Cute little upcycle of an old letter holder

It’s been a long time since my last post… So much has happened since then…. Hubby and I both got the flu for at least two and a half weeks +, I’d been in intensive study mode – studying hard for my PRINCE2 foundation and practitioner project management certification. I finally got my results and passed with great marks!

Letter Holder

One little project I managed to get done this past month is an up cycle of an old letter sorter. A letter sorter is a weird object to have in this day and age. It becomes a bill sorter for those who still receive paper bills, but, other than that it is really a redundant item.

Until now… With a little whimsy style magic, and a bit of paint and wallpaper, I rejazzed the invalid letter sorter into a shabby chic note board. Which is great for us and our busy lives, hubby and I can leave each other notes when we will be home late etc – so perfect!

Here is the process and tools I used to create this piece.

1/ I drew up some concept designs and chose one to develop further based on the materials I had available.

Letter Holder start

2/ I assembled the following tools and materials to begin the project.


Textile paint in pearlescent pale colours and volume (puff) colours.
Textile black pen
An assortment of paint brushes
Pattern printed vintage fabrics (off cuts are perfect ) in two complimentary styles
Cotton string about a metre in length
Acrylic paint in a teal or peppermint green (I settled on a mis-tint pot I picked up in my local hardware store for $3)
2 small pieces of vintage wallpaper with complimentary patterns/colours
Contact adhesive
Rubber alphabet stamps
Stamp pad of multi purpose permanent ink (some textile ink pads can be used on a variety of surfaces and are permanent)
High grit sandpaper
High gloss sealer
2 small spring style wooden pegs
Cotton and a needle
Several cotton buds for stuffing

3/ I got started!

There wasn’t a lot of prep work involved… Just a quick clean and then straight into painting I wanted to use gesso as an base coat but I found my tub of gesso had hardened into a big plastic blob in the bottom of the container…. So plan B was to go ahead with several layers of green, starting with a peppermint green and finishing with a teal green.


The next step involved stamping the quote onto the wood carefully and cleanly. The hardest thing about the whole project was trying to find a quote that fitted in with what I was trying to achieve.


Next was cutting to size the wallpaper pieces. I did this by laying the object onto the wall paper and tracing around it to get the rough shape. I cut the shape out and pressed it into place carefully looking to line up the top and sides best I could. I then ran my fingernail along the insides of each pocket and made an indentation of where the paper overlapped edges. Easy peasy, a quick trim of the edges, followed by a quick recheck and then I put them aside for later.

All the bits were pretty much ready now, all that was needed was a quick distress of the paint then it was off to the garage to be sealed. Hubby kindly did this bit for me, it’s Winter here and it’s far too cold and rainy outside for me to be keen to venture out the front door if I don’t need too.

I distressed the corners and edges using various grits of sand paper. Just a light scuff down the edges is usually enough to achieve the shabby chic look.

High gloss varnish was used to give a glassy appearance to the piece and reduce some of the visual flatness of the matt acrylic paint finish.

My vision was that this little letter holder would function for notes and hold notepad paper and pens, but that the notes themselves would be cleverly displayed outside of the box. For this purpose i chose to design pillow birds with wooden pegs on the back to hold the notes.


For the birds, I sourced some cotton offcuts in complimentary shades and patterns (cutting 4 pieces out) and using my textile pen and paints I drew out the designs and painted them. Because they were so small they were easy enough to run my hair straightening irons to heat seal them, super handy. I stitched the backs to the fronts, inside out and left a little gap to turn the pillow covers back right side out. Before stuffing the pillows I grabbed a mattress needle and cotton string, tied a knot at one end and pushed the needle up inside the cushion cover and out the top of the seam – the knot catches on the inside of the pillow and the string becomes the hanging string for the bird. Stuffing these little pillows was made easy by using ripped apart cotton wool balls – super fun bit. Invisible stitch the opening closed and repeat for the second birdie……




I have to admit at this stage that I never got around to sewing the little wooden pegs on the back of the bird pillows, I have a stash of them but I have no idea where I’ve put them. So until they turn up I am using milliner hat pins through the back, which are equally as effective.


When the letter holder was finally dry the last step was to stick in place the wallpaper. The wallpaper pieces I have are OLD and so is the dried out wallpaper size on the back, so a little bit of double-sided tape would do the trick, no mess, no fuss and a secure placement.

And, that was that.

Now all we need to do is use it.



5 thoughts on “Cute little upcycle of an old letter holder

  1. I never get excited when I see anything posted with the word “bills”–today you have changed that for me! I won’t look at another one of these old pieces the same again! I actually know a place in my town, where I can go buy handful of these! (I just might do that!) 😉 These pieces are treasuries to me as both the house I grew up in had this same one & my Grandmothers home (where I spent equal amounts of time between the both). The structure brings back many heartwarming memories for me, as a child. Thank you for this inspiration & kind reminder. Besides that, I can relate to the part of studies taking up much time. I am currently looking to enroll in more design classes (on line for now), until I can go back to work. You’ve done magic with this piece, great stuff and keep it up 😉


  2. Very, very creative, Pepper! Sorry to hear about the flu business, though, and congratulations on the certification!

    It’s the ‘little’ things like this that, to use an old cliche, ‘make a house a home’–and your home has gotten so very distinctive! Keep going at it–and work hard to stay well, both of you!


  3. Pingback: Cute little upcycle of an old letter holder | Pepperbox Couture | Creative Revolt - DIY projects and patterns 4 U

Comments are closed.