March 5, 2012

National Craft Month: DIY Word Banner

It’s time for the second installment of the National Craft Month series! This project is something I came up with while brainstorming handmade Christmas gifts last year. I was really inspired by Happy Birthday and Happy New Year banners, but I wanted something more personalized. It’s great for your room or living room, or even parties. The instructions are a little lengthy, but it’s really not as involved as it seems. Most of the elements I make/do by hand in this project have time-saving alternatives. I only chose to make everything myself because I’m a broke college kid, and this is something I can create without spending a dime.

I gave a lot of these as gifts over the holidays, but never got around to making one for myself. It took me awhile to decide what word or phrase I wanted to use for this DIY, but in the end, I was inspired one of my favorite songs (one that I'm CONVINCED was written for me) - Vienna by Billy Joel. I think it's completely appropriate.

I know there are more of us out there, the ones who go go go at 1000miles per minute without stopping. Every second of every day superscheduled and jam-packed down to the last second…it wears you out. It’s in my nature to rush around and take on more than I should, so I took this semester off in an effort to rework the way I do things. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my life to pass by in a blur of schedules, assignments, endless lists, and errands. I want to soak up and fully appreciate every moment, every detail. I just want to s l o w d o w n . This banner is a great reminder of that. Quick sidenote: Any word/phrase over 10 letters becomes kinda tedious. It can definitely be done, but if you’re doing all handmade like me, it will take you awhile. Also, if you have any questions about materials, steps, or if any of the instructions are unclear, please please please let me know! This is the first DIY I’ve ever written, so bear with me (:

Alright, let’s begin! You will need…

• A cereal box, or any sort of thin cardboard (I used drink holders from Sonic for my first few)

• Yarn or cotton string (twine, etc)

• An assortment of decorative paper (scrapbook, magazine, wallpaper, even fabric); one pattern/color per letter

• A few pages of cardstock (depends on the number of letters you’re making)

• Scissors

• Pencil

• Permanent marker (not pictured, oops!)

• Gluestick

• Tape

• Large circular paper punch (3” diameter) or something round to trace (I used the second method for all of my gifted banners, but I FINALLY bought a circular punch about a week ago; saves SO MUCH TIME!)

• Stencil (optional)

Now, grab some cardstock and a pencil; it’s time to make your letter templates (you’ll trace these onto the cereal box in a bit). I drew mine by hand and cut them out, but if you’re not comfortable with/have the time for that, you have a few options. Stencils and die-cut letters work just fine! Another idea is to find a font you like and print out your letters, just space them out and blow them up to the size you want. Just cut those out, and voila! See? The possibilities are endless.

Now, punch out your circles, one for each letter (or trace your circular object and cut them out if you don’t have a punch). These are the backing for each letter; they reinforce the letters and add some color to the project.

Cut open the cereal box so it lays flat. Lay your letters BACKWARDS on the printed side of the cereal box, otherwise you’ll end up with the design on the front of your letters and marker all along the edges :/ Grab your permanent marker and trace away my friend!

Cut those bad boys out!

It’s time to add some color! Take your decorative paper (remember, this can be anything: scrapbooking or wrapping paper, a colorful magazine ad, some scrap fabric, old book pages, etc) and punch out some more circles, one for each letter. Glue the paper ones to the cardstock ones. If you’re using the trace and cut method, simply glue your cardstock circles to each sheet of decorative paper you’re using, and cut them out. Much easier than tracing a second set of circles and gluing them together!

Decide what order you want the circles to be in. I’m really picky when it comes to stuff like this, so I lay it all out behind my letters first. Once you’ve paired up your letters and circles, tape each circle to the back of its letter. I usually add a little bit of glue on the back of letter too, just in case.

Lay out your letters. Measure a piece of string that is long enough to fit your word/phrase, leaving about a foot extra on each end. Don’t cut yet. I single-crocheted a chain using my largest needle to give it some texture. Don’t crochet? Don’t worry! You can use the string as is (I might double up the strands) or even braid it. Again, just make sure you leave at least a foot extra on each end. Once you decide that it’s long enough, snip it!

Take your loose end (the one not attached to the ball of string) and tie a bow. Place the bow at the beginning of your banner.

Arrange your first letter about as far from the chain as you would like it to hang. Cut a piece of string, and loop it from the center of the letter’s circle. Once you have that measured, cut one piece of string per letter. Fun variation idea: I haven’t tried this yet, but how about varying the string lengths so your letters aren’t straight across? Could be cool…

Tape the string to your letters. Don’t tape it all the way up the string just yet though.

Ok. If you’re using a crocheted/braided chain, use the stitches or braids to space your letters evenly along the chain. First, take the string loop and pull it through one stitch on the chain. Next, flip the letter through that loop. Pull the letter all the way through. Do that for each letter, spacing them as you go. Once all of your letters are attached, tie a bow at the other end of your string, and you’re done!

Here’s one I made for my dear friend Christine as part of her Christmas gift.

Photo by Christine Cote
Happy Monday! What kinds of crafty things are you doing this week?

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You're so sweet (: Thanks friend!


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