On the 19th August each year, we mark a day of hope. A day to reflect and honour our much loved babies. In the lead up to the day, Carly Marie hosts a prayer flag project. Parents and others touched by the loss of a child are invited to make prayer flags in honour of their child or children. The project had it’s birth not long after Xavier’s death. I remember so clearly sitting down and making him a flag, tears streaming, but grateful for something to do. For the first time, I found something healing to do with my empty hands. I could not stop making them. They hang on our verandah, joined by the flag I made last year and the one I have just made. As Xavier’s birthday is at the beginning of the project, each year I will make a flag for him, for hope and for healing. I am drawn to lace and fragility when I create for him. The flags reflect that. The ones I first made are a little battered and bruised – they are starting to fray. But I find them even more beautiful this way. I think it’s an apt metaphor for life after loss.
I have a sewing machine and inclination to sew. But you do not need either to make a beautiful flag.
Here are flags you might look to for inspiration.
The Paper Bag Flag
I wanted to make a flag with objects I had around the house. As this remains a bag, I have placed all of Xavier’s 2nd birthday cards within it. If you choose to make this flag, you might like to write a letter to your child and place it within the bag.
The Printed Flag
Did you know that you can directly print onto fabric using freezer paper if you have an inkjet printer? Neither did I. This flag might suit those that prefer to design on-screen than on-fabric. If you feel uncomfortable printing like this, you could also use transfer paper and iron onto your flag.
- An A4 sheet of paper
- A piece of cotton fabric the same size as an A4 sheet of paper
- Freezer Paper (you can buy this from Spotlight for about $1.50 a meter, they have it behind the counter)
- A computer
- An iron
- An inkjet printer
- Sewing machine (optional)
- Create a design on your computer that you are happy with. It might include a photo, a verse or a beautiful picture. I chose to include Xavier’s footprint and a quote that speaks to me. Keep in mind the final flag will be 9inches (width) x 12inches (height) when creating your design.
- Using the A4 sheet of paper as a template, cut the freezer paper and the fabric. They should be the same size.
- Iron the freezer paper onto the fabric. This article gives more detailed instructions – please follow them – I would hate for anyone to damage their printer!
- Print onto the fused together freezer paper and fabric, ensuring that your print will be on the fabric side.
- Peel off the freezer paper.
- Trim or hem your fabric to size 9inches (width) x 12inches (height). If sewing, fold the top over with enough room to thread through a ribbon to hang your flag. If trimming, you might like to hang your flag with pegs.
- I chose to sew a heart around the image. It would also be sweet to add beads or other objects precious to you and your baby.
I dearly hope your creative process brings you healing, hope and mostly, a sense of connection with your baby.