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Banners: A Beyond Satisfying Tutorial

Banners: A Beyond Satisfying Tutorial

Banners have to be one of the most satisfying, instant gratification decorations.  They are so cute, so versatile, and can be made with just about any amount of fabric!  These little pennants are so irresistibly cute that you'll find you need them for all occasions - and in all the sizes!

When American Legacy came in, I thought of two things:

  1. A flag quilt
  2. A banner for the Fourth of July

While I got to the banner a lot later than I would have liked, I'm still super excited about how it turned out!

The banners are really easy to make, but in case you don't want to spend time figuring it out, I've put it all here for you, so you can just make your fabric pull and get started!

First, give yourself an idea of big you want your pennants.  Mine measure 7.5" at the top and the sides are 9.25".  Then, knowing the how long you want the top of each pennant, decide on how many pennants it will take to make the banner as long as you want it.  If you'd rather not do the math, you can just use my pennant template, which includes big (the 7.5" size mentioned above), medium, and small pennants.  Below is a diagram of how I cut the pennants out, but for now, know that if you cut it my way, you can get 8 big, 2 medium, and four little pennants out of a fat quarter.  Keep in mind that you can use fat quarters, yardage, or scraps, but if you're particular about the length, you'll have to do the math:

Number of pennants = desired length of banner / length of the top of one pennant

OR

You can do it like I did and skip the detailed scheming because it didn't matter to me how long it is.  Also, I figured that if it was too long, I would just break it up into multiple banners and layer them.  Better too long than too short!  There's no losing!

Since I didn't care about length, I just jumped right in.

I used the American Legacy fat quarter bundle and paired up the fat quarters to my liking.  Then I made a quilt sandwich of two fat quarters and a piece of batting cut down to the size of the fat quarters.  I basted the quilt sandwiches with 505 basting spray, but you can also use pins, or even just smooth them together and let the fabric stick to the batting.

Then, you quilt the quilt sandwiches, of course!  Here's where you might want to consider how many fat quarters you want to use, because 7 pairs of fat quarters is a lot to quilt.  If you have time and more forethought than I did, you can sew all the fat quarters together to make a big piece, choose some coordinating backing, and send it all to the long arm quilter!

After all the quilting has been done, it's time to cut out the pennants.  If you're using my template for the pennants, then you can follow the diagram below for how I cut them out to maximize the fabric.  I cut out three sizes of pennants, because I quilted it all anyway and might as well use as much as I can.  This tutorial will focus on the biggest size, but it can be used for any size.

Then, make some binding according to your binding preferences.  I like to cut 2.25" strips for my binding even though it's a bit tighter to work with because I like the results so much better, but do as you please!

You'll need two sets of binding.  One set will be for going around the two sides and the point and the other set will be for the actual top of the banner that strings all the pennants together.  You can choose to make all the binding out of the same fabric, or you can mix them up.  Again, do as you please, but I'll separate the calculations for you!

First, let's figure out how much we'll need for the top of the banner...

Number of Binding Strips = (length of the top of the pennants x number of pennants) / Width of fabric*

*For width of fabric, I always just round down to 40" because I would be beyond annoyed if I didn't have enough in the middle of attaching it.

EXAMPLE:

= (7.5 x 28)/40
= (210)/40
= 5.25 --> Round up to the nearest whole number, so I need 6 binding strips.

How much fabric = Number of binding strips x width of binding strips

EXAMPLE:

= 6 x 2.25
= 13.5" --> If I were buying fabric for this specifically, I'd just get a half yard because I don't mind scraps and, like I said, I'd be beyond annoyed if I ran out

Next, let's figure out how much you'll need for the two sides and the point... Just as a side note, if your banner isn't going in a place where it'll be beaten around or require washing, you could just straight stitch 1/8" from the edge of the pennants and skip binding around them. You could also serge around the edges, if you'd like.  The formulas below look like a lot, but really they're just plug and go!

Length of all pennant sides = (length of one side x 2) x number of pennants

Number of binding strips = length of all pennant sides / width of fabric

How much fabric = Number of binding strips x width of binding strips

If you're doing it all out of the same fabric, then... add together how much fabric you need for the top and the sides - these are the last answers you have from each of the calculations above.

EXAMPLE:

  • Length of all pennant sides = (9.25 x 2) x 28
  • Length of all pennant sides = (18.5) x 28
  • Length of all pennant sides = 518
  • Number of binding strips = 518 / 40

Number of binding strips = 12.95 --> 13 rounding up to the nearest whole number

  • How much fabric = 13 x 2.25
  • How much fabric = 29.25"

If I'm using all the same fabric for all the binding strips then I'd add the amount of fabric for the top to the amount I need for the sides...

=13.5 + 29.25

amount of fabric for all the binding together = 42.75" --> so, I'd buy 1.25 yards.

ONE MORE CONSIDERATION FOR YOUR BINDING.

How long to you want the strings on either side of the pennant to tie it up?

  • Number of strips for the ties = (Length of string on one side x 2) / width of fabric
  • Fabric for the ties = Number of strips for the ties x preferred width of strips.
    --> Add this amount to the amount you need for the binding on the top of the pennants.

To make the binding, cut the number of strips you need at your desired width.  Sew all the strips together.  You can use a diagonal seam for this, but I just sew them end on end and it turns out fine.  Once all the strips are sewn together, press the whole thing in half lengthwise, matching the two raw ends, and the fold on the other side.  Once it's all made, I like to wrap it around an empty spool.  That keeps it nice and tidy!

