Salvaging a Failed Project

I’m never happy when I botch up a project, but generally my projects are made with salvaged pieces that cost little to no money, so it’s not that big of a deal.

When I botch up a project that I actually spend money on – that drives me nuts.

I don’t usually share my failed projects, but today I’m going to, because I’m also going to show you how I saved it from getting thrown in the trash.

I bought this adorable burlap tote bag, with a specific project in mind.  This side is just burlap, but the other side had a cute canvas pocket on it.

Remember the Red Barn Watercolor printable?

Well, I made a pillow with the image, but I thought that canvas pocket would look so cute with the old barn on it as well…

burlap bag

and I messed it up big time.

I’m not sure what I did wrong – whether I didn’t hold the iron on the transfer paper long enough, or held it too long, or whether the multiple layers of fabric were too bumpy to get a good transfer, but either way – it looked awful.

After spending good money on the bag, I didn’t just want to throw it away.  Ruined image or not, I thought maybe I’d just use it as a reusable grocery bag.

It’s been hanging on a hook in my bathroom (because isn’t that the logical place to hang ruined tote bags?), and as I was sitting in the tub a few days ago, I started brainstorming how I could salvage it, and make a bag that wouldn’t be embarrassing to take in public.

And I thought of a miracle working product that I’m convinced can fix anything.

No … not duct tape. 🙂

failed project

(Watercolor Barn Printable)

That miracle working product is chalkboard paint.

It can hide anything, and make it look like you planned something cool all along!

So I got out my paintbrush, and 10 seconds later, you would never have known what a mess was underneath.

chalkboard paint on fabric


Of course, I didn’t want to use real chalk on it, but I wanted some kind of cool typography so it would look like an old sign, so I looked through my stencils and the old seed store design had just the right look!


old sign font


I stood back and looked at  it, and was so bloomin’ happy with the outcome.

The only problem was, I did all this at night, so there was no one awake to share my joy…

 So the cat had to listen to me brag out loud instead. 🙂

“Wow, that was a great save, Angie!”

“You rock the messed up project!”

“HIGH FIVE girl!”

but the cat wouldn’t high five me back.  

What a wet blanket she is!

burlap bag

(Seed Store stencil)

See more Vintage Sign Stencils project ideas HERE!


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  1. It turned out so great, Angie…it looks wonderful!

  2. Consider this a virtual high five. It looks great. 🙂

  3. that turned out super cute!!! I like it better than your first idea 🙂 !

  4. It would look cute as a planter Angie! Stick a pot of flowers in it!

  5. That IS a great save…way to go! Not only that, but since chalkboards are all the rage, this sweet, little bag will be all the rage, too! I wouldn’t be too hard on kitty…she probably has no fashion sense…that comes with wearing pajamas 24/7/365! 😉

  6. Patty Soriano says

    Angie, I really didn’t think the barn looked all that bad. Maybe it’s worse in person, hmm ? I have a tote almost just like this that hubby brought home from a conference. Unfortunately, it has a logo on the side of it, no pocket. I’ve been trying to think of a way to save it. I guess I could find a fabric to sew to the side of it, and paint it as you have, but I was thinking something more 3D. Any ideas ?

  7. This came out so cute…love it! Great save!

  8. Thank you for sharing. I seem to think I am the only person with “failures”, so it helps to remember we all have to rethink a project at times……..this is why I love blogs, to connect to other like minded “friends”………..

  9. Don’t you love when that happens! Yea!

  10. Beautiful, Angie! It looked like it was your plan in the first place.

  11. Sherry Fram says

    Great save! Looks like you planned it that way!

  12. Great tote – before AND after! I thought the barn was nice too!

  13. Marlene Stephenson says

    It looks wonderful. You are very creative Angie.

  14. Dear Angie,
    Out of every mistake comes something wonderful and you sure proved it by this tote. So darned cute. You should be proud of yourself and from me I give you a high-five and a WAY TO GO GIRL!!!!!!

  15. Great save! It looks like it was meant to be the whole time!


  16. What mistake?
    It looks perfectly planned from the start 😉

  17. Angie, I thought the watercolor barn transfer looked good with all its imperfections. Perhaps the picture didn’t do the fail justice. I like the chalkboard idea just as much and what a creative way to turn a nay into a yay.

  18. What a great save!!! Love it!

  19. This bag looks fabulous! I liked the idea of the barn picture, but I really LOVE how the salvaged bag looks. It is so pretty to use or just leave out for everyone to see in your home.

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