With most of us spending more time outside, we’re all keen to make the most of our outdoor environments at the moment. This simple craft project is straightforward even for beginners, and helps use up any scrap fabric you may have lying around. The beauty of making your own bunting is that you can tailor it to fit the space available, and you can personalise it as well by using material that has some meaning for you such as pieces of a favourite shirt. Here’s how.
1. Collect your fabric together and see what you’ve got. Whenever I make something for the house I usually end up buying slightly too much fabric to be on the safe side as I am not very good at measuring, so I end up with a drawerful pieces of material that aren’t quite big enough to do anything with. My haul included my ex-kitchen curtains, some scraps of cushion fabric and some old pyjamas! Start by laying everything out and making sure the colours are going to work together. You’ll also need some plain material (curtain lining is fine) to make the tapes. If your finished flags are going to be hung against a wall or somewhere you’ll only ever see one side, you can make the reverse of each flag from lining material too. If you need them to be double sided (for example, if you’re hanging them in a tree) then both sides need to be the patterned fabric.
2. Next, measure up. It depends where you’re going to hang your garden bunting as to whether this is critical or not – if it’s going above a doorway or window then you need to make sure the pennants aren’t so long as to catch. I usually end up with triangular pennants that are about 6 inches wide by 9 inches long (15cm by 22cm), but you can make them whatever size and shape you like. Decide roughly (or exactly!) how long you’d like the string of flags – this should be longer than the actual distance you need to cover so that the flags can hang down in loops. My bunting was to hang at the front of a garage so needed to be around 17 feet (just under 5m).
3. Now make a paper template, adding 1/2 inch (around 1.5cm) all round to the size of the finished flag. For example, my finished pennant size was 6″ by 9″ so my template was a triangle 7″ wide by 10″ long (18cm by 25.5cm). Use fairly flimsy paper rather than card for your template so that you can pin it to the fabric.
4. Next, work out how many bunting flags you’ll need. Each one needs to be around 4 to 5 inches apart on the tape, so do the calculation as follows. Finished length of bunting (in my case 17 feet) minus 6 inches at either end (to allow some spare tape to attach the bunting) equals 16 feet or 192 inches. Divide 192 inches by 11 inches (each pennant is 6 inches wide and sits 5 inches from its neighbour so 11 inches) and you get 17 (and a bit!), and I wanted an even number so went for 18 flags.
5. Now, pin the paper template to the fabric and cut out the shapes, You should be able to get two flags out of one square, so it’s quite an efficient use of fabric! When you’ve cut out as many flags as you need, iron them and set aside.
6. Take the material that you’re using to make your tape. I needed long tapes and was limited by the width of the piece of fabric I had, so I had to do a lot of joining! Cut out two-inch (5cm) strips of fabric across the width of the material, and join them together by sewing down the short seam until you have enough to make up the length you want. Iron the strip, then press in a 1/2-inch seam (1.5cm) on the top and the bottom, fold the strip over so that you have a tape, iron into position and pin.
7. Sew the flags. Turn the right sides of the material in to face each other, then sew around the edges of the triangle leaving the top open. Turn right side out, trim the top of the flag to make it square and iron. Repeat until they’re all done. Sort them into order so that you get a mix of patterns and colours and don’t end up with two of the same pattern next to each other.
8. Fold the tape in half lengthways to find the middle, and mark the middle with a pin. Measure 2.5 inches (6.5cm) from the pin, and position the first flag by sliding it into the tape and pinning it into place. Measure 5 inches (13cm) out from that one, and position the next one until all the flags on one side are in position, then return to the central pin and measure and pin the remaining flags.
9. Sew along the tape to secure all the bunting flags. Finally, sew up the ends of the tape and fold 2 inches (5cm) back on itself to make a loom. Sew into position, and fasten off any loose ends.
10. Hang up your garden bunting! If you don’t have anything to hook it onto, you can make the ends of the tape longer, leave them loose and use them to tie the bunting into position.
Ideally, your garden bunting needs to be hung in a slightly sheltered position otherwise it gets grubby quite quickly if you leave it out all the time. To clean it, handwash with detergent and warm water and leave to dry naturally.
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