Thank you for returning to read more on expert banner-making tips. For more than 20 years, the Lord has taught me many things that I have applied to the art of making fabric banners. So far, I have shared my life experience in 1989 of losing my husband and rearing four small children that served as my inspiration for starting a small home based business of making Christian banners for churches. Next, I wrote on how to choose a design; make functional patterns from it; and transfer the patterns to your fabric. Now we will discuss choosing the background fabric and making it into the basic banner background. This article explains two ways to create the background: 1) without lining and 2) with a lining.
Either way, choose a fabric that will hold its shape. That means a heavy-bodied fabric that is not drapey or stretchy. Examples are bridal satin, canvas, linen or upholstery fabrics. These will hang flat and nicely and hold the basic. Later, in future articles, we will discuss fabrics for waving flag-type banners that will require a different type of fabric.
You may need a carpenter’s “square” tool or any other right angle tool to make sure you have 90 degree angled corners and straight lines. If you have an Olfa quilter’s mat, that works very well. I use two large mats side by side, a rotary wheel fabric cutter, and a metal yard stick to line up my fabric to get straight edges and squared corners. You don’t have to go to that expense; just improvise and measure, measure, and measure again before cutting.
1) Making the background without a lining. Before cutting, be sure to allow extra fabric at the top to sew in a finished casing large enough to accommodate whatever size dowel you intend to slip into the top. The dowel may be a wooden closet dowel or PVC tubing or metal rod. Also allow for 3/8 inch to ½ inch for side hems and extra at the bottom if you want a smaller casing. I like to add a small dowel to slide into a bottom casing so that it helps the finished banner to hang nice and straight. Use a small liquid line of Fray Check on just the very cut edges of the sides of your cut banner fabric. Fray Check is great to keep the fabric from fraying, especially for satins. Allow the Fray Check to completely dry ( 15 minutes or so). Now Iron in a hem to the back side of the fabric. Place a small beadline of Fabric glue (ie: Aleen’s glue) where the folded hem is. Then iron the hem down. This is how you will get a nice straight edge without stitches showing and puckering of the material from stitches.
Now you can iron in the appropriate size top casing; first a 3/8 under and then the amount needed to accommodate the dowel rod. Sew the casing. Do the same for the bottom edge if your banner is large and needs a smaller dowel at the bottom so it hangs straight. If it is a smaller size banner, you probably do not need a bottom dowel. In that case, you can either iron a glue-in hem or Fray Check the bottom edge and glue on fringe or trim. Be creative. You can sculpt the bottom to be rounded, or pointed or notched or other. Just make sure the finished product always has a clean finished edge.
2) Second alternative is to line your banner. One way is to double the same fabric, using the top for the fold. Or you can use a different sturdy fabric suitable as a lining. If you chose to line the banner, allow enough for side seams and top and bottom seams. Of course if you double the fabric with the top as the fold, there will be no seam at the top. With both right sides together and wrong fabric sides facing out, sew all the seams. Be sure to leave 4 inches or so open at the top of each side seam to allow you to slip in the top dowel rod. Trim the bottom corners carefully before inverting the banner so the corners push out to a sharper finished corner. You are ready to pull the banner through one of the top side openings to invert it so the right sides are facing out. I call this “birthing the banner” Then Iron the seams on medium high heat using a damp thin cloth over it for a nice crisp edge.
Note: If I am applying a quilted design on the face of my banner, I do that before sewing the back lining onto it. We will discuss 3 dimensional quilting designs in future articles on more Advanced Tips.
Now that your banner background is complete, you are ready to apply the cut out pattern designs and letters to the face side of your finished banner background. My next article will be tips on how to apply your designs.