Prayer Flags and how to make them

Posted By on December 23, 2019

Welcome to SewVeryEasy, my name is Laura. And today I’m going to make a prayer flag. Now prayer flags have a very long history. Matter of fact, they have had signs of them from over 2,000 years ago, and in the 7th century the Buddhism culture was very famous for these. They would make these flags with well wishes written on the flags and the flags would be strung from mountaintop to mountaintop so those that entered underneath them would have the well wishes sent to them. And the threads would float all over the world side and the words would fly up into the heavens and the wishes would then circle the world. Now we have taken those and we are bringing them back into our culture and we are having them made for those that need our prayers, well wishes, strengths, and encouragement. When you participate in one of these projects they will set a certain size to you. They’re usually about five inches by 8 inches and usually they are rectangular and that is traditional. The idea is for them not to be quilted and they’re not supposed to be heavy, because the threads are supposed to float across the world. So what I’ve decided is I’m going to make one with a sky fabric background, but I wanted to make the sky fabric myself. And there’s reasons I wanted to choose different fabrics because the fabrics would mean something to me. So I’m going to use a stitch and flip method for mine and you can use any method you want. And it’s just a lightweight piece of fabric that you would put well wishes on it with a bit of a sleeve so that going to be hung up and strung together. So mine is going to be a stitch and flip method. So I’ve chosen a lot of different fabrics that will mean the sky to me: I have clouds, I have snowflakes because I am in a snow region, and I have a dark because I wanted also to represent the sky at night, and it has a little bit of a silver sparkle in it. And I’ve also chosen some blue, some darker blues, and some pinks because I love to see a pink in the sky. And I’ve also chosen a little bit of fish fabric—I know, it’s not a sky fabric, but I’m a fisherman’s wife so that’s going to be my personal thought on that, So let me take this to the machine and I’m going to show you a very simple method to stitch and flip until you get a certain size and then from there we’re going to be able to trim it down. So with a stitch and flip method what you’re going to do is you’re going to start with your first piece of fabric. Your second piece of fabric can be any size you want because you are going to place it so that eventually you will have all these pieces sticking in all different directions. The main thing that you need to keep in mind is your sewing line must be straight, but it can go on the first piece of fabric in any direction it wants. So I’m going to have this as my first piece of fabric and I’m going to take this piece and I’m going to put it there. And I’m going to sew a quarter inch along this seam and then I’m going to trim it off, stitch it, and flip it. So the first piece has been sewn on and I’ve sewn it right here on the quarter inch. Then I have taken and I’ve cut this piece off here leaving a quarter inch there. And just as the method says, now you have done the stitching, you just need to flip it and press it. Now you can put on the next piece. So I can take this piece here and I can line it up here, and now I will stitch along this seam and I’ll be able to trim it off and flip it. Okay I have done my quarter inch seam and I’ve trimmed this piece off, so now I will be able to do the Flip and Stitch method again. So I’m flipping and I’m going to iron that seam down. So now I can take my next piece and I can sew my next piece on. The idea is to have them random and it will give you a nice appearance. So here we have another row of stitching this piece has been trimmed off and we’re going to continue and I’m going to do this all the way until I get a piece of fabric that is a workable size. So now I’ve had all these pieces sewn together so trim, flip, iron. And that’s how the back looks. So now I need to make this into the size that is required. The flag itself is supposed to be 5″×8″ so I’m going to start with a half inch larger just to give me some play until it’s done. And that size happens to be a piece of paper. So what I can do is use this as a template and decide where I want to cut the size and then I can take it with a ruler and cut the size I need. So it’s all trimmed up. Now this is a lot bigger than the size that is required, and I will be able to trim it down further, But this just gives you an opportunity to see how you have actually made your own fabric. So I’ve just free cut a pile of yellow petals to make a sort of a daisy type of thing. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to just randomly take these and just top stitch and pile a whole pile here, one on top of another. And I’m not going to worry about the raw edges because i want the raw edges to show. So you see how I’ve just put a pedal down and I stitched, then I put another pedal down and I stitched, and I’m just going to continue this, so I’ll just put another pedal down and I will stitch. Now I’m not worried about these hanging over the edge because I’m just going to trim them off anyways because I did cut this bigger and I’m going to be able to trim it down to a size that I want. So now I have all of these petals on and I’m going to rough up some of these petals so that they look like they’ve been blowing in the wind. So I’ve distressed the flower and I’ve used a pair of pinking shears and have pinked the outside to give it a fun and casual look. The next thing I need to do is put a hanging sleeve on now the hanging sleeves should be about three inches. So in order to have this as a hanging sleeve, you will need to sew the hanging sleeve against the fabric backwards. And when it is sown on and comes over then you will be able to see the right side on the right side. So the sleeve has been sewn on and I am able just to flip it over and I can just do a little top stitch, trim it, embellish it, and I need to write words of encouragement on it now. So I’ve trimmed it to the appropriate size which is 5″×8″ with a 3″ sleeve up at the top, I wrote my words of encouragement, I have embellished it, and make sure you sign it. And you’re ready to go. These flags can be as simple or as detailed as you want to make them. It can be just a plain piece of fabric that you’ve written words of encouragement on. Thank you for joining me and come back and let’s see what we’re sewing next time in my sewing room. Bye for now.

Posted by Lewis Heart

This article has 11 comments

  1. Laura Thank you for your guidance!!!  I am also interested in that amazing painting hanging behind you!!!  Did you paint it?? hugs Ceci!!!!

  2. Prayer flag is actually a Bonpo tradition (Native religion of Tibetan before Buddhism came to Tibet). Buddhism came to Tibet in 8AD and Tibetan Buddhist incorporated some aspect of Bonpo tradition such as prayer flag and incense (juniper leaves). The prayer wheel is, however, a pure Buddhist Buddhist tradition.

    Prayer flags are found in Tibetan cultural areas or where there is strong Tibetan influence in Nepal, India and China.

  3. Thank you so much! If only I had had you as my 9th grade sewing teacher I might not have a sewing phobia today. You are the Mr. Rogers of sewing instruction. (Hee hee! That's meant to be a compliment).


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