Saturday, October 29, 2011

Guest Post: Seven Pretty

Hello, Mommy by day...Crafter by night friends! My name is Summer from Seven Pretty and I'm super excited to be here today!
I'm a stay at home mom who likes to stay up way too late making stuff. Most recently, I have been learning to sew, one project at a time, and have discovered that I love making clothes for my kiddos. I started my blog to document all my crafty pursuits and hopefully inspire others to learn to sew.

Today, I'd like to share my festive fabric banner tutorial.
Fabric banners make me happy. I love 'em. They make such fun birthday and party decorations and can be used over and over again. And since the banner is so...ahem...festive, I decided to make one for Halloween and I put together a tutorial while I was at it.
What you'll need:

-fabric for the rectangle fronts (approximately 1/2 yard)*
-fabric for rectangle backs (approximately 1/2 yard)*
-fabric for the letters (1/4 yard)
-1 package (3 yards) extra wide double fold bias tape (or a half yard of fabric to make your own)
-rotary cutter and mat (optional, but much faster than scissors and a ruler)
-ric rac (optional)
-and of course a sewing machine

*The exact amount of fabric you will need will depend on the length of the phrase you are spelling out

To make my "festeggiamo" (translation: "celebrate" in italian) banner, I cut my rectangles from different fabric scraps and used 1/2 yard of unbleached muslin for the back. I love the look of muslin and if no one will really see the back of your banner, then it is probably the cheapest option.

For the "trick or treat" banner, I had a 1/4 yard of four different prints, giving me 1 yard total. Since I had enough, I went ahead and used it for the front and back rectangles. I also had a 1/2 yard of another print to make my own bias tape. More on that in a bit...

To get the most bang for your buck, you could make a double-sided banner and put a different phrase on each side. Or maybe a boy birthday color scheme on one side and a girl birthday color scheme on the other. There are so many options!

Anyway, here is my fabric:
The first thing I do is make my bias tape. What is bias tape? Dana has a very thorough tutorial telling you all about it and how to make it. Check it out!
In a nutshell, double fold bias tape is a type of binding that can be used to finish off raw edges. It is cut from fabric at a 45 degree angle (called the bias) which allows it to have a little bit of stretch.
The easiest option is definitely to buy it prepackaged. They have a fair number of solid colors available at Joanns or Hobby Lobby, and one package contains the exact length you need (3 yards).
If you want your bias tape to be patterned (my fave), you are going to have to make your own. It's not hard, but it is time consuming. Again, read Dana's tutorial to learn how to make your own.
Here is my homemade bias tape:
* Notice how the stripes are at a 45 degree angle...that's what happens when you make bias tape from striped fabric. Pretty cool.
Okay, you have your bias tape, now it is time to cut out your rectangles.
Cut (1) 5.5 X 7.5 rectangle from your front fabric and (1) 5.5 X 7.5 rectangle from your back fabric for each letter in your phrase. *I also like to use a blank rectangle for the spaces in a phrase, but you could leave a blank space in your banner if you prefer.
Once the front and back pieces are sewn together, your finished rectangle will be 5X7. The number of rectangles you need will depend on what you want to say.
Here are all my rectangles cut out:

Once all your rectangles are cut out, iron them to get out any creases and then take your front and back piece and place them right sides together. Sew down three sides with a 1/4 inch seam allowance leaving the top edge open. I'm sorry it is so hard to see...

Then, clip the bottom two corners (this helps the corners look nicer when you turn them right side out):
Now turn your fabric right side out and make sure to push out your corners all the way (using a chopstick or something similar helps).
Time to prepare your letters. First, follow the package directions to adhere a 9X12 piece wonder under to your lettering fabric (that should give you enough space to cut out all of your letters).

There are several ways to cut out your letters:

1) If you are brave, you can free hand the letters.

2) Or, find a font you like on the computer (that has some substance to it), spell out your phrase, blow it up until the tallest letter is about 4 inches tall, and print. Then cut out the printed letters, and use them as a stencil to cut your letters from the fabric.

**I really like Arial font (as seen on the "festeggiamo" banner). It is basic and looks really nice. I used a more playful font for the "trick or treat" banner.

3) Or, you can use a cutting machine, if you have one. I happen to have a Silhouette SD cutting machine (which I love), and it makes this step very simple.

Here are my letters:
Next, iron the rectangles so they lie flat.
If you are using different fabrics in your banner, lay them out so you know what order you want them to be in. Then, remove the paper backing from a letter and place it on the appropriate rectangle. I place mine 1.5 inches from the bottom of the rectangle and eyeball it to center it. Once it looks good, iron on the letter (per package directions).
Repeat for each letter.
Almost done. You still with me?

Next, use a pin to mark the center of your bias tape. Then begin placing your rectangles, beginning at that center point with the middle of your phrase and work your way out.

**Bias tape is made so that one side of the fold is slightly wider than the other. You want the thinner side to be on the front of the banner. That way, when you sew close to the edge on the top, you will still be "catching" the other side of the bias tape on the back.
Sandwich the top of your rectangle between the bias tape and pin it in place:

If you want to add ric rac, slip it in between the bias tape as well and pin it in place:
Continue pinning with each rectangle touching the one next to it:
Once all of your rectangles are pinned in place, it is time to start sewing!

Take the end of your bias tape and open it up:
Fold down the top edge about an inch:
And refold the bias tape, giving you a nice finished edge:

Start at the end of your bias tape, with the thinner side up, and sew all the way across the banner (about an 1/8 inch away from the edge), backstiching at the beginning and end:
And you are DONE!

Now go hang your new banner and admire your work!
Thanks for having me Ashley!! And please stop by Seven Pretty for more sewing and craft inspiration.


  1. wow, love this banner idea! i want to make one that says happy birthday! thanks for sharing.

  2. I love it! I also like that they are square/rectangles as opposed to triangles. Great job!


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Thanks so much for stopping by! Have a great day!
xoxo, Ashley