Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Flag Banner Tutorial

By Corrin of Athena's Little Owl

Every once and awhile while exploring Etsy, I'm enamored with a banner made of pretty little flags. Whether the banner is made up of triangle fabric flags with vintage looking letters, squares of cardstock with hand stamped messages, or some other pretty arrangement, I usually fall in love. What a great way to declare, well, really pretty much anything. When I started contemplating a new sign for craft shows, I couldn't resist attempting the flag banner.

Now, I could've placed a custom order with any number of etsy sellers. However, like many crafty people, each time I saw one of those banners I started to think about how I could make it myself. Not only do I love projects like this, I needed my banner fast, wanted it to be as inexpensive as possible, and I wanted to give it my personal touch. (Go handmade, or go home, right?) Overall, I couldn't be happier with how it turned out. It took less than an hour of my active time to make, only cost about $9, and is as cute as can be.

First I had to decide on the types of materials I would use. Fabric or card stock; stencils, stamps or free handed letters; ribbon or twine, etc. Based on cost, the number of letters/words I wanted, and the look I was going for, these are the supplies I decided on:

One designer mat pad (18 sheets) of 4.75 x 6.75 inch "vintage patterns" cardstock
One 2 oz tube of black acrylic paint
One 3/8 size camel hair paint brush
Two 1o yard rolls of hemp cord (I used about 15 yards)
Hot glue gun
paper towels/newspaper

Keep in mind, most of the following steps can be followed even if you choose different materials, i.e. fabric instead of cardstock, stencils instead of freehand letters, etc. Just adjust the method a bit to fit your chosen supplies.

First, I separated the card stock sheets and arranged 15 sheets in a pattern I liked (using this pad was rather handy - no cutting involved, and each sheet was the exact same; a perfect rectangle. I believe these are normally used as backgrounds for photos in scrapbooking.)

Next, I took one of the extra sheets to do a test run of the letters. I decided to free hand paint - all those handwriting classes in college were finally going to pay off (seriously. handwriting. all part of the joys of becoming a teacher.) Once I had the style I liked, I moved on to my chosen "flags". I was painting one letter per flag, and found that even, long strokes worked the best for the letters. Once the basic shape of the letter was formed, I "antiqued" the edge by removing excess paint from the brush, and then I ran it lightly over the edges of the letters. Once completed, let the letters dry. The bottle of acrylic paint says the dry time is 15 minutes. I went for a run while I let the paint dry; gotta love multi-tasking.

Next I needed to attach the flags to the cord. I decided that I would keep each word of my shop name, "Athena's Little Owl" on separate cords. Since it's a fairly long name, I figured this would be easier to manage, and would give me more options for hanging. The other handy thing about the cardstock I used are the white "tabs" at the top. I left this on the card stock so I could use the excess to help secure the flag to the twine. If you're not using card stock like this, you may want to leave an extra 3/4 inch or so at the top for this step. I cut the cord so that 4-6 feet would remain on either side of the flags for tying.

Basically, you want to line up the first flag along your cord, fold over the white "tab" at the top, put a generous strip of hot glue in the crease of the fold, and also along the bottom of the tab. Quickly and carefully put the cord in place, and press down to adhere. (See pictures below for these two steps) I left about 1/4- 1/2 inch between each letter to allow the flags a little room for different hanging styles. Repeat this step until all your flags are attached. Take care that you're going in the right direction with the letters; I had one little mistake I needed to fix :).

I gave the glue a little time to dry, and then displayed the final product. Give this little project a try, and display your shop name with pride!