As our budget gets pulled tighter and tighter, and Babeleo's arrival creeps closer, I'm being forced to rethink a few things when it comes to decorating our nursery. I had a truly lovely list of gorgeous handmade decorations going on Etsy. Several months ago, purchasing those pretty things seemed totally reasonable. Now, however, reality has reared her obnoxious head, and is making me realize that we just can't afford to blow a bunch of money on prettying up a baby room.
I had a "waaaaaah" moment there, but soon remembered that I am a very crafty person. Why on Earth would I need (or even want) to buy those things from other artists when I could make similar versions myself? Most of the things I had my eye on were very simple, after all. Beautiful, no doubt, but also totally re-creatable.
The first thing I decided to tackle was prayer flags. I'd had my eye on these, and these. So pretty! But how would I add words or pictures to my flags? Screen printing? Hand painting? Fabric stamps? After a quick look through my crafting stash I discovered three sheets of printable fabric. Hallelujah! This stuff is PERFECT for this kind of a project.
I hopped on InDesign and whipped up six little flags to print out on the three sheets of paper. I "borrowed" some illustrations from the internet, then downloaded two pretty handwritten fonts from Dafont.com (I used Dawning of a New Day and Sunshine in My Soul.) If you are looking for a good resource of Buddhist artwork, check out the Buddhist eLibrary.
I combined each picture with one of my favorite Buddhist prayers and quotes from the Dalai Lama. You could easily customize this project to suit any kind of sentiment or spiritual belief you like though. Bible verses, song lyrics, or famous quotes would all work nicely on prayer flags.
Next, I rummaged through my fabric stash to find six small pieces that looked nice together. I picked a few different quilter's cottons, and one random green knit. I also used some satin ribbon, a handful of jingle bells, and a little bit of embroidery floss.
How to Make Prayer Flags
- Three sheets of printable fabric
- Twelve pieces of 8" x 11" fabric
- 2-3 yards of flat ribbon (at least 1/2 inch wide)
- Contrasting thread
- 4 jingle bells
- 24 inches of Embroidery floss
I started by printing out my fabric. I used InDesign to make printable PDFs, but you could use any kind of Word or document program that you are comfortable with. Just make sure your page is formatted in a landscape position so that you'll have enough room to make two flags on each sheet. You can download a copy of the PDF I used here: Download Prayer Flags
After you print the fabric, cut out each flag individually. Try to make sure each one is well centered on its little rectangle.
Now it's time to cut the fabric for the back of the flags. Each flag needs two layers of fabric. I cut each flag at about the same size, a few inches wider and longer than the flags I had printed. Give each flag an extra two inches on the top so that it can be folded over later. I cut each of my flags into 8" x 11" rectangles.
Use an iron to adhere the printable fabric to the top panel of your cut fabric (according to the instructions that come with your fabric). I used the cotton setting with no steam to attach my printed fabric. After they cool, run a zig-zag stitch around the printed fabric to make sure it's totally secure. Using a contrasting colored thread also makes the flags extra pretty.
Lay the top and bottom panels of fabric for each flag together, wrong sides in, right sides out. Use the zig-zag stitch (or a serger, if you are so lucky as to have one) to bind them together. Again, I like using a contrasting thread for this part. Stitch all the way around all of the outer edges.
Fold the top edge over by about an inch, with the folded fabric on the back of the flag, the straight stitch across the bottom edge of the fold, leaving a good sized hold for you to thread a ribbon or cord through the top.
Get yourself a nice long piece of ribbon or flat cord, then thread it through the top of the flags. Run an inch or so of straight stitch over where to ribbon sits inside each flag. This will help stop them from moving around on the ribbon. Leave at least few inches between each flag, and be careful not to let the ribbon twist.
After all of the flags are attached, cut four six-inch lengths of embroidery thread. Use the thread to tie the jingle bells in the spaces between the flags.
Now hang your flags somewhere lovely! Here they are in Babeleo's room. (...which is coming along nicely. Don't you think?)