Wednesday, January 29, 2014

From die cut machine to HUGE banner + Tutorial!

One of the many things I created for my #1DS and DIL's wedding party in October was a huge 8 foot banner (approximate size). The party was on our screened porch/pool area and I really wanted to dress up the porch with lots of fun visual details. Of course, I browsed Pinterest every chance I got to find inspiration.

I found the saying on Pinterest painted on a small canvas that was framed in wood. Loved the saying, but I wanted a large banner...oh what was I to do?

I spent many, many hours thinking how exactly to create this. I knew my Expression could make a freezer paper stencil, but the largest mat is 12" x 24".  Yep, I had one of those.

Using the Cricut Craft Room, I created a file to make a stencil. I cut the freezer paper to the size of my mat and cut the stencil.
Freezer paper cuts very nicely with the Cricut. Peel the paper gently off the mat. Make sure to save all your pieces...the outer paper is the "stencil" but you'll also need the letters and little inside pieces.

Press the shiny side of the freezer paper to the fabric (I used bleached muslin) using a dry iron.  For the letters that have the open areas, like P, B, A, R, etc., you will need the centers, too.

 See in the photo below how the "B" and "R" are missing the centers? That's what needs to get put back.

For letters that need the centers, press the stencil to the fabric, then add the letter. Now use the letter as a guide to place the centers of the letters. In the photo below I am pressing the "O" into the pressed stencil, then I will press the center of the "O", take out the "O" and will now be ready to paint.

TIP: Press everything into place and check placement before painting anything. You can lift off the freezer paper that is already pressed, adjust as necessary, then re-press.

TIP: Make sure all the edges of your stencil are pressed well. You don't want any paint to seep under the stencil!!

Protect your work surface with plastic sheeting or similar.
Because I didn't care if this banner was ever washed or used again and I didn't need to keep the hand of the fabric soft (the "hand" is the way fabric feels), so I just used regular acrylic paint. I didn't bother to use my good textile paint or any fabric medium.
Paint inside all of the letters using a paint brush or sponge brush, whatever you like the best. Start with a little bit of paint on your brush. Pouncing up and down seemed to work better than painting back and forth. It will also help keep paint from seeping under the stencil.

 I masked off the edges of my banner with some old Kraft paper that was originally used as packing material. Newspaper would work fine, too. I was deathly afraid that I was going to get paint where I didn't want it. Seems like I'm always battling that!

I only used one good coat of paint, but if your project looks like it needs another, let it dry first and then add another coat.
Once everything is dry, it's time to peel the stencil from the fabric. I didn't bother trying to save the stencil. It's just thin paper and you can cut another one if you really want to do this again!

This last step is to heat set your paints. Lay down a piece of parchment paper beneath and on top of your banner and press with an iron. You really don't need to do this unless you will be washing your project. Check the bottle of paint for heat setting instructions. Some will recommend you let it sit for a certain amount of time or heat set with an iron, etc. If you won't be washing your item, you probably won't need this step.
I stitched a little seam at the top so it could hang from a curtain rod. I didn't bother finishing the edges. 
 It was a big hit at the party. I had people wondering how I did it. (I like that!)


  1. awesome! Yeah, don't ya just love it when they wonder how you did it? Keeps the mystery alive!