How to make a banner
I was really pleased with the banner we made for the Yes to Fairer Votes – Edinburgh Official Launch event.
It cost about £30 to make and took about 4 hours over two days. I think you could do it quicker if you planned a little ahead and had some instructions. Here are the instructions
If you would like one similar for your Yes to Fairer Votes Branch here is how to make one.
You will need.
White Fabric 3m x 1.5m
Purple Fabric 2m x 1.1m
Some scraps of white and purple fabric
I used purple lining fabric which cost about £2.50 / m and some plain white fabric which cost about £3.50 / m. (If you can afford it you might consider investing in some more robust white fabric)
3 poles (I used garden canes approximately 175 cm long – they are light and strong). Longer ones would work too if you want to get the banner up high.
4 x 2m lengths of varied purple ribbon approx 2 cm wide
10m hemming web – 2 cm wide
4 large safety pins
3 x 250ml fabric glue (try to get the sort that dries clear and dries flexible)
SHARP scissors (the cheaper the fabric the better the scissors you need).
Craft knife – sharp
Thread – white and purple
A black pen
A sewing machine would make the job much quicker.
Additional ingredients I wish I thought of before I started.
10m ribbon (wide, 10cm)
6m garden wire
8 man hours (helpful if at least one of you is handy with a needle and thread or a sewing machine)
I think about 4 people could work on one banner at a time.
Parts of it are a two person job.
Plenty of space.
Some music to listen to
A few beers and a couple bottles of wine
Pizza or a curry for afters.
Time required – 2 hours if 4 people working, 4 hours if 2 people working. If it’s just one person I think it may take dis-proportionately longer.
What to do.
1) Hem the large piece of white fabric using the hemming web. Fold the edge of each side over with hemming web between and iron using a hot iron. As the banner is so large use the towels and iron on the floor. This will form the banner base (2 people can prepare the banner base whilst 2 more prepare the letters
2) Cut out letters in purple. Our letters are approximately 30-35cm high and 25cm wide. We comfortable fitted a Edinburgh (a nine letter word) across the top. We could probably have done 12. There is about room for 3 rows of text at this font size. If you make the letters smaller or bigger you obviously get more / fewer on the banner but with reduced / increased visibility.
- Decide what you are going to say. Less is more. Bigger is better.
- Work out how many letters you need, including punctuation.
- Cut this number of fabric squares from the purple fabric of about 35cm by 25 cm. Our banner says “Edinburgh Says Yes! 17 squares required.
- Cutting the fabric is easier with two people, one to cut and one to hold the fabric and give it some tension.
- Draw the letters on the purple fabric square
- Cut out the letters using the sharpest scissors and steadiest hands you have. Again, easier with two people
- We also made a speech bubble shape to go in the middle of our banner. Basically a rounded square with a taper at one corner.
3) Make tubes for the carrying poles
- Along each side of the banner base fold over approximately 3 cm of fabric. Pin this in place. Stitch this to form a tube that runs from the bottom of the banner to the top.
- At the top of each tube fold over some fabric and double stitch (this area is going to be taking the weight of the whole banner – make it robust. You may want to use some fabric glue too. If you are feeling cautious use some of the scrapes of white fabric to re-enforce these pockets.
- The garden canes can slot into these tubes when you are carrying the banner but can be removed so that the banner can be folded up when not in use.
4) Make a middle pocket for the third carrying pole. (You don’t need to use three but it’s hard to get a 3m banner to sit straight without one. I thought about using some lengths of stiff garden wire along the top and bottom to add structure. You may want to consider this but I think in addition to third pole.
- In the dead centre of banner mark out a 4 cm area.
- Cut our 6 cm by 6cm square from white scrap fabric. The more robust the better. Hem this on 4 sides
- On the back of the banner stitch this to the banner base flush with the top. Stitch on 3 sides (top, left and right) to create a pocket for the 3rd pole to be inserted into.
5) Before you stick any letters on the banner lay all the letters out. Make sure they fit. Get yourself happy with the layout.
6) You may want to consider either / or
- Edging the whole banner base with wide ribbon to give the edges extra robustness
- Laying garden wire along the top and bottom and sewing it on to the edging to give extra rigidity
- Cutting some vents in the middle of the banner to allow the wind to flow through. I’ve not done this so I’m guessing but I’d say three vents, in a triangle, 2 just below mid height and 1 towards the top. Make sure you re-enforce the edges of the vents and crucially the ends.
7) Stick the letters to the banner base using the glue. Draw round the edge of the letters with the glue and then turn them over and stick them on. Every so often move the whole banner so you don’t end up sticking it to the floor.
8) Make some tassels for the top of the poles. We used ribbon, you could use anything else that you liked.
- Cut 50cm lengths of ribbon. 2 of each colour for each side
- Either stitch these together or string them onto a large safety pin.
- Using large safety pins you can attach the tassels to the top of the banner near the top of the poles.
9) Decorate the banner
- We used glitter glue but other things I considered
- Ribbon fringing
- Battery powered fairy lights
- Glow sticks
10) Once the letters are stuck on give them some time to dry before moving the banner. You may find they could do with a few touch ups.
11) Once you are finished get everyone who helped to sign the back of the banner and take a lovely photograph of all your Purple friends.
If you are making complicated things – i.e. a logo, collage or fringing I think these are best assembled on their own base and then attached to the banner base robustly.
We carried ours in the freezing rain and it needed a bit of repair work afterwards (not much a few additional bits of gluing)
This makes the banner as it now is. Because the fabric is cheap I’m worried that the main body of the banner is a little flimsy. In particular I’m going to add some ribbon along the top and bottom to edge it to prevent fraying and two long panels of white fabric about 30cm wide by 3m along across the top and bottom to provide some more structure.
You may want to consider putting a few vents in the banner. It’s a large area of fabric and on windy days, held up high it may be difficult to control.
If you are manning a stall I think you can secure the banner behind you using three large buckets filled with sand. I’d try this at home before you try it in the street.
Best of luck, have fun and if you come up with any hints or tips please do leave a comment here with them.