Mini fabric bunting: a tutorial

A few people have asked me if I would show them how I made the mini bunting for Olive’s cake so I’ve decided to do a quick tutorial for one with a Valentine’s theme.  Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Fabric in a light colour or print (so you can make out the ink).
  • Scissors
  • Ink pad (I use archival because it is darker and lasts forever.)
  • Alphabet stamps and/or a permanent marker
  • Cotton thread in a complementary colour
  • Two skewers or small pieces of dowel.

Cut your fabric into little triangles making sure, if you’re planning to stamp on them, they are large enough for each letter to fit.

Stamp the name of your birthday person or whatever phrase you please. If you don’t have alphabet stamps you could just draw the letters on with a permanent marker. In fact, I used a  Sharpie to define and darken a couple of the letters I had stamped.

To begin sewing your flags together, first pull a length of both the upper and bobbin threads through your sewing machine so you have a nice long “tail” to play with later.

Once you’ve done that, carefully feed in your first triangle and sew across the top.  Here comes the part that might take a little practice.

What you’re aiming for is a small, even gap between each little flag.  To achieve this you need to just let your needle sew into nothing for about 6 stitches between each flag.

Don’t pull your threads with any force as you’re sewing into the void or you’ll force through too much thread and end up with a gap that’s too long between each flagette. Having said that, it sometimes helps to exert just the slightest pull on the long threads at the back  to keep everything moving forward. You might want to practise this on some scraps until you get the hang of how your machine behaves.

After 6 or so stitches into nothing stop with the needle down and then line up the next flag against your needle.  Once it’s positioned, sew across the top and repeat the process until you’ve sewn all the flagettes into place.

Remember after the last one to pull a good long length of thread again so you have lots to play with when you’re tying it to your skewers or dowel.

When I made the bunting for Olive’s cake I actually started sewing before I realised I had white thread in the upper and black thread in the bobbin .  It turned out to be one of those happy accidents because it gave the “string” a stripey bakers’ twine effect.

Now you need to tie the bunting to its supports.  First, trim the length of the skewers a little if necessary so the bunting will sit at the right height.  Then make some little notches a few centimetres from the top of each skewer with a pair of scissors so your thread will have a groove to sit in and not go sliding up and down the skewers.

I just stuck that apple cabochon in there so the picture wouldn’t be so boring!

Now tie your thread and either trim the excess thread or leave it longer for a bit of a festive effect.  And there you have it!

Gently stick your bunting into whatever you like and…celebrate!

Here’s a colourful version.

There are lots of ways these could be displayed and you’re certainly not limited to the top of a cake.  At the moment I have my little “love” banner strung between two candlesticks on the mantlepiece. You can use playdough (as I have in the last two photos) or even little ceramic ramekins filled with salt or sand. A few of these down the centre of the table at a birthday party or baby shower would look really sweet I think.

These mini strings are really just a variation on these bunting cards I’ve been making for my etsy shop for a while.

[EDITED TO ADD: As the photo directly below of the set of cards has popped up in a few links this morning, I must tell you that this is one of the shots taken by my friend Adrian of Adrian Tuazon Photography that I use in my etsy and madeit listings and is credited to him on my etsy site. All the others were taken by me.)

I hope you’re inspired to get your bunt on (FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD will someone please tranquilise me?) and if you do – I would love to see any photos. Of your bunting, that is.  Not of me tranquilised.  Just so we’re clear.

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