DIYdiy projects

18 DIY Projects That Celebrate Lettering and Type

by Bethany Joy Foss

I fell in love with letters during my freshman year of college in a calligraphy class that changed the course of my career from wannabe painter to graphic designer. Since then, I have learned the value of drawing out a letterform — to appreciate the benefits of subtlety as well as extravagance by studying letterers and type designers, and understanding that not all type is created equal. The fonts we use on our machines require hours of drawing and digital refinement, while lettering is more of an illustration of letters. Both are an imitation of the gesture of handwriting. Making letters involves repetition and not being afraid to iterate until the perfect mark is found.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional designer to appreciate letterforms. Sometimes, the simplicity of a handwritten note can warm a heart. Handwriting can reveal a lot about the personality of the creator. Is it loose or structured? Do the playful curves of the letters connect with one another? How do the letters remind you of the maker? It is a cathartic experience to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil to dictate thoughts and feelings and in return, read from someone else’s hand.

If you are interested in learning a little more on the difference between lettering, calligraphy, and type design or specifics on refining your own letter-making skills, I would recommend checking out Jessica Hische’s book, In Progress where she shares her process as a lettering artist. It is a fun and honest tell-all showing her sketches, methodology and overflowing with valuable advice.

There are many unique approaches to adding a personal touch to handmade gifts or cards to give to those we love. Here are a few of my favorite DIY projects from the archives that apply lettering in a creative way. Bethany 

DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
Gold leaf can take a few minutes to get the hang of, but the reward of a glowing card to give to a friend is worth it. This DIY shows how to make faux foiled cards using gilding sheets and glue. Don’t feel limited by paper lettering -- gold leaf can be applied to almost anything including metals, glass, and ceramics.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
A stitched screen with a friendly greeting can sit at your door, window or framed on the wall as a typographic decorative element. This straightforward stitch gives you a chance to study the structure and form of a letter on a grid.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
These simple clay To Do Magnets would be a thoughtful gift for your list-writing friend, or help accomplish everything on your own list this season.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
Try making these diamond-shaped Acrylic Gift Tags that double as a decorative marker and hanging ornament with a unique, hand-lettered message or name.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
This Hello Beautiful Doormat DIY gives instructions on how to craft a friendly first impression as guests enter your space. Make it with a charming script or block letter and capture phrases you often say as a greeting.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
Embossed velvet place cards would be an elegant finish to a holiday dinner table setting. Follow the instructions here using stamps to monogram velvet ribbon and give them as a gift to your guests after dinner.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
These rubber-stamped "save the date" cards could capture holiday greetings, a party invitation or thank you message.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
Choose a lively script, elegant serif or no-nonsense sans serif to represent your personality on monogram stationery. Use these to send out handwritten correspondence or give a personalized set as a gift to a friend.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
Garlands often show up on doorsteps during the holiday season, but these monogram wreaths add a bit more charisma to the common decoration. Create a thoughtful gift or decorate your space using fall or winter materials like leaves, herbs, flowers, berries and greens.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
Monogram appliqué pillows would be a cozy housewarming or winter gift. The typographic treatment can reflect the personality of the recipient and add a fun, colorful accent to a piece of furniture.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
I find myself making these simple watercolor cards often. They are a quick and inexpensive way to add a fun message and unique color to thank you notes, place cards or gift tags. The best part about watercolor is that no two cards are ever exactly alike. I like to use complementary colors to pair with an envelope or gift wrap.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
Using foam core, mat board and string lights, this paper marquee letter lamp would add an ambient glow and focal point to a retro, industrial centerpiece or mantel vignette.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
Gourds, pumpkins and squash are in season throughout the fall and beginning of winter, but they don’t have to always end up as jack-o-lanterns or a tasty treat. This Typography Pumpkin DIY shows how to apply lettering to create a fun greeting or special monogram representing each of your family members.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
These gorgeous thank you notes are made from the natural dye colorants found in many plants and flowers. The instructions list out a few fall floral options like Marigold, Russian Sage and Goldenrod, that create an earthy, handmade message by soaking into the paper fibers and sitting underneath calligraphy or dainty hand lettering.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
Create a nametag for your favorite fluffy friend by imprinting letters onto leather. These would be the perfect stocking stuffer or gift for a new pet owner.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
These wax seals with a personalized monogram symbol burnt into a wooden dowel would be an elegant way to send off all those holiday invitations and thank you cards.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
Geometric clay place card holders with a sprig of fresh rosemary and stamped name cards would finish off any Thanksgiving table with a playful, modern twist. Try your hand at signing the names in calligraphy instead of stamping or use gilding sheets to cover a portion of the placeholder with gold.
DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge
I love looking through antique stores and estate sales for examples of vintage type or lettering. These often show up throughout my apartment as decorative elements. This DIY lists clever ideas for banners, garlands, installations and oversized prints using found type.

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  • Love the idea of a hand lettered doormat a truly personal way to welcome people into your home – thanks for compiling this!

    – Natalie

  • While I was in school, my typography classes were some of my favorite courses. Hand lettering is something I have started to get into, so nice to get away from designing on the computer and use my hands instead of a mouse again.
    I would have never thought about stitching letters on a screen door, absolutely love that idea.