Friday, March 13, 2015

Scrap Fabric Bunting

These pretty pennant banners are popping up everywhere. I've seen them over fireplace mantles and doorways, around classrooms, and even along a wedding aisle.  To me, buntings bring a cheerful, lighthearted feel to a space, and they remind me of a country carnival, Ferris wheels and crisp candied apples! They are popular enough my 8 year old requested one to decorate her birthday party, so, of course, I couldn't resist making it!  It seemed a simple, quick sewing project and also a fantastic way to show off some salvaged scrap fabric....  

As I searched the internet for a tutorial to guide my project, I was surprised to find the traditional way of sewing a bunting isn't as simple as I had thought. It's quite involved, really, if you want your bunting to look very prim and perfect.  Rather than abandoning the project (and my little girl's vision) I tried an easier method, that, to me, turned out just as cheerful and cute.   Here are my pattern, pinning, turning, or piping involved!

You will need:
  • scrap fabric in coordinating colors (about 1 yard total)
  • scissors and pinking shears
  • sewing machine and thread
  • 1 spool of 1/2" ribbon approx. 18 feet 

Step 1) Choose your fabric.  Light to medium weight cotton seems to be the best.  Anything stretchy or too flimsy won't hang right.  You can use scraps from a previous sewing project or up-cycle some used materials.  

Tips for salvaging:  I keep stained or worn out shirts, hunt for old sheets at garage sales and search the 50 cent rack at the local thrift shop. I like to look for material that has a simple, classic pattern like stripes or polka dots, and a monochromatic color scheme.  This makes it easy to mix and match the scraps later on. 

For this project I chose to use all red and white scraps.

Step 2) Decide the size and dimensions of your triangles.  Some people prefer short and wide, others long and skinny. My triangles are about 4.5" x 4.75".  Symmetrical triangles are best. I achieve this by folding a piece of fabric in half and cutting a 2.25" x 4.75" triangle out of the fold. We will be trimming them slightly in a future step, so you may want to cut your initial triangles about 1/4" bigger than you want your finished triangles to be.

Step 3) Start cutting! You will need two cut triangles for each hanging section.  Use the first triangle you cut as a pattern for all the rest.  I use straight scissors at this stage, and as you see from the picture, I don't worry about cutting very precisely. If you know you are a precise cutter and sewer, you could use your pinking sheers at this stage, and save a step later on.

Step 4) Pair the triangles right-side-out. We will start sewing with a 3/8" seam allowance along the right side of the triangle.  My stitch length was between 2 and 3.

Here's a quick sewing method:  After you've sewn one side together, turn your sewing machine knob to release the bobbin thread,  pull the fabric away from your machine a little bit, and without cutting the thread move right on to the next pair of triangles.   You will end up with a chain of sewn pieces that can be quickly snipped apart.

Use the same method to sew the other side of the triangles.  You will not need to sew the top. Leave it open. 

 Step 5) I suppose you could turn your triangles inside out at this stage if you really wanted a cleaner look. Just snip the tip and turn away! Instead, I used pinking sheers to trim the edges of my triangles. This keeps the edges from fraying and it looks cute too!  I trim a little less than 1/4" away from my stitch line. You can press your triangles after this step, if you like.

Step 6) Arrange your triangles in the color pattern that looks best to you, then over lap the tips of the triangles by about 1/4" and sew along the tops. this will loosely connect your triangles.  

 Step 7) To finish it off, sew a 1/2" wide ribbon along the top of your banner. I stitched once along the bottom of the ribbon and again along the top.  Be sure to leave a length of ribbon on either end of your triangles so you can use it to hang your banner. If you want your banner to be double sided, sew another ribbon along the top of the other side, or you could use a 1" ribbon and fold it over the top before you sew.


All-in-all I was very happy with the results, and my daughter was too.  After the birthday party, we hung the bunting up with my vintage Coke sign...I think it looks just right!


                                                                 Chelsey Rose

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