I know that flag garlands are just all the rage this year and I think they are adorable too, but when I think of the 4th of July, I think of red white and blue bunting hanging on porches and and gazebos in the park where a brass band is playing. Not that I have a park with a brass band playing, but surely there must be one somewhere in America?! This is the classic bunting look I’m after – even if I don’t have a porch or a brass band.
I’ve looked for the “just right” bunting for a few years, but I’ve always seemed to come up short. So this year I decided to take matters into my own hands and make bunting myself. Here is the tale of my adventure in bunting land.
I started by searching the Internets. I mean, everything is there right? I must say, it’s really short on bunting tutorials. I did find a few, namely here and here. The first method calls for box pleats to bring in the red fabric, but I felt that the red portion was still too wide and didn’t quite give me the traditional bunting look. The second method called for gathered sections and a fan fold for the red section. The fan fold, while a great look, created such bulk at the center of the piece that I couldn’t even get the casing over it! So I came up with my own method that’s a cross between the two.
For this project I’m making six bunting pieces that are 25″x12″. I chose these dimensions for a few reasons, first off, it fits the space I’m filling and, second, a 25″ finished length happens to come out with a really nice cutting length. For this project you’ll need
- 1 yard red fabric
- 1 yard blue fabric
- 1 2/3 yard white fabric (This fabric will also serve as the casing)
- coordinating thread
- Grommets (optional)
One of the main problems I had when I was testing this project (aside from the massive bunch of fabric in the center of the piece) was that the outer most layer – the blue layer – tended to buckle and turn inside out when sewn to the casing. I’ve solved this problem by adding 40% to the length of all the strips. The extra length allows for a nice wavy finish to the blue layer. With a 25″ finished length, this addition comes up to a very nice 36″ in length. If you are making a larger bunting, play around with the length addition a bit – for smaller bunting widths, you’ll need less. On to the cutting! To make one bunting, you’ll need a strip 5″ by 36″ in red, white and blue as well as a white casing piece that is 5″ by 25.5″.
I then sewed each of the strips together with a 1/2″ seam.
These straight seams are so fast to sew – it’s the ironing on this project that will slow you down. If I wasn’t so OCD I wouldn’t have finished the edges on the back, but I just had to do it! On the back side of the piece, fold the raw edge up to the seam line and press.
Then fold and press again for a clean seam.
See! No raw edges showing – don’t we all feel better? Let’s stitch this down now.
Pretty soon you’ll be swimming in a bunch of bunting pieces.
And so will the sewing machine
Once all the strips are together and the edges are finished, make the casing. Begin by sewing a 1/4″ fold line on to the casing. If you’re good at eye balling the 1/4″ fold for pressing you can skip this step, but I think we’ve already covered that I’m OCD, so here is my sewn casing.
I’m sure that the observant among you will notice that I’ve picked up a new ironing board cover – it makes such a difference! I guess it was time to get rid of the one I got when I was in college! Fold the raw edges in – don’t forget the ends!
Sew a gathering stitch on the red strip of your bunting at 1/4″ seam allowance and gather the piece until the red is about 10″ in length.
Place the right side of the casing on the wrong side of the bunting and begin pinning on one end.
When you get to the center gather, stop and begin pinning the casing from the opposite side of the bunting.
You will end up with a big bunch of fabric in the middle, with nicely pinned edges.
Not to worry, we’re going to pin the middle down. Pull up the very middle of the gather and pin it to the center of the casing.
But there’s still a section gapping out on the left and right of that pin! Next, pull the middle of the gathered piece between the pin you just placed and the pin already on the casing. Pin that center between the two pins. Continue making these pleats until both sides are pinned down. You’re going to end up with a hot mess of pins in the center of your bunting. This is normal!
Get thee to the sewing machine! Your machine can sew through this mess – just go slowly and make sure your needle doesn’t hit a pin.
You CAN do it, I promise (This is what I tell my machine). Try to keep all the raw edges facing one direction or a sneaky one could end up on the finished side of your project.
Next fold the casing over to the front side of the bunting using your previous sewing line to line up the edge of the casting to the front of the bunting. In a break from OCD land, I didn’t pin this, but you are more than welcome to do so.
Take it to the sewing machine and top stitch in place, making sure no sneaky raw edge gathers get out!
You can add grommets to the bunting if you’d like, but I think leaving just the casing on gives you more options. You can string these bunting pieces together or use them individually to decorate a table or some chairs.
Now where are my fireworks and hot dogs I’m ready to celebrate! Hope you enjoy!
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