Monson Photography | DIY Photography Props: Double-sided burlap/twine/ribbon banner

DIY Photography Props: Double-sided burlap/twine/ribbon banner

August 21, 2014  •  1 Comment

In the past, I've spent countless hours and a small fortune on Etsy.  (The link to this site will open in a new tab, and don't say I didn't warn you when you are still there three hours later!  :) )  There are so many talented crafters in the world and you can find just about anything you want there.  However, buying lots and lots of cute stuff makes you quickly run into three common problems:

1. You're spending your profits!

2. You eventually run out of room.

3. You end up buying lots of stuff that you sometimes don't end up having a chance to use.

I have to say, I have purchased a LOT of things that, had I given myself the chance, I could have made myself for much less.  And I'm also guilty of buying props that I fall in love with, only to never get a chance to use them.  (One way to ensure I only get calls for newborn boys, for instance, is that I run out and buy a bunch of cute headbands for baby girls!) 

When I got a call about scheduling a cake smash session for a little guy named Reid, I started brainstorming right away and decided that I wanted to stick with sort of a rustic/vintage look, but with a little color. 

I had some burlap left over from a previous project, and a ton of twine, too.  Not to mention, I have oodles of ribbon from my scrapbooking days.  I had been admiring ribbon banners on Etsy and decided it couldn't be that hard to make one, so I did!

I don't have photos of the process, but it's easy to explain:


Materials required:

Small amount (~ 1/4 yard?) Burlap (It's super cheap!  I like to double up my burlap because it's so porous that light will go right through.)

Craft twine - twice the length you want the banner to end up, since this is doubled-up, too

A variety of ribbon - each piece only needs to be about 10" long, so scrap bins are a good place to look, too.

Chipboard letters (found in the scrapbooking dept.)

Scrapbooking paper or paint to cover the letters

Small piece of sand paper

Ink pad (dark brown or black; optional)

Hot glue gun (I am NOT a seamstress by any means, so any project I ever post, just assume it won't involve sewing!)



1. Decide how long you want your banner to be.  Mine ended up being about 3' in length.  Remember, if you're using it for a child session, you don't want it to be so huge that it takes attention away from the little guy.

2. Cut your twine long enough so that you can double it up, and that there will be some extra (6-8") on each end.

3. Tie a big knot at each end of your twine, about 6-8" from the ends.  One side will naturally have a loop on it, and I tied another knot at the other end so each would have a loop.

4. Cut cut six same-size rectangles (or triangles, or circles - whatever!) out of burlap.  I frayed my edges a bit because I liked them rough.

5. Paint or cover your chipboard letters as desired.  Choose your own colors, but at least two should be similar so that you can match most of the ribbon to both. I used two color schemes: orange/white/blue for "ONE" and blue/white/red for "TWO".  I was then able to use only blue & white ribbon on the banner, then snip some orange and red separately, store it in a baggie, and add it when I'm ready to use one side or another.  Since I like the distressed look, I also used a direct rub method with an ink pad to age my letters a bit.

6. Find the 'dead center' of your twine and place one burlap shape behind the twine, and the other on top of the twine.  Carefully match up your triangles and use a hot glue gun to glue them together and to the twine. Continue with the other shapes; one on each side of the middle triangle.

7. Hot glue your letters to the burlap shapes.

8. Using various shades (to your liking) of the two similar colors as we spoke of in step 5, begin snipping lengths of about 8-10".  They do not have to all be the same length or perfect in any way. 

9. Begin tying the ribbons to your twine, and continue until the fullness suits your liking.

10. Cut varying shades of ribbon that matches the "alternate" color of each side of your banner (see my example in step 5).  DO NOT tie this ribbon to your banner.  Keep it in a small baggie for future use. 

There you go!  One little banner for two separate shoots.  If you use very neutral colors, you could even keep spare letters/ribbons in varying color schemes and continue to recycle your work.  I'm personally thinking of making another, longer/larger double-sided banner.  One side will be "Lake ♥ MI" and the other "Family ♥", since 60% of my work involves families on the beach.  So get creative!  How can you stretch your space, time, and dollar?  Share your ideas below!

Here is the "TWO" side.  Just for visual purposes, I simply laid the red ribbons on on the banner instead of tying them.


Here is a photo of the "ONE" side.  I did not add the orange ribbons for this shot, so you can see an an example of the simple blue/white scheme.


And here are a few of precious Reid enjoying his cake with the banner in the background:


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Best Wishes!


Wow what a great blog and wonderful pictures!! I love the smash the cake pictures of the little boy and I also loved the colors you used! I am sure the parents of this toddler is just going to love all of the photo's you were able to capture during this session!!
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