Hi crafters! For this blog post I thought I’d share with you how you can sew a banner and embellish it with a motivational message. The message I used for my banner reads ‘Change can be beautiful’. I appliqued some butterflies onto the banner as they complimented the message and I used two of my Sizzix Bigz dies to cut-out the butterflies. I hope that once you’ve seen how easy it is to sew the basic banner shape you’ll be able to add a message and design that’s personal to you.
For this project you will need:
Fabric (I used calico for the backing and the words and plain and patterned cotton)
Wadding/batting (I used a thin polyester mix)
Sizzix Bigz Dies (I used two different butterfly dies)
Double-sided fabric adhesive sheets (I used Heat’n Bond but there are various versions of this type of iron-on fabric adhesive to choose from)
Wooden dowling to hang the banner from
Quilting ruler and rotary cutter
Firstly, you will need to cut-out all your fabric pieces. I cut two pieces of patterned fabric to the size of my Sizzix Bigz dies. One fabric piece for each die I used. I then cut two pieces of the Heat n Bond to the same size as the patterned fabric pieces. Peel back the cover sheet on one side of the iron-on adhesive sheet and place one of the pieces of patterned fabric on top of the exposed adhesive. Take your iron and slowly move it over the cotton and adhesive sheet, keep applying heat until the whole of the fabric is glued down. If you’re using fabrics that can’t cope with too much heat you might find that a light-weight fabric glue or spray adhesive would work better. Once both pieces of fabric are fixed to the adhesive sheet, take them to your Bigz dies and pass them through your die-cutting machine.
Next you will need to write-out your words onto small pieces of calico using fabric pens. I then backed the calico words with iron-on adhesive using my iron. If you love embroidery, the words would look great if they were embroidered.
The template for my banner is shown below, these measurements are for the white fabric panel on the front of the banner. To draw the template draw out a rectangle that measures 11 ½“ wide x 10” high. Add a smaller rectangle to the bottom of the larger rectangle that measures 11 ½” wide x 4” high. To draw the point, measure halfway along the width at the bottom of the small rectangle (5 ¾”) and draw a diagonal line from the middle point to the bottom corner of the large rectangle. The measurements include a ¼“ seam allowance. Use the template to cut-out the white cotton for the front of the banner.
You will need to cut out 5 strips of patterned cotton to make the border around the front banner piece. The strips I cut were 2 ½” wide and roughly measured the length of the banner from top to point, 14” long. I used a quilting ruler and rotary cutter as it’s a simple way to cut strips.
To cut the calico for the back of the banner you can either draw out another template that adds 2 ¼” all the way around the template you drew for the front of the banner or wait until you have sewn the patterned fabric strips onto the front of the banner and then use that as a template to cut your calico backing to the same size. Cut a piece of batting/wadding to be about ¼” smaller than the calico backing.
Now that everything has been cut, you will need to arrange your applique pieces on the banner. Once you’re happy with the layout, peel back the paper backing to the applique pieces and iron in place. Now that everything is stuck down, we finally get to the fun stuff – the stitching!
I chose to embellish the butterflies with some free-motion embroidery as I like that rough, sketchy look. For free-motion embroidery you will need a free-motion sewing machine foot (sometimes called a stippling foot which is also used for free-motion quilting) and you’ll either need a machine that enables you to drop the feed dogs (which are the little teeth on your sewing plate that help to feed the fabric through the machine) or you can get a metal plate that covers up the feed dogs. You don’t have to use free-motion as applique can look fab just by using some basic stitches on your machine, that’s what I used to stitch the word blocks onto the banner. If you love hand embroidery that would also look great.
Next step is to sew the patterned cotton strips onto the front of the banner. I started at the ‘v’ point taking one strip of patterned fabric and laying it face down along the edge of the front of the banner. When you lay your fabric strips alongside the sides of the banner, leave an extra 2 ½” or so of patterned fabric at each end so that the strips are 2 ½” longer than the banner sides at each end, other strips will overlap onto that extra bit of fabric as you go along. Stitch your first strip down one side of the ‘v’ using a ¼” seam allowance then pull the stitched strip back so the pattern is facing you and press the seams. Pressing the seams as you go helps to keep the stitching neat.
Take your second strip and place it face down on the edge of the front of the banner, again with about 2 1/2” to spare each end. Let the ends of the fabric overlap with the other strips. Stitch the second strip along the side of the white fabric and carry on the same line of stitching across the strip of overlapped patterned fabric. Pull the fabric back and press the seams. Carry on stitching the other strips to the banner overlapping as you go just like you did with the first two strips. I added the two sides next and then the top strip. When all the strips are stitched, trim off the excess fabric.
To make the tabs at the top of the banner take three strips of your chosen trim (I chose crochet) and cut them to your chosen length. Make sure that there is enough space for your wooden doweling to slide through comfortably and that you leave a little extra in the length of the tabs for the ends of the loop to pass through a ¼” seam allowance. Pin the tabs in place on the top of the front banner piece making sure that the loops point inwards.
Take the wadding and either spray one side with temporary fabric adhesive or baste (a loose tacking stitch that will be removed later) the wadding to the inside of the calico banner piece. Place the front of the calico banner onto the front of the white banner and pin the two pieces together.
Starting at the top of the banner sew around the banner with a 1/4” seam allowance. Leave a small gap in the stitching so that the banner can be pulled through the hole and turned the right way around. After stitching, carefully snip off the corners within the seam allowance as that helps to take away some of the bulk and gives a neater finish in the end. Pull the banner through the gap in stitching until everything comes out the right way around. Stitch up the gap and finish by giving the banner a good press with an iron. If you wish you could add some top stitching or quilting to the front of the banner.