08 June 2009

Cheerful Bunting Tutorial

In honor of Miles's upcoming first birthday, I thought I'd share the process of making a little festive birthday bunting for him. Furthermore, what is a crafting blog without a bunting tutorial? There are several out there, so check them out! I thought I would make this one extra-detailed for some of my very beginner sewist friends out there. I think this is a perfect novice project - it is very forgiving!

various fabric scraps, fat quarters, old sheets, etc.
rotary cutter or scissors
coordinating thread
handmade or purchased bias binding
turning tool

Make Your Template:
I used a 8.5x11 piece of cardstock to make my template. So the top of my triangle is 8.5 inches wide, and the triangle is 9 inches high. It felt like a good size, but a little larger would also be nice. This size fits nicely into fat quarters and half yards without wasting fabric.

Cut Out Your Triangles:
I used 14 pairs of triangles in this project but I think as few as 9 would be fine. Fold your fabric right sides together so you can cut each pair out and have it all ready for stitching. The ten seconds you're going to save will make a world of difference when you are making this bunting twenty minutes before your guests arrive. Make certain to fold carefully if you have directional fabric, so you don't have upside down images.

Stitch The Triangles:
If you're a newer sewist, you might want to use a fabric pencil or air-erasable marker to draw a little center line at the tip of your triangle, so you can visualize where to pivot.

With right sides together, using a 1/2 inch seam allowance, begin stitching at the upper right corner of the triangle. When you get to your line (or imaginary line), put your needle in the down position and pivot, then stitch back up the other side.

See, I have a little piece of paper taped to my machine, with a dot where 1/2 inch is.

If you're feeling a bit thorough, here is a little tip. You can make nicer points by taking one stitch across the point instead of just pivoting. I'm not certain why this works, but it does. So if you are inclined, here is the alternative:

Stitch down the right side, stopping right before you hit center.

With needle in the down position, pivot and take one stitch across the bottom of the point.

Pivot again and head back up the other side.

The finished stitching should look like this:

Once you are finished stitching your triangles (with either method), you will want to trim the seam allowance on points to reduce bulk. Be careful not to clip your stitching.

Turn and Press:

Turn your triangles right sides out and use your turning tool to gently poke out the points. Press flat, using your turning tool to push out the seams as needed.

Snip off the little 'ears'.

Check out the difference here between the points with just a pivot, and the point with a stitch taken across the bottom. The one-stitch is on the left. This is totally not an important element in this project, but is a good detail to be aware of for garment construction, making handbags, or anything that might garner close inspection.

Bias Binding:

Here is the point where a great sewist would whip up 6 light-yards of organic, homemade, free-range, cruelty-free, sustainably harvested bias tape. Me, well, I don't have all day to spend singeing my fingers. Instead I spent $1.87 each on two packets of bias tape at Hobby Lobby. This is the great poly/cotton stuff that you can find anywhere. It feels like a thrift store pantsuit but it does the job.

You may be able to get by with 3 yards of bias tape - you'll need to do the math. I could *just* fit my 14 triangles on 3 yards but I wanted long ends so I used 2 packets (6 yards). Therefore I had to stitch the two sections of bias tape together. You certainly can do this just any old way you like, but here's the "right" way (albeit a bit sloppy).

Open up your bias tape and place the ends perpendicular to each other, right sides together, and pin. Stitch a diagonal line across them - I've marked the approximate line of stitching in white pencil.

Trim the seam allowance.

Open up the tape and press the seam flat, then realign all of the creases and fold the tape back into itself. Press.

YAY! Now that you have all of that finished, on to the fun part!

Put It All Together:
First you'll need to calculate how much of a tail to leave before placing your first triangle. I left about 1.5 yards since I had a really long bias tape. If you're picky like me, lay out your triangles so you can arrange them in your preferred order.

Open up the bias tape a bit and sandwich the top of your triangle inside. Pin in place. I spaced my triangles about 1/2 inch apart but it is also just fine to put them right next to each other.

After you get them all pinned in place, you can start stitching! I chose a straight stitch, but zigzag would be cute as well. I used a contrasting thread that coordinated with the predominant color in my bunting. Topstitch about 1/8 inch away from the bottom edge of the bias tape, or find an easy landmark on your presser foot to line up your tape.

A long line of stitching later, you're finished...

Just hang and enjoy for years to come!

I hope you've enjoyed this little tutorial. Please comment and let me know if you make a bunting - I would love to see pictures!


Heather said...

Wow, what an amazing tutorial. Thank you so much for sharing this. Can't wait to try it for the boy's birthday in October

Suzanne said...

So cute! Don't know if I can wait as long as 6.5 more months to do this for Dhari's first birthday. Might have to celebrate 1/2 year birthday...

averagegirl said...

Yay! This is a perfect project for Eleanor and I! We have some great scraps that will work perfectly in her room.

Thanks so much for the inspiration (and directions)!


Dawn said...

I made my very first sewing project - bunting! - with bits and pieces of advice from here and there but wasn't really sure what I was doing... your instructions were puuuuuurfect for a sewing newbie - so excited to make my second one! Thanks!

Christina said...

I took a photo of the bunting... had to share!

Thanks again for the great tutorial--never would have known to make that single stitch at the point of each flag!


Suzanne said...

Imagine my joy when I discovered a shop where I could buy 10 metres of uninterrupted bias binding!


Ditto on the single stitch at the point. I use that trick for the corners of my bandana bibs. Thanks Bernadette!

Beth said...

Thanks for the great tutorial - I made a lovely birthday banner for my baby's 1st birthday, and it can be used again and again. The tip about the stitch across the bottom of the point is brilliant - it made a massive difference.



Lucy said...

Fabulous, and such clear instructions. I am now about to raid the loft for my bag of fabric scraps!
Thank you!

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