Bunting: A tutorial

Hello everyone.  Today I make my first attempt at writing a tutorial, especially after all the gripping I’ve been doing about some of them lately.  This tutorial will be on how to make your own FABRIC BUNTING to hang as a decoration.

I personally used this process when I made my friend’s bunting for her little fella’s room as well as the bunting for our little girl’s nursery.  Without further ado – here we go.

INFO YOU NEED TO KNOW:

* Each flag is double sided

* To make ONE bunting flag you need two triangle pieces cut out – a front and back (they can even be different fabrics if you like)

* There are no set seam allowance for this as we will be drawing our sewing lines

* Set your stitch length to something you are happy with as the seams are visible (I have a Janome machine so my stitch length was 3)

* I like to fold my fabric for this project WRONG SIDES TOGETHER, so that once the flags are cut they are in the pairing I want and don’t have to match up sides and such.  Saves a step later on.

* Figuring out how many flags you need can be determined two ways

1. Where you are going to put it.  If you have a wall that is 8 feet (96 inches) and each flag is roughly 6″ you will need 16-17 flags (96″ divided by 6 = 16 flags).  I say 17 flags so that your flags don’t have to pulled tightly and can have a bit of a bow in the middle of them.  This also means you will need about 3 yards of double fold bias tape (add about 5-8 inches onto each end as a tail)

2. I did it a bit of a round about way.  I have 5 fabrics that I wanted to use.  I could get 6 flags out of each piece of fabric making 30 flags.  Which meant I needed 180″ (5 yards) of double fold bias tape.

MATERIALS NEEDED

* Sewing machine in good working order

* Straight stitch sewing foot

* Fabric for your bunting flags – Home decor or quilting cotton

* Note: If you use quilting cotton you will need to add iron on interfacing onto one of the flags to give it a bit more stability and shape.  I used a medium weight, but a light weight also works

* Note: the fabric could be scraps measuring 6 1/4″ x 6 1/2″ or strips of fabric 6 1/2″ x WOF

*Note:  I used pieces of Twill fabric that were cut into 6.5″ x WOF (my WOF was 54″ which gave me 6 flags per strip, usually I get 5 flags per strip using a quilting cotton whose WOF is 40″)

* Coordinating Thread (though you could use something that stands out if you wish)

* Marking Tool

* Rotary Cutter and cutting Mat

* Ruler

* EZ TRI TOOL by Darlene Zimmerman (that makes 6″ x 6 1/4″ triangles)

* Iron and ironing board

* Pinking shears

* Double Fold Bias Tape – in your color choice

* straight pins

DIRECTIONS (based on using strips of fabric):

Ensure your fabric is pressed before starting – it is just easier to cut that way.

1. Determine how many flags you are going to make so you know how many fabric strips you are going to cut.

* You can get 5 flags (front and backs) using a piece of quilting cotton measuring a WOF of 43″

* You can get 6 flags (front and backs) using a piece of twill/home decor measuring a WOF of 54″

2. Fold your fabric selvedge to selvedge and cut a strip that measures 6.5″ (again I folded mine wrong sides together)

3. Lay your Tri Tool on top of your fabric to make your first cut.

Using your rotary cutter, cut along the right side of the ruler.  (I say right side because I am a right handed cutter.  If you are a left handed cutter, please make the adjustments that you need).

Once you are finished cutting your piece it should look like the picture above.  I did slide the rest of the fabric off to the side, just to show you the cut edge.

4.  Rotate your cut piece of fabric so that you can now remove the other edge of fabric with your rotary cutter.

Once cut, you will have one flag with a front piece and a back piece.

5.  Slide the rest of strip fabric back into place to continue cutting out your flags.   With your Tri Tool, line up the edge of the fabric with the edge of your ruler.  Depending how you cut your first flag will determine how you place your ruler.  Using your rotary cutter, cut along the right side of the tri tool ruler.

6. Rotate your ruler to line up with the edge of your last cut and once again cut along the right side of the Tri Tool Ruler.

You will notice in the picture below that I left the second flag to show you the rotation of the ruler.

7.  Continue to rotate your tri tool ruler until all of your flags are cut out of that strip of fabric.   (sorry for the fabric change – the first photo did not turn out).

Below are the 6 flags that I was able to cut out using my 54″ wide fabric.  As I mentioned above this is a twill fabric so I did not feel as though I needed to interface them as they had a good weight to them in the first place.

If you are using quilting cotton and want to have a bit more stiffness in the fabric,  you will also need to cut out interfacing at some point during the cutting process.  If you have 6 flags (front and back) total you will need 6 triangles of interfacing, not 12 because you are not interfacing both sides of each triangle, just one side of the triangle.

