How to Sew a Holiday or Party Banner -- Tutorial | New Quilters

Here’s a fun way to transform any room into party central: decorate it with a simple, festive flag banner you sew yourself. This project has been on my to-do list for years, and as soon as I made my first one, I quickly made a couple more for different occasions. Not just because I’m planning a party, but because these garlands are so quick and easy, and really dress up a room.

This post shows you how to make three different variations on the basic flag banner: triangular flags, flags shaped like chevrons, and flags made from quilt blocks. You can see all three types in this little gallery.

Tools and Supplies

  • Quilt fabric. The amount you’ll need depends on how long a garland you make. See the detailed instructions for each type of banner.
  • Double-fold bias binding. Always use bias binding because the banner will need to curve and bend, and binding cut on the straight of grain will not do that very well. I’ve used both 1/2″ and 1″ binding. If your banner has small flags, I recommend the narrower 1/2″ binding.

    Bias tape photo from sobiased.com

  • Cutting ruler. I used my 6-1/2″ x 24″ ruler to measure bias tape.
  • Cutting mat with inches marked on it.
  • Rotary cutter with a pinking blade. The wavy edges on this blade cut zigzag lines. The zigzags help reduce fraying when you make flags with raw outer edges.

How Long Should Your Banner Be?

In the first flush of banner mania, I made my first banner really long — nearly fifteen feet long, in fact. Hanging up that monster taught me that it generally looks better to hang two shorter banners of seven or eight flags each than one longer one. The choice is yours, though. You can make your banners as long or as short as you want by simply including more or fewer flags.

Banner #1: Triangle Flags

I made my first banner red, white, and blue in honor of American Independence Day.

This banner consists of two different flags, each made from a single fabric, and 1″ double-sided bias binding in navy blue. Both sides of the banner look identical, so it looks good from both the front and back.

Tools and Supplies

  • 1/2 yard each of two fabrics in coordinating colors. That will make enough flags for two banners.
  • 3 yards of double-fold bias binding for each banner. You can find packages of Wright bias binding at almost any fabric store. I bought a 25-yard reel of binding online because I’m a fabric addict I already have a mental list of banners I want to make for other holidays.

Step by Step Instructions

  1. Cut two strips of each pennant fabric that measure 8 1/2″ by the full width of the fabric. These are the strips I used to make my red-and-white flags.
  2. Working with one fabric at a time, lay the strips on your cutting mat with right sides together. Align the strips so you can use the markings on your mat to guide your cutting.

    Lay strips with RIGHT sides together.

  3. Trim off the selvages and square up the ends of the strips.
  4. Put the edge of the ruler on the top corner of the strips. Use the squares on your cutting mat and/or your cutting ruler to measure 3-1/2″ from the bottom corner. Cut on the diagonal from the top corner to the 3-1/2″ spot on the bottom of the strips.
  5. Use your ruler and the squares on the cutting mat to measure 3-1/2″ inches along the bottom corner of the strips. Place your ruler so the cutting edge runs from the top corner to the 3-1/2″ mark.
  6. Using the ruler as a guide, cut a diagonal line from the top corner to the 3-1/2″ mark on the bottom edge.
  7. Measure 7 inches from the top corner of the fabric strips, as shown in the photo above. Lay your ruler from the 3-1/2″ mark on the bottom of the strip to the to the 7″ mark on the top, then cut. The cut section will be a long two-layer triangle.
  8. Keep cutting triangles until you get to the other end of your fabric strips.
  9. Stack the triangles, leaving the layers together, with right sides facing each other, and take them to your sewing machine.
  10. Sew the two long sides of the triangle with a 1/4″ seam. Leave the top edge of the triangle open. I chain-pieced my triangles to save thread.
  11. Use scissors or your rotary cutter to snip off the sharp point of each triangle. Cut close to the seam line, but take care not to cut into it.
  12. Turn each flag right side out and poke out the tip of the triangle with a turner tool (I use a bamboo takeout chopstick) to make the point as sharp as possible.
  13. Press the flags flat.
  14. Repeat steps 2-10 with the second fabric.
  15. Once all the flags are pressed, they are done! Scroll down for instructions on sewing the flags into the bias binding.

A Quicker Option: Raw-Edged Flags

The finished edges on the flags in my first banner required a couple of extra steps, namely turning the flags right side out and pressing them flat. If you’re in a hurry, you could cut out those steps and speed up the project by simply making the flags with raw outer edges. Here’s how to make raw-edged flags:

  1. Cut two strips of each pennant fabric that measure 8 1/2″ by the full width of the fabric.
  2. Working with one fabric at a time, lay the strips on your cutting mat with WRONG sides together and the right sides facing out. Align the strips so you can use the markings on your mat to guide your cutting.
  3. Trim off the selvages and square up the ends of the strips.
  4. Switch to the pinking blade on your rotary cutter.
  5. Follow steps 5-9 from the instructions above, doing everything exactly the same except that your fabric strips stay WRONG sides together and you do all the cutting with the pinking blade.
  6. Stack the triangles, leaving the layers together, with wrong sides facing each other, and take them to your sewing machine.
  7. Sew the two long sides of the triangle with a 1/4″ seam. Leave the top edge of the triangle open. I chain-pieced my triangles to save thread.
  8. Repeat all the steps with the second fabric.
  9. Your flags are done — no need to press them or turn them right side out.

