So you've got a big event coming up, like a wedding or dance party, and you want to make tons of decorative bunting?
This instructable covers the easiest way to make hundreds of feet of bunting, strings of little triangle-shaped flags sometimes called garlands.
Bunting is the sort of decoration that looks better the more you have, so prepare yourself to sew up a storm!
Step 1: Gather Materials and Tools
To make bunting, you'll need:
- sewing machine
- sewing scissors and/or pinking shears
- scrap cardboard (optional)
You can use almost anything for the fabric but I tend to mostly use lightweight material.
When making bunting for a large prom-themed fundraising dance party, I collected thrift store bed sheets and curtains with colourful prints.
For my wedding, I chose fabrics that worked with our wedding colours (red, grey, black and white) and used everything from old tea towels to a sock that had lost its mate. It was fun to work in materials that had meaning to us, like remnants leftover from making Halloween costumes and old clothes that had made their way to the scrap bin.
Step 2: Cut
Decide how big you want your little flags to be. To keep things relatively consistent, I cut a triangle template out of cardboard.
The trick to cutting bunting is to try and cut many flags with as little work as possible.
Lay your fabric flat and then fold it over the length of your triangle. Fold it over again and again so you have several layers all the desired length of your flags.
Cut along the folds. You should now have several long strips of fabric.
If the material is thin, fold these strips over again until it is as thick as you can easily cut with your scissors or shears, and then cut out the triangle shapes.
Tip: If you are working with light to medium weight woven fabrics you can speed up the process even more by ripping your fabric into straight strips. Simply snip the edge of the fabric at intervals the length of your triangles and then quickly rip it into long lengths. The rips will follow the grain of the fabric, ensuring nice straight edges.
Invite some friends over for drinks and get them to help you cut triangles. This is pretty hard to screw up, so even your friends who claim to not be crafty should be able to lend a hand as long as you have a spare set of scissors.
Step 3: Sew
To keep things as simple as possible, I don't bother with pins and just feed the fabric triangles through the sewing machine one at a time.
Keep your fabric triangles close at hand so it is easy to grab the next one.
I've tried two different methods for mixing up my flags which both work well:
1. If I'm working with just a few different colours, I set the piles of triangles next to the sewing machine and take the pieces off each pile in order, one after another.
2. For our wedding we were making so much bunting and had so many different types of fabric, I shuffled the pieces after cutting them and had them stacked into piles of 120 pieces. The stacks were placed next to the machine so I could just grab one piece from the top of the pile when I needed the next piece.
I've used both a tight zigzag stitch and just a straight stitch. I prefer the zigzag when combining a variety of very different fabrics, but I don't think the stitch you choose makes much of a difference.
If you have friends with sewing machines, recruit them to help you out. Many hands make light work!
Step 4: Embrace the Imperfections
The beauty of decorations like this bunting is really in the quantity over the quality of individual parts.
Don't fuss about whether every flag is exactly the same size or whether all the sewing is perfectly straight.
Hang the bunting from the ceiling or up high on walls. Party guests will love the festive ambiance it adds, and if they do manage to get close enough to examine it, any imperfections are likely to add to the handmade charm.