Bunting – Weekend Project

I spoke too soon about not having to make bunting for a few weeks – once I packed away my sewing machine, fabrics and sewing box, I got an order in to make bunting for a friend of the family. I should get another desk in the studio and have my sewing machine out all the time.

Anyway, it was a perfect opportunity to photograph and document each stage of making bunting and deliver my promise of blog with step by step guide. So here goes!

What do I need?

For a 7 pennant bunting, you will need the following:

  • At least half meter of fabric / cotton for pennants, so a 50cm x 150cm piece
  • A few squares of felt / complimentary or different colour fabric for the letters and embellishments
  • 2 meters of 25mm wide cotton bias (any colour)
  • Iron-on / Fusible Interfacing, to stiffen up fabric for the embellishments
  • Fabric scissors
  • Marker’s chalk or fabric marker
  • Pins & needle
  • Seam ripper
  • Thread (any colour, white or complementary colour)
  • Sewing machine
  • Iron
  • Stencils (PDF Download available)
  • Cups of tea

I’ve broken down the method into three stages (or three evenings, which ever way you want to approach this project):

1. Marking Out & Cutting

Pennants – lay out your fabric on the table and mark out 14 pennants, using this template and marker’s chalk/felt tip pen. The template might seem big but it’s wide enough to accommodate a letter or your chosen embellishment. Cut out the pennants using fabric scissors and set aside.

Cutting pennants with a template
Cutting pennants with a template

Letters & Embellishments – lay out your complimentary fabric on the table, pattern side down and mark out your letters, using your chosen stencil or template. Remember with letters, to mark them out back to front, especially with your B’s, R’s, F’s, S’s and Z’s and lower case letters. Otherwise you might cut out funny looking letters!

Marking out letters using a stencil
Marking out letters using a stencil
Cutting out letters
Cutting out letters

Tips:

Patterned Fabric – If you have a patterned fabric, especially floral or a large pattern go through the pennants decide which ones will be front and rear facing. Choose not so busy patterned pennants as the front facing, so it doesn’t clash against the embellishment. If you’re not sure, lay your embellishments onto top the pennants and see how they look.

If your patterned fabric can only be hung or held up the right way up (similar to wallpaper), some of your pennants you’ve cut out may look upside down. You can use the pennants that are the wrong way up on the rear to save on fabric waste.

Alternatives to felt – A4 size felt sheets from art & craft shops can be quite expensive at 49p a piece or £7 per meter. If you are planning on making a lot of bunting, it is more cost effective to buy cheap colour fleece from IKEA POLARVIDE for £3 for 1.5 meter square of fabric OR from Primark at £2.50 for 1.5 meter square. I iron on interfacing onto it to reinforce it.

Interfacing – I like to iron on interfacing to the ‘wrong side’ of the fabric or onto fleece to stiffen up and reinforce, ready for when tacking and sewing the embellishment onto the pennant. Also, it is easier to mark out your letters and embellishments as it has the same texture as paper and adds some weight to the pennants, making it hang better.

You don’t have to do this step but it will make handling and cutting out the embellishments a lot easier, especially letters like B’s, C’s, G’s, R’s and S’s. I don’t usually iron on interfacing onto felt as it holds it’s shape well and easy to handle but it’s down to own preference.

2. Tack & Stitch

Once you’ve cut all of your pennants and embellishments, it’s time to pin and tack!

Embellishments: Start will placing the embellishments onto the front facing pennants (if you have followed by patterned fabric tip above). Make sure you position the embellishment in the centre of the pennant. Use a tape measure or ruler and measure the distance from the bottom of the pennant to the bottom of the embellishment to make sure they are all placed in the same position on each pennant.

Tacking letter embellishments onto the pennants
Tacking letter embellishments onto the pennants

Once happy with the position of the embellishment, pin into place, tack with a needle and thread then remove pins.

Set up your sewing machine with your chosen stitch and thread colour and stitch the embellishments onto the pennants. I recommend using the zigzag stitch on your sewing machine but it is down to you! Take your time at this stage as you’ll have to navigate difficult curvers, shapes and corner.

Sew letters onto the pennants
Sew letters onto the pennants

Once you have sown all the embellishments onto the pennants, remove the tacks using a seam ripper and trim an excess hanging threads.

