I Love Bunting – Confessions of a Bunting Addict

Who loves bunting? This decorative item has had a comeback in the last few years, thanks to the revival of afternoon tea, street parties, baking, crafting as well as celebrations like the Golden Jubilee and the Royal Wedding in the UK.

Three years ago, I wanted to try improve my sewing skills so got myself a cheapish Singer sewing machine from Aldi for £90 and attended a Christmas themed bunting workshop at Calon Yarns, Canton, Cardiff.  It was an easy sewing project to get into and I’ve made a few as gifts and as a decoration for parties and weddings.

Grey, cream and pink spot wedding bunting
Grey, cream and pink spot wedding bunting

Bunting is a popular decorative item in vintage, garden party or afternoon tea themed weddings. I have asked myself when will this theme will go out of fashion? How much bunting is too much? Is there a need to have meters and meters of bunting hanging around the bar, ceiling and railings? When will wedding venues start putting up permanent hooks and clips in place for hanging bunting?

For our wedding, I made several sets of bunting for the venue but I managed to hold myself back and say ‘less is more’. I managed to restrict myself to two sets of bunting – one set for the top table (see photo above) and in the bar area.

By looking at Pinterest and a few wedding websites, it’s safe to say that bunting is here to stay (as well as white bird cages) and it has evolved to feature on wedding stationery and wedding cakes.

Bunting on wedding stationery: www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=Bunting%20wedding%20invite
Bunting on cakes: www.pinterest.com/search/pins/?q=Bunting%20wedding%20cake

I have to confess – I have a slight bunting addiction. I’m not sure why I have a obsession for bunting. I think it’s related to many memories of birthday parties I have when I was younger and mum always hanged this banner up in the kitchen:

Cardboard foil Happy Birthday Banner. Still available to buy 30 years later from John Lewis!
Cardboard foil Happy Birthday Banner. Still available to buy 30 years later from John Lewis!

I’m so pleased to say that you can still buy this banner from John Lewis! It’s still a popular item 30 years later.

Bunting doesn’t have to be girly with flower print fabric either – I’ve seen different styles of bunting on Pinterest for Christmas, Halloween and as a decorative items for a little girls and boys bedroom or playroom.

Here are just a few of my favourite bunting ideas from the good pinners on Pinterest:

Underwear Bunting (cheeky): www.pinterest.com/pin/436708495089287694/
Christmas Advent Bunting: www.pinterest.com/pin/246431410831585256/
Nautical Bunting: www.pinterest.com/pin/170010954657799194/

I’ve lost count how many sets of bunting I’ve made of the last few years. Most have them have been birthday presents for friends young children (mostly little girls!) and they have gone down a treat. One toddler questioned me how I managed to get her name on the bunting…I said a Disney fairy helped me…Tinkerbell?

Bunting in the making
Bunting in the making

This month, I have more 1st birthdays coming up and thought I’d better pull out the sewing machine and fabric, and make some bunting as gifts. I got a bit carried away on my weekend of bunting and made another set for a friend’s little girl who I’m seeing this weekend.

Three sets of bunting in one weekend? Yes I was ambitious – I finished the bunting three weeks later…

I won’t bore you with a step by step guide on how to make bunting just yet – I will type up a step by step guide on making bunting and publish here in the next few weeks.

However, if you confident in making your own, here are some few tips you might find useful:

Embellishment for pennants – letters, numbers and shapes
For the first few sets of bunting I made, I bought and used A4 size felt squares from art & craft shops but this works out quite expensive at 49p a piece. I found a cheaper solution by buying a cheap colour fleece from IKEA POLARVIDE for £3 and you get at least 1.5 meter square of fabric. Fleece keeps its shape better than cut and trimmed felt, but I iron on interfacing onto it to reinforce it.

IKEA usually have this fleece blanket in stock and bring out new colours every year. In the last two years, they have had red, white, purple, lime green, blue and aqua.

Unfortunately, IKEA don’t have a wide range of colours but if you look in the discount art & craft/book stores like The Works or discount/pound shops like Home Bargains and B&M in the winter, they usually stock cheap bright coloured fleeces in the home furnishing aisle. Don’t forget to look in the off cuts bin in fabric and haberdashery shops as well as local markets.

Don’t limit yourself to fabric embellishments for your bunting. Add buttons, sequins, clothes pegs, beads, bells or even small Christmas baubles to your pennants.

