Common Threads

Did you ever propose a great idea to a committee? By the time all of the “You know, you could . . .” comments have died down, you’re left with an idea not at all like the one you started with. These folks don’t really mean to ruin your design, they just get caught up in the excitement and want to be a part of a good thing. Well, here’s a banner design that simply can’t be over-designed. You can honestly tell the committee that even you don’t know what the final thing will look like!

We created this banner for our celebration of World Communtion Sunday. Its beauty comes from the artful combination of many diverse elements.

Letting Go

For the raw materials, we asked a number of people in the congregation to sew together strips of any kind of fabric they might have on hand. We specified the width (2.5") and lengths (50" and 120") of the strips and encouraged them to not use any one fabric for more than 9" of the strip. But we were careful not to specify the colors or patterns or finishes of the fabrics, except for the navy, grey, and black strips that define the cross.

Every Piece a Story

As the strips came in, every person had a story to tell about the fabric they used. I’ll admit that, although the stories were interesting, in the back of my mind I was wondering how we were going to make something presentable out of such variety.

Weaving Woes

Weaving the strips turned out to be the toughest part. You’d think that this amount of fabric woven together would hold together by itself. Not so. In fact, at one particularly trying point in the process, we lifted the banner up, only to have all of the strips fall in a pile at our feet. For stability and longevity, we put a small square of fusible interfacing where one strip overlapped another.

Giving up control will be hard for some of you—not to mention the committee you report to—but in my opinion it’s the best part of this banner.



Download the instructions sheet we sent to our volunteers plus the bulletin cover.

Dean Heetderks is a member of Covenant Christian Reformed Church in Cutlerville, Michigan, and art director of Reformed Worship. Show and tell him about your experiences at

Reformed Worship 61 © September 2001, Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. Used by permission.