Tutorial | Design Your Own Pirate Flag


Tutorial | Design Your Own Pirate Flag by Jessee M for Silhouette America


Last month was my daughter’s 5th birthday, and I’m here to tell you about one of the crafts we did.


Our tradition is a super themed party where the goody bags are actually dress up clothes and they usually tie into the craft we end up doing. This year it was pirate themed, and I made all the kids utility belts to hold a compass, foam sword and telescope. We also handed out eye patches and fake tattoos. I used my CAMEO to make a bunch of different pirate themed garland and backdrops, along with a themed Happy Birthday banner and more. It all looked awesome.


The best part of the party though, was the craft project! I try to come up with something each year where the kids can sit around a large table and just craft, nothing too hard, just fun. This years craft was a Design Your Own Pirate flag project. I told all the kids that they needed a unique flag so their enemies could tell who they were from far away, that seemed to go over well.


If you would like to try this out at your next party, or even just as an everyday project, then keep reading on…


Supplies Needed:

  • Stiff Felt. I bought the 12″x18″ sheets because I liked the size when cut in half. Not too big that they take up lots of room on the table, but also not too small.
  • White Cotton Fabric OR White Heat Transfer (any texture will work)
  • Silhouette brand Sewable Interfacing
  • A stack of various cardstock. Any color or amount you choose. For a party of 13 kids, I used 12 sheets of 12×12.
  • An Iron
  • Kid Friendly Glue

Optional Supplies:

  • Googly Eyes
  • Plastic Gems
  • Stickers
  • Anything Else a child may want to attach to a flag




Above you can see an example of the supplies, all very basic.


From here on out, I will be showing how to do this project with one child. For more I suggest using the Nesting Tool and fitting as many pieces as you can on each sheet of fabric.


First things first, lets cut the felt sheets in half so you end up with two 9″x12″ sheets. I believe you can find this size sheets in some craft stores, just not around me.




Then, open up the Pirate Icons design file in Silhouette Studio, ungroup everything and delete the treasure chest and compass design. All you should have left is the skull and cross bones. I felt like this design was both slightly cute and the right proportions to decorate.


Next, resize the design to fit inside the felt. I resized mine to 5.4″x8.6″. I know thats an odd size, but its the one that looked best to me on the “flag”.


Once you are happy with the size, start prepping the fabric as you normally would for applique designs. I like the cut out my Sewable Interfacing first, always cutting it a half inch bigger on all sides to help stabilize the fabric while it cuts (more surface area touching the sticky mat). Then I iron the interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric, with the steam off on the iron, and wait until it cools down to cut the fabric out. This process helps prevent shrinkage and from the interfacing getting ironed to your ironing board.


Remove the paper backing and place the fabric on the cutting mat. Follow the cutting guidelines for the type of fabric you used. Most quilting weight fabric is fine being cut using the thin fabric option. If it has any uneven texture, I’d suggest turning the dial up one number on the blade to compensate.




Then, using a dry iron again, quickly iron the skull and crossbones onto the felt sheet. I tried not to keep the iron in one spot for too long just in case the felt melted. It didn’t for any of the 13 I did, but you never know.


Now just set the flags aside until later.


Fun Fact: You could also make the skulls using White Heat Transfer, in any texture to achieve the same result. I like the idea of ironing on something way more than using paper, because theres no ripples and flappy edges.




Next, start opening up some photo prop files in Silhouette Studio, like the one shown above which is the Photo Booth Prop Accessories design file. I’d open one set of files at a time.




Now ungroup all of the designs and start resizing them over top of the skull and crossbones until they look correct. Then place each design back on to the gray area until you have resized everything you want to use.




Once you have a nice assortment of designs, remove the skull and crossbones off the design board and place it away from the other designs. (mines to the right of everything, unseen)




Select ALL of the designs together. Then open the nesting option box (can be found in the “Object” drop down folder) and choose how many times your are ok rotating the designs (if its patterned paper, id suggest zero, if its not, go crazy and rotate them a bunch) I have mine set to 4 rotations and padding at 1. Now with everything selected press NEST.




TaDa! Everything that could fit onto your piece of paper is all snug and ready to cut, everything else is still on the gray area and can wait until the next color paper. I LOVE this new option. It helps save time and paper but utilizing the space really well.


Now cut out all of your prop designs using the settings for the type of paper you use. Then keep mixing and matching designs for each color paper so your kid, or kids, have loads of options to work with.


For my daughter’s party, I covered my dining room table in Kraft Paper, laid out a bunch of bottles of glue, and just spread out all of the decorations on the table so the kids could see exactly what their choices were.


Tutorial | Design Your Own Pirate Flag by Jessee M for Silhouette America


Tutorial | Design Your Own Pirate Flag by Jessee M for Silhouette America


As you can see from above, the project was a big hit and everyone took part.There were kids from ages 3-7 making flags, and I bet slightly older kids would love it too. The googly eyes were my daughter’s idea halfway through and I really think it adds to the project and makes the flags a little less scary and more kid friendly.


To help transport the flags home, we kept boxes from our own mail and cut the tops off so the flags were given ample time to dry and didn’t get messed up in the car.


Tutorial | Design Your Own Pirate Flag by Jessee M for Silhouette America


Here’s some better photos of the finished flags! Two were left here accidentally (lucky for me and my photos! I plan on delivering them this week though), and the bottom one is my daughters.


I loved how simple this project was to put together and how big of an impact the finished pieces were! I can’t imagine birthday parties without my CAMEO!!!


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