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DIY Tips for Making Your Sorority Paddle Look Fabulous

DIY Tips for Making Your Sorority Paddle Look Fabulous

A paddle (or plaque) made from the heart is the very best kind. Big/little paddle crafting is not a competition, but sisters do want their paddles to look amazing. Here are sorority sugar's top tips! 

The Basics First:

• Buy the highest quality wood paddle that you can afford. 

• Apply several coats of spray primer or paint an acrylic base coat.

• Paint a solid background color, or trace and paint your preferred pattern.

• Add your greek letters, names & embellishments onto the front. Use paint pens for writing text and outlining large letters.

• Trim the paddle with pearls and/or a bow if you wish.

Tips for Taking Your Paddle to the Next Level:

• Working with great products is #1. High quality paints and accents = the best results.

• Outline the paddle with a strand of pearls. They come on a string and they're easy to hot glue. “Trim” gives a paddle a polished, finished look. 

• Buy the small wood greek letters, symbols and mascots from GreekCreations.com. They can be painted to coordinate with your paddle colors. They look sharp and professional. Authentic greek accents can't be found at your local craft store.

If you are accenting with a bow make sure it is top quality ribbon, not stiff gift wrapping leftovers.

• Use nice stick-on letters for your big/little names and dates instead of ‘free-hand’ painting your text. Sloppy handwritten words usually bring a beautiful paddle down. Michael’s and Hobby Lobby sell very classy adhesive letters. The scrapbooking letters look cleaner than what you can paint with a brush. Letters can be simple, elegant, bold or whimsical. 

• Trace a cool design (Lilly, chevron, paisley, stripes, polka dots) onto the wood and then paint. This will look better than trying to invent an original graphic. If you want to paint letters too, trace them as well. Use a font printed from your computer for accurate lettering. 

• If you are accenting with a bow make sure it is top quality ribbon, not stiff gift wrapping leftovers. Satin, grosgrain, or organza ribbons make the best bows for paddles. 

• Don’t clutter your paddle. The more stuff you cram onto it, the more “busy” it starts to look. Better a clean and simple design, than an over embellished mess.


Picking a theme particular to your sister is always a winner.

• Another option for a clean background is decoupage. If you neatly decoupage a Lilly pattern onto your base, then you can layer the other elements on top for a preppy look. Paint the sides and back to coordinate with the decoupaged paper. 

• Theme your paddle to your big/little. Picking a theme particular to your sister is always a winner. It also unites everything and looks more coordinated. Disney, Game of Thrones, Hogwarts, Hunger Games, BoHo, or Southern are possible themes that might match your sister's personal interest. 

• If you are using photos, keep them small and of the highest quality. Please no red-eye or blurry pictures on a paddle.  

• Use one gem, or two, and stick with them. Don’t throw in all the colored stones in the rainbow. Attaching just pearls, or just rhinestones, looks neater than a jumble of shapes. 


Every artist needs to know when to quit. Sometimes less is more when it comes to successful paddle and plaque crafting.

• A little glitter goes a long way. Glitter paints add a touch of sparkle, but don't drown your paddle in grade school sprinkles.

• Add dimension to your paddle with craft store flowers, wood letters, cord and other accents. Lift the surface from being totally flat.

• Edit, edit, edit! Every artist needs to know when to quit. Sometimes less is more when it comes to successful paddle and plaque crafting.

Final Tips: 

I am not a fan of puffy paints. If you are drawing a monogram, trace it, then carefully paint the design with a thin brush and regular acrylic paint. Please avoid puff pants. Paint pens are another good option for outlining and defining your graphics. 

Take your time. A high quality paddle can take a week to complete. You need design time, drying time and embellishment time. Remember this paddle or plaque will be one of the special items your sister will keep forever. While tee shirts fade, and other knick knacks get tossed, a sorority girl always keeps her paddle! Make it with love and make it beautiful.

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