Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Re-Usable Party Banners //

I’ve always been of the opinion that the swiftest and surest way of instituting a festive air in any room is through the strategic use of celebratory banners.

Depending on where you shop {Especially online} you can find some very elegant and festive party decorations. The only down side is that more often than not, those decorations are too fragile to keep; they’re disposable. Party planning, arranging and purchasing is expensive and time-consuming enough, wouldn’t it be nice to be able to keep some of those decorations? Not all celebrations are one-time-only situations. That is, events that only come around once in a lifetime. Consider Holidays. Obviously, they come around every year. Birthdays too. Even events like weddings and showers; in all likelihood, any given person is going to go to more than one of each in their lifetime.

These were the thoughts running through my mind as I was contemplating my Christmas decorations. Don’t worry! Halloween hasn’t even come around yet; I’m far from putting up my Christmas decorations. But in the past, when I’ve wanted to craft something for the holidays, I've found that if I wait too long to get my materials, some other clever people have beaten me to the punch and there’s nothing but the dregs left. No Christmas crafts for me! This year I decided to get a jump on it and make something sooner rather than later.

That was when I thought of the banners. I needed to make them out of durable materials; something that would last the years. And I wanted the pattern to be something festive, but that lent itself well to other celebrations. I elected for the triangle shape. Traditional and simple. And depending on the color combinations {only limited by your imagination!} that basic style would be perfect for any event.

Here are the materials I used:

Sewing scissors
Scissors for paper
1/2 a yard of Flag material: Something durable
Flame Torch
Painters Tape
Newspaper or bags {to help keep the mess down}
Snowflake Stencil {or any stencil you like that suits your occasion}
Heavyweight Paper {to make your flag pattern}
Metallic Spray Paint {here I have silver and gold}
Some type of yarn or thread to connect the flags

For the flags I found this faux suede upholstery material in a beautiful pale, peachy pink color. I know; doesn’t sound very Christmas-y, but after I’m done it will. Also, keep in mind that this banner won’t be the only Holiday decorations in my room. And en masse, everything will definitely have a jolly feel. Plus, I wanted a color combination that would complement my room, which has nudes and taupe’s and pale pinks.  Don't get bogged down by the price tags for the fancy upholstery material!  Remember, you're only going to need a 1/2 a yard {I happened to buy 1 full yard because the material was 50% off that weekend} for this and, I don't know about you guys, but I never go into a craft store un-armed with coupons.  In the end, the price wil be very reasonable.  And it's worth it for re-usable decorations!  You'll be able to use them year after year.

First, for the flag pattern I Googled under images ‘party flag triangle pattern’. There, I happened to find the perfect triangle shape. The key is to find a triangle that is rather oblong and has two sides that are both the same length and longer than the third. I printed it out, cut out the triangle and traced it onto a more heavyweight paper {I found some old matte photo paper in my desk}. This will make it easier to trace all of the triangles onto the fabric later.

Next, lay out your flag fabric upside-down {the pretty side is facing down} and lay the triangle pattern onto it. With the pen, trace the triangle image onto the 'wrong' of the fabric. You don’t want the pen marks to show on the front, this is why the fabric is upside-down. I traced ten flags for my purposes. I wanted the banner to cover my two windows and I think ten will do, but cut out as many as you see fit.

Once they’re all cut out, you’ll use the flame torch to singe all three sides of each triangle. Be careful!  I recommend doing this outside {on a windless day!} if at all possible, where you’ll be far away from anything that can catch fire. The purpose of the singeing is to prevent the material from fraying. You don’t have to go crazy; just a few seconds for every few inches should do it. I actually like the look of the singe. It wasn’t very noticeable, but it added a nice home-made, vintage feel.

Now we get to paint!

You’ll want to do this outside too for ventilation and the purposes of keeping everything clean.
I only wanted the bottom half painted, so I covered the rest with painters tape and paper to keep it protected. Three coats will do. Just wait a few minutes in-between coats. I did this for 5 flags. For the remaining 5 I did the snowflake stencil. Of course, this is Christmas/winter themed, so that’s why I did the snowflake, but you can do whatever stencil your heart desires. Valentines day? How about hearts. Birthday? Maybe a cake stencil.  Instead of images how about letters? Spell out the person’s name or "Noel" for Christmas or "Happy Halloween!".  The sky's the limit!

At the craft store I happened to find these balsa wood snowflakes that fit perfectly inside my flags. Of course because I have snowflakes instead of snowflake stencils, my image on my flag will be a negative, but I like it.

I taped up the remaining 5 flags, but this time I covered only the top half, so the bottom half was exposed. I placed the snowflake over the uncovered part of the flag and sprayed around it. Once I took the flag away a negative image of the snowflake remained. Very pretty!

The last part is just stringing the flags together. For the cord I happened to use some old white fuzzy yarn I had sitting around my house. It’s nice when you can use items you already have, but I think it would look very nice with ribbon or raffia or even some clear fishing line. With fishing line you’d have a lovely suspended-in-mid-air look. Perfect for Halloween!

I used this grommet kit to make the holes for the yarn to go through.  It was only $7 at Home Depot!  I'll explain in another post how to use this kit in detail, but honestly, it's incredibly simple to use.  It comes with nearly everything you need {including directions}.  I say 'nearly' because it came with this 'cutter' {as seen below}, but I wasn't successful in using it to cut a hole through my fabric.

So, instead, I used the 'cutter' to make a small circular imprint in the fabric where I wanted my hole to be, then I used my small fabric shears to cut a hole within that small pattern I had just made.

From there I followed the directions to the letter.  This is what they looked like when done:

{The only tip I have for this step is when you hammer the grommet in, make sure that the pretty side of the fabric is face down!  That way the more attractive grommet side will be facing outward when you're finished.}
 Next, you just string each flag together.  Like I mentioned before, here I used my white, fuzzy yarn.  Each piece of yarn between flags was 20 inches long.  I tied off each end with bows and continued stringing.  On the very ends of my banner I cut a piece about a yard long.  I wanted these to be as long as I needed for attaching on my windows.  That's it!  Here's the final product:

I love how the glow of light behind the windows makes the snowflake stand out!

Good luck!

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