Monday, February 13, 2012

Chalkboard Oilcloth Banner Tutorial

I got this email the other day from a very loyal blog follower and my best friend since kindergarten:

"I was wondering about that chalkboard banner that you showed on your blog. How did you finish the edges? I was thinking of making one out of some of the material that I have. Do you have like notes or a pattern that you wrote for yourself before you started? Or get me started in the right direction. I have never worked with that chalkboard fabric before, do you have to use a special thread or anything. Anything you wished you would have done different?

P.S. I think you are so attractive, funny and creative. I wish I could be more like you!"

So I decided to make a tutorial mostly for her but maybe for the one or two other people that might still check in on this sporadic thing I call a blog. (And fine I made that P.S. part up!)

For this project you will need:
A bunch of fabric (sorry to not be more specific but this will vary depending on what scale you chose... but you can figure it out I know you can!)
Chalkboard Oilcloth (see side not above)
A hole punch (optional)
Cardstock or paper to make a template. (Cardstock will hold up better.)
And obviously sewing and cutting tools/materials.

WHEN WORKING WITH CHALKBOARD OILCLOTH DO NOT... Iron the top/right side as it will render the chalkboard USELESS... you may quickly press the back with a low temperature iron if you have some creases you want to even out. ALSO DO NOT pin templates to the oilcloth as the holes will remain.

For my banner I decided to make it 15 spaces long. You can make it as long as short as you wish. Here are a few ideas of what 15 spaces will allow spell with letters and characters: 


1.) Create a paper template. You can choose the size and scale you want for each banner piece. Here is a photo of my templates. The purple is the chalkboard and the orange is for the fabric. The second picture gives you an idea of the scale I chose to use (approx. 7"x7.5".) Please note that I added a 1/4" seam allowance when I cut the fabric back pieces out (meaning that I ended up cutting the fabric pieces larger then the actual template to account for the seams that will be lost when I sew the front and back together, hopefully this will make sense later.)


2.) If you want to make a scalloped edge an easy way to do this is to fold your paper in half and trace the rounded edge of something (1/2 tablespoon measuring spoon in this case) and cut out your pattern. This will make both sides even. While your paper is still folded, if you are planning on punching holes in your chalkboard edges punch holes now to serve as guides on your template.

3.) Since you CANNOT pin your template to the chalkboard oilcloth you will need to flip your oilcloth over to the wrong side and trace your pattern, including hole punch guides.

4.) You will then cut out your oilcloth and punch your holes using your guides on the back. I couldn't find the hole punch that I used for the original banner I made so I ended up using a different one for this tutorial.

5.) I used a front and a back pice of fabric in order to help finish the edges. You can cut about 4 pieces at the same time. Below I only cut out two pieces. The front facing fabric (the dark pink) and the back facing fabric (the light pink). Notice I left room to cut extra fabric around the pattern as I need to add a 1/4"seam allowance around my template. You can make your template bigger to eliminate doing that if you wish. The second picture shows my cut out fabric with extra seam allowance around the template.

6.) Next position your chalkboard oilcloth cutout on your front facing fabric. Align the oilcloth all the way to the top and centered on the sides. Now you CANNOT pin your oilcloth to this fabric but it is easy enough to hold in place while you sew... just go slow!

7.) Head to the sewing machine! Practice sewing a scrap to fabric first as you will probably need to adjust your sewing machine tension. No special thread required but polyester thread would be better than cotton. I sew close pretty close to the edge. I used white thread so you could see it in the picture. USE BLACK THREAD because your stitches are going to be kind of ugly and they won't really be noticeable in black. The second picture is a sewing close-up. There is no need to "finish" the chalkboard edges as the material won't fray.

8.) Grab your back fabric that has already been cut to size and position it on top of your front fabric that already has the oil cloth sewn to it. RIGHT SIDES TOGETHER! Head to the sewing machine and sew a 1/4" seam along the edge ( you will be sewing a "U" shape LEAVING THE TOP COMPLETELY OPEN.) It is very helpful to sew a few backstitches when you start and when you reach the end.

9.) When you are done sewing you need to clip the edges. Just cut a few tiny triangles out near your curves. Make sure not to cut into your newly sewn stitches.

10.) Now you have to turn your piece right-side out. Try to start at the bottom and evenly "roll" the piece into itself. Basically you want to avoid making any sharp creases that could damage your oilcloth.

10.) Once you have your piece turned use your fingers to help finish turning out and pressing the seams (push from the inside if necessary.) Just try to make the piece look nice and rounded. If you feel it is necessary to press your assembled piece you can use an iron on the very back on a low temperature as shown in the second picture. 

11.) Before you can write on the oilcloth you need to condition it. Take a piece of chalk turned on its side and rub it across the oilcloth. Try to avoid pressing too hard as you will create scratches as shown in the second picture. You will then wipe off the chalk with a dry towel. 

12.) Math time! This step will be similar to quilt binding. Now you need to determine how big to make your top strip of fabric that will finish your banner off and hold all your spaces together. Based on the size you chose measure one of your finished edges you will see mine is about 0.5". That means I want to make my top strip 0.5" inch finished so my banner looks even. So my top strip will be 2.5" wide unfinished (second photo). If you made yours to a different scale just multiply your edge measurement by 5. Now you need to figure out how long to make your strip (third photo) my finished piece is about 7" wide and I want to allow 0.5" of space between each space so I need to allow 8" for each space. Since my banner is 15 spaces long and I want to include 12" (1.5 times the amount top fabric I'm allowing per space) on EACH side for tails to tie/hang my banner  I will make sure I have a strip of fabric 64" long x 2.5" wide. Got it?? Good!

13.) Fold your edges into the center and press then entire length (picture one.) Then you will fold that strip in half and press one more time as shown in picture two. 

14.) Now you need to assemble your banner. Remember you need to leave 12" on each side for tails. So start your first letter 12"in OR do what I do if you are anal retentive about spacing and if you are sure your top measurements are spot on. You can fold your strip in half lengthwise to find the perfect center and start by centering your 8th space on that crease and then you work your way out to both ends leaving 0.5" between each space. Pin your spaces in place on each edge.   

15.) Off to the sewing machine yet again to sew your spaces in place. Now I didn't take a picture of the very tip of my tails but make sure you fold the fabric in the ends to create a finished edge. then sew close to the edge across the length of your banner. You are done!!! Now get writing and hanging! I don't have my banner tied to anything because there wasn't anything to tie it to in my apartment. So I chose to tie a knot on each end and hide a thumb tack near the back part of the knot and tack it to the wall, shown below. 

Finished product! 

Any questions? Hopefully it makes sense. If you don't want to make your own I'm hoping to get a couple in my etsy shop in he next week or two.