How To | Joined Name Banner

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning

It was the Wednesday night before our Saturday engagement shoot and I get the hare-brained idea to make us a banner to use as a photo prop.

Now, before we go any further, I want to assure you this story has a happy ending, as evidenced by this awesome shot from the day of:

Photo by Pink Shutterbug Photography, cropping by me (mostly to remove our kissy-faces)

Photo by Pink Shutterbug Photography, cropping by me (mostly to remove our kissy-faces)

But it wasn’t guaranteed when I went to start.

You see, just after Christmas I treated myself to an addition to my craft room: an eCraft electronic die cutter. I’d just gotten it, and barely used it so far, but I figured I should be able to have it cut out the letters and leaves with no problem.

Yeah… Not so much. When you’re learning a new tool it helps to be smarter than the machine and the software that powers it. I know, now, what I did that made the first night so tough on myself, but it wasn’t much consolation when I spent 3 hours and I don’t even know how many sheets of card stock trying to cut out 2 sets of 9 letters. In the end, the cutter did save me a lot of time, once I got out of my own way.

Eventually I did get my letters cut out–one set of slightly larger, silhouetted dark shapes for the backgrounds and a set of speckled ivory card stock letters for the fronts. The lighter card stock just wasn’t doing it for me, plain, though, so I set them out and spritzed them with some Glimmer Mist in Burlap and Gold. At that point it was late and they had to dry, so I called it for part 1.

Adding a little dimension and sparkle never hurts.

Adding a little dimension and sparkle never hurts.

The next night it was time to dress up the letters and finish the cutting. I found a free cutting file from that had just what I was looking for: a grape leaf, and it was layered, too! Thankfully this night’s cutting went much smoother (a few hiccups, but I got the hang of it) and before long I had plenty of layered leaves cut out, assembled, and put together with the letter sets and let them dry for the night.

The leaves got scattered among the letters.

The leaves got scattered among the letters.

I also cut out the rounded squares for the letters and leaves to rest on. I found this coppery, embossed paper with grapes and leaves on it in my stash–no telling how long it had been there, but I was happy I’d hoarded it.

My canvas was thin enough where I could fold it double and still cut through with ease. I cut some extras just in case I screwed one up.

My canvas was thin enough where I could fold it double and still cut through with ease. I cut some extras just in case I screwed one up.

With this much done, though, I could finally decide how big each of my pennants needed to be and what shape would work best. Sure, the inverted triangle is pretty standard, but I’m still on a square kick so wanted something blockier. Plain squares weren’t quite right, either, so we went with a pentagon that looks like a little house upside down. I cut those shapes out of some lightweight canvas I had lying around (again, being a craft-supply-hoarder pays off) with pinking shears so I wouldn’t have to hem anything. The pentagons are 5 inches wide and 5 1/2 inches long from top edge to point.

Laid-out banner bits.

Laid-out banner bits.

Now, usually I’d spell out our names my name-his name, ladies first and all that, but I knew that with us standing to hold the banner, I’d need to be on the left if my engagement ring was to show (something I knew our photographer would prefer, if nothing else). I could have held his name and he mine, but it would have bugged me to no end, so I put his name first so it’d look right in the pictures. It works well that we have names of equal length, too, but that’s  just luck.

Mr. Road Trip was actually okay with the banner as-is, but I couldn’t leave it that plain. It just went against every decorative fiber of my being, so to the stash I went.

The grapes and leaves also got a touch of metallic watercolors for a little highlighting sparkle.

The grapes and leaves also got a touch of metallic watercolors for a little highlighting sparkle.

I started by adding some strips of lace along the top edge and added another rounded square in a darker color behind the copper to make it pop more. The other edges were still awfully bare and I was nearly out of time for night 2, and I knew there was no way I’d have time to do any stitching on Friday night. Then I remembered my beloved fabric paints and pens. A few quick swoops around the edges with green and some purple grape clusters and my edges finally looked finished.

Just hanging out, like banners do.

Just hanging out, like banners do.

Finally, Friday night, between pin-curling my hair and grabbing the rest of our props, I glued down the lace bits (something I only did for time’s sake–I’m usually quite adamant about sewing fabric to fabric) and the letter clusters and set the 1/4-inch eyelets in each corner. I had a surplus of 1″ binder rings so used those to link the individual pennants together. Turns out they stretched perfectly from one end of our mantle to the other, so that’s where they’re hanging out when not being used for wedding props.

Not counting the cutter (because it’s not strictly a wedding purchase, I plan to use it for lots of things well after the wedding crafting has passed), I spent a grand total of nothing on this project–I had all the supplies in my stash. Can’t beat that when you’re on a budget, right?

Candy Corn Pennant Garland

64 Arts
Candy Corn Pennant Garland

Candy Corn Pennant Garland

BYOP 6 Party Favors, 2009

BYOP 6 Party Favors, 200

Last year I designed some Candy Corn Gift Bags as a party favor for my almost-annual pumpkin carving party. I made 4 dozen and ended up with 17 leftover. Since I don’t like to repeat party favors from year to year, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to do with them but I couldn’t just throw them out!

Fast forward to brainstorming project ideas for the 14th & 15th arts and viola! Total lighbulb moment: with their handles removed, the bags look very pennant-like and pennants are very big right now in party decorations. It seemed to me like the perfect opportunity to up-cycle my leftover treat bags and add another decoration to my growning stash of fall/Halloween decor.

