DIY: Reusable Birthday Banner

Last April I promised a future DIY on Ada's Birthday Banner. Well Folks, it is that time. My BABY is one! He turned one yesterday and his party is Saturday (tomorrow!) So needless to say I have been busting my butt getting everything together. I worked on his banner last week and although it was not hard - it is just time consuming. I actually told the hubs that is reason enough that we should not have a third child. Ha! But seriously - it is not hard, just carve out some time, pour a glass of wine and get to work...


  • 2.5 yards of sturdy fabric. I use Duck cloth - it is perfect (use a JoAnn's coupon and it is not that expensive)
  • Thread to match your duck cloth
  • 4 different fabric patterns. 1/4 yard each.  
  • 2 spools of ric rac. I used the 1/4" width
  • Cotton thread (the kind you used for friendships bracelets as kids) - about 2 spools
  • Yarn darning needle
  • 1 pack of heat and bond 
  • iron
  • sewing machine
1. Cut out your letters. I just printed out the letters on computer paper and then used them as stencils

2. Trace onto fabric and cut out. Remember that you if are using patterned fabric to trace them backwards on the inside of the fabric so that you don't see pencil lines. I actually used tailor's chalk - which has been a great use for me in this project and the competition! Tip: sketch out the banner to see what letters are what fabric and then do one fabric at a time. So I cut out all the brown letters, then green, etc.
My four fabric choices


All cut out
3. Lay out on the banner to make sure it all fits. For Ada's I bought 2.5 yards - it seemed large in my mind, so I only got 2 yards for Henry's. It was almost too small. I had to sew a really small seam - so I would suggest 2.5 yards for sure!

4. Attach the heat and bond to the letters. Ok, so I have done this twice and this time was much more time consuming because I got the cheaper heat and bond. With Ada's I used steam a seam. The main difference is that steam a seam is actually sticky before you iron it. So with hers, I could stick right on the banner and iron once. But with heat and bond you have to iron it on to the letter first, peel the paper, and then iron it onto the banner. Not a huge deal, but I would pay the extra $1 for the steam a seam *if* I ever have to make another.

The cheaper option - still works fine! 
 Another lesson learned with Ada's: For hers, I cut out the steam and seam to the size of the letters (so I traced the letters out again on the S-A-S). It bonded fine and worked great, but when I went to sew around the letters - it was sooo sticky and very annoying to work with. So this time, I just cut strips..
About 1/4 inch strips

Lay grid down, paper up

Iron it down!
5. Attach letters to banner. I did this word at a time to make sure I was leaving enough space. Iron in place
All ironed on. So - quick side note - I was working on this in the family room and the hubs was watching a football game. We have a digital antennae - not cable - so every time I moved to the floor to iron, the tv would go out, so he asked that I move to the coffee table. I needed a flat surface that was big enough for the banner. The ironing board was not wide enough.  No problem - except I ruined the table! The heat destroyed the finish in certain areas. So - no brainer here - but don't iron on wood furniture!!
 6. Stich around the letters using the cotton thread. You could do this like you are quilting - it goes a lot faster! I used a darning needle to get through the fabric and for the cotton thread - it is super thick.
The Y all outlined
 7. Make 4 ties. I sewed it inside out and then turned it right side. I hate doing this. I actually tried a new technique where I sewed a long piece of scrap fabric (about 1/2 the width of the tube) to one end and then threaded it through the bottom and pulled. It worked well! It was much quicker and easier than using a crochet hook.
4 tubes!
 8. Sew the sides of the banner. I just folded it in half (face to face - so you are sewing the backsides) so that I only had to sew 3 sides. pin the long side, one short side, and then about 4 inches from the top of the other small side and 4 inches from the bottom of the other small side. Basically you are leaving a hold to turn it right side out. You also want to pin your ties in. I folded them in half and then pinned it to each corner. Make sure the ties are tucked inside the banner!!
All tucked in

Turned right side out - you can see how the ties are sewed in nice and tight!
 9. I ironed it down and then got ready for the ric rac. Cut small strips of the heat and bond and attach the ric rac to the edges of the banner
They were super skinny strips!

All done

 10. Each year make an applique for the back to protray the theme of the party. I also add the year some where so they know it was for their 1st, 2nd, etc. birthday. Felt works really nice for this. I also just used the heat and bond for this part as well.
We are doing a sock monkey theme for the bug's party this year!

That's it! I love the idea of using the same banner every year and seeing all the different themes as the years go by. I think it will be a neat for the kiddos too when they get older.

Happy DIYing! Let me know if have any questions!!