Follow these step-by-step instructions to make colorful Vote! yard signs for your front yard, a visual reminder that voting is both a right and a privilege. You will need:
Metal wire U-frame yard sign: You can recycle an old election sign (check with your local democratic or republican headquarters and see if they will give you one) Or you can buy one online at www.victorystore.com or sometimes on eBay. U-frames commonly come in three sizes: small, which are 20 inches across; medium, 22 inches across; and large, 26 inches across.
Heavy-weight double knit polyester fabric: The fabric for the background of the Vote! sign needs to have a little stretch to be able to fit on to the U-frame and stay tight. Double knit polyester is weatherproof. It should be heavy so that you don’t need to stabilize the knit to sew on the Vote! letters. Think 1970's, that type of heavy polyester. You might find it at a thrift store or estate sale. You’ll need 1 yard.
Fabric for the Vote! letters: You will need 5 pieces of different fabrics--enough of each so you can cut out each letter. You can use anything--the fabric does not need to be polyester. Use whatever you’ve got: bold, colorful, fun prints work well.
Downloaded Vote! letters for the templates
Template material for the Vote! letters: Recycle sturdy cardboard or plastic. Cereal boxes work well for this. Or use template plastic purchased at a local craft store.
Markers for tracing the Vote! letters on the template material and on the fabric. These can be anything that shows a line on the fabric.
Glue stick or tape
Ruler or tape measure
Straight pins to pin the Vote! letters to the background
Thread: Use any color you like or have on hand.
Step 1: Choose Background Fabric and Letter Size
Choose your background fabric. Remember it needs to be heavy-weight double knit polyester; this repels the rain and has stretch. You will need 1 yard. Set the background fabric aside.
Measure across the top of your U-frame to determine the size of the Vote! letter template that you will need to download for your yard sign.
Like the three bears, the letters come in three sizes: small, medium and large. To determine which size letters are just right for your sign measure the top of your U-frame (see chart). For a 20 inch frame download the small letters for a 22 inch frame download the medium letters, and for a 26 inch frame download the large letters.
Step 2: Make Your Letter Templates
Print the letters out and cut out each individual letter to make a template.
Glue or tape each letter on to your template material (a glue stick works really well for this). You can use old cereal boxes or something equally sturdy for the templates so you can reuse the letters to make more Vote! signs. Or you can purchase template plastic at a local craft store.
Trace around each letter and cut each out.
Step 3: Make Your Vote! Letters
Now for the fun part. Pick out some fun, bright and colorful anything goes fabric (scraps are great). Be sure to pick contrasting colors and pay attention to lights and darks. If your background fabric is dark use light fabrics for the letters; if it’s light use dark letters. Look for bold colors and patterns. Remember you want everyone to be able to read the Vote! sign from a distance.
Make it funky--make it fun! Be sure to place your letter templates mirror side down on the wrong side of the fabric, then trace the Vote! letters.
Cut out each letter and set it aside.
Step 4: Prepare Your Sign Background
Now it’s time to prepare the background fabric. First you need to find out which direction stretches more. Hold the fabric at the top and bottom and pull on it. Now hold the edges side to side and pull the fabric again. You want the most stretch to be from one side to the other, not top to bottom--this is what determines how you will position the Vote! letters on the background. We do this because the Vote! sign will be threaded on to the legs of the U-frame. When you place the sign in the ground you will pull on the legs to keep the sign taut; the stretch in the fabric will enable you to do this. In this example the stretch is greater side to side.
Measure the top of your U-frame. The measurement of the background fabric from one side to the other should be 1 inch less than the measurement of the top of your U-frame. Again: Make sure the fabric is oriented so the greatest stretch works horizontally not vertically. This frame measures 22 inches across the top so we will measure 21 inches across for the background fabric.
The top to bottom measurement of the background fabric should be 14 inches. A 14 inch background height gives you the best visibility from a distance for Vote! when the sign is installed on the U-frame while leaving plenty of frame to plant the legs firmly in the ground.
Your final measurements for the background fabric in this example are 21 inches wide and 14 inches tall.
Step 5: Get the Background Ready to Stitch
Fold your background fabric in half horizontally, matching the short edges together. You will need to cut out a notch at the corner of the cut edge ½ inch in from the side and 1 inch down from the top.
Mark the notch on the corner of the background fabric ½ inch in and 1 inch down from the top. Then cut the notch out. The edge of the background fabric with the notches will be the top of the Vote! sign.
Unfold the background fabric and, working from top to bottom, fold a ½ inch tab over on each of the side edges pinning the tabs in place.
Step 6: Sew the Leg Seams
Sew a ¼ inch seam down one side from top to bottom. Be careful not to make the seam smaller than ¼ inch (you may need to pin more places than shown in the photos). Each leg of the U-frame needs to fit in to the edge of the Vote! sign snuggly--but it does need to fit. Now repeat this to sew a seam on the other side.
Test the seams by sliding in each leg of the U-frame to be sure it fits.
Note the photo from the back with the U-frame inserted in the Vote! sign. When the sign is completed the flap at the top of the sign will rest over the top of the U-frame. You can leave the flap as it is you can tack it down over the frame later.
Step 7: Time to Sew and Finish Your Sign
Remove the background from the U-frame and place the Vote! letters right side up on the top side of the sign. Make sure the flap is at the top of your sign. Be careful that the letters don’t overlap the seams where the legs of the U-frame will be inserted. Pin the letters in place.
Stitch the letters into place. This can be done any number of ways. With a sewing machine you can use a wide and long zigzag stitch for a decorative effect that will also keep the edges of the letters from fraying. Your background fabric should be heavy enough that you don’t need to back the fabric to stitch.
If you like frayed edges no problem, use a straight stitch to attach the letters. If you prefer you can stitch the letters by hand. Anything goes--just remember the sign might get wet in the rain so the letters need to be securely attached. Trim any loose ends.
Starting with the flap on top, insert the legs of the U-frame through the side seams of the Vote! sign and pull it up the frame. You can secure the flap in place over the top of the frame or just leave it.
You did it! You will remind everyone to Vote!