Monday, January 3, 2011

Tutorial: Painted Peace Flags for the New Year

Here's an homage to Tibetan prayer flags that my girlies and I put together over the last couple of weeks. It involved several pleasurable Project Mornings and Project Afternoons in our homeschool, some more reading about Tibet, some more reminiscing about the snow lion, and some happy sewing for me while Matt had the girls out watching football on TV somewhere in the city (one of the nice things about not having TV channels is that must-see football games equal alone time for the Momma).

You can do this project a couple of different ways, either by freehand painting or by freezer paper stenciling--I did the same project both ways, because that's how I roll, so I'm happy to show you both options. The colorway is meant to invoke the color order of the Tibetan prayer flag: blue, white, red, green, yellow. It's your flag, though, so do what you like.

To paint the flags, iron flat some nice, plain, white fabric--
 --and cut it into identical rectangles. Ours are approximately 8"x10".

To stabilize the flags for painting, iron them onto freezer paper. Then, with your favorite fabric markers or paints, go to town!
For this particular project, the girls and I spent some more time talking about peace, what it means to be a peaceful person, and how to keep peace in our hearts and our words and our deeds (my, I'd like them to embrace that one!). Then I asked them to each draw a picture of something that reminded them to be peaceful or that represented peace to them. Willow drew a scene of the Peace Pole outside her former Montessori school--she has many happy memories of the children's peace ceremonies there.

Sydney drew a picture of a beautiful bunch of flowers growing in the dirt. She says that looking at pretty things makes her feel peaceful:
Jacquard Tee Juice Fabric Marker Box Set (Classic)We used Tee Juice markers that I bought in a limited color palette at 70% off on a Joann's Black Friday sale, just to try out. We liked them so much that I bought some more colors and widths last weekend. I think we'll get a lot of use out of them.
The girls wanted to use the remaining fabric that we'd cut out to draw pictures of dinosaurs, and unicorns battling other unicorns, so I made do with the three rectangles that we had painted, and so here's where you get to learn about freezer paper stenciling peace flags, too!

I knew that I wanted the Tibetan prayer flag color order of blue, white, red, green, and yellow, so I pulled printed cottons in those colors from my fabric stash and layed them out to see how I liked the look of them:
Pretty well indeed, I say! Three of the flags have a peace painting on one side and a printed cotton on the other side, and two of the flags are made from printed cotton alone.

To cut out a printed cotton peace flag, cut your fabric at your desired width + two seam allowances and twice your desired length + one seam allowance. Fold it in half with right sides together, sew up the two sides--
--and turn, then fold and press the top edges inside and sew closed. You can insert a ribbon loop in the middle of this top seam, if you wish.

Your painted peace flags will be backed with printed cotton, and finished with a back-to-front mock binding. Pin the painted fabric to the printed cotton, wrong sides together, and cut the printed cotton a half-inch wider than the painted fabric on all sides:
Turn twice and edge stitch on all sides:
Add ribbon loops to the top edge, if you wish.

The printed cotton can easily be freezer paper stenciled even after you've sewn it. I know that you're worried that the paint will bleed through, but it won't. Simply iron your stencil cut from freezer paper to your fabric--
--and then paint!
Jacquard Lumiere #2 Exciter Pack Jewles/HaloMy best advice for fabric painting is to use the best fabric paints that you can afford. When in doubt, I choose a limited palette of high-quality paint over a large assortment of the cheap stuff. The paint that I used above is Jacquard Lumiere in bronze--this is the current go-to color for pretty much all our projects these days, but one little bottle does last a looooong time.
Heat-set your fabric paint according to the manufacturer's instructions:
Then thread a nice, long piece of twine or ribbon through the hanging loops:
Our peace flags are double-sided. One side faces the front yard and the street, and on that side reads the message that our family would like say to the world at large, and what we would like to have said by others when thinking about our family:
The other side of the flag faces our house, and can best be seen from inside it:
This side is more personal, I think, to be seen just by us and the loved ones who visit us (and our mailman). Here are our personal visions of peace, and some gentle reminders to us to be peaceful as we leave our home and venture out on our daily business.

And if the girls can somehow internalize that peace means that you shouldn't just walk up and smack your sister and then run away, well...that would be so great.

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