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Here’s something you probably already know about Jenna: when I’m involved in a party’s planning and there’s a specific subject in mind, I engulf myself in it – which can be both a positive and a negative attribute . . . especially [at times] for my bank’s balance 😉 but that’s not why I love being in charge of décor for the Oceanside Museum of Art’s Art After Dark committee!

Then why, Jenna, why?!

Well, first off, I get to help strategize an all-around good time [duh!], and secondly, I get to expand not only my creativity but also my knowledge base. For example, when we first picked the “Day of the Dead” theme for November 1st, I [frankly] knew absolute nothing about Día de Muertos. So what did I do without a clue? I took the time to educate myself about this Mexican holiday and quickly realized in my findings that we could NOT have this kind of celebration without some good ole Papel Picado!

Disclaimer: Now, from my research, I do know this sort of decorative craft is usually made out of paper, cut into elaborate designs, but in the interest of time and my sanity, I decided to let some patterned cotton fabric do the talking.



Cotton Fabric [I purchased 2 yards of 8 different colors of patterned fabric.]

Thread [I also bought 8 different colors of matching thread to the above fabric choices.]



Pinking Shears

Black Magic Marker

You’re probably looking at the supplies list and thinking, “That’s great and all, Jenna, but I need to know how much of each.” Here’s the deal: you will have a better idea of the amount you personally want once you read through the entire post [blogger’s honor!] as it will differ depending on the length of garland you desire. Get it? Okay, good. Onward and upward! So, anyway, the first step is to decide the size of each of your flags. With the room I was working with, I went with an easy 12-inch x 24-inch template that I cut out of cardboard.

Why those measurements?

The basic cotton fabric you buy in a fabric store varies between 42 inches to 45 inches wide, so I knew I could get 9 flags out of 2 yards of fabric.


When your stencil is complete, start tracing out the shape onto your fabric. Please make sure to lie something down first on your work surface, because marker bleeds are the worst! Especially on your dining table 😉


Once all your rectangles are marked, take your scissors and start cutting them out. This will be your first of two cuts. After you have separated all the pieces of fabric, use your pinking shears to create a fun but nice finishing edge.


Now, take each pinked-edge rectangle and fold it in half one time. Heat up your ole clothes iron and use it to flatten the crease, so you have a straight, clearly defined fold. This is one of the best words of advice my mom ever gave me about sewing. Yes, it’s an extra step but it will save you so much time on your machine.


This is where I decided to add more attention to detail. I wanted to enhance each flag with more color [shocker!], so I sprung for some thread and had a different hue for each colored fabric.


Okay, it’s time to get out your machine, because it’s sewing time! The type of string you are using will determine where you want to stitch. I went an inch out from my crease. I also used a different type of thread weave for each color; not all sewing machines will have this option.


It’s all-downhill from here. Make a pile of your prepared Papel Picado by creating an alternating pattern with the flag colors and keep on repeating it. That way there’s some consistency. I mean I am O.C.D. after all 😉 then take your string, cut it to the desired length, and start stringing your flags.


“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.“ – Thomas Campbell

And there you have it = your very own Papel Picado! I love this idea because I can use it for much more than just at Art After Dark. It’s an all-around good “garland” concept for any kind of party.