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DIY Vintage You Are My Sunshine Sign

Huge ‘you are my sunshine’ sign made using stencils (DIY and store bought), a computer and a large piece of mdf. With step-by-step instructions so you can make your own.

I wrote this post as part of a paid campaign with Plaid and Blueprint Social. The opinions in this post are, as always, my own!

Boy, have I got a project to share with you – I’m practically giddy with excitement for how it turned out! See how we made this DIY You Are My Sunshine sign and make your own too.

WOWZERS! That’s a LOT of “good things”, yes?

It’s all part of a Martha Stewart Mother’s Day campaign we’re participating in with several other bloggers. Our job was to come up with some sort of Mother’s Day craft/home decor/DIY using some of the items in the bag.

You all know we’ve used Martha stuff before, right? Stencils, glitter, paint. We used those things again (especially paint – LOVE the paint – it works on ANYTHING!). But we also got to try out several other good things this time around: the heat tool, stencil film, even the brush and stencil cleaner (which works like a CHARM!). And the foam pouncer tops and dragging brush are crazy handy tools to have!


Wanna see what we came up with?

DIY You Are My Sunshine Sign

Now, I’m not going to lie to you, this project was a TONNE of work. It is a huge piece and there are so many facets to it. But it’s been quite awhile since we tackled something so involved – so we were more than due for something HUGE!


Martha Stewart Products

  • Paint: Aquarium in Pearl, Habanero & Jonquil in Satin (times 2-3 for Jonquil), Yellow Gold in Metallic and Wedding Cake in High Gloss
  • Basic Brush Set; short bristled brush and angled brush
  • Foam Pouncer Tops
  • Roller and Tray
  • Dragging Brush
  • Multipurpose Heat Tool
  • Stencil Film
  • Stencil Adhesive Spray
  • Stencil Tape
  • Adhesive Stencil (flower)

Other Supplies

  • 48″ x 48″ MDF cut to 36″ x 42″ at hardware store
  • Lined Paper
  • Scotch Tape
  • Glass Cutting Board
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Black Paint Marker
  • Walnut Distress Ink
  • Spray bottle with water
  • Sandpaper
  • Hanging Hardware
  • Computer

Because there are multiple steps, I’m going to break the project down into 5 stages for you to make it easier. You know, if you want to DIY your own!



Step 1.

Using the Roller and Tray and the Jonquil (Yellow) paint, roll paint over the entire surface. Repeat. Perhaps repeat twice. To be honest, I knew I wouldn’t have enough Jonquil to cover this massive board three times, so I painted a layer of Chamomile (a brighter yellow) first and then used the Jonquil. If you are shopping for paint, buy 2-3 containers of Jonquil.

Step 2.
While top coat of paint is still wet, use the dragging brush to texturize. I did this mainly to get rid of the roller’s foam texture look.

Step 3.
Wash Roller and Tray and set aside.



Step 1.
I used GIMP to mock up roughly how I wanted my art to look. You can use my pdf (it’s pretty huge) if you’d like to save yourself some time. Just click the mock up below to open pdf, then right click to save. If you want to make your own, the font is Bernard MT Condensed, Condensed.

Step 2.

Using plain (or lined if you don’t have any plain! Ahem!) paper, lay out on your MDF approximately where you letters/words will go.

Step 3.

Now, trace letters/words off of your computer screen. Really! I have used this method – also known as I-don’t-have-a-vinyl-machine method! – many times before. Zoom in to the desired size and just scroll around as necessary to fit.

Step 4.

Using a soft pencil, scribble all over the BACK side of your paper. This is sort of like making carbon paper.

Step 5.

Position paper RIGHT side UP and secure with some scotch tape. Trace over lettering. Take a peek to make sure you are impressing the letters onto your painted MDF. Continue until you’re finished. Discard paper (in the recycling bin of course!).

Step 6.

Using the short bristled brush from the Basic Brush Set and Wedding Cake (white) paint, carefully paint inside pencil lines for all letters. Repeat if necessary (it was for me). Let dry while you complete the next steps.



Step 1.

Using your PDF mock up as a rough visual guide, lightly draw pennant strings with pencil. Erase and adjust if necessary.

Step 2.

Cut a triangle in desired pennant size out of a scrap of paper . Tape to a window and then tape a piece of Stencil Film on top. Trace the triangle with a pencil onto the Stencil Film.

Step 3.

Tape Stencil film to a GLASS cutting board. Use the Multipurpose Heat Tool with the angled tip to cut out the triangle.

Step 4.

Trace the triangle two more times using new Stencil Film each time. This time add a chevron pattern for one and a grain sack stripe to another. Using the Heat Tool and angled tip, cut out just the chevron pattern and the stripes.

