Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo
...simplifying life
Chica and Jo



Survivor buffs and tribe flags

by: Chica

Survivor buffs and tribe flags
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Survivor is one of my favorite TV shows and Jo and I have watched every season. We’ve both always thought it would be so fun to get to participate in the show’s challenges, as long as we didn’t have to go through the days of near starvation and heat the the castaways usually do! We decided to host our own Survivor-like event this summer during our yearly beach vacation in Sanibel, Florida. Since the Amazing Race we put on last year was so much fun, we knew we wanted to do something similar this year, and Survivor was just the ticket.

There were lots of projects involved in hosting our own version of Survivor, and you can read about them in our main Survivor party post. For now, I’m going to focus on a two elements regarding tribe identity — the buffs and the tribe flags.

For both of these items, we used a Survivor logo from a set of Survivor party printables we found on Etsy. The set included several print-ready logo sizes, and a high-res JPG version we could use for anything.


The Buffs

You simply can’t play Survivor without having iconic Survivor buffs for your tribe members. They were really easy to make, too. Start off with some stretch jersey knit fabric in your tribe colors. We used red jersey knit and blue jersey knit.

DIY make your own survivor buffs

Before you start working with the fabric, take note of which direction it stretches in. One way will stretch far better than the other, and you want that stretching direction to go left to right on your workspace.

DIY make your own survivor buffs

Now you need to cut a rectangle out of your fabric, and the size will depend on how stretchy your fabric is. I cut mine to 20″ wide and 18″ tall. You need it to be big enough to stretch around a person’s head comfortably, so do some experimenting to get the right size for your particular fabric.

DIY make your own survivor buffs

Once you’ve cut the fabric, fold it in half and pin the sides together.

DIY make your own survivor buffs

Use the sewing machine to sew the side seam with a row of zigzag stitches. Using zigzag instead of straight stitches will allow the seam to stretch after it’s sewn.

DIY make your own survivor buffs

You might want to trim any excess from your seam to clean it up.

DIY make your own survivor buffs

Then just flip it inside out and that’s it! Because the jersey knit doesn’t unravel, you don’t need to hem up the other edges.

The finishing touch is to print the Survivor logo onto some dark shirt transfer paper and iron it to the center of the buff, following package directions.

DIY make your own survivor buffs

Aren’t these just fantastic? They can be worn as headbands, as wristbands, around the neck, or just about anywhere you want. Be sure to make enough for each member of each tribe!

DIY make your own survivor buffs


The Tribe Flags

The other thing we needed for the tribes to show their identities was a pair of tribe flags. While the flags on the TV show are usually horizontal and hung between two poles, we felt that would not be easy to move around. We opted to follow tradition from some of the earlier seasons and make a vertical flag on a single pole so that a member of each tribe could carry it to challenges and stab it into the sand.

First, the hardware: to make two flags, you’ll need four 3/4″ wooden dowel rods that are about 30″ long, two 1″x2″ wooden stakes that are 6′ long, and two 3″ machine screws with wingnuts. Use a saw to cut the ends of the stakes at a sharp angle so that they’ll be easier to stick into the sand/dirt.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

Then drill a hole into the square end of each stake that’s big enough for the screw to fit through. Drill a similar hole into the middle of two of the dowel rods.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

Then it’s back inside to the craft room to work on the flag. You can use any material you have handy in your tribe colors, but for durability and weather-resistance, we opted to use red rip stop nylon and blue rip stop nylon. Cut a piece of each color that’s 24″ wide and about 52″ long.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

Fold over one of the short ends of the fabric to form a pocket, pinning it in place. Make sure the pocket is big enough for your dowel rod to fit through.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

Sew the pocket in place. (Forgive my red thread… I didn’t have any blue!) Do this on both ends of each flag piece.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

On only ONE end of each flag, fold the sewn pocket in half sideways…

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

…and use a pair of scissors to cut a notch in the pocket.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

Feed one of the dowel rods with the hole in it through this pocket and you can see that the notch you cut allows the hole to be exposed. This will allow us to attach it to the stake later.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

With the flag fabric ready, it’s now time to decorate it! I started by customizing the high-res version of the logo from the Survivor party printables set with “Sanibel”, then I printed it extra large onto four sheets of paper (using the “poster printing” function of my printer).

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

Then I cut the pieces out and hot-glued them together, forming a giant logo.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

I also used my Silhouette SD to cut out letters that spell our tribe names. I positioned all the pieces on the flag and then used a hot glue gun to glue them in place.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

Don’t you wish you could be a part of the Chicaroo and Jokomo tribes? I may be a little biased, but I happen to think those are the best Survivor tribe names ever.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

For the final assembly, start by putting the long wooden stake on a table and lay the flag on top, lining up the hole in the dowel with the hole in the stake.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

Put the screw through both holes…

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

…and secure it on the back with the wingnut. The reason I used a wingnut here is so that it would be easy to assemble and disassemble the flag by hand (no tools needed) when we’re out on the beach doing out challenges. It will also make it a lot easier to transport the flags down to Florida!

