2017 Banner

Ring in the New Year with a custom message banner

I have a great big picture window on the back of my house. For years, at Christmas, I hung pre-made plastic holiday garland across it, and it looked good. Over the years, more and more of that plastic began to crumble, and this year, it didn’t make the cut for holiday decorating.

Instead, I used my new Silhouette machine and cut a holiday banner.

I actually started cutting banners/garlands at Halloween, but I’m keeping with the timeline of this blog and just showing this one to start.

Right now, I’m going to give the loose, easy version of how I did it. And then, someday, magically, this post will contain a link that will lead to a great post that will detail all the steps and be super helpful for everyone.

But for now:

I set up the type in Adobe Illustrator. I chose a big square face (Avenir Black) because this isn’t the time to obsess about serifs or script details. And you want to go with all caps so that the letters line up correctly.

I decided, based on the size of the window, the number of letters and the size of my paper that I wanted to make the letters about 4.5″ wide. That’s 600 pts if you are keeping score at home. Or you can just type your text and scale as needed.

I added two circles at the top of each letter. Actually, two circles with a circle inside each. These are for hanging. If you only add one loop, the letters may spin around on the string and no one wants that.

If you put the double circles just slightly below the tops of the letters and then use the Pathfinder tool to combine them, you end up with a solid outline of the letter with just the inner circles as the cutouts. This will make more sense when I explain it in that awesome detailed post that is going to come later. The photo below shows what you end up with.

It’s important that the top of the loops line up across the entire sentence, and it’s important that the loops only sit on the flat parts of the letters. If you put a loop too low, that letter will hang off balance from the others.

This photo shows a really bad placement idea for the right loop.

That will make this letter hang crooked, and while you think you don’t care, when you sit on the couch and look at it, it will bug you.


Once I had all the letters set up, I exported the file as a DXF and opened it in Silhouette Studio. I chose several sheets of printed glitter effect paper to cut on. I really like glitter, but I really hate vacuuming it up off the kitchen floor and everywhere else it lands, so going to a digital version is better for me here. On DeviantArt, harperfinch has a great assortment of free downloads for projects like this.

In Silhouette, I grouped the letters into organized but random sets so that I could get two out of a sheet (each sheet is 11 x 8.5) but so that no two consecutive letters would be the same color.

And then I sent them to cut in batches of two, each set on a different paper. Yeah, I know, HAPPY 2017 has 9 letters. So I had to print the “7” by itself on a sheet of paper, but I can always use that other half for something else.

I threaded yarn through the loops and put each loop over a pushpin at the top of my window frame. And while I marveled at what I made, I realized it is really, really, really hard to take a photo of something hanging in a window.

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