DIY: Cheap and Easy “Merry Christmas” Burlap Banner

So apparently burlap is a Thing in decorating.  It’s rustic and chic and ALL over craft stores.

There are also a ton of  pre-cut and dummy-proof craft kits to make decorations with burlap, including table runners, place mats, Christmas ornaments, and… banners.  (Psh, using a kit– how easy and cheating would that be?!)

Easy Homemade Christmas Decorations

Easy and Homemade Christmas Decorations

I originally stumbled upon my inspiration for this banner on Pinterest, but when the link to purchase it turned out to be super out-dated and no longer for sale, and I couldn’t find anything similar, I thought I’d just make my own! That wouldn’t go wrong at all, right?  Right.

MATERIALS:

A roll of Burlap (I got mine at Michael’s craft store, but also saw it at Jo-Ann Fabrics)
Fabrics of your choice — I went with 5 different patterned fabrics in reds, greens and golds
Black fabric for the letters
Twine
Hot glue gun + glue sticks
Iron-on fabric adhesive (hem tape)
Letter stencils, or a computer and printing access to make your own
Mod Podge (or white school and water)
Paint brush
Pencil
Ruler
Scrap paper
Sharp scissors

Optional: Patience, wine, a christmas candle and a vacuum to clean up the burlap strings afterwards.

Homemade Cheap and Easy Christmas Decorations

STEP 1 // Create your burlap and fabric templates using regular paper.  I just used the width of the burlap roll (5 1/2 inches) as a measure for my burlap stencil width, and then eyeballed it for the length.  After I found a burlap stencil I liked, I trimmed a quarter inch off each side to create the fabric stencil.  My final measurements were:

Burlap Stencil: 6 1/2 inches from the top to the bottom point, 5 1/2 inches wide, and the point of the bottom extends 1 1/2 inches down from the bottom corner
Fabric Stencil: 5 1/2 inches from the top, 4 1/2 inches wide, and the point of the bottom extends about 1 1/2 inches down from the bottom corner

**CRAFTING TIP: You will want to double check your products as you move along.  Fabrics move and stretch.  If this happens, you will need to also adjust your fabric stencil.**

Homemade Cheap and Easy Christmas Decorations
STEP 2 // Cut your burlap.  I used two clips to attach my stencil to each side of the burlap to hold it steady while I cut.  Burlap proved difficult, as it’s a lightly woven fabric, so I looked I watched a video on “how to cut burlap” before I cut.  The video has since been removed, but there are a ton more on Youtube. It helped a lot.
Cheap and Homemade Christmas Decorations
If it’s not perfect, don’t fret.  It’s a burlap banner, tiny mistakes make it charming and more rustic. 

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Continue until you have the desired number of pieces.  If you’re doing “Merry Christmas”, that’ll be fourteen pieces.  Not 12.  For some reason I was confused about this.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

STEP 4 // DOUBLE CHECK YOUR STENCILS.  Check your fabric stencil against the actual pieces of burlap you just cut.  My burlap pieces ended up being not as wide as I moved toward the middle of the roll, so my fabric stencil needed to be slightly slimmed down as well.  Not a big deal, but it never hurts to double check as you move along!

STEP 4 AND A HALF // Cut out your fabric using your fabric stencil.  I traced my stencil with pencil on the backside of each fabric.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Continue until you have all of your fabric pieces cut out.  Lay them all out and repeatedly spell out “Merry Christmas” on them to make sure you have enough.  Make sure to take lots of excited pictures of them.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
STEP 5 // Lightly iron your fabric pieces if they have ugly creases in them.
STEP 6 // If you opted for iron-on letters, skip this step and move directly to Step 8.  If not,  take your black fabric and lightly paint it with Mod Podge.  I suggest using a plastic or glass cutting board to do this on, as Mod Podge is water based and will just wash right off after.  The idea here is to stiffen the fabric so it’s easier to trace the letters on and cut them out.  
If you don’t want to spend money on Mod Podge, here’s a helpful hack:  Mix 1 part white school glue with 1 part water.  It’s the exact same thing.  Boom.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

Paint the fabric and allow to dry.  I let mine dry overnight.  If you’re doing this, skip ahead to Step 8 while you wait for your fabric to dry, and then come back to Step 7 after it dries.  Craft Smarter, not harder.

