Aug16 DIY: Marquee Letters 2012

I’ve said this before, but I have no problem saying it again. I love Ashley at Sugar & Cloth. She’s super creative and her DIYs are projects that I would actually make. You know, there are lots of DIYs that I’d pin, but never make. Today’s fab project from Ashley is on my to-do list for this weekend, I’m so in love. Enjoy!

I love the idea of marquee letters, and according to Pinterest, so does everyone else. The only catch is the real deal vintage letters are few and far between, and most DIY versions involve a crazy amount of steps, weird tools, and too many measurements for my comfort, but not with this one! If you can use a knife, you can make this!

Materials needed:

Large cardboard letter (JoAnn’s is the best place to find one)

X-acto Knife

String Lights


Paint (optional)




1 | Cut along the seam of your cardboard letter, only on one side. It’s surprisingly easy! This will be the back side that hides the cord.


2 | Twist the glass casings from the strand of lights, and lay them out where you’d like them placed on the front side of the letter, and then trace the smallest part of each.


3 | Cut an asterisk shape in each circle, which will allow you to push the bulbs right through into place.


4 | Put the bulbs back into the circles you cut, and the twist the lights into place from the back, tucking any excess cord in the sides.

Now your letter is ready to plug in and display!


Ps. If you missed Ashley’s last DIY exclusive for Grey, click here to check it out.

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  • Kelly @ Studio DIY on August 16, 2012

    What a GREAT idea to use a cardboard letter! Love it!

    • KSmith on August 16, 2012

      Thanks, Kelly! -Kati, Grey Likes Editor

  • DIY // Simple Marquee Letter on August 16, 2012

    […] simple projects that pack a big punch, like this DIY simple marquee letter that I created for Grey Likes Nesting. If you can manage a knife and string lights, you can make this. Oh, and did I mention that it […]

  • Megan on August 16, 2012

    Do you think this would be a fire hazard at all? I just didn’t know about the cardboard and the heat from the lights. Also, when you got your lights, what type of bulb is that? I love them!

  • Ashley | Sugar & Cloth on August 16, 2012

    Hey Megan! The bulbs used are plastic outdoor lights, so they don’t get very hot. They’re basically just regular christmas lights encased in a plastic ball, I got my on sale at Target, but they’re online also. Hope this helps! 🙂

  • Melissa E Earle on August 16, 2012

    I just LOVE this! And you are right, it is fun, but something I want to go instantly do. I have put these items on my list for things to buy while out at the store!
    I am going to make one with our family name initial “E” and then one for my daughter’s room that I am giving an uplift. Oh my dear how great! Now I am hooked and will be looking for more inspiration from you lovely people. Thanks for making my day “brighter” -Mee

    • KSmith on August 16, 2012

      Mee, we’re glad to help! 😉 Good luck with the revamp for your daughter’s room. Maybe have a look on Grey Likes Baby for some more inspiration for the little ones! – Kati, Grey Likes Editor

  • OH NO Rachio! on August 16, 2012

    I LOVE this – right up my street – I’m going to absolutely have a go at this this weekend, might even post my efforts on my own blog to inspire others to get onto this tutorial of yours. Very VERY well done! yay.

    Typography + Lights = AMAZING!


    • KSmith on August 16, 2012

      Great idea! Hope you have fun with this one! -Kati, Grey Likes Editor

  • Bonnie and Trish @ Uncommon on August 16, 2012

    This is beautiful!!! Absolutely stunning! So glad i found your amazing site!!

  • Amber on August 16, 2012

    LOVE LOVE LOVE!!!! Can’t wait to try this myself…thanks for sharing!

  • katie Byrne on August 18, 2012

    any idea where to get the letters? I tried Michaels and AC Moore the only craft store around here. would love to do for my daughters theater room.

  • GREY on August 20, 2012

    Katie, try checking out this link:

  • Toni on August 21, 2012

    Hi there,

    I absolutely love this idea, thank you! Do you know where you can buy those globes in Australia? Thanks

  • Kelly on August 24, 2012

    A DIY project after my own heart – simple and brilliant! I shared this in my weekly roundup post, and just wanted to pop by to say thanks for the inspiration!


  • Erica on August 24, 2012

    I love this! I’m gonna have to head to Jo Ann’s to look for a letter. This would be great in my craft room. So much personality 🙂

  • Edie on September 19, 2012

    Can you be more specific about lights? I do not see at Target online or in store. They have some string lights but they get too hot. Please help!

  • Sara Pliske on September 22, 2012

    Omgosh this is so cute! I am totally going to have to give this a try!! Thanks so much for sharing the tutorial. LOVE it! 🙂

    Blessings – Sara

  • Alexandra on September 24, 2012

    would you be able to point me to the lights? I can’t find online! Thanks!

