DIY Courtesy Flags

Flying courtesy flags becomes expensive when you are always on the move. We recently saw a rack of courtesy flags priced between £7 and £22 each. Soon we will head to the Caribbean, where almost every island has its own flag.

The cost of buying this season’s courtesy flags will soon rack up!

Price of courtesy flags from a chandler

In the past, we always made our own flags. Two or three colour flags were easy to make but when you start adding stars, or a complicated coat of arms, it becomes more of a challenge, and a trip to the chandlery was required.

This summer we met Laurens and Kitty on Tiago. Prior to leaving the Netherlands, they printed the courtesy flags they needed on a roll of fabric. Then before sailing to a new country, they cut the flag from the roll and stitched a lanyard to it. What a great idea!

We have now created our own PDF files with the flags for all the Caribbean islands: from Trinidad all the way up to the USA. If you’d like a copy, then you can download them from NOFOREIGNLAND and print them yourself (you’ll need to sign in to access this page but the site is completely free to use).

You can download the flags from

You will find also a PDF with all the signal flags; these are also expensive and are compulsory to keep on board if you race or take part in some rallies (like the ARC for example). Here’s what the South East Caribbean flag file looked like when it came back from the printers:

One flaf roll with 14 courtesy flags.

Making the flags


  • Printed flags: We printed our flags with Pixartprinting for around £21 a file (including delivery). This resulted in a cost of under £1.50 per flag!
    The flags are either 45×30 cm or 45×25 cm with a 2 cm hem. The hem boundary is marked with either a black or white dotted line (depending on the flag’s colour). The end reserved for the lanyard webbing is marked with the country name and the noforeignland logo. Please note there is an arrow, pointing up,  to show which direction the flag should be flown.
  • Webbing: We bought a great big roll of webbing at The Haberdashery Shop in Ramsgate for £4.00. It’ll last a lifetime.
  • Line for the lanyard: We use 50 cm of polyester 3 mm braided line for the lanyard.


  1. Cut the flag out by cutting along the dotted lines (marked with small scissors).
  2. Double fold the top and bottom sides of the flag along the solid line to form an approximately 1 cm hem.
  3. Double stitch along the hem to reinforce it.
  4. Fold the “fly-end” twice and double/triple stitch it.
  5. Sandwich the lanyard line inside the un-stitched side of the flag (the side with the country name) using a 5cm wide length of folded webbing.
  6. Fold the webbing in the middle, with the ends turned in, and double stitch it onto the flag.
  7. Stitch an X on both ends to make the sure the line is secured in place. We made a loop on the top side to help identify which way is up when you are on the deck changing flags and the waves are rolling.
  8. Mark the name of the country and the direction the flag should fly on the webbing with a permanent ink pen.

6 easy steps to assemble the flags

Simple and easy.  All flags come complete with stars, awkward geometric shapes and coat of arms.

8 thoughts on “DIY Courtesy Flags

  1. That is such a good idea and I wish we’d had that. Well done the force of shared knowledge. Happy travels to you and Steve

    Alison Blake
    Add Agency Ltd
    Marketing Strategy & Campaign Planning
    020 8819 6012


  2. Thanks, Helena! I’m searching for an appropriate printing company in the US. How well did the ink print-through your material? Was is a cotton-poly blend, or a nylon, or what?
    Thanks for the PDF. I’ve had to make a TIF file at 300 dpi for one vendor.

    1. The print quality from pixartprinting on both sides of the fabric was very good but you must to choose the “Windproof outdoor” fabric. Someone else chose another fabric and it printed one side only.
      I have asked the company for more information about the type of fabric and the reply was to click on the “i” next to the material dropdown box – “A durable, wash-resistant and windproof open-weave banner, ideal for producing flags. Lasts up to two years outdoors”.
      Pixartprinting claims they deliver worldwide. Please let me know if you find other printing company. Good luck.

  3. Dear Helena,
    Thank you so much for sharing the post about DIY flags, Its a fabulous idea and I am keen to copy your idea. I contacted Pixaprint in the UK and in France (we are currently in France) and they are adamant that they don’t do double sided fabric printing.I have tried to find another company that does double sided printing but I have not had any success. Would you mind please confirming the dimensions of the fabrics, where you purchased the fabric and if you happen to have an invoice or order number?
    Kind Regards ,

    1. Hi Tania,
      Although pixaprinting do not print double-sided, if you chose the Windproof outdoor fabric 115 gsm, printing on one side only will show on the other side with almost equal intensity. This is the option we chose. Follow the print settings as we published on the flags page –
      Flag dimemtions will vary for each pack. You can find the dimensions for each pack just above the “Dowlnload” link on the noforeignland website.

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