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Today’s sewing tutorial is extra cool because this felt banner DIY combines three things that I love: repurposing felted wool sweaters, bias tape, and bunting banners.
Fabric banners and paper garlands just make me happy. They’re so joyful and colorful, and there are so many ways to personalize them, so I have a bunch of them hanging all around my home and I love giving them away as gifts.
And anyone who’s followed me much knows how obsessed I am with felted wool sweaters. I mean, just check out this collection of my sewn and non-sewn projects with felted wool sweaters!
So I was secretly happy when two of my mother-in-law’s hand-knitted sweaters got hopelessly shrunk in the washing machine, because I knew I’d put them to good use! They were so small that I could only cut relatively little pieces from them. I loved their vivid jewel tones, so I decided to make a DIY felt banner from them
So now this colorful bunting banner hangs in my sewing room, brightening it up!
This is actually a great project to make with a departed loved one’s clothing to help keep a part of him or her near, like a remembrance quilt or memory bear.
If you don’t have any wool sweaters, you can get them from a thrift shop or just use regular craft felt, though I warn you that the effect is so much nicer with the thick boiled wool fabric from old sweaters!
Ready to learn how to make a felt banner? Keep reading for the full felt banner DIY tutorial!
Materials to make wool felt bunting
- One or more felted wool sweaters or other type of felt (see this post to learn how to felt a wool sweater in the washing machine)
- Double fold bias tape. Any size is fine, but I prefer 12.5mm (½”) double fold. You can use storebought bias tape* or make your own! I highly suggest you use this continuous bias tape method so that you will have a lot of bias tape in the perfect color without having to piece together a bunch of separate strips. The exact amount you need depends on how long your banner will be.
- Sharpie* or other permanent marker
- Fabric shears*
- Sewing clips* (optional. You can just use pins, but I find it easier to use clips on thick felted wool fabric.)
- Thread* matching the bias tape
- Sewing machine needles*. I suggest size 100 or 110 for the parts with the wool felt and size 90 for the ends of the bias tape without wool felt.)
- “Celebrate!” Banner pattern (optional. See below for more information.)
You can just create your own banner template and appliqué letters, or make it easy (and quick!) on yourself with my Celebrate! Banner pattern! Spend less than you would for a coffee, help fund this website, and be able to make loads of bunting banners in tons of different ways! The Celebrate! Banner pattern includes five shapes, each in four sizes, as well as four sizes of appliqué letters (upper- and lower-case), numbers, symbols and shapes. In just minutes you can start making the perfect banner! There are so many options, including single-layer flags, no-fabric banners and even no-sew banners!
Prepare the felt banner DIY pattern
1. I used size M of two different shapes in my “Celebrate!” banner pattern, which you can purchase from my shop for a very reasonable price. Make sure you cut on the lines that say “without seam allowance” so that you have the full shape with all its points (shown above with arrows). Otherwise, just cut out some banner shapes that you like as a template.
Cut out the banner pieces
2. If you haven’t yet, felt the wool sweaters and let them dry completely. Then cut along the side and sleeve seams to open up the sweaters.
3. Trace around the pattern with a Sharpie or other permanent marker on the wrong side of the fabric. You can make as many as you’d like.
4. Cut out each piece just inside the marker lines.
I cut out each color of wool in a different shape. If you do this, make sure you have the same number of each, or one extra of one color that will be in the center.
How to sew a felt banner
Like I mentioned in the materials section above, you can buy pre-made bias tape or make your own.
If you want to have full control over the fabric on your banner, I suggest you make your own, following this tutorial for making long strips of bias tape.
5. Cut a piece of double fold bias tape long enough to go across the top of all your banner pieces with at least an extra 30 cm (12″) on either end.
6. Create a perfect finish at the ends of the bias tape strip:
A. Position the ends flat on a surface.
B. Turn each end of the bias tape wrong side out along the center fold and pin it together.
C. Sew across the short edge with about 1 cm (3/8″) seam allowance, then trim close to the seam.
D. Turn the bias tape right side out again, folding the raw edges back inside and pushing the corner out with something pointed. I use the tips of my fabric shears.
7. Fold the bias tape in half to find the center and mark it with a pin. If there is one center bunting piece, fold that in half and mark it with a pin, as well (marked above by the arrows). If there is an even number of pieces, just mark the center of the bias tape.
8. If there is one center piece, sandwich it inside the bias tape, matching up the centers, and pin in place. If there is an even number of pieces, sandwich two side-to-side on either side of the center pin in the bias tape.
9. Sandwich another two pieces on either side of the center piece/s inside the bias tape and pin them in place. (The arrow still shows the center of the bias tape.)
10. Continue positioning the remaining banner pieces and use either pins or Wonder Clips to keep them in place. I honestly prefer Wonder Clips when sewing thick felted wool.
11. Sew straight down the bias tape, from one end to the other, close to the open edge. If you’re using thick felt pieces, you might want to first sew the parts of the bias tape covering them with a 100 or 110 sewing needle, then go back and sew the ends of the bias tape with a regular 90 needle.
And you’re done! Wasn’t this felt banner DIY project so easy to put together? But it’s so pretty, and the felted wool sweater fabric makes it perfect for autumn and winter!
Check out these other great handmade banner ideas:
- Sew a pennant banner with letters
- Sew a DIY Christmas tree banner
- Sew a fabric Valentine’s Day banner
- Make a no-sew fleece banner
If you want to learn more about bias tape, how to make it and how to sew with it, click here to see my bias tape series!
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