Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Growing in Christ - a banner is finished

I love to make banners for our church. It adds beauty to the worship space and can inspire the worshippers. It began a few years ago when our then minister admired one of my wall hangings and asked if we could hang it at church.

This led onto me making wall hangings or banners specifically for church. Suzy, our then minister was a bit of a stickler for following the colours of the church liturgical calendar and so she wanted me to make banners in the appropriate colours. 

Purple is for Easter and Advent, White for Christmas and Easter, Red for Pentecost. There are a few special Sundays scattered in there as well that are white or red but for the rest of the year - ordinary time the colour is green. Thats about 30+ Sundays that the colour is green. At the moment we have 3 green banners. (see here for a more detailed break up of the colours of the church year)

Now we have some other banners that we can use but they aren't specifically green. 

I know that after a few weeks people stop noticing things that are there all the time. Its not very  long and so I want to be able to change things around a bit to keep people aware.

So - I have been mulling over what banners I can make to add to the worship space.

I have a Pinterest board that I collect pictures of banners. They come up as suggestions in my feed. A little while ago the most beautiful banner came up. Its by an artist called James Spurgin and I just loved it.

Liturgical Banners by James Spurgin, via Behance

I decided to make a new banner based upon his design. I altered it substantially but the idea of the gold cross with the vine growing over it was the heart of my design.

Being a patchworker instead of an appliqued cross I patched a cross. At first I wanted to do crazy patch but I didn't have enough gold fabric to do that.

 I was going to patch the background as well but I had a lovely green floaty fabric and I used it instead and pieced the cross to the this fabric. Another reason I didn't applique was that the fabric wouldn't take heat (I damaged it a little pressing seams so knew that it would take the heat of fusible applique and that's the only sort I do)

For the vine I thought about ribbon but didn't have enough. Then I remembered a batik skirt of my mum's that had already been cut into for another church banner. It was a circular skirt so already cut on the bias. I just followed the circular hem line and cut 2" strips. I folded both edges of the strips into the middle and shaped the vine over the cross and stitched it down along the side seams.

Originally when I had been going to piece the background I had cut a stack of 6.5" squares from a piece of fabric that was somewhat sun damaged. It had faded in various places. The gold cross didn't show up enough against the green and so I had gone instead to the forest green of the polyester fabric. I was worried that these squares would be wasted but then realised I could use them as the leaves.

I found a leaf shape on the net and printed it out and used it as a template to cut out the 72 leaves. The squares were folded in half and I was able to get at 1 or 2 leaves out of each square. I used some other green fabrics as well in order to get a bit of variety in the leaves. I cut leaf shapes from batting scraps too to give each leaf some body. 

I sewed the veins on the leaves and around the outside in straight stitch and then attached them to the vine in bunches of three. Where the fabric had puckered a bit when I had sewn the vine down I put some leaves to cover up the faults.

The banner itself didn't have any wadding - just a back lining. I did outline the cross but there was no quilting as such, just the stitching where the leaves were attached. (I put the vine on before the back lining which was a mistake on my part. I think there would have been less puckering if I had put the backing there) I bound the edges of the quilt in the same fabric as the background. I stitched it to the back, folded it over and then stitched it down on the front using a decorative, vine stitch.

I put rod pockets top and bottom. I find a bottom rod helps the larger quilts to hang straight,

The finished quilt, which I have called Growing in Christ is 194cm x 115 cms ( 76" x 45" approx). Whilst it was in the planning for a month or more I constructed it over just 2.5 days. You can see by the close ups that I haven't done beautiful stitches. Banners go on the wall and are viewed from a distance. They won't get washed so its not as carefully stitched as it might be if it were a quilt or even going on the wall of a home where people might examine it up close and personal. This certainly isn't show quality but I got it done and I am really really happy and excited by it


  1. Such a great piece. It seems to be that you could do variations on this them, perhaps adding some red berries in for certain special Sundays or some other imagery (an egg for Easter?? ;-) ) depending on the time of year. I think it would be great to see a wide variety of different banners show up throughout the year.

  2. I love that you pieced the cross. What a blessing to be able to provide those for your church.

  3. This is beautiful. I like Jaye's idea about making variations as well.