Alright. So, I fancy myself quite the homecoming banner maker. I love making them and I love making them well.
I've been asked several times how I do it, so I figure I could go ahead and just share my secrets.
There's really not much to it. And it's really not much of a secret since I've seen other banners that can easily hang next to mine with pride, but for those of you looking for some guidance... I'm here!
The first things I make sure I have are a full sized flat sheet, metal grommets, and acrylic paint. A full flat sheet is the perfect size for fences and I usually get a black one because the colors stand out better than on a white one.
The grommets can be purchased at JoAnn's or Michaels and probably at any crafting store. They look like this...
If it's your first time buying the grommets, you'll need the tool that seals them. I have this one.
The plier is supposed to cut a little hole in the fabric as well, but I find that snipping a tiny hole with scissors is MUCH easier.
Next, make sure you have your paint. Acrylic works the best as it shows up brighter and better than anything else and won't run in the rain. You can even wash it when it comes down. When you live somewhere as dusty as 29, this is important. There are also a multitude of colors available. As you can see, I've acquired quite the collection.
Now that you have all your supplies, it's time to get cracking on the banner.
Since I use black sheets, I always lay down a layer of white paint first. I've done 4 banners (I usually do two per homecoming so he has a better shot of seeing at least one of them as they drive on base. Plus they're fun... I doubt I'll do two the next time, however). Three out of the four were free-hand and I draw my letters with a white sewing pencil before I commit with the paint. The fourth one, I printed the letters off on cardstock and made stencils. I'll go over that later... Back to the white paint...
After I do my entire banner in just white paint, I go over it very carefully with the color paint. Luckily, if you're kind of sloppy (like I am when I get tired), the color paint won't really show too well anywhere that there isn't a white primer down. It just kind of seeps into the fabric which is another reason I like the black sheet, it gives you a little wiggle room.
Now on to the stencils. Since I decided to do a second banner (I was originally going to only do one for his second deployment, but I found a much better "saying" and decided to go for it) so close to his actual homecoming, I needed a way to make it quick. I was in school full time during that time as well, so I really didn't have a lot of time to sit and do it by hand. The Husband bought me an awesome printer for Christmas a few years ago and I decided to take advantage of it.
I printed up the letters I needed in the fonts I wanted and made stencils. This is a lot easier than it sounds. All you need to do is enlarge the font size enough to fit the page (On a full sheet, that's the perfect letter size) and change the font to "outline". When you print it out, you cut out the inside of the letters. That's the most time consuming part, but if you re-use certain letters, you actually cut a lot of time.
After that is finished, you line up your letters and go at them with the white paint. Treat your stencils well because you'll want to keep them for the color paint.
On the above banner, I decided that I wanted to use glitter. It was cute, but oh my word... I'm still finding glitter, so be aware of that.
Once my banners are dry (which doesn't take long at all with the acrylic paint. Maybe about 10-20 minutes), I'll cut little slits throughout the banner. You can't see them when it's hanging, but 29 Palms can get really windy, and those little cuts help keep the banner from becoming a kite. That is totally optional though, and probably not even necessary unless you are stationed somewhere with daily sandstorms.
After that, I fold them up and wait for banner hanging day! A group of the wives usually goes together so we can help one another and take pictures.
Here's a couple of the finished ones...
I used stencils for this one.
I did this one free hand.
So that's my handy-dandy banner tutorial. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me! I would also love to hear your secrets and see your finished products.