DIY Light Up Signs!

DrinksMainOMG, I am so in love with this project! I’ve made like four of these for my “Circus of the Damned” Halloween party. They are super cheap and high impact. Plus because they’re battery operated you can put them ANYWHERE! I am hanging them above various party “stations” such as the Drinks table, the Snacks table, etc. I found super awesome free circus fonts to go with my theme, but you could easily change up the color scheme and lettering for a casino night fundraiser or a Vegas themed party. Oooh or a vintage Hollywood theme…or Broadway!!! Sorry, I just had a theatergeekgasm at the thought of a Broadway theme party, lol.

Here’s a fun fact for you: Did you know that Broadway  (between Union Square and Madison Square) was one of the first electrically lit streets in the U.S.? It earned its nickname “The Great White Way” because by the 1890’s the section of Broadway from 23rd Street to 34th Street was so crazy illuminated by all the electrical advertising signs.

Boom! You just got knowledged. You’re welcome.

CRAFTING BONUS:  Whatever theme you choose, you can just cover the labels with new labels for a different theme and re-use these suckers again and again.

WHAT YOU NEED:

Cardboard

Black Spray Paint

Scissors and/or Crafting Knife

LED String Lights (Battery Operated)

Power Drill

3/8″ Drill Bit

Glue Gun

Decorations: Paint, Letters, Etc.

Papier Mache Supplies (Click here for my Quicke Papier Mache How-To)

Optional: String or wire if you plan on hanging them.

Before you start: Open up your LED lights, make sure they have batteries and turn them on to make sure all the bulbs light up.

STEP ONE:

Cut out a shape for your sign out of cardboard or foam board.

TIP: Dig around recycling bins and maybe you’ll get lucky, and like totes save the planet while you’re at it. Someone was throwing out an arrow shaped, cardboard yard sale sign so I swooped it up!!  (But you will still need extra cardboard)

These are the dimensions of my rescued yard sale sign:

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STEP TWO:

Once you have your desired shape trace it out on cardboard. Cut it out and spray paint both sides black.  It will henceforth be known as the Backing. Set it aside for later.

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TIP: Well, this is not so much a tip as a confession. I cheated at Step Two. I found a really awesome super sturdy sheet of black paper in the painting section at Michaels. I think it was for watercolor painting…it was about 5 bucks and perfect, but I can’t remember what it’s called. I really did try to find if for you, but as I have mentioned elsewhere, the Michaels website is just about useless- except to find a store and go look for yourself, lol.

STEP THREE

Count the bulbs on your LED light string. Draw a diagram to figure out how many bulbs per side of your shape. (Most small battery operated strings have about 20, like the ones I used.) for smaller signs you can get away with one string, or use multiple strings for bigger signs.

Here’s what I did for this specific sign (brace yourself this contains actual math):

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In the end, for my shape I ended up spacing my bulbs about 2-2.5″ apart. You can get all crazy with measuring if you want, but I just eyeballed it. I’m gangster like that.

STEP FOUR:

Create a “cup” to hold your battery pack and a spacer to hold your Backing way from the wires. For this shape I cut a 1.5″ x 6″ piece of cardboard and a 1.5″ x 7″ piece of cardboard. (Doodle 1)

NOTE: If your shape is using more than one battery pack, you will need a “cup” for each one and bigger shapes will also require more spacers.

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STEP FIVE:

Hot glue your battery “cup” to the somewhere near the bottom of your sign about 1.5″ from the edge of at least one side. (Doodle 2) This will henceforth be known as the “Front Inside” portion of your sign.

NOTE: The battery cup needs to be near an edge because you will need to be able to reach in to pull out the pack to turn it on/off and change batteries when necessary. Remember that you will be putting the Backing on the sign!

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STEP SIX:

Spray paint the Front Inside black and let dry. Flip over and paint your sign as desired. When applying your lettering, remember that you need to leave about an inch around the edges for the light bulbs.

