Sunday, November 28, 2010

Quick and Dirty Banners

Laird Colyne Stewart, Jan AS 37 (2003)

Here’s a down and dirty, step-by-step method to making attractive painted banners for display in the SCA. As I was going to be selling copies of The Ursus at a table at Berus’ Bar and Bar Room Brawl, I wanted a banner that would catch everybody’s eye. So I sat down one night and just made one.


  • fabric
  • coloured thread (same as fabric)
  • thermoplast or heavy card stock
  • exacto knife
  • paint
  • brushes
  • yardstick


First I cut a piece of fabric that was about 64” wide by 48” long. As I looked at it I realized that my material was a tad thinner than I wanted, and the piece was two big. To fix this I simply folded the piece in half and cut it so I now had two 32” wide by 24” long pieces. I then took these pieces and sewed three edges together so it resembled an inside out pillowcase. The open edge was to be the top of the banner. This type of banner might have hung oddly as the back and front were two separate pieces only joined on the edge, so I sewed three straight lines across it to hold the material in place. These stitches are invisible except for close scrutiny and will help the banner hold its shape. (If I had used a single piece of thicker material I would not have had to do any of this.) Setting this aside I went on to my hanging loops.

For the loops I cut four pieces of 2” wide by 10” long material and did a double hem on all four edges of each piece. My Lady has since suggested that I could have cut eight pieces and sewn two together to form four double-thick loops. They would have been sewn as the main banner, turned right-side out and had their open edges hemmed.

Whichever way you do it, take your main banner and pin a wide double hem on the open side. Then take two of your loops and pin them to either edge of this hem. Measure out about 5” from each one and pin the other two loops. Then stitch along the bottom and the top of the hem to ensure durability.

From the thermoplast a friend of mine had cut a stencil of the Septentrian bear with an exacto knife. I placed the stencil on the banner and painted it red. I then removed the stencil, let the paint dry and I had a completed banner.


The type of banner I made was technically called a gonfalon because of the way it hangs. If I wanted a banner that would be flown like a flag or standard I would have done exactly the same with a few variations. Firstly, I would have painted the two sides first, before sewing the two pieces of the main banner together. Second, The loops would be replaced by ties and be placed down the side of the banner (possibly with some along the top as well).

Stitching across a double-sided banner runs the risk of thread crossing paint of a different colour. I would suggest just trying to use thread that is light coloured and these stitches should be almost invisible except for close inspection.

Armorial Display: Banners, Standards, and Heaters, oh my!, The Honorable Lord Eldred Ælfwald, Gordian Knot Herald,

Armorial Display: Suggestions for SCA Usage, Master Hirsch von Henford, OL, OP,

Making Heraldic Banners, Baron Modar Neznanich,

Kingdom of Meridies Guidelines for Construction of Banners, Flags and Standards, Master Johannes the Black of Athanor,

Usage and Specification of Medieval Flags, Lord Richard of Woodenbridge,

Permission is given to print this article in any SCA publication as long as the author is contacted by email in advance, proper credit is given and the author receives a copy of the newsletter. Please credit the author as Colyne Stewart (mka Todd Fischer), who can be reached at

No comments:

Post a Comment