I think it’s funny how inspiration works… A few years ago I made this little banner for myself at a party store.
Then somewhere along the way I saw this birthday banner that Nova made, then I found this tutorial on hand-made birthday banners. Fast forward to last week when I was volunteered to help with the decorations at a friend’s bridal shower/birthday party. I wanted to make a banner in the bride’s wedding colors, and originally I was going to have one side say the bride and groom’s names, and the other side say “Happy Birthday,” but I wanted it to be versatile and reusable. So I came up with the multi-purpose, reversible Happy Birthday/Congratulations banner. (Well, I’m sure I didn’t invent it, but it sure felt like I did when I thought of the idea!)
It was REALLY fun to work on a project without a road map, but in case you want some pointers (to save you some time), I’ll give you some.
1) Use lots of different fabrics! I struggled with fabric selection for a LONG time during this project. My original fabrics were too atonal, and it just didn’t look FESTIVE! So choose brights and darks and different patterns and really mix it up.
2) Determine how long you want the banner before you do ANY cutting! This is so! important! I just dove in and started cutting out letters and they were GIGANTIC! The resulting banner would have been 15′ long — who has a 15′ wall in their house?! I don’t! So. Determine the length of the banner, then divide this by the number of triangles in the banner. I wanted a 12′ banner, and I had 15 triangles, so each one was only 8″ across. (Also keep in mind that the banner will sag when it’s hanging, so it won’t be EXACTLY that long when you’re finished.)
Luckily I did a prototype first, and then scaled way down:
If you look closely, you can also see that the prototype involved sewing the right sides together, then flipping out to produce a clean, finished edge. I eventually decided this was too much work and just sewed the triangles wrong sides together and pinked the edges. I also think this looks more festive.
3) I didn’t use any interfacing on the triangles. I don’t think they needed it after you attach the letters.
4) I didn’t trace the felt letters, I just cut them out freehand. But if you want, you can print them out using your favorite font, cut them out, and the use those as templates.
5) I sewed the letters on, but you could probably just glue them on if you wanted to. I also didn’t pin them on before sewing. I just went for it!
6) I was suuuuuuper anal and brought all my thread ends to the backs of the triangles (with a sewing needle) and tied the ends in knots. I think it just looks neater and then I didn’t have to worry about anything coming undone in the wash.
7) This next pointer is SO SO SO important if you want to do a reversible banner. Be sure to sew the FIRST letter of the one word to the LAST letter of the other word! I was ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that I was going to mess this up, so I put them in piles, one in regular order, one in reverse order, as I was sewing them up.
I also kept track of which letter pairing I was on as I went along. (I was paranoid!)
Also! If you want to have one side say “Happy Birthday!” and the other side say “Congratulations,” be sure to remember a “!” triangle for “Happy Birthday!” otherwise your triangles won’t match up and you will be PISSED. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)
8.) If you have a bunch of binder clips available, they work really well to hold the bias tape to the triangles as you’re sewing them up. (I blatantly stole this tip from Caro’s awesome hand-sewn quilt binding tutorial… go check it out!)
9) I sewed up a little storage bag for the banner because the felt attracts so much lint/dust. I lined the pieces with heavy interfacing and then attached a little button with my sewing machine (love that feature!).
10) Finally! When you’re all done, step back and admire your work!!!
I hope you enjoyed this quasi-tutorial! Please let me know if you have any questions! (And keep in mind that I’m a SUPER beginning sewer, but this is a very fun and forgiving project!)