How to Make a Fabric Banner with Letters

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Red white and blue birthday banner hanging off a fence with a goat looking through the fence.

How to make a fabric banner with letters using your embroidery machine and sewing machine. You could also use heat transfer vinyl and a Cricut machine if you don’t have an embroidery machine.

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I’m so excited Baby G’s birthday is almost here, but I have so much to prepare! I decided to be an overachiever and make everything.

I started making this easy banner… I was supposed to make equilaterial triangles, but my math skills stink so I did 7″ squares and cut them in half. I recommend trying to manage the equilateral triangles because I think it will look nicer.

If you’re planning a birthday party, make sure to check out my post, Best Birthday Party Favors for Kids.

Supplies

  • Upcycled t-shirt or other fabrics: I used red and white because my son’s birthday party of Dr. Seuss themed. Blue fabric for the letters.
  • Bias tape, Extra Wide Double Fold (Red)
  • Embroidery machine and necessary supplies
  • Sewing machine

How to Make a Red and White Birthday Banner

I used an upcycled tshirt for the red and some leftover white fabric that I had for the white. Both fabrics had stretch which probably wasn’t ideal for the purpose of this project.

For all the fabric that I cut, I was able to cut out both the front and back pieces of the square at once- with the white fabric, I just folded it in half, and with the t-shirt I was cutting through both sides of the t-shirt. Here’s a picture of how to cut the triangles from your tshirt if you also decide to upcycle:

Red teeshirt that I upcycled to make the banner.

Cut the squares in half. At this point, you can just sew the triangles right sides together along the right and left sides of the triangles, leaving the top open. Cut away the corners and trim excess seam allowance. Turn right sides out. I ironed, then topstitched the sides because I love topstitching.

Triangles cut for the banner.

For my banner, I wanted to add “Happy Birthday” lettering to it. You could’ve done it before sewing the triangles together too. I decided to embroider my letters into the blue fabric, then put a frame around each letter to cut out.

Quick for the embroidery piece, seeing most of you will probably know how to embroider- I hooped my blue fabric with my stabilizer (I used tear away because that’s what I had), then did my letters two at a time on my 4×4 hoop. You have to place them pretty carefully to avoid hitting the sides of the hoop or not being able to put two on one piece of fabric.

For sizes:
-My letters are 5mm high
-My circle with scalloped edges is 5.8 x 5.8mm.
-The capital letters ended up having a bit larger circle.

Embroidering letters for "Happy Birthday"

If you embroider the letter first, then you just setup the circle so that the middle is approximately at the center of the letter. Then you test to make sure it fits- a feature on my PE770 allows me to run through where the edges are for the embroidery that I’m setting it for.

Alternatively, you can do the circle first and center the letter inside it. Again, don’t forget for the capital letters that you may need to tweak the size of the circle (I think I did 6.0 for the B). Don’t make them too big or you’ll end up not fitting them on your triangles!

Letters embroidered with a circle frame around them.

Once you’ve got them all embroidered, just tear away the stabilizer and cut a circle around the embroidery. I decided to use HeatNBond Lite to attach my letters to the banner. It has two sides to it that can both be ironed to fabric. One side is really rough feeling- that’s the side we work with first. Cut out circles of this for each letter, place the rough side of it towards the backs of your letters, then cover with a scrap piece of cloth and hold the iron over each letter for a few seconds. Check to see if it’s on good, then do the others.

Heat and bond to apply the letters to the banner triangles.
This is a picture of the cut out circle. In this picture the non rough side is facing up. When you iron it onto the back of the letter, you’re going to turn it the other way so the rough side touches the back of the d.

Layout your triangles exactly how you want them in terms of colors. I did red-white alternating with enough triangles for each letter, plus one extra in the middle for the “space” between happy and birthday. See if your bias tape is long enough for all of this! You can always overlap two sets of bias tape if needed but it’s nice to know in advance so you can plan accordingly. Mine only used one set.

Once you’re done organizing, you can peel off the other side of the HeatNBond. You can place the letters onto the triangles exactly how you’d like them, then you place the scrap fabric over each and iron each letter on. Again, hold for a few seconds then check to see if it’s on. Make sure you take off the peel before ironing each!

Once you do each of these, you are ready to finish up your banner.   Layout your triangles in order… I overlapped mine by 2.5″. This makes them somewhat thick so I decided to change to a sharper needle. I originally started with my ballpoint because I’d been cloth diaper sewing recently. I pinned my triangles at a lower point so they’d stay in place when I shifted them over to my machine.

Placing the triangles with equal spacing for the banner.

Grab your bias tape and insert the top of the triangles inside it. You can just use a straight stitch to sew it all together. Trim your remaining bias tape so each side is equal. All done!

Using bias tape to sew the banner together.

For the ends, fold the rough edges over and then continue your
straight stitch across so that the raw edge doesn’t show anymore.

I really like how this came out. My only frustration is that the embroidery and probably the heat of ironing caused the bubbling around the letters. I’m not sure how to avoid that, except maybe to do what I suggest below in my alternatives notes. That being said, it looks fine as is.

Letter "a" on the birthday banner. This is a photo after almost 7 years.
My middle son holding this banner which has been sitting in storage and used occasionally since 7 years old when I made it.
"Birthday" banner.

Other Dr. Seuss / Cat in the Hat / Party Posts

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Red white and blue Birthday Banner that was made from upcycled fabric for my son's Dr. Seuss / Cat in the Hat party.

Easy Birthday Banner

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