Halloween is next week, so I guess this lazy crafter better get some decorations up. First off, I’m updating my Decorative Ladders with some Halloween flags. But also I want to add a new decoration.
I decided to create a Halloween flag that can hang below our mailbox ( you can hang yours anywhere!) Check out my four free cut files at the end of this post!
I guess I should admit right now that I’m not the biggest fan of Halloween. It’s just not my holiday. I think it’s the creepy factor that I don’t like. But I have kids and they love Halloween so I’m learning to like it a little more each year.
This year we went to a pumpkin patch and picked pumpkins (and kettle corn. I do so love kettle corn. Love it enough that one of my kids asked, “Besides chocolate, is kettle corn your vice?” I don’t know where they come up with this stuff.)
If we’re going to decorate, I want to be sure to celebrate the sweet and fun part of Halloween. And since Middle loves candy corn, I figured we could use the candy corn shape and cut out some words. I settled on the saying “No Tricks Only Treats” because that focusing on the sweet side of the holiday.
On the opposite side I wanted to say Happy Halloween but I wasn’t sure what image to create. Witch is the first thing I thought of, but I wanted a good witch. Not quite as good as Glinda – I still wanted her to be a Halloween witch. I finally decided on a witch on a broom with a cat. That seems harmless and cute.
For my ladder flags, I wanted something a little more basic with traditional Halloween images.
Like our Seasonal Flags, we are still using our inexpensive burlap with heat transfer vinyl (HTV). There will be wear and tear with this, but I still think it’s the best option for a lazy crafter.
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Halloween Flags Supplies
- Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) – I used orange, yellow, white, and black
- Cutting Machine
- Craft dowel/stick/piece of wood approximately 15 inches long
If you’re doing this project from scratch and have no supplies at home, it should cost around $25 for the vinyl and burlap (assuming you already own a cutting machine and iron.) It should also give you leftover materials to use for your next project. As a hoarder collector, I just happened to have everything I needed right here.
I first checked my scraps box and found every piece of vinyl I needed there. I save ALL my scraps, even the little pieces. It adds up fast and can quickly become overwhelming to try to find what you need. I created a Vinyl Scrap Organizer system that I post soon. Now I can find the scraps I need quickly and have been able to (slightly) reduce my vinyl purchasing habit.
If you need vinyl, this set on Amazon that would get you 5 different colors for just over $5 each.
Cutting your Burlap
You need to determine a size for your mailbox flag. I probably should have measured, but lazy crafter that I am, I figured a 12-inch wide flag would be fine. (That also happens to be the same size I used for my Seasonal Flags.) I also decided to make it around 12 inches long, which also happens to be the standard cutting mat size, talk about perfect. (I also found this burlap on Amazon which is already 12 inches wide. It was meant to be.)
Cutting Your Vinyl
You will use your cutting machine to cut out your HTV. Remember to mirror (flip) your design before cutting. (Some programs and machines give you an option to mirror cut. I always horizontally flip my design myself and cut it as is. If you don’t know what I am talking about, you should find a beginner HTV tutorial. I have learned so much from Silhouette School Blog. Check out Melissa’s Best First Silhouette Project. If you have a Cricut, I love Jennifer Maker’s T-shirt for beginners.)
You should choose the vinyl colors you want for your design and make sure you separate your design to only cut the pieces you want for each color. For these flags, I have orange, black, white, and yellow.
One trick I like to do is to cut all my pieces of one color at a time. For example, we’re making 4 different flags in this tutorial. The first thing I do is open all four files in Silhouette Design Studio. Then I will open a new window.
I will take the one color (orange) from each design and paste it into the new window.
I will also save this file, just in case something happens. I called it “Halloween-cut file.”
To mirror everything, right mouse click and choose Flip Horizontally.
Now it all looks like this.
Time to space out the designs so they can be cut. Mine wouldn’t all fit onto one 12×12 sheet, so I decided to use two different shades of orange and cut two batches.
This is the first.
I grouped my items together by right-mouse clicking and choosing Group. Now when I move it on or off my work space, everything will stay together.
This is the second group of orange. Note how I try to place the objects to cut by size. This will give me the largest amount of scrap. If you save scraps, this is a great trick to conserve material. After cutting, I move the pieces of my work space.
Next I copied and pasted all my black items into my Halloween-cut file.
Again, select everything and Flip Horizontal.
Space out your designs to fit as much as you can on one sheet. I almost got everything, but I had to rotate the spider web. To do this, select the item. A green dot will appear at the top. Move your mouse over it and you will get an icon to rotate. Click and hold and as you move your mouse, the item will rotate.
Now everything can be cut on one 12×12 sheet.
After cutting all the black pieces, copy and paste your white shapes. When you pull in your two white shapes, you can see how scraps would pay off at this stage. You don’t need a full 12×12 sheet. If you can find a scrap that fits one or both shapes, you can cut them on your scrap. The scrap needed here would be just over 9 inches by 5 inches. And if you separate the two designs, you could use even smaller scraps.
The last piece to cut is the yellow piece.
Now that all your pieces are cut. It’s time to weed the designs.
Weeding the Designs
Weeding means to remove all the vinyl that doesn’t belong in your final design. For example, the little circle inside the letter O and the space around each shape. There are lots of great tools out there for weeding and your cutting machine should have come with at least one hook tool.
I have gained several over the years and I like some for certain projects. My favorite tool is the pink one, which I bought at a craft show several years ago. It’s called WeednPick and it is the best tool I’ve used for weeding.
Once your design is weeded, it’s time to press.
Pressing the Vinyl
When placing the vinyl on your burlap, you can be creative. You don’t need to lay out the pieces exactly as designed. Use your creative license and have fun! Your only limit is the size of your burlap.
The best part of htv is the sticky side, which helps to hold your design in place. It doesn’t work quite as well on burlap, but it should still hold your design as you decide how you want it to be.
My mailbox flag is one long piece of burlap with a design pressed on each end, so it will hang over the stick or dowel rod. That makes it versatile enough to hang just about anywhere. The ladder flags are one-sided.
Now it’s time to press. Using an iron to press HTV is tricky. It is hard to know if it is the right temperature, but it is possible. You should set your iron to the cotton setting. Any time you press, you should cover the design with a Teflon sheet or a large scrap of fabric. This helps protect your iron or press and your design. I learned the trick of holding my teflon sheet onto my heat press with magnets. This way I never forget it and it doesn’t get wrinkled or folded when I put it away.
Cover your design and press down. You need pressure to make sure it will stick (that’s why it’s called a heat press – because of the pressure.)
I typically press my HTV at 320 degrees Fahrenheit for about 8 seconds. Then I remove the carrier sheet and press it again for 15 seconds.
For larger designs, you will have to press in stages.
Share the Love
Now you get to share the love by flying your flags. For the ladder flags, I pinned them to the top rung of my Decorative Ladders and created a strip banner of Halloween fabrics for the second rung. For details look at my Seasonal Flags tutorial.
The mailbox flag was a little more challenging to figure out. There might be a better way to do this, but here’s what I did. I found a dowel rod that is about 15 inches long. You could also used a stick or piece of wood.
Using my drill, I drilled a hole through each end. I threaded string through the holes to create a loop hanger.
At the mailbox, I struggled to find a way to attached the flag. Your mailbox may be different, but mine has several holes along the side where you would screw the box into a post. A couple of holes were unused so I threaded my string through those holes and tied it in a double knot.
Now the flag rests under the mailbox and is visible without obscuring any part of the box. If it gets super windy, it might not hold up, but for now it is working.
Happy (lazy) crafting!