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Saturday, July 3, 2010

Fourth of July Banner

Wow! A project that I started and finished in one day! I've been seeing these homemade banners or pennant strings all over the mommy blogger universe for the last few years. They're great because a) they're easy to make; b) they can be made from whatever materials you have on hand; and c) they are limitlessly adaptable: color, shape, finishing, etc. There are lots of etsy shops selling them, but why would you buy something that's so easy to make?

Once I got the idea that I might try to make a red-white-and-blue banner, I looked through my fabric index cards to make sure I had enough different fabrics to make it work. Then I dove into the bins and pulled out anything susceptible, ranging from small scraps to pieces of a couple of yards each.

I had decided in my web "research" that I liked the look of strings made with varying sizes of pennants. I liked the body and stiffness and reversability that came from using a double layer of fabric, but I didn't want to sew the triangle pieces together with internal seams, that would require stitching, clipping, turning and ironing to make lay flat and look nice--too fussy. I preferred the look of banners made with unfinished or simply pinked edges, the triangle pieces stitched together with a zigzag stitch. You don't get much more of a no-brainer for the top string holding everything together than prefolded bias tape, and I had a extra-large, 8-yard package of scarlet double-fold bias tape--just perfect for two four-yard banners.

Once I had all my fabrics marshaled, I got out my cutting mat and rotary cutter and started cutting. For the smaller scraps, the size and orientation of the triangles was determined by the size of the scrap, but none were smaller than about four inches in length. For the bigger lengths, I cut a nine-inch or so piece off the end of the fabric, folded it in half to make the selvages meet, then continued to fold it in that direction until it was four inches or so wide--producing a many-layered rectangle with the same height and width as the desired end-result triangle. Fold in half one more time in the same direction (making a long skinny rectangle with all the cut edges together at the top and bottom), then use a quilting ruler as a guide to cut it diagonally. This should make two little piles of paired triangles, ready to be stitched together (and two half-triangles that can be discarded or tossed back into the scrap bag).

With right sides out, zigzag stitch around the two long sides of the triangles and trim hanging threads. (If I had pinking shears, I probably would have pinked the long sides of the triangles, too.) Then stitch the short side of the triangles into the middle of the bias tape, with little to no space between the top corners of the triangles, and leaving a foot or so of bias tape at each end to use when hanging the banner.


After making two full four-yard banners, I had just a few triangles left over, and no more scarlet bias tape. I did, however, have some red grosgrain ribbon in my Christmas wrapping box. Rather than try to fold it around the tops of the triangles, I used two lengths of it and just stitched the triangles between it. I used just navy triangles to make a short minimalist banner for above my front door:

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Blogger Sara said...

Nice work. I saw the banner in Mark's photos on FB and figured this was your little project. I enjoy your instructions on how you did it. Of course, this mostly has to do with the fact I had no idea what you were talking about. One of these days I will actually sit down in front of a sewing machine.

July 4, 2010 at 7:45 AM  
Blogger sueandelin said...

Very cute, nice work! You never fail to impress me :)

July 4, 2010 at 10:24 AM  
Blogger patti's place said...

It was great to see what you were talking about when you said, "project". You're pretty creative and recycling yet. Go for it!

July 5, 2010 at 1:03 AM  
Blogger The Laundry Queen said...

Nice. I especially like the small one over the front door-- very understated, yet cute.

July 12, 2010 at 10:54 AM  
Blogger janeannechovy said...

Yeah, sis, I knew you would like it. Want me to make you one? I've gotten immersed in other projects now, but I could surely finish something by next July 4. :)

July 13, 2010 at 12:08 AM  
Blogger The Laundry Queen said...

I'm not sure which sister you're referring to, but I'll just assume it's me. ; ) You might as well make me one, while you have the sewing machine out for the stocking, and all...

July 13, 2010 at 10:41 AM  

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