Step 5.

Spray backs of stencils with Stencil Adhesive. Apply Stencil Tape to the corners to help hold it down – the Stencil Film tends to roll up, which was the only frustrating thing I found when using the Martha Stewart stuff. Using Roller and Tray (or paper plate if your tray isn’t dry or clean) with more Wedding Cake paint and plain triangle cut-out, paint each pennant white. Let dry.

Step 6.
Using the angled brush from the Basic Brush Set and Wedding Cake (white) paint, carefully paint the pennant strings. Let dry.

Step 7.

Using the other stencil cut-outs and an adhesive flower stencil with the Foam Pouncer Tops (on your Habanero, Yellow Gold & Aquarium paints), stencil the colourful parts of your pennants over top of the white. By using metallic and pearl paints, you get a fabulous hint of shine, even after the distressing steps below. Let dry.



This step makes the artwork look more like a vintage old sign. My youngest said it looks like a real old billboard.

Step 1.

Using a black paint marker, draw a drop shadow on each letter and each piece of the pennant banner. Keep in mind a drop shadow only appears to one side. Study old signs or typography if necessary first.


Step 1.
Using your sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block, sand entire painted surface. You want to take the newly painted look right off and remove any thick paint lines.

Step 2.
Rub the Dragging Brush on your Walnut Distress Ink pad. Then starting on the top left drag ink down to the bottom. Repeat, moving to the right and dragging down again. Repeat until you have inked the whole piece. It should look like it’s stained and old, not covered in ink.

Step 3.
Lightly mist the whole piece with water. This adds water marks and more texture to the ink.

Step 4.
Using your fingers (hubby gives me trouble for that!) or a lint-free rag, rub extra ink on the corners and edges.


What do you think? Fun sign, yes?


To find the products I used and other Martha Stewart / Plaid products OR for more crafting ideas visit Plaid on:

ยท Twitter: http://twitter.com/plaidcrafts (@plaidcrafts)


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I'd love to chat with you in the comments!


  1. Angela @TheNotSoFunctionalHousewife says

    Your amazing art piece has been featured for Functional Friday!

    Thanks so much for stopping by to link up!


  2. shaunna says

    Girl, this is your BEST. IT’s just so stinking cute!!! Love the colors, words, pennant banner, EVERYTHING. Great work!

  3. Heidi says

    I know you have 96 comments so I normally wouldn’t bother adding my two cents, but not only is this project SOOO amazing your tutorial was GREAT. Your tips on tracing off the computer screen and making carbon paper are going to come in handy immediately!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • aka design says

      Don’t ever let lots of comments stop you from commenting – we read every single one!!!

  4. Maury says

    Gonna attempt this with a different phrase. Does it need a protective top coat? I’d be nervous not to do one. Also, could you explain how you hung it? Thank you!

    • aka design says

      We didn’t top coat it. It hangs on the wall and no one touches it, so there really was no need. As for hanging it, we just used those little sawtooth hangers and some nails. Easy peasy!

  5. Ange says

    Love the look of this project, what a great tutorial. Question…can you use a canvas instead of the MDF? T

    • aka design says

      I’m sure you could use a canvas instead of mdf. Just be gentle with it – canvas tends to “sink” in the middle while you’re working on it. Especially with as many layers as this one. Have fun!

    • aka design says

      It might. BUT stain has a burn-in affect – which means it gets into the paint (it’s meant to soak into a surface, right?) and can therfore move it around. SO you would very likely mess up your paint. If you really don’t want to use the distress ink (which is not too expensive at Michael’s and lasts quite awhile), I would recommend glaze instead of stain. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Sharla says

    I love this project! Do you mind sharing how you hung it on the wall. I have some board that will work for this, but its so thin I don’t know what I could use to hang it with. Great job!

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A little ๐Ÿ–ค for Home Made Lovely

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I love your easy process to determine my style. I've also learned that my style has changed over the years and seasons of my life and that decorating properly/successfully is NOT as complicated as it once seemed!!!

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Your explanation of paint colors was the light bulb moment for me! I am enjoying your teaching.  Thanks!

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Oh Shannon, thank you, thank you thank you!!  I wish I could download you and take you with me, but your Decor Staples Checklist has definitely given me the guidance and filled me with the confidence I need!

Zee V.

Love this idea!

Orbs are such a great decor item to add to a space. Staining the hoops really gives them a vintage feel. Thanks for the inspiration.


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I'm so done with Haphazard Decor! (Yes, I think I just made that "style" up). Thank you for your style quiz!


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