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Maitresse Yvianne de Castel d'Avignon, OL.... Æthelmearc

Before you begin, put some thought into what kind of banner you want. Different sized and shaped banners have specific uses and meanings. is a great resource if you aren’t sure what you want. A banner for finding a group on the field will require different materials and design from one that will decorate the wall in your home or pavilion.

These are the directions for a Standard … an 8 foot long banner that flies from the pole sideways. It shows that a specific person is nearby. It is a rallying point on the field or is a sign that you are in residence. Perfect for Pennsic and camping events :-) Ours go up outside the pavilion as soon as it is set up and mine goes to the field with me if I'm not fighting so folks can find me on the sidelines if they need something.

Before you go to the store make a detailed sketch of what you want to make. Write in dimensions and colors of the different pieces. Use this to make a list of what materials you need to buy. Take it with you to the store.


Fabric - I prefer to use silk essence ($2.50 a yard regular price but you can sometimes find it on sale for $.99) Most lining fabrics will work The key is to get something super lightweight with really good flow. Synthetics will hold up better to the weather and keep their color longer than natural fibers. You could do it in real silk, but you'd be doing another one in 1-2 years ... I have been using the same Standard for about 9 years.

Banner pole - Extendable poles used for changing light bulbs. Ours are 11 feet long, but you can get them anywhere from 6 -18 ft.

Finial - I found out if you pull the suction cup off of the pole... a drapery finial fit perfectly on the end. A drop of super glue will make sure it stays there.

Portable hole for stand - Inside we use the appropriate style banners for hall decoration (gonfalon). The wind never blows hard enough inside to make standards fly in the wind like they need to... so an inside stand for this type of banner doesn't make much sense.

Appliqué or paint a small rectangular banner (20 inches wide x 26 inches long). You can either allow yourself extra fabric on the left side to make a casing big enough for the banner pole to fit in or add a separate casing as the last step. Do not sew the casing or hem the banner yet. Your heraldry should be able to be seen on both sides .. when flying to the right of the pole it will look normal, when flying to the left it may look reversed. Do not make 2 banners and sew them together so that the device always appears correct whether the banner is flying to the left or right of the pole.(It's a heraldry thing)

To the right side of the rectangular banner you have made add a tail. Since AEthelmearc doesn't have sumptuary laws you can make it any length you want :-) Our tails are about 6 1/2 feet long ... add that to the width of the banner and it's close to 8 feet, the size of a medieval standard. There are many tail variations. The simplest version is single colored with long, tapering sides and a round point. With a little more work you can add some fancier details ...parti color the tail horizontally or use 2 slender triangles and make a swallowtailed banner. A true Standard (by most definitions)has more heraldry and/or a motto on the tail.

To attach the banner to the tail.... You can either do a French (encased seam) and sew the seam allowance down flat or make a flat feld seam. Try to keep this as narrow as possible. Extra weight will keep the banner drooping unless it's caught in hurricane force winds.

Now hem the banner (except for the side where the casing will be sewn) Use a very narrow rolled hem.... do not use a serger because the thread will add extra weight. If you are really short on time and using synthetic fabrics you may be able use a wood burning or stencil cutting heat tool to cut out the pieces and seal the edges (eliminating the need to hem them).

Now is the time to make your casing. If it is a separate piece hem it to match in length before you sew it to the banner.

To attach the banner to the pole I just sewed a piece of cord through the top edge of the casing with a yarn needle and tied it to the top of the pole below the finial. If you tie it too tight the banner will not slide around the pole but stay in a fixed position which will eventually result in the banner tangling itself around the pole. If it is tied so the casing can slide around the pole when the wind changes direction there is less of a chance of this happening. I have tried other things... like a wire frame that held the banner open all of the time, but it was more headache than it was worth.

When I need a banner or a couple dozen pensells (snall pennons) for list ropes quick …. I cut them out as one single piece with a wood burning tool, sew a casing big enough for the pole or rope to go through and paint the heraldry on using acrylic paint & fabric medium in about equal parts (paint the front – allow to dry - then paint the back .... the bleedthrough from the first side makes a great guide). The only down side to this method is the edges can be a bit stiff and rough. For a more finished looking banner - heat cut, roll the edges under and sew them down with a running stitch ... it works out great.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about this or need information on how to make other styles of banners or heraldic clothing.

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