How To | Joined Name Banner

It was the Wednesday night before our Saturday engagement shoot and I get the hare-brained idea to make us a banner to use as a photo prop.

Now, before we go any further, I want to assure you this story has a happy ending, as evidenced by this awesome shot from the day of:

Photo by Pink Shutterbug Photography, cropping by me (mostly to remove our kissy-faces)
Photo by Pink Shutterbug Photography, cropping by me (mostly to remove our kissy-faces)

But it wasn’t guaranteed when I went to start.

You see, just after Christmas I treated myself to an addition to my craft room: an eCraft electronic die cutter. I’d just gotten it, and barely used it so far, but I figured I should be able to have it cut out the letters and leaves with no problem.

Yeah… Not so much. When you’re learning a new tool it helps to be smarter than the machine and the software that powers it. I know, now, what I did that made the first night so tough on myself, but it wasn’t much consolation when I spent 3 hours and I don’t even know how many sheets of card stock trying to cut out 2 sets of 9 letters. In the end, the cutter did save me a lot of time, once I got out of my own way.

Eventually I did get my letters cut out–one set of slightly larger, silhouetted dark shapes for the backgrounds and a set of speckled ivory card stock letters for the fronts. The lighter card stock just wasn’t doing it for me, plain, though, so I set them out and spritzed them with some Glimmer Mist in Burlap and Gold. At that point it was late and they had to dry, so I called it for part 1.

Adding a little dimension and sparkle never hurts.
Adding a little dimension and sparkle never hurts.

The next night it was time to dress up the letters and finish the cutting. I found a free cutting file from SVGCuts.com that had just what I was looking for: a grape leaf, and it was layered, too! Thankfully this night’s cutting went much smoother (a few hiccups, but I got the hang of it) and before long I had plenty of layered leaves cut out, assembled, and put together with the letter sets and let them dry for the night.

The leaves got scattered among the letters.
The leaves got scattered among the letters.

I also cut out the rounded squares for the letters and leaves to rest on. I found this coppery, embossed paper with grapes and leaves on it in my stash–no telling how long it had been there, but I was happy I’d hoarded it.

My canvas was thin enough where I could fold it double and still cut through with ease. I cut some extras just in case I screwed one up.
My canvas was thin enough where I could fold it double and still cut through with ease. I cut some extras just in case I screwed one up.

With this much done, though, I could finally decide how big each of my pennants needed to be and what shape would work best. Sure, the inverted triangle is pretty standard, but I’m still on a square kick so wanted something blockier. Plain squares weren’t quite right, either, so we went with a pentagon that looks like a little house upside down. I cut those shapes out of some lightweight canvas I had lying around (again, being a craft-supply-hoarder pays off) with pinking shears so I wouldn’t have to hem anything. The pentagons are 5 inches wide and 5 1/2 inches long from top edge to point.

Laid-out banner bits.
Laid-out banner bits.

Now, usually I’d spell out our names my name-his name, ladies first and all that, but I knew that with us standing to hold the banner, I’d need to be on the left if my engagement ring was to show (something I knew our photographer would prefer, if nothing else). I could have held his name and he mine, but it would have bugged me to no end, so I put his name first so it’d look right in the pictures. It works well that we have names of equal length, too, but that’s  just luck.

Mr. Road Trip was actually okay with the banner as-is, but I couldn’t leave it that plain. It just went against every decorative fiber of my being, so to the stash I went.

The grapes and leaves also got a touch of metallic watercolors for a little highlighting sparkle.
The grapes and leaves also got a touch of metallic watercolors for a little highlighting sparkle.

I started by adding some strips of lace along the top edge and added another rounded square in a darker color behind the copper to make it pop more. The other edges were still awfully bare and I was nearly out of time for night 2, and I knew there was no way I’d have time to do any stitching on Friday night. Then I remembered my beloved fabric paints and pens. A few quick swoops around the edges with green and some purple grape clusters and my edges finally looked finished.

Just hanging out, like banners do.
Just hanging out, like banners do.

Finally, Friday night, between pin-curling my hair and grabbing the rest of our props, I glued down the lace bits (something I only did for time’s sake–I’m usually quite adamant about sewing fabric to fabric) and the letter clusters and set the 1/4-inch eyelets in each corner. I had a surplus of 1″ binder rings so used those to link the individual pennants together. Turns out they stretched perfectly from one end of our mantle to the other, so that’s where they’re hanging out when not being used for wedding props.

Not counting the cutter (because it’s not strictly a wedding purchase, I plan to use it for lots of things well after the wedding crafting has passed), I spent a grand total of nothing on this project–I had all the supplies in my stash. Can’t beat that when you’re on a budget, right?

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