Lent and Easter
in the Domestic Church




Craft: Making Banners

Peter Fournier and Catherine Fournier

Page 64 in "Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"

Banners are an increasingly popular form of decoration. The nice thing, of course, is that banners are teaching tools as well as decoration. With words and images they convey a message.

Seen as teaching tools rather than simply as a modern craft, banners have great evangelizing and catechetical potential in the home, as well as in the classroom and parish. They can be hung I in any room or hallway to proclaim your faith to all who view them.

Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church

"Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church"
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Banners are very flexible. They can be any size or color, any style or image. They can be simple or ornate depending on your time, budget, and ability. They can be made of almost anything and used for almost any occasion. In fact, they are so simple, yet potentially so powerful, that every family should consider making several to fit various family and liturgical celebrations.

Banners can be made of any firm cloth or backed with a sturdy cloth to help them hang flat and straight. Felt, burlap, and canvas are obvious choices, but moiré fabric or lightweight broadcloth are other good choices. Banners for use outside work well in broadcloth, canvas, or nylon. Depending on the style of the banner and your abilities, decorations can be drawn on with waterproof markers, fabric paint, or acrylic paint, or glued or sewn on. Images and letters can be made of buttons, ribbon, braid, strings of wool, or anything else you might have. Since the variety is almost endless, I will outline a few of the possibilities and leave the rest up to you and your family's imagination!

A Saint's Day Banner

A saint's day banner (once it is made) is a fast and easy special decoration reserved for this family event. The banner can be hung as part of a tritium (three-day) preparation for the feast day or hung on the actual feast day. Any symbol of sainthood or heaven can be used on the banner, such as flames, doves, or crowns. There are many other possibilities. The symbols for each individual name saint could be added to the banner for a family portrait of saints' symbols, or interchangeable symbols fastened with Velcro dots or a snap fastener could personalize the banner for each feast.

Lent and Easter Banner

This reversible banner is our main Lenten decoration. On Ash Wednesday I put away all our other pictures, statues, icons, and knickknacks except crucifixes and hang this banner. On Holy Saturday, I bring out all our Easter decorations and flip the banner.

Special decorations reserved for special occasions strengthen the importance of the celebration and help create the traditions necessary to pass the faith down successive generations.

I found the phrase "Come Back to Me with All Your Heart" (Joel 2:12) at the back of a missal and used it because I liked the personal tone. You may find that some other phrase appeals to you, has more significance, or conveys a clearer Lenten message to you and your family. In the same way, the Easter side of the banner can say whatever seems most appropriate to you. It would be best if the colors chosen were liturgically appropriate.

Festive Party Banners

Special banners just for special celebrations like birthday or graduation parties are worth the effort for the message of love and respect they give the recipient of the celebration: "Your party gets the special decorations."

Windsock banners take a little more time but are surprisingly easy to make and store. They look great blowing in the wind and can be hung from trees, hooks, your clothesline, or poles stuck in the ground.

Cut strips of brightly colored fabric as long as you would like the finished windsock to be. If you are going to use eight strips, make each one one-eighth of your desired finished diameter plus an inch (for a half-inch seam allowance on each side).

Mark a spot halfway down the length of each strip, and sew the strips together from the top to the marked spot. The rest will hang free and blow in the wind. Do not sew the last two strips together to complete the circle yet, though. Hem the loose ends of each strip. It does not have to be perfect, just turn under the edge and sew it. Go down one long side, along the bottom edge, up the other long side, then, without cutting the thread, repeat with the next strip. Now sew the last strips together to form a circle.

Turn under the circular top edge about one-half inch, and sew it, leaving an inch-long opening between your starting and finishing place.

Find something fairly firm, such as a wire coat hanger or plastic tubing, and feed it into the channel you have just sewn at the top of your banner. This will hold the mouth of the windsock in a circle.

Next, attach three strings at equal distance around the rim of the windsock. Tie the strings together at the top and make a loop for hanging.

I made a dozen of these windsock banners one evening as part of the decorations for a wedding reception held in our backyard and have used them several times since. When not in use, they are stored on a hanger in a closet with the winter coats.

Some Useful Stitches

Satin Stitch

Make straight, evenly spaced stitches to fill in an area. If you want, you can outline the area with running stitch or some other stitch first.

Couching

Lay a thread or yarn along the line of the design (like a letter or shape) and with another thread fasten it down along its length. This is a fast and easy way to form letters.

Buttonhole Stitch

This stitch can be used to sew another piece of fabric onto your banner, such as a flame or a crown. It has a decorative effect, especially if the stitches are even in size and spacing.