Sewing the Flags into the Binding

  1. Starting with one end of the binding, sew the folded edges closed for 18-24 inches to make a stable tail for hanging the garland. I like to make the tail long enough that I can tie up the banner with a bow if there isn’t a hook to hang it on. Backstitch at the beginning and end of the seam so your stitches don’t t unravel later.
  2. Fold over about three inches at the end to make a hanging loop. Stitch across the loop two or three times to secure it. (You may want to do a neater job than I did here!)
  3. Put the binding back under the presser foot at the spot where the seam you sewed stops. Put the center fold on the right and the opening facing left.
  4. Insert the unsewed top edge of a flag into the fold. Push it in gently so the edge of the flag touches the back of the fold.
  5. Sew the open edge of the binding closed. Your stitches will encase the edge of the flag inside the binding. Stop sewing when you get to the end of the flag.
  6. Now you have to decide how far apart you want the flags to be. On this banner I put my flags about an inch apart, and used a small ruler to measure the distance. Now, after making several banners, I just eyeball the distance and hope for the best.
  7. Keep adding flags, alternating red and blue, until your banner is a length you like. Once you have added all the flags you want to, keep stitching along the binding until you’ve secured a piece of binding that’s the same length as the beginning section. Add a loop at this end and stitch it down.
  8. Take your banner to a boring spot at the nearest party and hang it up!

Variation #2: Chevron Flags

This is an easy variation on the raw-edged flags described above. I made my banner so that each side has a different assortment of colors. The banner is designed to be viewed from either side.

Supply List

  • 16-20 color-coordinated 5″ fabric squares per banner. The exact number of squares you’ll need depends on how many flags you want to include in your banner.  I used a batik charm pack from Benartex called Bali Lullaby to make a banner for a baby’s room.
  • Double-folded bias binding in a coordinating color.
  • Wash-away marking pen or pencil.
  • Pinking blade for your rotary cutter.
  • Square ruler. Here’s the one I used for this project.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Divide the squares into pairs. Lay each pair of squares with wrong sides together and arrange them in an order you like.
  2. My squares came with the outer edges already pinked. If your squares don’t already have pinked edges, trim them all around their outer edges with the pinking blade. This will discourage fraying. You can trim both squares in a pair at the same time.
  3. Use one corner of a square ruler and a wash-away pencil to mark a chevron shape on the top square of each pair. I aligned the 3-1/2″ mark with the bottom corners of the square.
  4. With the pair of squares still layered together, stitch a “W” shape on them, using a 1/4″ seam on the sides and stitching on the line you marked in the middle of the square. Leave the top of the squares unsewed.
  5. Use your rotary cutter to trim away the triangle on the bottom, following the black lines in the photo.
  6. Sew the chevrons into the bias binding as described in the instructions for the Triangle Flags banner above.

Variation #3: Quilt Block Appliqué Banner

I have quite a few orphan quilt blocks floating around my sewing room, looking for a project to call home. After I made my first two banners, a light bulb went off in my mind and I decided to make my next banners with a set of 6-1/2″ nine-patch blocks left over from a quilt I made for a friend years ago. I had a variety of nine patch blocks in prints featuring lavender and butterflies.

Quilt blocks need to have a backing layer to cover the unfinished seam allowances on their back sides, so all quilt block flags need to be double-sided. I backed these blocks with two purple prints I also had in my stash. When the banners looked a little pale, I decided to alternate nine-patch blocks with darker purple flags and add some iron-on butterfly appliques.

Supply List

  • Ten to twelve 6-1/2″ quilt blocks. I used nine-patch blocks, but you could substitute any other square block of a similar size.
  • Twenty to twenty-four 6-1/2″ fabric squares in a coordinating color.
  • Double-fold bias binding.
  • (Optional) 3″ appliqués.
  • Small plate, jar lid, or circular object you can use as a template for the rounded lower corners of the flags. I used a 7-1/2″ plate.
  • Wash-away marking pen or pencil.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Pair each quilt block with a purple square.
  2. Lay the square and block with right sides together, taking care to align the corners and edges.
  3. Use your round template to mark a rounded edge on the bottom of the fabric squares.
  4. Take the blocks to the sewing machine and stitch around the sides and bottom edge of each block, using a 1/4″ seam. Sew very slowly around the curves, keeping your stitches 1/4″ inside the marked lines. Leave the top edge of the flags unsewed.
  5. Use your rotary cutter to trim off the bottom corners of the sewed flags.
  6. Turn the flags right side out and press them flat. Here’s the front side of a finished flag:And the back side:
  7. (Optional) use a hot iron to press appliques onto the plain flags.

Follow the instructions in the Triangle Flags project above to sew the flags into the bias binding. Here’s a closeup view of the finished banner.

Christmas Wreath Quilts


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  • Complete patterns and photo tutorials for each quilt.

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