burlap banner – a tutorial

after posting pictures on fb of the burlap banner that i made this week:

i received several comments along the lines of “how did you make that?” and “are you going to blog about this?”  when the opportunity arose for me to make another one, i figured i would document the process and do a little tutorial on my blog for y’all.  my very first tutorial! 

i was originally inspired by this picture that i saw on pinterest (shocker):

(i liked the unique shape of the burlap pieces as opposed to the traditional triangle pennant shape.)

i started with a ginormous piece (80″x80″) of burlap that i picked up in the gardening section at Home Depot for $4.

btw, i discovered during this project that burlap sheds like a golden retriever.  just prepare yourself for the need to vacuum everywhere once you’re done and it will all be ok. 

i made my own stencil out of paper based on the size of the letters i wanted.  it ended up being roughly 4″ wide and 4 1/2″ tall along the sides and 5 1/2″ tall in the center (from the point at the bottom to the very top). those measurements include enough “extra” space along the top to create a hem for threading the twine through.  

i traced 11 of the shapes onto the burlap using a sharpie. 
note: burlap tends to fray/unravel rather easily, so don’t trace super close to the paper. you’re guaranteed to lose a couple strands on all sides during the project. if you give yourself 1/4″ or so extra room all around, then you won’t have to freak out when a few burlap strands come loose.

now, when i read/work through online tutorials, i always appreciate it when the writer throws in the “don’t worry if this happens” comments.  so here is your first “don’t worry” statement: don’t worry if some of the black sharpie line is still showing while/after you have cut out all your shapes.  just make that side the back.

alrighty, time to hit up the sewing machine!
sewing tips: garden department burlap has a slightly wider weave than what i’ve seen at fabric stores.  so choose a very small stitch length to ensure that it really catches the burlap fibers. 

with the sharpie line side up, fold over the top 1/2″-3/4″ of your shape.  i didn’t bother with pinning since the piece is so small.  i just held it in place with my fingers and sewed away at an approximate 1/4″ in seam.

after the first one was done, i set it next to me and used it as my approximate guide for each fold/hem after that.

couple more “don’t worry” statements for the sewing portion:
don’t worry if your stitched line isn’t perfectly straight.  several of mine came out a bit wonky.  frankly, nothing seemed more tiresome to me in that moment than attempting to rip out tiny stitches from burlap.  so i didn’t.  turns out, once the banner is done, you can’t even tell. hakuna matata.

also, don’t worry if a strand or 2 of burlap pull away when you try and fold the top over.  just let the little guys go free and carry on.  that’s why you gave a little extra around the sides when tracing the shape, remember?

once all the shapes have been sewn, you have a choice.  you can sit and tie off each end of thread tails, or you can just snip them.  given the raveling tendencies of burlap, i opted to take the extra 15 minutes and tie off all the tails before trimming them.

now, on to the painting!  i picked up an alphabet stencil set from michaels.  with my coupon, it was only $5.

i used a small basic brush with a good straight edge and inexpensive brown acrylic paint.  i created a paint-safe work space by laying a plastic garbage bag on my coffee table. 

the stencil worked decently well on it’s own.  but since i have *slightly* more perfectionist tendencies, i touched up each letter a bit more after removing the stencil.  in particular, i don’t like the way stencils separate the pieces of the letters, so i filled in those spaces myself.

for the leaf, i had to create my own stencil.  a quick google images search for “maple leaf” turned up exactly what i was looking for.  drop that image into a document, resize it so the leaf is roughly 3″ in each direction, hit print and voila.  a leaf stencil.  well, you have to cut out the inside first.  duh. 

once all the shapes have been painted, you can pretty much string them together right away.  the paint dries fairly quickly, thank God.  i was way too excited about this project to wait for hours on end while the paint dried, haha.  (still, handle them with care.  you just don’t have to let them dry overnight or anything.) 

in the absence of a jumbo needle with a hole large enough for the hemp/twine to fit through, i used a bobby pin for the threading. 

oh and i got the hemp twine at michaels too.  $1.79 for a small package that had enough twine for 4 banners. 

thread away, my friends.  i like to thread from the right to the left, letters facing me.  which means starting with the “S” and working backwards to the “G.” 

and that’s pretty much it! 

the whole thing took me between 3 and 4 hours, depending on how distracted i became by whatever show/movie i had going in the background. 

here’s the cost breakdown:
except for the burlap, i got everything else at michaels.

  • burlap – $4 (enough for probably like, 10 banners.  i have great plans for the remaining burlap.)
  • thread – already had it
  • stencil – $5 (normally $10, but i had a 50% off coupon)
  • paint – $0.69 (it was on sale; reg price is around $1.29 i think?)
  • brush – $5 (i bought a variety pack that also included 2 foam brushes, 3 thicker bristled brushes and a dozen finer brushes)
  • twine – $1.79 (30 ft)

so i spent less than $20 all said and done.  i made 3 banners and still have enough supplies for lots of other projects! 

i currently have visions of christmas stockings, tree skirts and table runners dancing in my head!


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