Friday, March 20, 2009

Birthday Banner Tutorial

In preparation for tomorrow's big day (!), I made this banner. I like my fabrics, but don't love them. I guess I'll have to make another for Christmas, or Halloween, or both.
I also put together a tutorial, but only after the fact, so there are no pictures from along the way. Feel to ask me any questions!

Seven fat-quarters (or quarter-yard cuts of seven different fabrics) for the flags
One-quarter yard of fabric for the letters
3 yards double-fold, extra wide bias tape (
Note: I made my own bias tape following directions found here. This is only advisable if you want a color or print that you can't find in the premade bias tape packages.)
One-half yard of muslin for backing
1 yard of 17”-wide
Heat ‘n’ Bond (can be found at JoAnn or other fabric stores; it’s sold in a package)
Thread the color of your bias tape

  • Wash and iron your fabrics.
      Create letter appliqués
    • Cut 13 rectangles (sized 3 1/2” x 4 1/2”) from your letter fabric. Cut them such that the tall sides (the 4 1/2” sides) stretch from selvage to selvage to make sure you have enough fabric.
    • Cut 13 rectangles of the Heat ‘n’ Bond just slightly smaller than the 3 1/2” x 4 1/2” rectangles you cut from your letter fabric.
    • Attach the Heat ‘n’ Bond rectangles to the wrong sides of the fabric rectangles following the directions on the package. You should then have 13 pieces of stiff fabric.
    • Cut out the letters from here and here. You don’t need to cut them out exactly on the lines. Just loosely around the edges will be fine.
    • Pin the letters right-side up to the right-side of your stiff fabric rectangles. Now cut them out on the lines. You’ll need to do this twice for the “h,” “a,” “p,” and “y.” You should now have all thirteen letters spelling “Happy Birthday.”

      Sew Flags
    • From the muslin, cut fourteen (14) 5-1/2” x 8” rectangles.
    • From each of the seven flag fabrics, cut two (2) 5-1/2” x 8” rectangles.
    • With right-sides together, lay one muslin rectangle on top of one flag rectangle and pin to secure; do this to create fourteen fabric “sandwiches.”
    • For each fabric sandwich, sew (with 1/4” seam allowance) down one long side, turn 90 degrees and sew the bottom, and then turn and sew up the other side, backstitching at each end. This should create a sewn line in the shape of a “U” with the top open.
    • Trim the bottom corners on each piece to reduce bulk.
    • Turn each piece inside out and press. Make sure to get the corners as pointy as possible.

      Attach letter appliqués to flags
    • Set your flags right-side up on your ironing board. Position the letters where you want them on the flags and iron on the letters. Again, refer to package directions for more instructions on this step. Note: Since there are two of each flag fabrics, I did mine in abcdefg-abcdefg repeating fashion. You can do yours randomly, of course.
    • You can use scrap fabric to create a cake for the flag in between the two words. Or you can leave it plain. Follow the same directions for attaching rectangles using the Heat 'n' Bond.

    • Attach bias tape to banner
    • Lay out flags on the floor in order. I lined mine up along the tops and separated them only slightly.
    • Unwrap the bias tape and find the center. Put that center between the letters “b” and “i.” Pin the tape to the tops of the flags, with the tops of the flags sandwiched between the folds of the bias tape and shoved into the bias tape as much as possible. Note: Bias tape generally has one side that is longer. It’s up to you which side you’d like facing out, but I recommend sewing on the shorter side as it will ensure that you catch the back of the bias tape.
    • Sew the bias tape to the flags. (See note above.)
    • You can cut the bias tape to adjust the length to what you want/need.
    • Hang for the next birthday and enjoy!


      1. oh, i love the cake - so fun! it's perfect and i really do like the fabric.

        wish i could be there for the big day! have so much fun and give little rhett a birthday kiss from all of us. :)

      2. I think the banner's adorable! Nice job! Can't wait to see the bday pics!