STEP 7 // If you already have a stencil, trace your letters onto the hardened black fabric.  If not, create your own.  I made my own by printing “Merry Christmas” on a word document on the computer, then cutting out the individual letters.  For my sizing purposes, my letters were in size 350 font, except for both letter Ms, which were in 325 to keep them in good proportion with my banner size.

*PRO TIP: Trace your letters backwards (the correct side facing the fabric).  That way, you don’t need to worry about erasing the pencil marks on the side you want showing on front of the letters.  If you f*ck up (like me), fear not.  An eraser will remove the pencil marks, and a damp cloth will remove the light marks the eraser will make.  It’ll look just fine.

(This picture shows the letters traced the OPPOSITE way of what I just told you, so if you’re comparing, don’t freak out.  My tip was what I learned while doing it, allowing you to benefit from my mistakes.  Hence, my handy-dandy tip about removing the pencil marks. You’re welcome.)

Trace your letters on your black fabric with a pencil, and then cut them out.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
STEP 8 // Iron the fabric onto the burlap using heat bond hem tape.  The tape cuts easily with scissors, so you can pick and choose how you want to cut it.  I just cut pieces so that I could adhere it all around the edges.  

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

After you arrange the adhesive and make sure it won’t be showing over the sides of your fabric, apply the iron to the fabric based on the iron directions for the fabric you are choosing.  I simply used the highest heat and just did light continuous circles all over the top, and then flipped it over and did it from the back as well.  It adhered just fine.

Do each piece, and then lay them all back out and giggle at how cute they look.

STEP 9 // Arrange the pieces in the color combo you want. Place each letter on top of the desired fabric to make sure you don’t get confused by your pattern.

STEP 10 // Use your ruler to decide where you want your letters to hit.  Knowing you will be losing roughly 1- 1 1/2 inches from the top, position your letters.  I choose to put mine 1 1/2 inches from the bottom peak.  Measure where you want your letter, and then use your ruler as a straight edge horizontally across the bottom of the fabric to ensure you are applying it straight.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

Attach the letters with hot glue, being careful to only burn yourselves a few times.  Remember to move quickly because it’s probably winter and your glue will harden quickly.  Press hard on the letters while the glue hardens to ensure it sticks and is flat.

STEP 11 // After attaching all your letters, get your twine out.  Grab your first letter, depending on which end of the twine you want to feed your letters on– either start with the end (the “s”) if you are adding your letters from the left, or the beginning (the “M” in “Merry”) if you are adding them from the right.

Measure about 1-1 1/2 inches from the top of the piece of burlap, and then fold it back.  For example, mine was about 6 1/2 inches tall.  I took 1 inch off the top, so then it measured 5 1/2 inches height-wise as a final product.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Flip the piece over and press down, making sure to really crease the fabric.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

Then, fold the top over the piece of twine right where the fabric creases.  Moving quickly, apply hot glue to edge of the burlap and press down, creating a space for the twine to run through the back.  Be careful to ONLY glue the edges, and not the twine, as you want to be able to move the lettered pieces across the twine.

Like this:

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

It should look like this when it’s done:

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Continue until all of the letters are applied.  If you want to be lazy (like me), you can stop measuring from the top of each piece and instead start measuring against the side of the piece before it to make sure they are all uniform in height.  Especially because sometimes cutting things is hard and not every single piece will be exactly the same size.

STEP 12 // Cut the twine, leaving about 18 inches on either side of the sign (for safety).

STEP 13 // Freak the f*ck out and send frantic excited text messages to your friends at 9pm on a Friday night about finishing your Christmas craft before Thanksgiving.

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

Because… I mean, really.  Look how adorable:

Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner
Cheap and Easy "Merry Christmas" Burlap Banner

And I’m not just talking about the cat.

BONUS STEP 14 // Hang your banner up with lights and other Christmas delights.  Humbly accept compliments on your amazing crafting skills (“Oh, it was really super easy.  This goregous and hilarious girl with this super fun blog taught me how. It was really nothing.”), while actually doing the “I’m so good at this sh*t” tango in your head whenever someone compliments you on how cute it is.

Good job, you.

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