Sunday, June 21, 2015

DIY Garden Flags

Last summer I made some garden flags with some kids, and I mentioned that I would tell how we did that in a future post. A year has passed, and now I've finally sat down and collected photos and will tell you how we made them. It's a fairly simple process that has been described many times on the internet I'm sure. Freezer paper is available in your grocery store along with other rolls of waxed papers and plastic wrap and tin foil. Freezer paper comes in rolls and the rolls are nice and wide which is perfect for these garden flags.

Here is a supply list:
  • freezer paper
  • white fabric (cotton or broadcloth work well)
  • x-acto knife
  • acrylic paints
  • plastic coated wire garden stake

First find yourself a nice piece of plain white fabric. I used white broadcloth for these flags, but I think any plain cotton would work well enough. I considered using a coloured fabric, but decided that I would just use white so that the paints will show up well. The cloth size is up to you. Consider that it will be a flag, so you want it to be able to hang well and flutter a bit in the breeze. Ours measured 24 x 16".

Turn under one short end of the fabric 1/4" and press. Turn the same end under another 1/2" and sew along that edge to give you a pocket to insert a wire for hanging. This doesn't have to be fancy, and if you don't have a sewing machine, you could easily do a running stitch along that edge and it will work fine. The other three edges can remain unfinished as the paint will keep the edges from fraying.

Cut a piece a piece of freezer paper the same size as the fabric. Freezer paper is shiny on one side, and dull on the other. Draw a picture on the dull side in pencil. This picture will be cut out with the x-acto knife, so it's easier if you keep the details to a minimum. Having said that, one of the pictures I cut out had lots of tiny details which I hated to lose, so I carefully cut them out and it made for a very cute flag. Now the child I did this flag with (below) could not draw very well, so we traced her handprints onto cardboard (cereal box) for templates, and used two handprints side by side to create butterflies. We added details to the butterflies with a Sharpie pen at the very end.

The handprints are a bit difficult to see in this photo,
but you can see some of the flowers that were drawn as well.
Using the x-acto knife, cut out the picture very carefully ... AN ADULT'S JOB! I used a cutting mat under the paper, but a plastic cutting board works sufficiently as well. Just go slowly and take your time to cut the picture out as accurately as you can.

Now place the freezer paper shiny side down on top of the fabric. Using an iron on a moderate setting and with the steam setting switched to "OFF", gently press the iron over the paper and it will adhere to the fabric. Go slowly and carefully so that you don't rip any details from the cut paper. I used the iron directly on top of the paper without burning it. Keep the iron moving around and don't let it remain in one spot for too long on the paper to keep it from burning. It adheres fairly quickly. Make sure you iron over the entire paper and be sure that all the edges around the cut outs are stuck down well.

Time to paint! It's best to paint the cutouts from the outside edge into the middle so that the paint doesn't seep under the cut edges. Sometimes young children have difficulty with that simple rule, and the paint does get under, but it's not a total failure if that happens. The edges are just not as crisp when it's all finished. Once the painting is finished let the entire piece dry. Be patient ... don't remove the paper until the paint is completely dry. 

Once the paint is dry, peel the paper off the fabric to reveal the masterpiece. Kids love this part :) For this particular flag, I cut additional strips of freezer paper to paint a border around three edges. The border was painted after the initial cut out paintings were dried. If you paint a border, it keeps the fabric from fraying around the edges.  The flag below was painted by a three-year old. 

You can also cut the edge of the fabric with pinking shears to give it a zig-zag edge which will also keep the flag from fraying. We did that on the flags in the last two photos.

Insert the plastic coated wire through the top pocket and you're done. The wires that we used were picked up at the dollar store. They were a ringed wire support for plants with a ring and three stakes looped onto the ring to drive into the ground. I removed the stakes, used one for the flag, and using needle-nosed pliers turned the straight end over into a loop. This way you can hang the flag with some string tied through the loops.

Here are some previously painted flags from last year ...

My favourite ... this is the one with tiny details.
The little hearts in the flowers ... I had to keep those!

If you have any questions, just ask and I'll help you out. These are meant to be used outdoors. I made one myself, and although the paint is a bit faded from the sun, it still looks OK after three summers outdoors.

Thanks for stopping by today!



  1. Kids and you have done a very good work. They look beautiful...

  2. Beautiful and I like the idea .... thanks for the tuto ! have a lovely day !

  3. I totally agree with Gina-and is what I was going to say too-what a fun project!

  4. hello, looks like a fun project to do with the children. They are cute flags. Thanks for sharing! Happy Monday, enjoy your new week ahead!

  5. Those are wonderful Wendy. I'm sure our grandkids will love making a project like this.

  6. Back again Wendy as I plan to do this with the grandkids that we are going to visit in BC next week. Do you treat the fabric after painting or does the acrylic paint hold up outside? I plan to make a garden flag to bring home for our garden, and maybe one for their garden. Thanks for your help.

    1. No, I didn't treat the fabric afterwards. The acrylic paint soaks well into the cotton fabric so it won't peel off in the rain. It just fades a tiny bit after a few years outdoors.

  7. What a great crafty project Wendy!! Thanks for sharing. They really are adorable and look like they hold up great! ;)
    Happy week ahead to you my Dear. xoxo

  8. These are really cute, Wendy, thank you for posting the instructions!



  9. Pinning these my friend! I absolutely love these!!! And would really like to try my hand at them with my beans! Happy Day to you Wendy! Nicole xoxo

  10. That looks like a fun project, Wendy! The flags have such a happy look about them.

  11. This is a great project for little ones, I'm going to show my daughter this post as she's always doing crafts with her two children.
    Thanks for sharing how to make these!

  12. yay I'm liking the flags ....I was actually looking at some Japanese style flags the other day in the shape of fishes...well they were what I would call a wind sock ...and as we have such a breezy time on this island I think they would be great.... another thing on my "to do" list haha ! have a nice weekend...Gail x


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