Bunting Tutorial – Día de los Muertos

A few days ago my friend Amy Johnson from Maker Mama blog posted a fun Day of the Dead Skull Banner tutorial which totally inspired me. Dia de los Muertos is particularly relevant for us since my husband’s birthday is on Day of the Dead and a reusable banner that can serve several purposes is ideal. So jump on in and try your own version of her’s or mine. These are great for Halloween too.

I decided that I wanted to make my bunting with different designs, more colors, and a little smaller. I started with the skull template on Amy’s post and reduced it by about 20 percent. I also went in search of Martha Stewart supplies and ended up using a different set than Amy’s. It gave me a nice variety of options for borders, eyes and mouths. Here is a quick list of the materials I used:

  • Adhesive Stencil film
  • Amy’s Skull Template (reduced)
  • Tape
  • Pouncing foam brush
  • Various all-purpose water based craft paints
  • Adhesive Silkscreens
  • Exacto-knife
  • Pinking Shears

You’ll also need fabric for your banners (I used scraps of cotton in off-white and white cut into seven 8″ x 6″ rectangles), a sewing matching, and ribbon or something for hanging (I used bias tape).


I’m not as crafty as Maker Mama and I had a one year old and a four year old helper so I opted to have no hems. I used my pinking shears to cut my rectangles since I felt that gave the project the look of the traditional paper banners and would help prevent fraying. I also didn’t have any great ribbon on hand but I did have bias tape so instead of creating a casing to put my hanging “ribbon” through I sandwiched the top of my rectangles between the tape (pinned them of course) and sewed a straight line across.

I choose a blank stencil paper that had adhesive also from Martha Stewart to create the skull template. It cost the same as the non-adhesive one and this eliminated the need for the adhesive spray. It worked great and I have plenty left over for other projects.


Another big difference you’ll note is that I ended up using a pouncing foam brush to paint the stencils on the fabric. I started by following Amy’s instructions and pulling the paint through with the squeegee but something must have been very different in my setup as the paint just bled through the stencil and created a blob (see the top right half of my 1st try). I used different paints and the different brands had different consistencies so perhaps that was the main problem. My solution was to dab it on. I tried several tools that included cotton swabs, my fingers, and the foam brush and ultimately the brush worked best with minimal paint.

A few other things I did:

  • I overlapped stencils to create a different more colorful look.
  • Used metallic paints on some for more drama
  • Played with the placement of the eyes
  • Didn’t worry about exact measurements or very straight lines

If I had more time I’d love to really embellish these with more scroll designs and brighter colors to more closely resemble the sugar skulls traditionally seen on day of the dead. I’d also like to create borders but this will do for now. Maybe the embellishments can happen next year and I might be daring enough to do them free-hand.

How about you? I know you could make these or your own version. Would love to have you come back here and share what you make.

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