Birthday Bunting

October 23, 2015

It is still birthday season here, so what better time to suddenly decide to make birthday bunting! Inspired by the recent heroic efforts of Something From Seaview and fueled by the panic that Our Dear Boy didn’t have anything handmade for his birthday, I decided to whip up some bunting. Time was short, planning was nil but somehow a few hours later, there was bunting.


We used to have bunting, lots of it. But I accidently left it behind at the park after a party. The subsequent storm blew it all over the park and after my kind neighbour had identified its bits and collected them for me, it was never quite the same. Its bits decorated cubby houses and fairy trees after that and weathered into the ether over time.

IMG_1655The main fabrics for this bunting were drawn from my Operation Manshirt collection, specifically the sleeves part of the collection. There is probably not that much that can be made from the sleeves of polycotton business shirts except bunting. It is a good size and will last a very long time. If you too wonder what can be done with worn out shirts, you might like some of the ideas in my Pinterest board.

IMG_1653I don’t have pinking shears so I had to hem and turn them. But that means they have different fabrics on the back and are full reversible so that is OK.

IMG_1658The letters were cut free hand from scraps, sprayed with some quilters’ starch so they adhered to the backing without pinning or moving during sewing which was fast and furious zig-zag in a cotton I was unlikely to use for any other project. I struggled to get the contrast between the backing and the letters right. It looks OK as you are making them, but then when you come to read the letters from a distance, the contrast isn’t quite enough.

IMG_1656The bias binding was home made and also very quick. I rotary cut the necessary width from a multi folded fabric on the bias, sewed the strips together and then pressed them into bias binding using this ingenious tool. You feed the fabric in one end, it follows the metal conformations and then you just pull it along with one hand whilst following it with a hot iron in the other.

IMG_1660This bunting is rough and ready, made entirely of scraps to hand. It is not finely finished nor beautifully co-ordinated, but it is done, fit for purpose and quite merry. And I am not naked before the handmade-less birthday!


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  1. Such a lovely birthday surprise. I do remember you saying sometime ago that the Dear Children always expected a hand-made gift on their birthdays. Great use of small amounts of fabric and that tool looks really interesting.
    I don’t sew that much but all the Slow October stuff is pushing me forward!!

  2. Gee, thank you VERY much!! It IS my birthday today 🙂 can you believe it? that nonsense aside I was very impressed with your ‘whipping’ up these buntings…yousa! What a moma…
    Don’t know about Dear Boy’s treats but I am having a ‘nip’ of single malt scotch and some chocolate cake……….whoo hooo

  3. Really great use of the shirt fabric and lots of fun. You will get years of use from the bunting. Hope your son had a smashing birthday. I’ve got a couple of the bias tape makers. I think they’re ingenious and use them often.

  4. Wow! Fantastic bunting – it looks so happy and jolly and such a lovely thing to make. Who knew old shirts could morph into celebration banners. Hope you all have a great Birthday Day.

  5. I was so interested to read how you put your bunting together – thank you for such a detailed post. That little bias-binding maker is a very nifty little tool! Your letters are much more visible (and effective) than mine were because your backing cloth is lightly coloured. And I’ve never thought of using quilters’ starch – must get some of that. Basically, it is great bunting – I do love it! take care – don’t leave it behind again !!

  6. Fun and practical … perfect for a child’s birthday. I imagine it becoming much loved and still expected when your son is an adult. I have kids in their 20s who still think a birthday isn’t a birthday without the bunting (cardboard Mr Men and Little Misses) that was first in use here a decade and more ago.

  7. I love everything about this, R.! So very cheerful and pretty. I love the use of the old shirts, too. Go, you! You remind me of my mom. She always made things for us from scratch, from a variety of materials. She’s still a great inspiration to me, and I credit her with the expansive, “can do” feeling that I always have. I’m sure your kids will always remember these touches you add to everything.

  8. Awesome bunting! Love the thrift and re-use factor, and the outcome. I also own the bias binding tool. I just couldn’t believe it when I acquired that thing. Perfect for converting ties into something useful 🙂

  9. Yey!!! for handmade birthday bunting!!!!. i hope your dear boy had an awesome day. (very celebratory bunting by the way)!!! And i love Operation Manshirt. Love your blog!

  10. Lucky boy, I say! I’m curious about quilters’ starch which might be very useful for Give Wraps where I’m always running out of pins as well as patience for pinning. Any other info about it or shall I just try my local sewing shop?

    1. It says on the can, that it is for embroidery, craft and quilting so if your local sewing shop also stocks crafty/quilty supplies then they will probably have it. You could also ask for a temporary adhesive spray for fabrics. That might get you the right product. Good luck.

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