The group began in 1987 with five ladies
with varied talents! We were however very fortunate to have
one member who was very gifted in design who also was very
gifted in matching colours.
We started with simple banners depicting Praise, Prayer and
Worship followed by three Easter banners, one Harvest banner
and three Christmas Banners.
The materials used included curtain material, old evening
gowns, stoles etc and the stitching mainly simple hem
stitching some machine work with a little crochet.
More recently we have made a number of hand embroidered
Banners and also larger panelled banners fixed to the inside
walls of the Church. They are embroidered with couch stitch
using wool and silk embroidering threads. They are modelled
on the stitching used on the Bayeux Tapestry. The banners
are not available for sale
(a) One enthusiastic
artist/sewer/designer – any one
quality is sufficient, but the
enthusiasm is essential.
(b) As many volunteers and
conscripts as possible – not
necessarily qualified; willing
With an amateur team, make use
of what talents each member may
admit to – some may use a
machine with confidence; some
are happy to cut out shapes;
some will pin things together
and tack them in place; others
could finish off seams etc and,
best of all, some may have
(a) Recycled materials from
friends and congregation, old
curtains and left-over bits and
pieces from dressmaking.
(b) New material. If you meet
once a week and put a small
amount of money in the ‘kitty’
for tea, you will eventually
have enough to splash out on new
(a) Illustrations from the Good
News Bible make an easy starting
point, especially for beginners
in the art.
(b) Discussion within the group
will provide inspiration for
(c) Project slides on to paper
pinned to a wall where shapes
can be selected and outlined.
(a) Do keep in mind that Banners
are, for the greater part,
viewed from a distance. Small
fussy detail is lost.
(b) Do fill the space.
(c) Do keep shapes fairly large
and contrast one colour with
another to make them stand out.
(d) Do make sure that lettering
is absolutely horizontal or
vertical if the design dictates.
If not so designed, make sure
the letters are sufficiently
askew to make it clear that is
what was intended – Dancing
(a) Don’t be too ambitious to
(b) Don’t start without a full
(c) Don’t use material that
frays. Iron-on Vilene can
prevent this and felt is ideal
To Transfer Design:
(a) Trace the main shapes from
the design onto a large sheet of
tracing paper; can be found in
an Art Store.
(b) Place the tracing on top of
the background fabric and tack
along the lines with contrasting
thread to sew the tracing and
(c) When complete, run the point
of a needle along the lines of
stitching and tear away the
paper. The stitched design will
be seen on the fabric.
Appliqué is the quickest way to
(a) When the group is all
together suitable materials can
be selected from the rag bag.
(b) Each member can be allocated
a section of the design.
(c) Trace the chosen piece from
the design to use as a pattern.
Take it and a selected piece of
fabric home and prepare it for
sewing to the background at the
Appliqué Shapes can be cut from
patterned fabric – birds,
flowers, boats, buildings etc –
and backed with Vilene ready for
(a) Pin the prepared shapes onto
the background and tack them
down ready for hand sewing or
(b) Hand sewing can be done by
two or three working together if
the Banner is big enough.
(c) Machine stitching – zigzag
or satin stitch is best done by
one member as homework.
(d) Lettering can be applied to
separate strips of fabric which
are applied, in turn, to the
main Banner – again as homework.
In order to make the best use of
available talents, and to keep
members busy and interested, it
is a good idea to have more than
one Banner on the go at one
It doesn’t take long for an
amateur group to become
professional. Happy Sewing!