Posted by: michelenel | 25 May, 2015

Bunting….a very British obsession!

Go anywhere in Britain on a sunny day and you will find streams of bunting decorating parks, shops, fairs, parties….basically anywhere!  Any opportunity we get, we get out the bunting but why and where does this love of the simple flag on a string come from?

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Over on Prezi, they give a brief history of the origins of bunting from the name of the material the little flags (or pennants) were made from – buntine – a lightweight wool material found on Royal Navy vessels and used for signalling.  Clearly the use of bunting has expanded over the centuries, but our love of the humble flag has grown tremendously – for which, I for one, am very happy! 🙂

Personally, I am doing my very best to keep the tradition going by creating miles and miles of this decorative marvel.

My latest endeavour is a string of bunting for my mom’s stall at her local agricultural show in Surry next month.  My mom has the most divine online store – Hidarl.co.uk – and they sell beautiful handcrafted items from Southern Africa.  The story behind her products and the lovely people who make them is very heartwarming, and I am so proud of her efforts to help those less fortunate than ourselves.

Mom wanted something bright, and that is exactly what she got…..

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For anyone interested in creating their own bunting, here is how I did mine (and other tips and methods)…

You will need:

Material of your choice; ribbon or tape for the string (the length of your bunting plus a meter for the tails); a pennant shaped template; sewing supplies including either pinking shears or a pinking blade for your rotary cutter.

1)  Select your material (or even paper if you’re only using it once, and it won’t get rained on!).  Mine is made from 100% cotton but try cheaper poly cottons too.  Ikea sell some lovely vintage styles that are perfect for your bunting as well.

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2) Cut yourself a rectangular template from plastic or cardboard – I make mine 7 1/2 inches high and 6 1/2 inches wide (bunting should be taller than it is wide).  Draw a line down the middle to get your centre for the point and join this point to the top corners and cut out the triangle shape….

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3)  Cut your material into 7 1/2 inch wide strips using a rotary cutter or scissors and the template.  To save fabric you cut one with the point side up and then flip it round and cut the next one with the point down.  If you don’t have pinking shears don’t panic, you can make your bunting without it because the bias cuts don’t fray as much (if you don’t mind the more ‘used’ look).  If you don’t want to leave the edges raw then see my hints in the next step.

From my cotton material, I cut 4 strips of each of my three designs and this made enough double-sided bunting of around 20 meters.

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4) This step is optional…. If you don’t mind one-sided bunting – that is bunting with the wrong side of the fabric showing  (this is only a problem if your bunting is hung across a room where you can see both sides), then you will be able to make MUCH more than my double-sided bunting.

Option 1) use each pennant as it is – this is the one-sided or single layer method

Option 2) join two pennants, wrong sides together and stitch down the two diagonal sides to join them – this is double-sided but with the pinked edges showing…this is the method I used for this stream of bunting.

Option 3) join two pennants together with right sides together, stitch down the two diagonal sides to join them; clip the point and turn them right sides out and press them – this is my posh method and the most durable of the 3 options.

With either of the double-sided methods, stitch them without cutting the threads off in between each pennant – this is the chain piecing used in quilting.

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5) Use either ribbon, woven tape, biased binding or even string, to attach to your pennants to create a stream of bunting.  For this batch, I used cotton tape 2.5cm wide.  I didn’t want it to be white so I soaked it in warm water with a tablespoon of turmeric to give it a lovely yellow colour.  You can obviously use fabric dyes, but I don’t have any in the house and anyone who has made a meal with turmeric will probably know how well it dyes your hands so why not tape!  Why do I suddenly have a craving for curry???

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6)  Now fold your tape in half down the entire length and iron it well.

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7)  Leave a tail about half a meter long and then begin attaching pennants onto the tape, this gives you a tail to attach around a tree or post.  Stitch close to the open edge of the tape and stop where your first pennant is to be placed.  Line up the straight, un-sewn edge of the pennant against the crease you ironed into the tape.  Fold the tape over to encase the top of the pennant and continue to sew across the tape with the pennant sandwiched in between.  Leave the gap you want between pennants – there is no hard and fast rule here, make it how you want.  I have some with no gap and some that have a 6 inch or 12 inch gap. Basically, I make it to suit the situation – if it is for outdoors then the gap can be much bigger, but indoors you can make them closer together.

Continue adding pennants and stitching until you run out of pennants.  You should be left with a piece of tape to allow a tail for fastening on the end as well.  Stitch the tail closed as you did for the other tail.

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TA DA!! You are ready to PARTY! 🙂

Go mad, make some bunting – you won’t believe how happy it makes you seeing your room or garden decorated with a bit of fabric cheer.  My daughter even has camping bunting for around their tent – now that is a dedicated bunting lover! 🙂

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Responses

  1. Great tip on the turmeric home dye.


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