Pennants: Place one pennant with an embellishment face down onto a pennant with no embellishment, ensuring that the wrong side of the fabric is facing out, pin into place, tack with a needle and thread then remove pins. Repeat with all other pennants.

Pin and tack pennants together, right side of fabric facing in
Pin and tack pennants together, right side of fabric facing in

Return to your sewing machine, set up the machine do to running stitch or overlock stitch if your sewing machine has this functionality. Either stitch will do. Sew the diagonal sides but leave the top open.

Once you have sown all pennants, remove the tacks using a seam ripper and trim any excess hanging threads. Turn pennants inside out and push out the point with a pen or scissors.

Pennants sewn together and pulled right side out
Pennants sewn together and pulled right side out

Tips:

Tacking: I prefer to tack the embellishments onto the pennants as they are less likely to move out of position than only using pins. Also, it will be easier to sew them onto place on the sewing machine and not worry with the pins getting stuck in the machine!

Shaping your pennants: Be careful not to use too much force when pushing out the point out with a pen or scissors as you may puncture or rip the fabric and stitches. If you struggle to achieve a smart sharp point, there may be excess fabric in the way. Turn inside out, trim any excess fabric off, and try again. Don’t trim off too close to the stitching as it may come apart.

3. Iron & Assemble

Iron: Get your ironing board and iron and press those pennants. After sewing them together and turning them outside in, they may look like chippy cones. Press them flat with a iron as this will them flatten into shaped and easier when attaching to the cotton bias tape.

Ironing pennants
Ironing pennants

Assemble: Next and final stage is to attach the pennants onto your cotton bias tape. If your pennants spell out a name, make sure the spelling is correct by placing them in the correct order.

Get hold of your cotton bias and fold over in half and pin for at least 30cm. You’ll need 30cm of cotton so it can be tied into a loop or attached to a hook for when hanging the bunting. After the first 30cm, grab hold of your first pennant, place the top end in middle of the cotton bias, fold over and pin. Use at least three pins per pennant to keep in place.

Fold cotton bias in half, insert top side of pennant inside the folded pennant

After pinning the first pennant onto the cotton bias, leave a 1.5cm – 3cm gap then attach the next pennant. Repeat with each pennant and check the spelling again, just in case you mis-spelled the name!

Once you’ve attached every pennant, continue to fold over and pin 30cm of cotton bias again.

If you’re confident on the sewing machine, there’s no need to tack the pennants with a needle and thread. I can’t see no reason why you can’t go straight onto the sewing machine and sew. If you’re not 100% confident or have any doubts, tack the cotton bias and pennants together, remove pins then hit the sewing machine.

Sewing pennants onto cotton bias
Sewing pennants onto cotton bias

Set your sewing machine to single stitch and sew the cotton bias and pennants together. Once done, trim off any any excess threads and there you have it, your own custom bunting!

Tah dah! Here's the finished bunting!
Tah dah! Here’s the finished bunting!

Tips:

Sewing cotton bias and pennants together: Don’t rush this stage as your sewing machine may struggle to get the needle past through 4 layers of fabric. Practice on any offcuts of fabric first if in any doubt.

Every sewing machine is different and you know yours best. I swear my machine has it’s own personality and often throws tantrums, especially when changing stitch setting and tension.

Templates

PennantsBunting Pennant Template (Adobe Acrobat PDF)

Template will fit onto a sheet of A4 paper/card. No need to increase in size.

Letters: I use a Helix 3in Stencil to mark out my letters. The other option would be to open up Word on your PC, type out the name or word for your bunting to your chosen font and size up to 300pt, depending on font. Print and cut out and use as your template. You can either pin the paper template onto your felt/fabric or lay down and mark out.

If you’re stuck for inspirantion for letter or font styles, visit www.dafont.com or www.myfont.com and type in the name or saying into the preview box. Do a screen grab of your favourite font, paste into a Word documents and print.

Big thanks to Lynne at Calon Yarns who delivered the bunting workshop on a seasonal basis. After attending the workshop back in late 2011, I have been bunting crazy! I couldn’t have done it without your help. Step by step guide and tips are based on Calon Yarns instructions.

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