“There are hundreds of ‘how to guides’ for bunting online, most just say, cut some triangles, buy some tape and sew the triangles inside the fold of the tape. If you are left asking questions then this is the guide for you. We cover which types of fabric and tape to use, how many triangles you need, what size they should be and assembling the bunting – single and double sided, sew and no sew options, we cover them all in this comprehensive guide.”
1. Choosing your fabric
You can make bunting out of almost any fabric. It’s a great way to use up fabric off cuts or to up cycle old clothes and home furnishing fabrics and there are sew and no-sew options for all fabric types (just steer clear of very stretchy/knit fabrics). Three of our favourite types of fabrics to use for bunting are:
This is the most commonly used fabric for bunting. It comes in a wide range of colours and patterns and a number of different weights (thicknesses).
You can use any weight but we recommend medium weight quilting fabric (like that sold at Prints to Polka Dots). Light weight fabric may not hang crisply (unless you add interfacing), and very heavy weight fabrics will pull the bunting tape down.
Laminated fabrics (or oil cloth) have the advantage of not fraying when they are cut, so don’t need any special handling, and they are wipe clean on one side. Just cut your triangles out with regular scissors and then attach them to your bunting tape.
PUL fabrics are totally waterproof and machine washable, so PUL is a great choice for lightweight outdoors bunting, and like laminated fabrics PUL does not fray. It is however more expensive than regular cotton and the range of colours and patterns available is more limited.
2. Deciding how you are going to finish your triangles
No sew options
If you are using regular cotton or flannel and don’t want to have to sew each individual triangle, we recommend cutting them out with pinking shears, which are like normal scissors but have a zig zag edge (pinking the edges will stop the fabric from fraying).
Some blogs suggest finishing cotton triangles (cut with regular scissors) by ironing a hem over onto the back on each long side, and securing it with fabric adhesive, liquid or iron on, but we don’t think they have ever tried it – we have and if you have a lot of triangles to make it will seriously test your sanity!
If using laminate or PUL you can choose to cut your triangles with pinking shears (for a zig zag finish), or regular scissors (for straight edges), as these fabrics don’t fray.
Single Sided Bunting – Option 1
Fold a 6mm/ ¼” hem onto the back of the long sides of each triangle and iron into place. Fold each long edge over again, by another 6mm/1/4″, ( hiding the raw edges) and iron once more.
Unfold, and looking at the tip of the triangle, find the point where the left and right crease lines cross (there will be two crossing points, you need to look at the top one). Cut a straight line across at this point. Trim the left and right edges, out from the tip, so that the fabric slopes up slightly on each side (this helps hide the raw edges in the next step).
Fold the long sides back up, hiding all the raw edges, and sew into place, approx 3mm/1/8th” in from the inside edge of the hem (leave the top edge unsewn/raw).
Looking at the top of the triangle, you will see bits of fabric sticky out of each corner, snip them off in line with the top raw edge.
Single Sided Bunting – Option 2
For the ultimate in luxury, instead of hemming your triangles, cover the raw edges with double fold bias tape or binding tape.
Cut your tape slightly longer than the two long sides of your triangle added together. Open out the left edge of the tape and pin it to the left side of the triangle, right sides facing, raw edges lined up. Sew in the first crease line of the tape, stopping 6mm/1/4″ from the point at the bottom.
Lay the tape over the end of the triangle, and make a small cut where the tape meets the bottom of the triangle up to the seam line (this will help you ease the tape around the point) Turn the tape around the corner and pin along the right side. Sew into place.
Turn the triangle over and fold the bias tape over onto the back, the mid crease of the tape should line up with the raw edges of the triangle, and no raw edges (fabric or tape) should be visible, iron and pin into place. Turn your triangle back over and top stitch the tape, approx 3mm/1/8th” in from the inside edge.
Iron and then trim the seam allowances sticking out of the top of the triangle, back in line with the top edge of the triangle.
Double Sided Bunting
Take two triangles and place them together, right sides facing. Pin together and sew a 6mm/¼” hem along each long side.
Trim the excess fabric from the point, just below where the two side seams cross (see images below), then turn the triangle out the right way, you may need to use a knitting needle or similar to push the point of the triangle out, take care not to push too hard as the fabric could rip. Iron flat.
Looking at the top of the triangle, you will see the seams sticking out on each side, just snip them off, in line with the top of the triangle.
3. Choosing your bunting tape
Ready-made bunting tape
Our specialist bunting tape is purpose made, great for use in or outdoors, it is strong and durable, won’t twist or warp like bias tape, and has the middle fold woven into it, making sewing accurate, easy and fast.
We have included bias tape in our guide as it is the most commonly used tape for bunting BUT we don’t recommend it. Bias tape is cut on the bias to make it stretchy, perfect sewing around curves, but that stretch can make the tape warp and twist when used in bunting.
