I love the idea of my daughter having birthday traditions. We had some growing up that I still do, and I wanted something similar for Gwendolyn. So I came up with the idea of a Birthday Banner, which is actually a Birthday Bunting (I think).
So here's how to make one of your very own.
- Assorted 5" squares of fabric for letter appliqué backgrounds. A charm pack would be perfect especially with the pinked edges! You will need one for each letter in Happy Birthday (13) PLUS one for each letter in the name.
- Contrasting fabric for making letter appliqués. A fat quarter should be plenty. You could also use charms or scraps. Solids or patterns are fine - something with high contrast looks best.
- Iron-on fusible web. I used HeatnBond lite.
- Double Fold Bias tape. I used some that was 3/8" wide. You can get some 1" single fold stuff and press it in half yourself but I'm lazy so I used the pre-made stuff you can get on a roll though a package would be fine, too (you'll probably want to press it). You're going to need about 2-1/4 yards total for the Happy Birthday, PLUS some for the name using the following formula: [# of letters in the name x 5] + 12. The extra 12 is for 6" of bias tape on each end to create a hanging loop. So if you're making a banner for a Brigid (6 letters long), you would need an additional 42" of bias tape (6x5+12).
Step 1. Prepare the layout of the backgrounds. Lay out the charms in three rows in a pleasing combination. Row 1 will have 5 charms (for the word Happy), Row 2 will have 8 charms (for Birthday) and Row 3 will have one charm for each letter in the name.
Step 2. Select contrasting charms to use for the letters. Make sure each one contrasts nicely with its background.
Step 3. Prepare the letter appliqués following the manufacturer's instructions for whatever fusible web you're using. This is what I did for my Heat'nBond product:
a. Figure out the size of letter you want and print it out in a mirror image. Tip: plain, sans-serif fonts such as Arial are easier to cut out and stitch around.
b. Trace the letters onto the paper side of your fusible web.
c. Cut out each letter with an allowance of about 1/8" around the letter.
d. Iron the web paper side up on the WRONG side of your letter fabric.
Step 3. Cut out the letters.
Step 4. Peel the backing off the letters and lay each one on its backgrounds, in order. On the first banner I made, I arranged the letters 'whimsically' but the whimsey got a bit lost when the banner was hung so I didn't bother with that again.
Step 5. Fuse each letter to the background.
Step 6. If the fusible web you used requires it, stitch down each appliqué to secure it. I wasn't too fussed about securing my stitches, again because this banner isn't going to see heavy use. I just used a straight stitch in a neutral thread colour. You could use a contrasting thread if you wish.
Step 7. Time to start assembling! Take the charms that spell out the word 'Happy' and stack them one on top of the other so that the H is on top of the pile.
Step 8. Measure and cut off a 42" length of bias tape. With the folded side of the tape facing away from you, measure 6" from the left end and mark with a pin.
Step 9. Now is when you choose what stitch you're going to use to sew the banner together. A straight stitch is perfectly fine. I have some fancy stitches on my machine, so I chose a nice wavy stitch. It's up to you what colour thread you want to use. If you don't want your stitches to show very much, coordinate your thread colour with the bias tape. Some contrast can work, too - I used a variegated thread on one banner and matching thread on another because I'm crazy like that.
Step 10. Starting at the left end of the bias tape, start stitching the bias tape together, stopping when you are within an inch or so of the pin from Step 8.
Step 11. Take the H charm and slip it inside the folded bias tape, just to the right of the pin. Remove the pin and keep sewing til you get to the other edge of the charm.
Step 12. Stop with your needle down, take the next charm (A) and slip it inside the fold, nestled close to - but not overlapping - the first charm. This photo is blurry (ugh) but you can see where I'm using a Purple Thang to help the next charm nestle into the bias tape and right next to the one before it.
Keep stitching, repeating with all of the charms. When you run out of charms just keep stitching to the end of the length of bias tape. Repeat for the charms spelling Birthday (cut a longer piece of bias tape - 52") and the name, using separate pieces of bias tape for each word.
Step 13. Make hanging loops on the banners by taking the ends, making a loop and stitching down the ends.
And you're done!