Birthday celebrations are precious moments for a family. Surrounding ourselves with natural beauty and handmade gifts makes a birthday very special. Instead of featuring paper streamers and other decorations that are commercially made and then thrown away after a party, why not create a lovely banner and crown? The banner might have the child’s name, “Happy Birthday,” or symbols. The crown may be worn throughout the party, or given as a gift to then wear during gift-giving and cake. These items may be used again the next year. The banner also makes a nice addition to a child’s bedroom wall once the party is over.
Organic wool felt or roving to make felt for the banner pieces
Wool yarn to make the rope
Variety of colors of wool roving
Needlefelting mat, sponge, brush or base of your choice
Velcro, buttons, snaps, or ties for the crown (optional)
Crochet hook (size to match thickness/gauge of your yarn – optional)
Chalk in a color that will show up on the felt
Sewing thread and needle (optional)
Prep the Materials
Decide how large you want your banner to be. Measure the space where it will hang. This will help you determine the length of the banner rope. If you want the banner to hang down a bit, you can add a few inches to the rope.
Select a shape for the banner pieces — triangles, squares, or another shape. You’ll want about 2-4 inches of rope in between each banner piece. Count how many banner pieces you need to cover the letters/symbols that you want to feature. Now, you will be able to figure out how big each banner piece will be.
For example, if your rope is 36 inches in length and you want about 3 inches on each end and between each banner piece, and you want the name “Joey” featured, each banner piece will be about 6 inches wide at the top. Keep in mind while designing banner piece shapes that they will hang from the rope by the top of their shape.
Prep and Make the Felt
With a ruler and chalk, draw the banner pieces on the felt. Cut out with scissors. In the example of Joey, we would cut out four banner pieces.
If you want to create your own felt, card your wool roving and wet or needle felt into a large sheet to cut, or create them as separate pieces and then trim them to match. If felting is new to you, there are many excellent video tutorials on YouTube.
Make the Rope
With the yarn and crochet hook, chain your rope. If you want a little extra on the ends to wind around a nail or hook on the wall, or to tie a bow, crochet more chains. If you do not have a crochet hook, you can chain with your fingers. Finger chaining (aka “finger crocheting” or “finger knitting”) is a fun project for siblings to do if you want to include other children with helping you make the banner.
If you want to add the yarn chain rope to all of the sides of the banner pieces, chain enough to fit around the shape, with the exception of the top. In these pictures, you can see that we did this around each triangle banner piece.
Decorate the Banner Pieces
Needlefelt pieces of colored wool onto each banner piece to form the letters or symbols that you chose. Or, if you are creating your own felt, you can felt each letter/symbol first with needlefelting, and then wetfelt them into your felt as you make it.
Attach the chain pieces around the sides/bottom of each banner piece. Then, attach the rope to the top of the pieces. To attach: If your felt and yarn are 100% wool, you should be able to needlefelt them together with a strong needlefelting needle. Otherwise, sew or glue to attach.
Similar to the banner, you will measure, draw with chalk, cut, and needlefelt designs onto the crown. Or, if you wetfelt your own felt for the crown, you may felt your designs first and then felt them into the wetfelting.
Trim the crown into the shape that you want. You may also chain yarn and add to the edges of the crown. You can finish up the crown by sewing the edges together, or by adding Velcro, buttons, snaps or ties.
Handspun wool yarns available at Syrendell.
Felt and wool available from various sellers on Etsy.
Books on felting and other handwork available through our store here.
Jennifer Tan, MA is a fiber artist who lives in Davis, California with her husband and three children. She blogs about homeschooling and Waldorf schooling at Syrendell. Jennifer and her husband enjoy leading handwork and curriculum workshops, teleseminars and consulting with homeschooling families.