A suggestion:  If you are mixing fabrics, home decor and quilting cotton, interface the cotton so it has a similar stiffness.

8.  Once you have all of the flags (front and back) cut out, it is now time to do some marking.  You will need your ruler and your marking tool.  I used a chalk marking tool so that the lines I drew I could easily wipe away.

Using your ruler find 1/4″ from the SIDE edge and following the straight edge draw the 1/4″ line from the top of the flag to the bottom of the flag.  This is the line we will be sewing along.

Then, using your ruler once more mark a line that is 1/8″ from the SIDE edge – this is going to be our guideline for our pinking shears.

Once you have marked one side, flip your flag around and mark the other side.  Your flag will look like…..

Repeat this step for ALL of your Flags.  I only mark one side of my flags, but I do try and keep them together during this step.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

Note: If you would prefer to use your 1/4″ piecing foot rather then draw your sewing line – that is fine, just ensure that your sewing line is a 1/4″ away from your side edges.

9.  Finally it is time to sew!  Set up your machine with the thread choice that you have selected for your stitching.  Remember, the thread is visible so if you select a contrasting color it will definitely stand out.  I went for a neutral thread choice for both my top thread and bobbin because I wasn’t looking for a stand out thread.

Also make sure you’ve adjusted your stitch length to something you would be happy to see.  As mentioned I set mine to 3.

Put your first bunting flag (front and back) in ready position in your machine.  I placed my needle ON the 1/4″ line as my guide for my stitching.  One your flag is in place stitch along the 1/4″ line.

As you can see, I am using my basic straight stitch foot so I am able to see that chalk line a bit better.

Once you get to the INTERSECTION where your 1/4″ line intersects you will have to try and get your needle down AS CLOSE TO THAT INTERSECTING POINT as possible so you can put your needle down and pivot your fabric and stitch along the other side.

Repeat for ALL your bunting flags

10. Once you are finished stitching your bunting flags together, it is now time to take your pinking shears to the edges for a decorative finish and to help prevent fraying.   Using your pinking sheers follow along the 1/8″ line and trim off the that little bit of fabric.
This is a bit messy – just as a warning to you.

Once finished pinking both sides your flag will look like…

Not bad, if I do say so myself.

11.  Before we get to this next step you will need to take some time and decide how you want your flags to be arranged and which flags will be beside which flag.  In a random order, a color order?

Once that is decided you will need to get out your Double Fold Bias tape.  You can usually find them at your fabric store in pre cut packages like the one below, or off the bolt.  There were out of the tape off the roll so I have to purchase the pre cut tape.  I needed about 5 yards but the smallest pack was  6.5 m (7.1 yards) so I had some extra – just in case I suppose.  I will use it for something else I know.

11.  Once you have your flag order it is time to place the flags into the Double Fold Bias Tape which will connect all the flags together.  Leaving yourself about a 4-8″ tail (this is a personal preference), open up the DFBT (double fold bias tape) and place the top of your flag as close as you can to the FOLD in the DFBT.

Once you are happy with the first flag placement, pin the flag in place using a straight pin

12.  Get the next flag in your bunting over and overlap the top edge of the second flag and the first flag (only a touch).  Then pin the flag in place.

Continue this pinning your flags in place until ALL flags have been added to the DFBT.  I also found it helpful to pin the intersections of the flags to help keep those pesky edges in place.

Remember to add the same amount of tail to the back end as you did your front.

13.  Carefully, pick up your flags pinned to the DFBT and head back to your trusty sewing machine.  We now need to stitch the flags in place.  I used the same color thread as my flags, but the choice once again is up to you.

Because your flags should be close to the fold of the DFBT you don’t have to top stitch them in place.  Instead find a place on the DFBT that you would like to stitch – down the middle, towards the top, towards the edge.

I used the edge of my foot as my guide and lined the edge of my foot with the bottom edge of my bias tape.  I then moved my needle to a place where I was happy to have the stitches – it worked out to be a scant 1/4″ (little less than a 1/4″) from the bottom edge.

Start stitching from the END of your tail with a couple of back stitches to hold everything in place, then continue to stitch along your bias tape.

Be careful though, sometimes those silly flag ends untuck themselves as you stitch so you might have to keep an eye out and make adjustments if your flags move around.

Once you get to the end of the DFBT remember to take a couple of back stitches to finish the bunting off.

VIOLA!  You are done.  Congratulations.  Now you can hang them where ever you had planned to.

