Back to Basics: Bunting

step by step

I love bunting. So much so, that for my wedding I decided to make 100 metres of it! There are many different methods for making bunting, some quick, some more time consuming. In this post, I’ll be showing you my method. I’ll say upfront that this isn’t the quickest way, but it does ensure that you will have beautiful, fray-free bunting that will last you many years!

You will need:

  • Fabric
  • Coordinating thread
  • Sewing machine
  • Fabric scissors
  • Bunting tape or bias binding
  • Paper, a pencil, and a set square
  • Pins
  • An iron

Method

Make your template

It’s tempting just to draw directly on your fabric, but a template makes life much easier. Using a template means that you can plan how to use your fabric best, i.e. get the most bunting out of it!

  1. Decide how big you want each bunting flag to be. On a piece of paper, draw a rectangle that is the relevant width and height (remember to add a seam allowance, I use 5mm). Using a set square will help ensure that it’s perfectly symmetrical.
  2. Mark the middle point in the middle of the top of the rectangle. Draw two straight lines from this point to each of the bottom two corners. IMG_1695
  3. Cut out your template (don’t use your fabric scissors!). If you are going to be making lots of bunting, it’s worth gluing your template onto some thick card so that you can reuse it.

Cut out your fabric

4. Iron your fabric. On the wrong side of the fabric, using a pencil/pen, mark a straight line close to the edge of the fabric. Place your template against this line and draw around.

5. Making sure your rectangle was perfectly symmetrical will now pay off! Turn the triangle upside down and line up against the first. Draw around. Keep repeating this process until you have a line of triangles.

IMG_1696

6. When starting the next row of triangles, again line up the template with the triangles you have already drawn. Keep doing this until you have as many triangles as you need (you will need two for each flag).

Top tip: If you are using patterned fabric, think about whether your bunting will be displayed against a wall, or whether you will see both sides. If you are only going to see one side, it’s fine to have the other flags upside down. Just make sure they are all facing the same way when you construct your bunting later on!

7. Cut out your fabric. If you are cutting lots of fabric, consider using a rotary cutter. With this handy tool, you can layer a few pieces of fabric and cut them all at once. If doing this, use weights to keep the fabric flat (tins of beans work well!).

IMG_1697

Sewing the flags

8. Place two of your fabric triangles right sides together and pin. Using a straight stitch, sew along the two sides of the triangle. Use the edge of your sewing machine foot as a guide to help keep your edges straight.

9. Cut off any loose threads. Trim excess fabric along the two seams using pinking shears.

10. Turn your flag inside out, push out the pointy bit using the end of a paintbrush/pencil. If your fabric is quite thick, you may struggle to get a perfect point, but that’s ok!

11. Iron your flag completely flat.

12. Pin your flag along the top edge and sew a straight stitch really close to the edge of the fabric. It’s tempting to skip this step, but it makes attaching the tape later on a lot easier. Trim any loose threads.

Constructing the bunting

13. Work out how much tape/bias binding you will need. Remember to add a longer length at the start and finish for hanging. You’ll also need to work out how much space is between each flag. The calculation you need is 60cm + (spacing x number of flags) + (width of flags x number of flags). So if my flags are 10cm wide, I have 10 of them, and want 3cm between them, it would be: 60cm + (3cm x 10) + (10cm x 10). I’d need 190cm of bias binding/tape.

14. Press your tape or bias binding in half. This creates a fold to insert the flags into.

IMG_1702

15. Begin pinning your flags to the tape. Remembering to leave 30cm at the beginning, insert your first flag into the tape and pin at both corners. Leave a space (I often use the width of my ruler as a guide, as it’s about 3cm!) and attach the next flag. Repeat until you have attached all of your flags.

16. Using a zig-zag stitch, stitch along the tape, ensuring that all of the flags are enclosed (the corners sometimes try and escape!). Try and keep your stitching in the middle of the tape, using the machine foot as a guide.

IMG_1703

17. Congratulations, you’ve just made yourself some beautiful bunting!

Making large quantities: my top tips!

If you are going to be making lots of bunting, maybe for a party or wedding, I have some additional tips:

  • Invest in a rotary cutter. It’s much quicker than using scissors, and you can cut a few pieces of fabric at once. Just remember to use a cutting mat underneath to protect your floor!
  • Plan your fabric carefully. You are probably going to need a lot of fabric. To keep the cost down for my wedding, I mixed more expensive prints with cheaper plain poly-cottons and calico.
  • Start early. It can take a lot of time, and you don’t want to be doing it all in one go.
  • Plan an assembly line. I completed each step for all of the flags at once. So, I cut them all out, then stitched, then turned them out, etc. Recruit family members and friends for the less technical bits; my husband turned out and ironed every one of the 400 flags for our wedding bunting, meaning that I could focus on the sewing!
  • Buy in bulk. Bias binding per meter is expensive. Search for ‘bunting tape’ on sites such as ebay and you should be able to pick up 50m/100m rolls quite cheaply. Also, do the same for your thread, buy bigger reels than usual!

I hope you’ve found this tutorial useful, if you’ve had a go at your own bunting, I’d love to see it! Tag me on Instagram: @emmakesandbakes

This post was originally posted in February 2016, but has now been updated with new images and some tweaks to instructions.

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