two denim and one cork. “Can you imagine how cool these will look gold leafed?” I thought to myself. “Right??”


I’ll spare you the gory details of my gold leaf fail and just show you the picture:


For your reference, gold leafing on denim and cork doesn’t really work that well. My gifts were headed for the trash bin (my intention was to put friends’ monograms on them and hand them out).

But then I realized how much I had spent on these journals and knew that I had to do something. Throwing them away wasn’t going to work. I decided it was time to decorate journals.

SO I raided my stash.

That is the first step in fixing a craftfail. And yes, I realize that not all craftfails can be fixed – but some can.

And if they can, my suggestion is to use what you have. You won’t spend any more money on the project, and then it becomes a little bit of a challenge.

This is assuming you have some craft supplies on hand . . . I’m a serial crafter (and craft blogger) so I have all of the basics. Some of you might have to make an additional purchase to repair your fail.

Decorate Journals

Let’s start with the cork journal.


And now comes my second tip. One of the best things for covering a craftfail is PAINT! It’s also one of the cheapest.

I had so much color in the journal (you can see the flecks above) that I decided to paint a stripe all the way around the journal at “fail level.” I had three supplies: painter’s tape, paint, and a spouncer.


I simply spounced the paint over the top until I had full coverage . . .


. . . . then removed the tape while it was still wet. I let it dry and repeated on the other side. Done!

So now let’s deal with the denim journals.


I decided to stick with the painting idea from the first journal. But this time I added scalloped tape. If you want to decorate journals, tape is great:


Because it’s cool. But I had to think it out. This is the third lesson of the craftfail! Think about what you did wrong the first time . . . and don’t make the same mistake again! Who wants two crappy projects? Then you just feel double-y horrible about yourself.

I realized what made the gold leafing crap out was the texture on the journals – and the denim was actually more textured than the cork.

I figured that if I just put the tape down and painted, I’d get leaking under the tape, and my scallops would look horrible.

So I placed the scalloped tape down and smoothed, and then sealed the edge with Mod Podge Gloss. It’s an old trick so that your paint doesn’t seep under the tape.


Let it dry completely.


THEN you can spounce the paint down on your surface. (PS – you can see where I tested out gold paint before I finally decided to go with blue).


Remove the tape immediately and look at that amazing edge . . . crisp and clear!

The last challenge was the mini journal. And it was the biggest challenge, because I didn’t just want to paint it again. So I decided to glue something on top.

Your fourth craftfail lesson. If you can’t paint, glue something on top.

Here’s how I made a patch.


I ran two pieces of Fabric Duck Tape next to each other down a white piece of paper.


Then I used my Sizzix Big Shot to cut an interesting shape out of the tape – something big enough to cover the mess up.

Fifth lesson of craftfail fixing – go for interesting shapes in the cover up. If you don’t have a Big Shot like I do, simply print some clip art from your computer and then use it to cut out your shape. It’s that easy.


Once the shape is cut out, add no-sew fabric glue to the back. And smooth it down onto the front of your project, in the center.


Which brings me to the sixth and final lesson of cleaning up a craftfail. EMBELLISH! Keep the recipient from doing too much examination by adding a personalized touch – like a felt letter in my example.

Who is going to notice that you totally jacked up a project underneath when their initial is on top? No one!

Check out the final photos of my finished projects. Are you ready to decorate journals?

See how I turned a huge gold leaf journal craftfail into three usable projects! Learn how to fix a fail instead of throwing it away.
See how I turned a huge gold leaf journal craftfail into three usable projects! Learn how to fix a fail instead of throwing it away.
See how I turned a huge gold leaf journal craftfail into three usable projects! Learn how to fix a fail instead of throwing it away.

Would you have ever guessed that this were completely ruined projects? Me neither! I didn’t have to throw them away and now I even have cute gifts. Sure they didn’t turn out as I expected, but that’s kind of how life works, and it’s a good analogy.

What are your best tips for cleaning up a craftfail? I’d love to hear them! I’d also love for you to check out these related craft ideas:

Neon Statement Necklace in a Few Easy Steps
Follow this simple tutorial to upcycle a glass jar you have hanging out in your pantry. This summer craft is perfect for parties and picnics!
Simple Glass Jar Crafts for Summer (Too Cute!)


Wednesday 1st of July 2015

I love this! my craft fails usually go right to the garbage can, or into a dark abyss in the craft closet! But these turned out super cute! Awesome job!