If you don’t want to use our specialist tape then we recommend making your own binding tape, which will be stronger than bias tape and is easy to make at home, see below.
The only difference between binding tape and bias tape is that the fabric for bias tape is cut on the bias (at 45 degrees) to maximise the stretch in the fabric, binding tape fabric is cut straight across the fabric (from selvedge to selvedge). By cutting across rather than on the bias, the tape retains its strength.
To make binding tape, cut strips of fabric, 6.5cm (2.5″) wide, straight across your fabric, from selvedge to selvedge (you can buy all our fabrics in 2.5” pre cut strips).
Sew the lengths together, trimming seam allowances as you go, to create one long piece of tape.
Take the fabric and fold it in half (top to bottom) and iron the crease in. Open your fabric out and fold the raw edges into the middle crease, iron the new folds into place. Now fold in half using the first crease line and iron one more time. All your raw edges are now hidden and your binding tape is ready to use.
4. Your triangle template
You can buy ready cut fabric triangles, a cardboard or a plastic template from our store, all measure 19cm x 22.9cm (7.5” x 9”). If you would prefer to make your own template you can use these measurements or come up with your own, taking into account how you are going to finish your triangles, as this affects the size of your template.
If you are going to use:
Pinked triangles – No hemming is required, so you do not need to add any extra to your template – the finished size is the same size as your template.
Hemmed triangles – If you use double fold hems (covered earlier) your triangles need to be 2.5cm (1″ ) wider and taller than you want your finished triangles to be.
Double sided triangles – To account for hems, if you use 6mm/1/4″ seam allowances, your template should be 12mm/1/2″ taller and wider than you want your finished triangles to be.
Making your own template
Take a piece of paper and fold in half, place it in front of you so that the crease in on your left, running top to bottom. Measure out from the crease (along the bottom of the paper) half the width of the your unsewn triangles and make a mark. Measure up the crease of the paper, the length of your unsewn triangles and make a mark. Now draw a diagonal line between the two marks. Keeping the paper folded in half, and cutting through both sides at once, cut along the diagonal line. Open up and you have a perfect triangle.
If you have a lot of triangles to cut out, transfer the triangle onto template plastic or card.
5. Measuring up
To work out the length of tape, number of triangles and length of fabric needed for your project, complete the following worksheet.
Length of tape
Length of space to be covered in mtrs:
………… Answer A
Answer A x 1.04
………… Answer B
Answer B + 0.6
……….. TOTAL MTRS TAPE.
Number of triangles
To work out the number of triangles required complete the following table:
Length of tape from above minus 60cm
………… Answer A
The width of one finished triangle (after you have cut hemmed/sewn as applicable)
………… Answer B
The size of the gap you want to leave between triangles *
………… Answer C
Answer B plus Answer C
…………. Answer D
Answer A minus Answer B
…………. Answer E
Answer E divided by Answer D
………… TOTAL NO. OF TRIANGLES – round your answer up or down as appropriate.
*Some people butt triangles up to each other, others leave a space the size of a whole triangle, we went somewhere in-between. Just remember the closer together the triangles, the more you will need!
Calculating fabric requirements
Does your fabric have a right way up and a wrong way up? Is the image on the fabric something that would be obviously upside down if you cut a triangle upside down, say a picture of a cat or a car, or is the pattern non-directional – like a polka dot or stripe? If you use a fabric which could be used in any direction, you will be able to get many more triangles out of each strip of fabric.
If you are using a ‘directional’ fabric, divide the width of you fabric by the width of one triangle, the answer is the number of triangles you will get out of one strip of fabric. If you are using fabric which is ‘non directional’, divide the width of your fabric by the width of one triangle, multiply the answer by 2 and then take 1 away. If you use our template and 110cm/44″ wide fabric, you can cut 5 triangles out of a strip of directional fabric, or 9 out of non directional fabric.
Divide the number of triangles you need in total, by the number you can get out of one strip, round the answer UP to the nearest whole number, and then multiply that by the height of your triangles, then resulting figure is the length of fabric you need.
6. Making the bunting
Open up your tape and, starting 30cm in, position your triangles along one side, so that the top raw edge of each triangle is in line with the middle crease in the tape, spacing out your triangles as appropriate, folding the top of the tape over the raw edges and pinning together as you go. Your last triangle should be approx 30cm from the end of the tape, once in place continue pinning the tape closed, right to the end.
Check that you are happy with the look of the bunting and then top sew over the edge of the tape, as close to the opening as you feel comfortable, from the start of the tape to the end.
If you have used specialist bunting tape you don’t need to finish the ends, if you have used bias or binding tape, fold the ends over twice, by approx 12mm/1/2″, and top sew to hide the raw edges.
To download a copy of this guide click here.
To visit our bunting department at Prints to Polka Dots – click here (please note not all options are currently available whilst we move to our new website.)