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

Slip the remaining dowel rod into the pocket on the bottom of the flag, which will give the flag some weight and allow it to hang straight, even in a breeze. The finished flags are easy to carry and can be stuck into the ground or sand easily, too.

DIY make your own survivor tribe flags tutorial

Be sure to check out our How to Host a Survivor Party post for more details about the rest of the elements of our DIY Survivor event, including Tribal Council, immunity idols, and challenges!

Survivor buffs and tribe flags
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20 comments so far:

  • 1
    Alice 05/27/2011 at 6:14 pm

    I am also a Survivor fan. I have to say Rupert was my all time favorite even though he didn’t win.He won Americas heart though. Enough said about that. I love love love your Survivor idea for vacation. I can hardly wait to see what else you come up with for it. Y’all are going to have so much fun and I hope you post pictures of your experiences. Best of luck to all participants.

  • 2
    April Driggers 05/28/2011 at 10:07 am

    You guys are so stinkin creative! I wish my guy was wanting a Survivor party now! His birthday is in July and he wants LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean???? Um… yeah, that’s easy ! Bleh!

  • 3
    Chica 05/28/2011 at 10:09 am

    April, maybe you can talk him into Survivor next year :) As for this year, we don’t really have any projects related to LEGO, but we have tons of pirate party ideas that might help you!

  • 4
    Melly 06/07/2011 at 3:38 am

    My husband is a teacher and the school provides him with a space to hang a flag outside his classroom door. He has been upset all last year because he did not have a flag and could not find a flag he liked that was the right size. I had thought of making him one, but didn’t think I had enough skill. It never occurred to me to hot glue a logo! How does it look on the reverse side? Would I need to do something to make it look better? Maybe I could print two logos and put one on either side… Any suggestions?

  • 5
    Chica 06/07/2011 at 7:05 am

    Melly, our flags look perfectly fine on the back, but I’m sure that will vary with the type of fabric you use. We tested several different methods before settling on hot glue, including sticker paper and spray adhesive, but the glue worked the best for us. Just test on a scrap of fabric first to make sure you get results you are happy with!

  • 6
    Nathan 02/05/2012 at 4:02 am

    how much wood do you need for 3 tribes instead of 2?

  • 7
    Chica 02/05/2012 at 9:48 am

    Nathan, each flag requires two 3/4″ wooden dowel rods that are about 30″ long and two 1″x2″ wooden stakes that are 6′ long.

  • 8
    Karen 11/14/2012 at 10:43 am

    Thank you so much for posting your party ideas! Last year my daughter wanted an Amazing Race party and I was able to make the clues using your templates. This year she wanted a Survivor Party and I found you again when it came time to make the buffs!

  • 9
    Chica 11/15/2012 at 7:25 am

    So glad we’ve become your go-to source for party help, Karen! Have a great party.

  • 10
    Kathy 03/12/2013 at 7:10 am

    I am in charge of planning the yearly theme for the junior high school where I teach. Any ideas how to plan a survivor theme that is school appropriate?

  • 11
    Nicole badolato 09/04/2013 at 12:25 pm

    You guys are great thank you so much I used you survior party thank you so much again

  • 12
    Kerri 05/06/2014 at 3:26 pm

    May we use the Survivor logo for a 3rd grade class party?

  • 13
    Chica 05/09/2014 at 8:13 am

    Kerri, of course!

  • 14
    Erin 02/19/2015 at 2:39 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this page on how to make the survivor buffs!! My son is turning 10 and having a BIG survivor party. He wanted these SO bad for all his friends, and I don’t sew… At all…. Ha! I will be able to make these for all of his friends for less than what one authentic survivor buff costs! Thank you!

  • 15
    julie 05/19/2015 at 3:33 pm

    Hello! My mom is a huge survivor fan! We are throwing her a surprise 60th birthday survivor themed party with her siblings and her adult children. Many thanks for all the great ideas!

  • 16
    sue 06/26/2015 at 6:20 pm

    Amazing job!!! wow!!!!!

  • 17
    Katie 08/02/2015 at 2:44 pm

    We’ve tried to do this before and I can’t remember what type of iron on we used but we had the issue of the logo not stretching with the fabric. Did you experience this as well and if so how do you prevent it from happening?

  • 18
    Chica 08/04/2015 at 6:27 pm

    Katie, we didn’t have that problem. Must have been a differene in the type of iron-on sheets we each use? Unfortunately it’s been so long that I don’t remember what kind we used.

  • 19
    Mel 08/12/2016 at 4:03 am

    Hi chic and Jo
    Fabulous ideas.
    I am hosting a survivor weekend.
    Do you know where I can find a modifiable survivor logo ?
    I am not familiar with photoshop or whatever it is but could modify a created template

    Thanks for any further tips


  • 20
    Jo 08/24/2016 at 1:15 pm

    Mel, that sounds like a lot of fun. I don’t think there is a modifiable one on the internet. Sorry.

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We are two best friends sharing our creative journey. You never know what we will be into each time you visit. We could be throwing a unique party, refinishing a flea market find, or whipping up a new cupcake recipe. We invite you to join us for the ride as we tackle life one project at a time!

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