STEP SEVEN: 

Remember that handy diagram you made in Step 3? On the Front Inside, use a pencil to mark an “x” where you want each bulb. Place your drill point at the center of an “x” and drill baby, driiiilllll!

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Repeat for each “x.”

STEP EIGHT:

Place your battery pack in the battery cup. Gently insert the first bulb closest to the pack into the closest hole (geez, LEDs are such sluts, right?) so that the widest part of the plastic bit beneath the bulb is visible. About 1/8 of an inch, for you measurement Nazis. Work your way around the sign until all your holes are filled. With bulbs you sicko!

TIP: If any of your bulbs seem loose you can use a tiny bit of hot glue around the base to keep them in place. Or just add the glue around the base of all the bulbs just to be sure.

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STEP NINE:

Once all your bulbs are in place, use some string or tape to gently pull all the extra cordage between bulbs towards the center so that it doesn’t poke out around the edges of your sign.

STEP TEN:

Apply hot glue to the edges of your battery cup and spacer, line up your your backing and firmly press in place.

Drinks Backing-Side

OPTIONAL: 

To hang your sign simply loop string or wire underneath the top. Slide out the battery pack to switch them on and off. Ta-dah!

You can see more pics of the signs I made for my circus party on Instagram.

XOXO

DIY Vintage Harlequin Clown: Accessories Tutorial

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Sometimes you just need a quick and easy costume. One of my favorite ways to whip up a costume in a jiffy is to make really cool DIY accessories that can be added to regular clothes. This is a DIY tutorial for my 3 piece Vintage Harlequin Clown accessories.

HarlequinClown_MeThis is especially awesome if you’re on a budget and have a bunch of parties or events to go to: it’s super versatile.  I LOVED the high waist short and contrasting striped shirt we dressed up my fantastic model Kelsey in, but you could slut it up (and I mean that in the best way) with a skimpy leotard, sexy dress, or maybe pair the shorts with a corset or halter bra for a pin up vibe.

I actually wore it to an early Halloween party while my main costume was still in progress, and it was a big hit.  (The top, skirt, tights and shoes are all direct from my closet.)

Included in this tutorial are instructions to make a cone hat, ruffle collar and ruffle cuffs.

Beginner level, low cost, and can be done in an afternoon; what’s not to <3?

Enjoy!

Supplies

NOTE FOR SUPPLIES: You want to get fabric 45″ wide or wider. The wider the fabric the more “ruffley” your collar will be (and yeah I just made up a word, so deal). If you’ve never shopped for fabric before, read this, then proceed.

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Don’t forget to download my cone template!

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  • TIP:  I used the large size for my human-sized hat you see in the pictures and I used small and medium for doll sized  “party skeletons” that I used to decorate my “Circus of the Damned” theme Halloween party. You could  also  totally  use the small version and glue it to a headband for a cute mini-hat look.

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Repeat for opposite side of the hat. You’ll use these tabs to secure the hat to your hair with bobby pins.

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Repeat step one with your second printed fabric- this time making a 6 1/2 ” fold.

NOTE: Save the excess fabric you trim off. You’ll use that to make the cuffs.

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TIP: You should end up with 15 inches marked off directly in the center of your ribbon and 12 1/2″ of ribbon left over at either end.

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Start with your left over fabric from the ruffle collar.

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TIP: Before moving on to the next step, trim edges so they’re nice and even like the photo in step one.

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  • OH SNAP! Note on using snap closures: Each closure comes with two pieces (an “innie” and an “outie” if you will) that, uh, well, snap together. Cleverly named, these things are… but I digress. You will need to make sure that you keep track of which pieces are innies and which are outies as you apply them to your cuffs. Otherwise they won’t snap together, k?

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 Repeat steps 4-8 for the other cuff and your done! Enjoy! XOXO

Love note from JoJo: This post was originally a 3-part post condensed and reformatted on 6/21/14.