happy birthday bunting

I love an excuse for a little craft project.
I definitely don't seem to have enough hours in the day
or days in the week
to have a go at all the things I would like to.
But when a special occasion looms
I like to use it as an excuse to do something crafty.

I made a quilt for when the husband (then boyfriend) and I first moved in together.
I made metres and metres and metres of bunting for our wedding,
as well as making the table plan and all the invitations myself.
I made the beautiful boy a quilt before he was born.

So with his first birthday looming,
I decided that a happy birthday banner would be good.
I also thought it would be nice to have something which could be brought out every year
and which you could get up to on the morning of your birthday.
I decided not to put his name on it
so that we can use it for grown up birthdays too
and for the birthdays of younger siblings one day.

Having made bunting before,
and being a big fan of those happy little triangular flags,
I decided on a bunting design
and I set to work.

Picking the fabric is often, for me, the trickiest part of a project.
We have a fabulous fabric shop at a nearby craft market
and they have so much choice that I am always there for hours.
I knew I wanted to rainbow colours
which would match his party theme
and be classic enough to use every year.
I bought a 'fat quarter' of each fabric because I was using plenty of different colours
and knew I wanted 21 flags.

Cutting out is always my least favourite part.
But it pays to be careful and accurate when you're cutting.
I used some old bunting that I had as a template,
but basically you need to cut out a triangle shape.

I always make my bunting double sided.
I'm a perfectionist and would hate to see the rough side.
I think double sided looks neater,
but it is twice the cutting because you need two triangles for each flag.
If you were using really plain fabric
you could make each flag with a single triangle,
just cut with pinking shears so it doesn't fray.

Once all the triangles are cut it's on to the sewing part.
My Nan would tell me that I should iron all the triangles at this point.
But as you can see, I was lazy
and impatient to get sewing.

It is easier if you iron them really flat
but I don't feel it makes that much difference to the finished product
when you're sewing something relatively small.

You put two triangles right sides together
and then sew along the two long edges
leaving it completely open along the shorter, top side of the flag.

Once I've sewn my triangle,
I like to cut of the very tip of the fabric
as near to the stitching as I can.
This just means that your triangles will lie flatter
and not look all lumpy at the tip.

A few steps late for my Nan,
but I finally get the iron out.

You need to turn each triangle through the right way,
I find a blunt pencil helps to pop the very point of the triangle through.
Then press them with your iron.
You really can't avoid the ironing at this stage
or the flags twist as you're sewing them together
and you end up with lumpy, wonky flags.

I use bias binding to sew my flags together.
You can buy a huge roll of it pretty cheaply from fabric shops or dressmakers shops.
Its basically a long thing strip of fabric with pressed in edges.

It's quite crisp, starchy stuff to work with
and I really like using it for bunting.
You can always use ribbon though,
but I'd stick with quite a stiff ribbon if you can.

Cut it to the length that you need.
Always over estimate.
There is nothing worse than finding that you don't have enough binding
once you're half way through attaching flags.

Then it's back to the ironing board again
to fold it in half and press it.
Because the bias binding is quite crisp
I just fold it as neatly as I can with my fingers
and then run the iron along to hold the fold in place.

(As you can tell from the picture
I didn't cut my bias binding to the length
because I was paranoid about cutting it too short)

At this stage,
before you start sewing the flags together,
it's a good idea to check you're happy with your pattern
and that you definitely have enough flags.

Then to stitch it together you simply tuck the open top side of the triangle
into the fold of the bias binding.
This is the only time I bother to pin it
as you don't want them shifting as you sew.

Then just keep tucking in more flags as you sew.
You can leave the gap between your flags as big or as small as you want.
I didn't leave any gap really with this project,
but when I've made it in the past
I've left bigger gaps because it makes it go further
without needing hundreds more flags.

My final stage was to add the letters to the flags.
I left three plain flags at the beginning and end
and two plain between the words "happy" and "birthday".

I used sticky backed felt because it seemed a lot easier than sewing it on.
Obviously if you were going to sew it on
then you would need to do that really early on
before you start sewing the flags to each other
or your stitching would show on the back.

And here is the finished article
in situ at the little guys birthday party.
(We also had it up in our lounge all day on his birthday!)

I was super chuffed with how it turned out
and it was very much admired by the party guests.
And I'm so pleased that we will have it forever
to be part of our family birthday traditions.


  1. That looks amazing. If I could I would make that but I don't have a sowing machine. Think I'll invest in one, just to make this xx

  2. I lve bu ting, you did a great job!

  3. Awesome job and excellent tutorial! I love the fabric you used. thank you - enjoyed my 5 minutes peace and coffee read! (although it took me ages to get there!)

  4. This is a lovely tutorial hun, really easy to copy. I love the bunting, I bet it looked fab on little man's party day. x

  5. wow that looks fantastic! I was lazy and bought mine but will make some more for Buster I think.
    One tip is that if you turn the pins round to stick out the top of the fabric rather than along the bias binding, you can sew over them without having to remove them or damage any pins.

  6. The bunting looks fab! I made something similar for Frankie's Birthday (I was lazy and only did one triangle!) but I'm quite tempted to make another one for next year using this tutorial! x

  7. What size triangles do you use?

  8. Wow! That's really lovely and so effective. I love that you can use it for years and years.
    Well done x


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