Easy Semaphore Flag Tutorial

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I love sneaking in some education along with the fun at any party I throw, including the nautical Rain Gutter Regatta birthday.  In the midst of all the sailboat-racing fun, we learned about communicating with semaphore flags.

You could be all fancy and sew the flags and make them really nice, but I just wanted a fun, inexpensive play toy and favor.  Obviously, it was time to pull out the glue gun.

Materials to Make No-Sew Semaphore Flags:

  • wooden dowels
  • red and yellow fabric
  • glue gun

Start by cutting your fabric into isosceles triangles.  The easiest way to do that is to start by cutting squares (mine were 10" per side) and cutting them in half, on the diagonal.  You could do this with a pair of sharp scissors, but it's very handy to have a rotary cutter and cutting mat to get nice, straight lines.  Or at least as straight as I ever get them.  There's a reason I don't do quilting (actually, a number of them), but the first one is that I can't cut truly straight lines to save my life.

These may be pathetic, sub-standard triangles for quilting purposes, but they're totally fine for semaphore flag favors.

Use the glue gun to glue the triangles of fabric together, then glue to a wooden dowel.

Note, I just noticed that I totally glued this flag on the wrong way!!  One red edge should be at the top, along the dowel, but the other red edge should be on the outside of the flag.  Oops.  See, I'm learning something new, too!

Refer to the printable semaphore flag alphabet chart I used for the correct orientation.

You could get by with just gluing the dowel along the top edge of the flag, but I like rolling the fabric around the dowel once and securing a second time with the glue gun.  It's more secure and looks more finished.

Sigh, the top flag set is wrong, but look, I got the other ones right!

We had fun learning how to make different letters, and even spelled JAMES (our birthday boy)!

If I'd thought of it at the time, I would have made a Red Light/Green Light game, but using R and G using the semaphore flags to issue the commands!  That would have really helped cement the concept and knowledge, I think.  Not that knowing how to say "R" and "G" in semaphore is particularly useful...but hey, you never know, and knowledge is always good.

Nicole Wills, creator of Tikkido

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