Purple, teal and gold 'Cariad' bunting for wedding party. Jazzed this bunting up by attaching small gold baubles from the IKEA Christmas sale!
Purple, teal and gold ‘Cariad’ bunting for wedding party. Jazzed this bunting up by attaching small gold baubles from the IKEA Christmas sale!

I don’t know about you but I’m struggling to find affordable yet quirky and fun patterned fabric for my sewing projects. I used to pop into Hobbycraft or Dunelm Mill for fabric but it’s not cheap and the range of fabrics seem to get smaller and smaller every time I go.

In the last two years, the haberdashery section in IKEA has grown and I love their quirky Scandi prints. Most fabric here is not suitable for bunting as the print is too big but they currently stock lovely girly, flower prints that look similar to Cath Kidston style prints. Grab it while it’s there!

eBay is a good place to buy cheap fabric and there’s a large range of unusual prints here. Most of the stock listed here is either offcuts from rolls of fabric or discontinued, therefore make sure you buy enough for your project. There’s a big chance you won’t be able to buy it again.

Don’t forget to visit your local markets and independant haberdashery/fabric shops. While looking for fabric and lace for my wedding dress last year, I stumbled across a great little shop in Roath, Cardiff called Butterfly Fabrics. If you’re ever in Cardiff, try pop in here.

Paper & Cardboard Bunting
The pennants don’t have to be made from fabric. If you are creating bunting for a party but don’t want to spend too much money and time making fabric pennants, consider using paper or card.

For a 30th birthday party, I needed to make 15 meters of paper bunting to hang in the function room. I happen to have a surplus of pink and white stripe 6in x 4in paper bags from a previous project, so I used these as pennants and sewn onto the binding. This was a quick and easy to transform a room ready for a party. After the party, I ripped off the paper pennants and reused the binding for other bunting projects.

Bunting using pink and white stripe paper bags as pennants. Clever!
Bunting using pink and white stripe paper bags as pennants. Clever!

Other examples of bunting from paper and card:

Mexican Paper Bunting: www.pinterest.com/pin/459789443177797213/
Birthday Bunting with Clothes Pegs www.pinterest.com/pin/170010954658379619/
Letter Bunting: www.pinterest.com/pin/170010954656441819/

Or even balloons! Balloon Bunting: www.pinterest.com/pin/170010954658221186/

Cotton Bias / Binding
Another money saving tip – instead of buying short length 2.5m cotton bias or binding from shops like Hobbycraft or haberdashery departments at £2 a go, buy in bulk from Amazon. 50 meters for £6.50 or 2.5 meters for £2? I’m sure you can work out the savings!

Templates and stencils
If you’re planning to make a few sets of bunting, it’s worth making a template for the pennants so you can mark out onto fabric faster and ensure each piece is the same size. It’s also worth investing in some Helix 3in stencils for marking out the letters. It helps to ensure each letter is the same size.

Here’s the latest sets of bunting:

Adventure / Hiking themed bunting for a boy. Mountain scene fabric from IKEA, discontinued.
Adventure / Hiking themed bunting for a boy. Mountain scene fabric from IKEA, discontinued.
Girly flower bunting. Rose print fabric from IKEA, still available to buy.
Girly flower bunting for girl’s bedroom. Rose print fabric from IKEA, still available to buy.
Red, blue and white nautical themed bunting
Red, blue and white nautical themed bunting for a boy’s room.

It doesn’t stop there – I’ve had a request from my mum for a Christmas themed bunting for the farm house over the weekend. Just waiting for her to find a Christmas themed fabric for the pennants. It’s going to be a long one, especially if she wants me to spell out ‘Nadolig Llawen’.

Until then, I’m going to give myself a break from bunting and concentrate on wedding stationery requests and business research for MB|LD.

If you like my bunting, I am available for commissions. Prices start from £20 for a 7 pennant bunting, between 1.5m and 2m long. Typical turn around 7-10 days. Please drop me an email on manylionbach@gmail.com or tweet me on @manylion_bach.

Or if you fancy making your own, search for workshops in your local area on Google (either run by the Lifelong Learning department by your local council, craft shops or craft fairs). If you happen to live in or near Cardiff, pop into Calon Yarns to see when they are holding their next bunting workshop.


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