Alright!  Now that we have the binding made and our stack of pennants, it's time to bind up the raw edges!

First we bind the sides of the pennants and leave the top alone.  Binding these up is a lot like binding up a quilt, but the point is a bit trickier than a 90º corner of a quilt.  After you do the first couple, you'll get the hang of it.  With the pennant right side up, match the raw edges of the binding to the raw edges of the pennant and sew it on with a 1/4" seam. 

Sew down the length of the pennant until you're 1/4" away from the point.  Backstitch and cut the thread.  Looking at the photo below, fold up the binding so you have a kind of vertical triangle, with a corner of the triangle at the point of the pennant.  Pull the side that's already sewn down as high up as it will go, while keeping the raw edges together.

Then, lay the triangle down to the left (the side that's already been sewn), keeping the corner and the point together.  This is where it's important that the sewn side is pulled as tightly as possible.  If it's too loose, too much of the binding will get sewn down as you go up the other side of the pennant and that will impact how the point turns out.

Either pin or hold the binding in place and put it under your machine.  Drop the foot and take a second to make sure everything is still lined up.  Put the needle down about 1" away from the point and then backstitch until you're 1/4" away from the point.  Then, sew forward.  Depending on your machine, you may need to help the feed dogs catch by semi-aggressively pushing the point through.

If you've done it correctly, when you pull your pennant out, it should look like the photo below.

Once you've rounded the point, sew up the other side.  To maximize the fabric and speed things up a bit, you CAN chain piece the binding.  Just leave a bit of binding in between each pennant, about half an inch or so.  Make sure that you're not sewing the binding to the top when you start sewing the next pennant.

After the binding is attached to the sides of all the pieces, finish the binding according to your preference.  You can machine bind them like you would a quilt, or hand stitch them down.  For the point, fold the fabric up like you would for the corner of a quilt, although it will be a sharper angle than 90º. 

In my example, I'm machine binding with a 1/4" seam allowance from the folded edge.  If you are machine binding too, stop sewing a couple of inches from the point so that you have some wiggle room.  DO NOT lift the foot, the needle, or cut the thread. Reference the photos below.

If you fold the excess over and don't like the look of it, keep pulling the binding taut and folding it until you're happy with it.  Just a few adjustments can make all the difference!  Once it's how you want it, hold (or pin) it down and keep sewing.

Stop sewing once you get 1/4" from the tip of the point.  At this point (lol), the fold will be sewn already, so no need to keep holding on to it.  Once you're stopped 1/4" from the point, lift the foot with the needle down and pivot the pennant.  Only pivot the pennant until the edge of the foot is flush with the fold again.  Then, keep sewing up the rest of the pennant.

After the binding is sewn down, trim up the binding at the top.  As you trim them, make sure that the binding is straight with the top of the pennant.  This will give your banner a smooth top.

Next is the fun part, in my opinion!

Decide the order of your pennants, if it matters to you, and we'll sew the binding on at the top!   

If you're using the same fabric for everything and you made your binding all at once, make sure that the end of your binding is straight.  As I cut off the pennants from the binding, I tend to get a weird angle.  Then, take your binding over to the iron - we've got some pressing to do.

Unfold the binding and press the very end of the binding strip in by about a quarter of an inch.  Sew this fold in with 1/8" seam allowance. Then, press in the long raw edges into the middle all the way down. Refold the binding with the raw edges inside.

Before you start sewing, measure out the length you want for the ties at the start of the banner.  Put a pin through the fabric where your pennants should start.  I call this the "start pin".

We are going to sew the binding on in a different way than earlier.  Since we just pressed all the raw edges in, we use the "pocket" created by the folded binding to put the tops of the pennants in.  Push the top of the raw edges of the pennants all the way to the fold.

You can either pin all the pennants in at once, starting at your "start pin", or you can stack the pennants up in the order you want them in and place them in the binding one at a time as you sew it.  

Start sewing at the very beginning of your tie.  This should have that little finished edge already, so now you're sewing the raw edges in.  You can sew this with either 1/8" or 1/4" seam allowance.  Continue sewing the tie until you get to your pin, the starting point of your pennants, or the pennant you pinned in earlier.

Since I'm a bit lazy and I always seem to prick myself with a pin, I put the pennants in as I sew it.  As you put the pennants in, make sure that the points of the top of each pennant touches the points on the top of the pennants next to it.  This will give you beautiful, consistent spacing.

If you already pinned in your pennants, just keep sewing all the pennants in!  If you just made a stack, be sure to push each pennant all the way to the top. Keep sewing until all of your pennants are sewn in. 

At this point, you can either backstitch and take your pennant out of the machine, or you can just leave your needle and foot down and work around it.

From the end of your last pennant, measure out the length you want the ending tie to be.  If you've taken it out, cut the binding at that point and then iron in the little raw edge in and sew the seam shut, like you did for the beginning of the tie  If you chose to leave your banner in and measure it out, then make a mark or put a pin in where you want it to end.

Keep sewing the binding shut.  If you've already sewn the little raw edge in, just sew to the end!  If you didn't, sew until you're 2"-3" from the pin or the mark.  Backstitch and take the banner out so that you can iron in the raw edge and sew it in, like you did at the beginning of the tie.  Then, sew up the last of the binding, all the way to the end!

Look at that!  Admire your work! Go hang it!  Take a photo!  Tag us @saltcitylane on Instagram so we can see!!

Now, repeat for all the holidays and special occasions.
(Kidding)
(But not really. :D ) 

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