DIY Marquee Letters

When I saw this DIY Marquee Letter Tutorial on, I couldn’t wait to try my hand at creating them. My friend is in love with C9 Christmas lights, so I decided that her Birthday would be the perfect opportunity to see what crafty piece I could come up with.

First, I scaled out her initials in Adobe Illustrator so that each letter took up (4) 8.5″ x 11″ pieces of paper. I choose the font Helvetica, but you could really choose any font or even create an icon.


Initial layout in Illustrator

Next, I printed the letters and scotch taped them onto 1/8″ foam board. This can be found at Hobby Lobby in extra large sheets, or any craft store. I cut each letter out with an Xacto knife and ruler, scoring them until they cut clean. Then I took my string of C9 lights and removed the bulb so that I could trace the hole opening onto the foam board. This will give you the perfect opening to fit your light bulb through.  I evenly spaced the holes apart, making sure to accomodate 25 light bulbs in both letters.


Materials: 1/8″ foam board, poster board, ruler, cutting board, Xacto (I started with a box cutter, but found the Xacto was better), scotch tape, packaging tape, string lights, spray paint


Use the socket with a bulb removed as a template for the hole openings. Evenly space them apart by using ruler marks as a guide.

For the rounded 3-D edges, I used regular poster board that I cut into 5.5″ wide strips. Using packaging tape, I inset the letters 2″ into the poster board and carefully taped it to the back of the letters, but first I used scotch tape until I was happy with the placement, then secured everything with packaging tape. Once I was satisfied with the contours, it was time to spray paint. For this project, I picked out “Pimento Red”, a deep orangey-red color, and took the letters to the garage.


Make sure to spray in even strokes, using light coats until the desired density is achieved.

My project was almost complete at this point! Now all I had to do was place the string of lights and bulbs into the sockets from the back of each letter.


Place the letters face down and insert the lights sockets, then screw each bulb in from the front to secure the socket in place.

The end result is a festive, fun decor piece! I was really happy with how they turned out and can’t wait to try out other ideas using string lights.




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