First you need the bags. My eHow article from last September gives full, step-by-step instructions for making the bags to be used as party favors. If, however, you want to go straight to the garland, skip the pressing and hemming of the top edge in step 4 and stop when you get to the end of Step 7.

In my case, though, I needed to remove the ribbons and buttons that create the handle of the bags and press them flat. I thought about ripping out the hem, as well, but decided to save myself the trouble. The buttons were easy enough to remove with a single flick of a seam ripper.

To complete the garland, you’ll need:

  • 17 candy corn gift bags
  • 1 yard patterned fabric or 3 yards 2″ ribbon
  • Scissors or rotary cutter
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Tape measure or ruler
  • Straight pins
  • Sewing machine, needle and thread
Cutting the fabric into strips Start by cutting the patterned fabric into 4-inch-wide strips.

I had this remnant in my stash that was 1 yard by 40 inches. 3 strips, even though I’ll lose 2 inches when joining them together, gives me plenty of length (118 inches) to span the 8-foot (96-inch) opening where I plan to hang this banner. The extra length (11 inches on each side) provides enough of a tail that we can easily tie up the banner when finished.

Making Non-Bias Tape Make Non-Bias Tape*

After we’ve joined the strips together (1/2-inch seam allowance) and pressed those seams open, we press the very long strip of fabric in half, lengthwise, wrong sides facing.

Open up the pressed fabric and fold each side in towards the center, pressing once again. You can pin this if you want, but it’s simple enough just to fold it as you press and save the time.

Finally, fold the fabric over along that first fold, lining up the outside edges and pressing a final time. This holds all the folds in place and keeps raw edges inside, creating a nice, clean edge to slip our pennants into.

Math Time!

8 feet = 96 inches

17 pennants, 3.5 inches wide = 59.5 inches

96 – 59.5 = 36.5 inches

36.5 / 16 spaces = 2.28 inches

Now those math classes come in handy. (In case you ever wondered when you’d use them.)

To get a nice, even garland we need to be able to space our pennants evenly. To do this, take the total length of your banner, subtract the amount of space the pennants take up and then divide that space by the number of spaces there will be between the pennants (# of pieces minus 1).

To make things easy I rounded down slightly and will put 2 1/4 inches between each of the pennants.

That wasn’t so hard, now, was it?

Spacing the candy corns Find the center of the non-bias tape and (with the fold opening downward) place your first pennant inside the fold. Measure 2.25 inches from the edge of the pennant and place the edge of the next pennant at that point, pinning in place.

Continue in one direction until you’ve placed 8 candy corn in addition to the center corn.

Rather than having to measure both sides, once I got the first side pinned I flipped over the tape–still folded in half–and matched up the rest of the candy corns so that both sides were even.

If you’re using 2″ tape instead of fabric, just fold the tape in half over the tops of the pennants and pin in place. Pressing is optional but recommended.

Sewing the pennants onto the tape Sew along the bottom edge of the tape–about 1/4-inch from the edge–slowing down slightly as you go over the edges of the pennants since the extra bulk could easily break a needle.

When you get to the end it’s a good idea (but, again, optional) to sew another line along the top edge of the tape. This keeps the tape fairly sturdy while it hangs and prevents flattening or bunching when washed or stored by trapping the top edges of the pennant in place.

Technically, we’re done, but there’s always one or two more finishing steps that can be added to make the project that much nicer.

Sewing no-tie bows Since I had the ribbon leftover from the removed handles, I thought they’d make nice bows on the front of each pennant. The only wrinkle was that the lengths were short and I wanted to sew a button on each center–the bulk would have been hard to manage with a traditional bow.

Instead, I folded each length of ribbon in half and sewed a quick seam a third of the way down from the fold. Ganging them one after the other on the sewing machine made this step go quickly and saved numerous starts and stops.

Attaching the bows and buttons After separating each loop from the “ribbon raft,” open up a single loop and squash the top down to the seam, creating a bow. Position this along the bottom edge of the tape at the center of each pennant and sew in place, along with a decorative button.

Since my garland is visible both from the dining room as well as the living room/entry, I alternated sides for my bow and button placement. I also found that by hiding the stitches under the bottom edge of the tape, they can’t be seen on the non-decorated side.

I used 4 1-inch cup hooks suspended from my ceiling to hang the garland, the two ends tied to the outer hooks and the 2 center hooks placed 31 inches in from each edge. If you wanted more swag to your banner, spread the pennants out a bit more and increase the length of your tape to allow more of a bow in your banner. I kept mine rather straight so that tall folks (unlike my 5’4″ self) won’t have to duck.

Visit thecsiproject.comI don’t know about you, but we love Halloween–it’s our favorite holiday! And now that Labor Day has passed we’re already starting to decorate. This banner is the first bit to go up and it’s making me smile every time I see it.

Have you started your decorating yet?

Coincidentally, the theme for this week’s CSI project is Fall so I’m linking up with those fabulous crafters. Make sure to check out all the fun fall projects over at the CSI project!

Candy Corn Pennant Garland

*Actual bias tape is cut on the bias–diagonally against the grain–but folded and pressed the same. Fabric cut on the bias flows and stretches more than straight-cut fabric which makes it easier to edge items with non-straight edges.