I hope you enjoyed my tutorial on Fabric Bunting.  If you have any questions please feel free to leave them in the comments section and I will answer them in there or via email.  If you find any part of the tutorial confusing please let me know and I will make a change to help clear things up.

If you made some fabric bunting, I would love to see it and hear about it.

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15 Comments

Filed under Baby Girl, Everyday Life, Sewing

15 responses to “Bunting: A tutorial

  1. Karen

    I’m studying your tutorial closely to make some bunting for my daughter’s wedding. Thanks so much for all the detail about how to calculate fabric and how to exactly assemble the flags on the bias tape. Great photos showing all the details. I think you even used the same fabrics I have been looking at!

    • Jen

      Hello Karen. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting on the tutorial. What a wonderful idea to use them for a wedding. I bet it will be spectacular. You are welcome, I hope they turned out to be everything you are hoping. If something doesn’t work or you have questions please feel free to contact me and I will help you any way I can.

  2. lauren

    I bought the goods I am going to give this a try. i don’t have a tri tool do you think it will work if I just create a triangle template of my own? Yours looks so good, here’s hoping!

    • Jen

      Absolutely a template would work. You could use paper, or cardboard (like a cereal box or thicker), I have some plastic template material as well if you wanted a sheet. I could also let you borrow my tri tool if you wanted. Let me know. Are you going to try and put the name? Let me know if you need some help there. Can’t wait to see the progress.

  3. Lynne

    Why do you fold wrong sides together? It doesn’t look like you turn them inside out because you pink the edges. Did I miss something?

    • Jen

      Hi Lynne,

      I fold my fabric so that I have the wrong sides together (the unprinted/ugly side) and the right side (pretty/printed side) facing out/up or towards me so that when I cut my triangle pieces they are already matched in their pairs and ready to go to the next step. I then just have to sew my seam and pink the edges. It ensures I have perfectly matched triangles.

      I have tried it where I folded the fabric right side together (pretty side) and then cut out my triangles. At which point I had to match a front and back side. Which is fine, but by folding the fabric the opposite way I skip the step of matching my triangles.

      Thats the short answer, I’m simply trying to skip a step :) Hope that answers your question. Let me know if there is anything else.

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  6. Charlotte

    Great tutorial thank you! Would this work if I sewed the flags together with the right sides touching and then turned them inside out so the seam is on the inside and not showing?

    • Jen

      Thank so much for your comment. Absolutely this would work if you wanted to turn them inside out. If you have a quarter inch foot you wouldn’t necessarily have to mark your stitching line – though you could so you knew where to pivot your needle. You also could skip the step of using pinking shears because you will be turning it. The rest would be the same. Oh, when you cut it you could folded the fabric with right sides together (if you wanted the same front and back), so that they were in already lined up and ready to be sewn together. Hope they turn out wonderfully.

  7. Jaine

    That was interesting – I have to make miles of bunting for next September :( you mention the rotary cutter – I’ve never used one before – given the volume of ‘triangles’ I have to cut, do you have any advice, as if I’m going to have to finish them off with pinking shears, would it be just as well to get the blisters from cutting just the once?!! Advice please on bulk bunting cutting!! I have a cutting board, and some Fiskars shears, but no rotary blade – yet – are they definitely worth investing in?

    • Jen

      Hi Jaine,

      I would definitely recommend a rotary cutter. It gives you more precise cutting and it takes 1/2 the time.

      If you do a lot of clothing sewing then scissors I find work best, but since I do more quilting and cutting that requires straight edges then a rotary cutter it is.

      If I had to cut out a lot of them I would cut my fabric (using my rotary cutter, mat and ruler) to 13″ x WOF and would fold it in half to have a piece that was 6.5″xWOF. You would then get two bunting flags (4 pieces – a back and a front). And if I was making a large amount I would sew them rights sides together and then turn them so they had a finished edge.

      I hope that helps.

      • Jaine

        Many thanks – I anticipated what your answer would be – my rotary cutter arrived yesterday and I shall attempt to start my massive marathon this weekend. I have a year in which to complete the job – and when I said miles, I really did mean miles!

    • Elwing

      Hi Jaine, I was just browsing this blog and noticed your comment. This bunting is very pretty and durable, but if you’re looking for quick, bulk bunting you could try using single pieces of fabric (cut with pinking shears if possible to stop fraying – but if it’s just a one-use thing it might not be necessary). Use a hot glue gun to glue them onto cotton tape (glue the top of the bunting pieces and lay the cotton tape on top). I did this for my mum’s 60th and was able to make up 40 metres of bunting very quickly.

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