How to make a banner

Pacing

To make a banner for a specific place the first go on a reconnaisance mission, if possible, and “pace the space” to gauge what size your banner should be.

Example: Hanging a banner across a road. Pace out the ground between two tying-up points, such as two lamp-posts, between which the banner will hang. Makesure to walk normally, don’t draw attention to yourself! Count how many steps you take, then go to a safe place for making your banner and pace out the same number of steps, marking on the floor where the first step began and the last step ended. Measure the distance, then measure and cut a banner shorter than the overall length. Cut two lengths of rope longer than the measured distance between your tying-up points, leaving plenty of extra rope.

Squaring Up the Ends

Both ends of fabric should be cut at right angles to the top and bottom of fabric. If you don’t have a right angle gadget, you can simply pull your material tight, then fold the end over a few centimetres. Making sure the top and bottom edges of the fold are in line with the top and bottom edges of the banner, pin in place and trim off excess material. Repeat for other end.

Hemming

It is easiest done with a sewing machine. Turn the top and bottom edges over by 1 cm then turn over again by 2.5 cm and pin. Sew close to the edge making sure there is enough room for the rope to pass through the hem.

Working Out the Dimensions

Measure the width of your banner, then subtract a few centimetres for the border. Then divide the remaining length by the number of letters and word spaces in your slogan, i.e. NO MORE ROADS! = 12 letters + 2 spaces = 14.

Divide the length of the fabric by 14, and chalk 14 boxes onto your banner to act as guides when painting. Note, wordspaces do not necessarily need as much space as letters, and narrow letters such as “i” or lower-case “L” won’t need the same width as other letters, so your may wish to adjust box sizes for these figures to get a more  professional-looking” banner.

Alternatively, to make a long slogan fit onto a smaller-sized banner, you can simply measure spaces for words instead of individual letters and fit smaller lower case letters under/over capital letters. Or letters could cross over each other in certain places. As long as it’s readable, anything goes.

Remember to always leave a border, however, to make the banner more readable. You may wish to practice first on a sized-to-scale piece of paper. Mark out your measurements to scale, and draw on you slogan and any images you wish to use, to get an idea of how your banner will look.

Painting

Test different types of paint on a spare piece of the fabric you are going to use to check if it will crack off once it has dried. Waterbased paint dries quicker than oil paint, and you don’t need turpentine or white spirit to clean your paint brushes.

You can use decorators’ brushes for painting inside the chalk lines of the letters. For the edges of letters, it is better to use very good brushes or artist’s brushes with small heads, something between 1/4” and 3/4” heads and not too soft, such as sable, though these are horribly expensive.

It is better to apply two or three thin coats of paint rather than one thick coat, as it is quicker to apply, dries faster and is less likely to crack and fall off once the banner is folded or scrunched up. Once the paint has dried, wash off the chalk lines with a damp cloth.

Roping Up

If the rope is new, it will have to be stretched. Tie one end around something and pull hard at the other end: this will help stop the banner from sagging once it is hung in place. Take your two lengths of rope and either burn the ends with a lighter or wrap tape around them to stop fraying. Wrap lots of tape around one end of each length as stiffener and thread them through the top and bottom hems until an equal amount extends from either end. It is easier if twopeople do this.

If you wrap a different-coloured tape around the end of the top, right-hand rope, you can immediately see which way round to hang the banner when you arrive at your destination, particularly useful if you are in a hurry and it is folded up.

Banner-making tips

Material and paint

• Light material is best, as banners are usually carried.

•Ripstop nylon is really good for big banners (it’s light, filters sunlight beautifully and doesn’t fray).

• Some materials take paint better than others (thinner ripstop takes it best).

• Gloss paint sticks well, emulsion often peels off. Acrylic is nice but expensive.

Finishing up

• Sew a hem, top and bottom, to make a tube about three cm. Thread the rope through (six mm is plenty).

• Handsew your banner to a rope at intervals with strong nylon thread to prevent curtain effect.

• If your banner is to be hung in mid-air, cut holes or v-shapes to let the wind through and prevent a powerful sail effect. It’s very important to cut slits in a marching banner!

• If your banner is to be hung on a building, weights on the bottom are good (e.g. sew two-pence coins or the equivalent into the bottom hem).

Banner-making ABC’s

• Work out what you want to say.

• Design your banner on a small piece of paper.

• Simplicity is often best.

• Practice type faces; maybe look in a book for inspiration.

• Chalk out the letters.

• Always check spelling with an adult.

• Sew the banner before painting.

• If you want to protect your carpet underneath, laying a tarpaulin out first is better than using newspaper, as it tends to stick.

• Do a test first: Paint on a spare piece of material, let it dry, and see if it sticks well.

Follow this guide to banner-

making with the help

of a literate adult and we

guarantee you’ll have the

best banner in the parade!

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