I have always wanted to be one of those people who have super cute front porch decorations with garden flags that change regularly. I just love driving by a house and seeing the decor change to reflect the season. It’s cute and fresh and makes me feel good which led to my recent DIY ladder tutorial.
I’m ready to add pizazz to those ladders, while still trying to be cheap budget-conscious. I wracked my brain for a way to have the cute garden flags but without too much extra dough (because if we’re keeping up with seasons, we’re making at least four sets of these and possibly even more if we want to do holidays too.)
It also needs to be relatively easy (lazy) otherwise my front porch will celebrate one season all year.
Do you know what fits that bill? Burlap and heat transfer vinyl (HTV.) We can make several seasonal flags to hang from our ladder rungs, starting with Autumn. (Visit the end of my post to download free Autumn cut files.)
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Burlap and HTV
Burlap is inexpensive, versatile, and found in many different places, from fabric and craft stores to farm supply stores. Some places even give burlap away free, like coffee shops who might get beans in burlap bags.
Let’s say you decide to buy burlap at a fabric store. It is usually less than $4 a yard and if you have a coupon, even less. I purchased my burlap at a local craft store, but I found this burlap on Amazon and it’s already 12 inches wide. It’s 10 yards, which means you could make about 20 flags out of it (depending on your length.) I’m no mathematician, but that’s less than $1 per flag!
Heat transfer vinyl can be a bit higher, but it is worth investing in high quality HTV because it will produce better products. My favorite HTV is Siser EasyWeed (pronounced like Julius Caesar.) There are lots of places to buy it online, including this set on Amazon that would get you 5 pieces for just over $5 each. Or check out Expressions Vinyl – my favorite online vinyl retailer. I even found a local store that sells Siser. (I try not to go there very often because I may or may not have a vinyl problem – see my post about Vinyl Storage.)
DIY Garden Flag Supplies
- Heat Transfer vinyl (color determined by design)
- Cutting Machine (Cricut, Silhouette, etc.)
- Iron or heat press
For this project, you really need to own a cutting machine. Silhouette, Circuit, and Brother ScanNCut are some of the most popular. Depending on the design you want, you might be able to use a die-cutter. If you don’t have any cutting machine, you can find iron-on designs online and in craft stores.
If you enjoy doing projects like this or you love crafting, a cutting machine is going to take your crafting to the next level. My life changed when I got my first Silhouette machine.
Creating a Design
Creating a design can be fun, but if you haven’t done it before, it can be overwhelming. Most cutting machines use SVG files which can be purchased in a variety of places. Silhouette and Cricuit have their own design stores and many people sell designs on Etsy.
There are also lots of blogs that give away designs for free – like Lazy Crafting! Visit the end of this post for my Autumn cut files.
If you’ve never created your own design, it’s easier than you think. First you need inspiration. Look online, in magazines, and even in stores. I have a love/hate relationship with Target, but one of the things I love is their cute home decor. I get lots of ideas just walking through the store. (I hate that I can’t leave the store without spending at least $100!)
It is early October, so I’m going to talk about Autumn designs. My inspiration came from Big telling me what to make. She wants our garden flags for Autumn to say “Leaves are falling” and “Autumn is calling” (because her best friend is named Autumn.)
I have a Silhouette so I am using Silhouette Studio to create my design. Cricuit design space and CanvasWorkspace are similar and the main principles should be the same. If you download a design, you would open it in your program, make any changes you want and then cut it.
Our designs are simple, so let’s take a quick walk through making your own design.
Cutting your Burlap
You need to determine a size for your flag. First, decide where you will hang your flag. I am putting mine on my ladder, so I want it to be 12 inches wide.
I need a way to keep my garden flag on the ladder rung, so I will cut my flag a little longer and pin it over the top rung. I cut it to be 24 inches long. Once pinned, it will leave about 18 inches in front. That means 12 by 18 inches is my design space.
Words and Sayings
First, we need to design words. Big gave me my sayings, so that part was easy. If you want yours to say something else, think about the season and do your inspiration homework.
When designing words, it is fun to use 2 different styles of fonts. I think it takes your design up a notch. But be careful not to get carried away. There is such a things as too many fonts. For simple phrases, two font styles per phrase is a good rule.
If you want more fonts, there are several online font Web sites that have fonts for purchase and many fonts for free, including DaFont Font Squirrel, and Font Space. There are even places that will tell you what fonts pair well together.
Garden Flag Images
Sometimes sayings are perfect without images, but for seasonal flags, I think we need a couple of images to evoke that seasonal feeling.
What do you think of when you think of Autumn? Leaves, acorns, pumpkins. If you don’t already know, I have a small obsession with owls. Just about anything with an owl is something I want, so clearly we need an owl on our flag.
If you have design skills, you can create these images. If not, you can purchase them online (or jump to the end of this blog to get my free Autumn files.)
Cutting Your Vinyl
Using your cutting machine, cut out your vinyl. You should be using Heat Transfer Vinyl (HTV) so you will need to mirror your design to cut it out. This means you are cutting it backwards in order to press it in place.
You should choose your colors and make sure you separate your design to only cut the pieces you want for each color.
Please note: The owl is a layered design. This means you need to cut all the pieces separately and then press them in stages. First press the owl body. Then add the beak and chest fluff.
If you’ve never done this before, there are a lot of great blogs that cover how to use HTV. I learned from Silhouette School Blog. If you are a Cricut fan, check out JenniferMaker. If you have a different cutting machine, the process is essentially the same for them all.
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. This was my mom’s first HTV project and I gave her creative license to do what she wanted. You get creative license too! Choose your own colors, your own placement. Have fun!
Once you decide on a layout, it’s time to press. Note that I say press not iron. Using an iron to press HTV is tricky. It is hard to know if it is the right temperature or pressure, but it is possible. If this is one of your first HTV projects, use your iron.
If you can spring for a crafting tool, I recommend the Cricut EasyPress. You can set the temperature and it has a built-in timer. I love my EasyPress. If you plan to do more HTV projects, it is a worthwhile investment. If you plan to do a lot of HTV, then a Heat Press is an even more worthwhile investment.
I typically press my HTV at 320 degree Fahrenheit for about 8 seconds. Then I remove the carrier sheet and press it again for 15 seconds. I’ve read that with burlap you should press it longer, but so far I’ve had luck with these settings.
Fly the Flags
Now you get to add your garden flag to your ladder (or wherever you plan to hang them.)
I tried velcro to hold it in place over the ladder rung, but I couldn’t get it to stick to the burlap. I just used safety pins, which worked great and can’t be seen from the front.
To brighten it up a little more, I created this strip banner of fall fabrics (which I happened to have in my fabric stash — I told you I was a collector.) This will hang on the 2nd rung of my ladder. (You could also design another flag to go there.)
You can create this banner in 2 different ways. One quick way is to cut strips about 2 inches wide and about 24 inches long. Then (if you are using the decorative ladder) tie them around the bottom rung.
The other way is to cut strips about 2 inches wide and about 18 inches long. I did this length so that I could fold over one end and sew a quick 2-inch wide opening for a piece of string. Run the string through the fabrics and tie off a couple of loops on the end.
I hammered 2 small nails just above my lower ladder rung. Then I hung the string from those nails.
Now you have a super cute and versatile front porch decoration. (You can see that mine are nested in some planter boxes filled with fake flowers.)
You can create new garden flags and change them as often as you want. I have some Halloween flags for you. And assuming I don’t get too lazy, I will post more garden flag ideas soon.
If you make a garden flag, please share a photo or video of it with me by emailing me at email@example.com.
Happy (lazy) crafting!