Arts » Miscellaneous » The Banner Project

The Banner Project

Catherine de Arc


These banners were made to decorate the halls and tourney fields of Aneala by people who believe that there can never be enough banners.

We made them all as a group project for a specific event and this worked really well to motivate us all to finish them.

Being silk, these banners move well outdoors and they add height to hall decorations. 


1 friend (you get 2 banners from one width of silk)
3m of 110cm wide silk 
Silk paint in whichever heraldic colours you need
Gutta  - This is what you use to draw the outlines on the banner.  
Fabric for the pole sleeve - an offcut of homespun or drill or similar will work fine.  The silk itself will not take the wear of being tugged on and off the pole.  

Notes on the materials:

For our first round of banners we used a fine dupion silk and Setasilk brand silk dye. This silk is a bit heavier than habutae and gave us brighter banners with the Setasilk dye but the slubs were a nuisance to work with. The Setasilk colours we used were Black 29, Buttercup 02, Emerald 18, Gitane Blue 12 and Hermes Red 06. We found that we got better results if we diluted the red 3 parts dye to 1 part water and the green 1 part dye to 1 part water. Black and gold are best not diluted. It takes about 1 45mL bottle to paint half the fly.

For our later rounds of banners we used silk habutae, which is smooth and light so it moves well, and pigment dyes from Dharma Trading Company. These dyes give a much brighter result, even on the finer silk, without needing to be steam set. They also don't bleed quite as far as the Setasilk and so are less likely to get under the gutta lines. The bottles will do quite a few banners. We found it worked best to dilute the red and black 1 part dye to 1 part water, the blue and yellow 1 part dye to 2 parts water, and the green worked best with 2 parts green dye, 1 part blue dye, 1 part yellow dye and 2 parts water.
Clear gutta leaves white lines when it dries. It's great for internal detailing of dark objects but dye seems to bleed under it more easily than the black. Black gutta works fine but it is just as effective and a lot cheaper if you are doing a lot of banners to use black acrylic fabric paint. If you find the nozzles on the gutta too wide a syringe with a fine needle with the sharp point dulled will work very well. Piping bags folded out of paper have also been used very successfully.


Frame (the silk needs to be taut when painted). We bought 1.3m lengths of 20x40mm cheap pine, drilled a banner pole size hole in each end, sawed from the end into this hole and put a bolt through the end to clamp the hole around the end of the banner pole, two of these plus two 3m banner poles makes a working frame). It's like a giant tapestry frame.

Banner FrameBanner in Progress


1. Prewash your silk.
2. Design your banner. Do this on paper or with a computer. We used banner dimensions as shown below.
Banner Pattern
We found that these dimensions worked great for guidons, which are a simpler style than formal standards. Standards will look better if the hoist (squarish bit that will be by the pole) is reduced from 70 cm to 55cm wide.
The bit at the end of each banner can be turned into practice scraps or penants. You may also prefer pointy ends or even a swallow tail.
It is appropriate to place an allegience device in the hoist (the square bit near the pole). This could be your SCA kingdom badge or the device your persona might have used. Try to use the device your persona would have fought under not the arms of the king, eg. the cross of St George for England not the gold lions. The populace badge for Lochac is the Kingdom device minus the crown and laurel wreath.
The fly (the bit that flaps in the breeze) should reflect your own device. It may be your livery colours, your main charge, your badge, whatever looks good. Note that if you divide the field horizontally or use horizontal lines (including the horizontal part of a cross) it may look better to slope the line so it bisects the banner rather than running it parrellel to the bottom edge.
3. Draw the design on the banner. We used pencil. Remember that if you plan to go over the line with clear Gutta that line will not wash off so no bright tailor's chalk.
4. Sew your banner to the frame around all four sides so it is taught. Alternatively bulldog clips tied to the frame work quite well.
5. Go over the outlines in Gutta. Black gutta seems to flow better and stop the dye running better than clear Gutta. Check that your gutta has gone all the way through the fabric. This may not be the case if your fabric is heavier than silk habutae or if it has slubs. If the gutta has not gone all the way through the paint will bleed under it and ruin your banner.
6. Paint the banner. This is the fun bit. These paints were designed to bleed through the fabric and into each other to give the lovely swirly effects you get on silk scarves. They are meant to dry uneven. This may work for your design but if you want an even look then work quickly and do not pause while painting each section. You will get an obvious line if the dye from one stroke dries before the next touches it. It will also try to bleed across the Gutta. You will not need to paint right up to the line, stay about 5mm away from it and the dye will soak the extra distance.  If you touch the line, the dye will go over it.
7. Set the dye. The easiest way to do this is to put the banner into the dryer on hot for 10-15 minutes.
8. Hem the edges and attach a sleeve that will fit your banner pole to the hoist end of the banner.


More Guidons

The first run of guidons