  • Kayla on September 26, 2012

    Oh my gosh this is amazing!! I’ve been looking for a Mantel Piece that really adds some “pop”- I think we found it!!

  • Nedra on September 27, 2012

    I can’t find lights anywhere like these. Target, Lowes. BigLots, Walmart… Any ideas?

  • Helen Hinde on October 13, 2012

    Beautiful idea,I live in Eng just praying I can find the right bulbs to be able to to this.You are very talented and such an inspiration thank you..

  • Judy Gillette-Pelkey on November 28, 2012

    I gotta find the lights and I’m on this. Great gift idea. I’m ready to go get those lights & letters.

  • Kristin Hinkle on December 10, 2012

    I’d love to make these for my girls for Christmas gifts. I’d like to have a link for the Christmas lights you used please 🙂

  • Inspire Me Heather on January 04, 2013

    Oh that is just too cool – very well done! I have this linked to my letters and numbers post too today, rounding up ideas for wall art like this!

  • Annie on January 13, 2013

    Holy cow, I love this!

  • Rachael on January 18, 2013

    Where can I find these lights??? Any links to place would be so much help!! Soooooo cute 🙂

  • Fanny on January 31, 2013

    I just LOVE this !

  • Christa s on March 02, 2013

    Just a quick search and found these lights.

    I also would imagine LED lights would be great. They don’t put off too much light. Not sure they come n the size needed

    This is cute 🙂 smart cookie!

  • Katie on June 07, 2013

    I love this idea, but I do have a silly question… how do you plug it in?

  • bettylion on July 30, 2013

    Globe lights are available from Target (at least they are right now, it’s summer). They come in either glass with old-style filament, or Philips LED with plastic globes. I ordered both, because I am using lots of globe lights for my upcoming wedding. The glass style filament bulbs from Target are BEAUTIFUL, really cool authentic vintage look with a warm yellow glow. But the reviews all say they are horribly fragile. So for my marquee letters I decided to go with the Philips LED plastic globes, because I figured for this project, they’re going to get manhandled a bit. They’re not quite as amazing, but unless you’re looking very close, they’re a good choice with a pretty pure white light. Right here:

  • Diane Kelly on November 18, 2013

    I love this…. How many inches is this letter ‘A’. Thank you for your creative mind.

  • PV on December 18, 2013

    This is is such an great DIY!!! Although I can’t seem to find the lights anywhere!! Oh and also please stop by on YouTube to check out my new DIY channel and please please please subscribe and give it a big thumbs up if y’all like it and think I should make more thank you guys so so so much it will mean more toe than I can ever put into words
    PS channel is called glitteralittle25

  • Sarah on January 24, 2014

    I can’t wait to try my hand at this, as well. I think I will spell out JOY and use it as a statement piece atop our bookcase. This DIY would be exquisite for weddings, too – a new twist on moss initials? Thanks so much for sharing – I am feeling super inspired! xx.

  • Cara on March 06, 2014

    Think this will be the perfect thing to paint bright pink for my daughters bedroom redecorate, but where to get the lights this time of year?

  • Laura on March 12, 2014


  • Ann Merete - Kreativ-i-tet on May 05, 2014

    Cool idea! 🙂 Is it ok if I borrow the last picture to post on my (Norwegian) blog? I will of course link to this blog post and tell people to go see your page for instructions on how to make this letter.

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  • Aika on September 09, 2014

    love this! are paper mâché letters the same? I tried searching for cardboard letters online and the only results I get are paper mâché ones

  • Angie on February 04, 2015

    I was wondering about using this to make the Hollywood Sign for entrance to a Old Hollywood theme wedding reception. 🙂

  • Rebecca on February 09, 2015

    Loved this project! Super easy. I found the lights at World Market and they are always having coupons so I was able to get a deal. My only challenge is that once I pushed the lights through and screwed them in, I can’t get them to light!!! Any ideas? Do I need to remove the excess cardboard?

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  • Jessica Schoner on July 18, 2016

    I’m the senior marketing specialist at Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago, and we’re interested in using a photo from your blog: But Not a Real Green Dress, That’s Cruel – on our website to highlight one of our fall trends; turtlenecks under dresses! We will be providing proper credit to both you and Ashley, and linking directly back to your website. Please feel free to contact me if this is at all an issue, and we will gladly remove the content.
    Thanks so much!

  • Jessica Schoner on July 18, 2016

    I’m the senior marketing specialist at Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin and Metropolitan Chicago, and we’re interested in using a photo from this blog on our website to highlight one of our fall trends; letters as decor! We will be providing proper credit to you and Ashley, and linking directly back to your website. Please feel free to contact me if this is at all an issue.
    Thanks so much!

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