Here's how I made this sign.
-board or boards cut to whatever size you want
-vinyl alphabet stickers (I made mine, but you can buy them on Amazon or at craft stores.)
-acrylic craft paint and a bottle of spray paint (I used a satin finish, but matte is great if you can find it)
-paint brushes in various sizes
-paper plate or palette to mix colors (optional)
-nails and a hammer for distressing (optional)
-hot glue and a glue gun
-sawtooth hangers and nails
-sandpaper (a sandpaper block or orbital sander makes life easier!)
-sealer of some sort (I used a matte spray sealer from Walmart)
Step 1: Choose a board for your sign based on the space you plan to put it. You can use any size board you have on hand. Some of the missing sock signs on Pinterest are large squares or rectangles, and some are just single pallet boards. My husband used six small pallet boards for this sign. He cut them to the size I wanted, then attached two boards (vertically) with a staple gun to the four horizontal boards to stabilize them. He then hung a couple sawtooth hangers at the top back.
Step 2: Decide what you want your sign to say and create a layout before painting or applying stickers. For this sign, I used vinyl stickers that I made on my Cricut machine. I had some letters left over from other projects and I made the rest. You can also buy premade alphabet stickers.
Lay your stickers out as you want them to appear on your finished sign. You can get all mathy and measure your board to be precise about placement, but I just eyed the placement of my stickers.
Step 3: Choose your paint colors and get to lettering! My house is decorated in a nature theme, and I chose brown, green, off white and yellow for this sign that I plan to hang in our laundry room. I wanted the words on the sign to be green and off white and the bird to be yellow.
I wanted the top board to say, "Clean, Single". I painted that board green with acrylic craft paint and applied the vinyl stickers after the paint dried. (Acrylic paint doesn't take long to dry if you do thin coats.) The first photo shows my layout after the green paint dried.
This photo shows how the vinyl stickers looked after I placed them on the top board. I decided that the second board would just have "&" and it would be off white, so I painted the area where I planned the symbol to go, let it dry, and stuck the sticker on it.
I painted the rest of the boards green except for the area where I planned the word "Mate" and the vinyl sticker of the bird to go. (*Note: I don't recommend painting the entire sign before the spray paint step. I advise only painting the areas that you plan to put your letters. Either leave the rest of the board/s unpainted, or choose a paint color that contrasts with your chosen spray paint color (light spray paint with dark background acrylic craft paint OR dark spray paint with light background acrylic craft paint.) You'll see why in another step.)
My husband used his Xacto knife set to create a vinyl sticker of a bird, using one of my plastic bird stencils. (Isn't he sweet?) I made the branch with scissors and a strip of scrap vinyl.
Step 4: When all your stickers are in place, it's time to spray paint over the whole thing! (I know! Scary!) Make sure your stickers are firmly pressed down without any lumps or air bubbles so the spray paint doesn't bleed under the stickers. I used an old piece of cardboard to put the sign on in the garage, and I sprayed on two light coats of Rustoleum paint in Espresso with a satin finish (from Walmart). You can also just use newspaper under your sign. Spray paint takes longer to dry than acrylic paint does, so give it some time. It needs to be fully dry before you peel off the stickers.
You guys, I'd never done this before. I was afraid I'd screwed up all that work! But I didn't!!!!
Step 5: After the spray paint is completely dry, peel the vinyl stickers off and reveal the paint underneath. Ta-da!!!! (Totally satisfying.)
Step 6: If you like your sign's intensity as is, skip to Step 7. If you like an "antique" distressed look, grab a sanding block or an orbital sander, some nails and a hammer. Play around with the sander on your sign. Focus more on the edges for an authentically aged look. Sand over the background and your letters. Stop sanding when you like what you see. If you want to distress your sign, lie your nails randomly around the board and hammer their edges here and there. It marks up the board. You don't have to go crazy with it. (But it's free therapy, yo.)
(*Note: See the green showing through the brown where I sanded below? Notice how the sanding looks nicer where the off white is underneath? (Around the "&" and "Mate".) The white paint creates more contrast against the brown spray paint. It looks more authentically aged with that contrast. If I were making another one of these signs, I would leave the background boards unpainted, or if they were stained or dark, I'd dry brush them with a light color acrylic craft paint.)
Step 7: Place your sign back on your cardboard or newspaper and spray two light coats of sealer. This will protect your sign's finish. (For outside signs, you'll want to use something heavy duty, like polyurethane. And you'll want to wait to apply it until all parts of the sign are done.) Let it dry.
Step 8: Paint your clothespins with acrylic craft paint and let dry. Then apply sealer to them as well. Heat up your glue gun and glue clothespins to the bottom of your sign with the grippy part hanging down. Hold in place for 15-20 seconds. (You can measure for precise placement, but again, I just eyed mine.)
I glued the off white clothespins on first. Then decided I needed more.
All done! Now go grab your sock singletons and pin them on.
P.S. I think this is my first tutorial, so if I forgot something, let me know!