Saturday, March 7, 2015

Gold Ruffle Banner: A How-To

Over the past few years, I have made lots of banners for various weddings, showers, and other parties.  I quite enjoy them and thought I'd share a few tips about how I make my current favorite banner, which is topped by a gold tissue paper ruffle.

But first, a few overall tips for making a paper banner that will look good and hold up:
1. Use heavy cardstock.  Paper will be flimsy, potentially curl in humidity, and not look good for as long.
2. Attach the banner to thick ribbon or heavy string for strength, not necessarily looks.  You can always add a prettier layer over top of the strong one.
3. To attach the banner pieces to the ribbon or string, I recommend sewing, staples, or tying knots- no tape or adhesives.  Sewing is my favorite route.  It looks nice, is fairly fast, and is strong.  I also really like to use a stapler to attach the paper and the ribbon.  I like the look, speed, and strength.  My least favorite option is punching holes in the banner pieces and then tying knots in the strings one by one.  This is by far the most time consuming way to hold it all together, but can be a cool look.
4. Plan for the final length of the banner you desire, and take the time to do the math to find out how that corresponds to the individual banner pieces and spacing.  The extra multiplication and division is worth it instead of having a banner that is too long or too short for the purpose.
5. You will probably need more ribbon or string than you think.  Remember to leave some good tails on the ends for tying purposes.

So, here are some general steps for one of the latest ruffle banners I made.  It was for my sister, and she wanted it to say "Blessed."  I planned out seven letters and wanted it to be about four feet in length.

-Cut 8 1/2x 11" brown kraft paper cardstock in half horizontally.  Each of these will be one pennant. (size 5 1/2 x 8 1/2")

-Create a template for the bottom part of the pennant.  Trace and cut each individual piece for the banner.
-I then cut a slightly larger piece of black cardstock to go behind the brown.  I used 12x12" paper, making a perfect 6x12" piece to fit.
-Next I mapped out the letters.  Without thinking too much about it, I drew using a black marker large cursive letters with tails touching the sides.
-I then used the marker to make all of the vertical lines in the letters gradually thicker.  I left the horizontal lines alone.
-I filled in and blended the new shape to create this pretty script for each of the letters.
-I then inked the sides of the brown cardstock to give it some depth.
-And attached it to the black cardstock with double sided tape.  There was intentionally a couple of extra inches at the top for the ribbon and ruffle.   I trimmed it later once I saw how thick everything would be.
-Next I used my sewing machine and black thread to stitch 1/4" all the way around the brown paper, not only securely holding everything together, but also adding a neat detail.
-The next step was to actually connect the banner pieces together.  I only needed something to hold it that would later be covered by the ruffle, so I used this 1/4" white ribbon.  Pay careful attention to the spacing between letters.  It can be tiny or a little more, as long as you are consistent.  Only leave big gaps if you are trying to create spaces between separate words.
-Then cut the paper for the ruffles.  This is regular gold tissue paper from the wrapping aisle.  I fold it so that it will fit in my paper cutter and create 1" strips, cutting multiple layers at a time to prevent tearing.
-I pre fold a couple of pleats and then set the gold strip directly over the ribbon that I just used to sew the banner together.  Keeping that centered will mean that I am sewing the gold paper to the flexible ribbon that will give it support.  As I slowly sew, I gently pleat the paper and feed it under the presser foot. It doesn't take long to find a speed and a rhythm that allows you to sew without stopping.

-When I got to the end of a strip of gold paper, I simply pre folded a pleat and stuck it under the end of the first.  You keep sewing and can't even tell where one ends and another begins.
-Here's what the final ruffle looks like.  Don't go for perfection, because it won't show at a distance anyways.

Here's the final banner hung in my room before I sent it off to Emily.
And here it is hung up all the way in Colorado among Emily's other pretty things in her entryway:

A very similar banner was made for my dear friend Betsy's birthday this winter.  Her banner said "Be Blessed."  I know, bossy, but think of it as a birthday wish.
Another dear friend Kayla made this awesome tissue paper banner as well.  Love it!
Here we are, Katie, Kayla, Karla, and Betsy, using Karla's new selfie stick :).
And a final note about that party: Betsy made these gorgeous, detailed, time consuming, book page snowflakes.  As favors for her guests.  I love these girls.
And this last banner doesn't have a ruffle, but I love it as well.  This was a Valentine's banner made for Bonnie's mantle.  It was similar, but used triangles instead of pennants and cute chevron ribbon holding it all together. Oh, and the letters are on pages from an old hymnal, which is a fun detail.
I'll unearth a few more banner ideas from parties past and post in the coming weeks!

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