are we there yet?

Happy Bunting Tutorial

I finished this bright and happy bunting a couple of weeks ago – it’s my first project with my new swish sewing machine (yay!).

It all started when I was in Germany and popped into a fabric store – this gorgeous bright jersey screamed at me to take it. The beginning of my fabric stash… eek! Initially I had plans to create a sun shade for Katja’s pram, but as it turned out we got something else to do the job for that and so it wasn’t needed. Now, however, I figured it would make some lovely bunting.

So, let’s get started.

You will need: some lovely bright fabric like mine, or alternatively a selection of fabric remnants, about 5 metres of ribbon or bias binding, thread, sewing machine, card, scissors, pencil, and about 2 hours of that precious time!

If you were going to do a traditional bunting with different coloured pennants, you would at this point choose your fabric – prints and solids etc with some kind of theme running through in terms of colours or tones.

Create a triangle template for your pennants from card. I had an old advertising card that was about the height I wanted, so I simply cut that on a pleasing angle to get a template. I then traced this onto some scrap vilene to give me a second template.

Now, fold over your fabric so that you have two layers and pin down the template (or you can draw around it with washable tailor’s chalk) – you want to end up with about 9 pennants in total, so you’ll need to cut out 18 shapes.

Once the pennants have all been cut, line them up with the right-sides together and pin and then start sewing the long sides. You’ll want a seam of about a centimetre or so, it’s not entirely important (although it will affect the finished size) – I used the guide on my sewing machine so that my seams would all be roughly the same.

You’ll need to sew both of the long sides, but do not sew the top edge. It is possible to sew all the pennants in one go. As you get to the end of each pennant allow your machine to sew a few stitches without fabric, then introduce the next pennant. This saves time and thread! I didn’t do this – next time I will. Then just cut the thread between pennants when you have finished sewing them all.

Cut away excess fabric at the point of each pennant. You can also sew up on an angle for about 2cm to make the point end thinner and thus make it easier to create your point when you turn the fabric.

Turn fabric right side out. You might have to pull and prod a bit to get a nice point – you can use a specific point turner tool for this, or an old pencil or chopstick, anything long and thin but not sharp.

When all of the pennants have been turned it’s time for the boring job of ironing them. I suggest that you wait until there’s noone else in the house while you do this step less you find yourself suddenly tasked with just doing everyone’s “one quick” shirt.

Trim away the selvedges at each corner on the top of each pennant (that’s the daggy bits that stick up outside of the triangle) and ensure there is a straight edge at the top, too.

If you’re using multiple fabrics, this is the stage where you would choose a nice sequence and put them all in a pile in the correct order. As I very cleverly chose to use only one fabric I get away with just lumping them together any old way now.

Now we come to the slightly tricky bit. You need to do some quick maths, but it won’t hurt that much – I promise!

Normally you would use bias binding for the tape – I couldn’t find any that I liked. I toyed with the idea of making my own but then I came across some lovely ribbon in just the right shade of purple. The spool had 5m on it, which is why my bunting is 2.5m long. If I’d wanted longer I could have simply purchased more ribbon and joined.

I’m going to assume that your pennants are approx the same width. Measure the top edge. Multiple by the number of pennants you have, add 20cm. Now subtract that from your tape length. Divide this number by the number of pennants minus 1 to give you the size of your gap between each.

Clear as mud? Here’s my workings:

(9 x pennants at 23cm each) = 207
Add 20cm for the end sections = 227
Total length 250cm minus 227 = 23cm
23cm divided by 8 = 2.875cm

Anyway, fold the ribbon in half and pin together to make the 2.5m length. You’ll replace the pins as you do the next step.

Pin in your first pennant, 10cm from either end of the tape. You want to sandwich the top of the pennant between the ribbon layers, or if using bias you fold over the bias tape to cover the top of the pennant. Use a couple of pins to get it secure.

Leave a gap of slightly under 3cm (see your workings) and pin in the next pennant. Continue this way until all the pennants are pinned in. You should have 10cm of tape left at the other end. Adjust if needed.

Starting at the start of the first pennant, sew! I chose a wide, reasonably decorative stitch to give a braided effect. Continue sewing until you reach the end of the last pennant.

You’ll need to join up the cut ends of the tape, you can turn inside out and sew a seam or use a dense overlocking stitch to sew across the ends.

Now, hang up and enjoy!

NB: I’m hanging mine above Katja’s cot, she loves looking at the bright colours, but as yet she cannot sit up. I’ve secured the bunting so that it cannot possibly fall and I double check every so often to ensure it’s all as it should be. Children love bright things and so as soon as she comes close to reaching it we’ll remove it as a long string-like thing and a baby could prove to be not so much fun.