Monday, September 30, 2013

Flags, Bunting -- One Yard at a Time!


Wow -- it's been a little while since I've posted!  You know how you have all these plans -- and then life says "No, this is what I want you to do instead!"

Well, things have slacked off a bit -- have been doing some sewing for some decoration projects -- and realized that one would make a good one-yard-fabric project.

I've been making holiday/theme flags for bunting.  For instance, for Christmas, I'll make flags that are red on one side, green on the other.  Alternate the colors when joining a string of flags and you've got Christmas bunting!

In this project, I needed some yellow and blue bunting (to decorate a Tarot Booth used at folk festivals).  I made about 9 feet of "bunting" with 12 yellow-and-blue flags.

Total fabric == exactly one yard.  I used four fat-quarters; two with blue coloring and two with yellow coloring.  I also used one three-yard pack of bias tape to string the "flags" together.  Here's how you do it:

Start off by unfolding one of your fat quarters.  It turns out that not all fat quarter packets are folded the same way (found that out the hard way!).

If you have enough scrap fabric laying around, you can skip the fat quarters and just use the necessary pieces from your scraps.

You want four 18 x 22 inch pieces in alternating colors.  In my case, I used two different blue quarters and two different yellow quarters.

Next, fold the quarter in half along the LONG side.  That should give you a folded piece that's 9 inches by 22 inches.

Once you've done this, cut the folded fabric in half -- yielding two 9 inch by 11 inch pieces.  Set one piece aside; we'll work one piece at a time.

Set your fabric so that the fold is on your left-hand side (or on the right-hand side -- just don't have the fold on the top or the bottom!)

Using a straight-edge of some sort, cut a diagonal line from the middle of the top to one of the bottom corners.

Once you've made this cut, make another diagonal cut from the middle of the top to the other bottom corner.

When you finish, your cuts should look like this.

The "middle" triangle yields two pieces for your flag.

The left folded piece yields another piece for your flag (when you unfold it).

The right pieces could be another flag -- but they're not joined in the middle.  I just set them aside as scraps.

Each folded half of your fat quarter gives you three triangles for a flag.

One fat quarter yields six pieces; all four fat quarters will give you 24 pieces.

Since each flag uses two pieces, this means 12 flags from 1 yard of fabric!

Okay, cuttings over.  Time to get to flag making!

Pick one color as your "driver".  I chose "blue" in this case.

Take two pieces from one of the blue piles -- then take one piece from each of the contrasting color piles.

We'll sew these together to make two separate flags.

Take one yellow and one blue -- join the bad sides (this will leave the colorful print on the outside of the flags.

NOTE:  It's not important that the two sides match perfectly!  We're going to address this later.

Note how the yellow triangle is bigger than the yellow triangle?  Doesn't matter a bit!

Sew the two pieces together.  I normally start on the short-edge of the triangle.  Leave about a half-inch seam allowance -- but this isn't that critical.  If you need bigger, that's perfectly fine.

When you get to one of the three corners, set your needle down, raise the foot, then pivot the piece.  Set the foot down and sew down the next side.  Sew all three sides.

Here's my sewn flag.  Not that the yellow side is larger than the blue side.

Also note that the sides don't exactly match -- the "point" of the triangle doesn't line up between blue and yellow.

Not a problem -- we're going to take care of that right now -- with your pinking shears!

Using your pinking shears, cut along all three sides.  I tried to cut around 1/4 from the seam line -- but again, it's not that critical.

By the way, if you've started your sewing at the short edge of the triangle, you'll have some thread tails.  The pinking should take care of these tails for you!

You may also note that my start/stop seam does all the way to the edges in the above photo.  Not a problem -- because the next step covers it!

Well -- almost the next step.  The actual next step is to sew the remaining flags.  We've finished one -- eleven more to go!  Alternate your "driver" colors -- take two from one blue pile, sew the flags, then take two from the other blue pile.  Each time you take a pair of blues, join them with one from each of the yellow piles.  (Of course, you may be using other colors than blue and yellow!)

You now have a stack of 12 pinked-edge flags.  Here's how we'll join them.

Use a pack of bias tape -- I used double folded extra-wide.  There are three yards in this pack -- nine feet.  If we sew in all 12 flags, we'll use almost all of the bias tape -- making a piece of bunting about nine feet long.

Unroll the bias tape.  I doubled-over one end and sewed it closed.

Next, open up the tape and slip the short edge of one flag inside.  I started about 3 inches from the end of the tape

Sew along the bias tape to attach the flag.

Note that the bias tape ends out covering your start/stop stitching!

This next part is a little tricky.

When you reach the end of one flag, keep sewing for another 3/4 of an inch or so ... then slip the next flag into the bias tape.

It'll be really hard to position it so that the entire short edge is covered by the bias tape, so don't even try!

Instead, sew a couple of stitches into the edge of the new flag -- just to lock it in.

Now, you can "swing" the rest of the flag into the bias tape!

Position the flag, then close the bias tape fold.

Sew along the tape to attach this flag.

Sew the remaining flags into the bias tape the same way.  Try to alternate colors when you're selecting the next flag.

If you've spaced things right, you'll only have six or seven inches of bias tape left when you attach your last flag!

Cut this to an appropriate length, then sew the end shut.

You've now completed almost 9 feet of bunting!

Here's my end result!

I have my yellow/blue string -- and here's a red/green one I did for Christmas!

I did a much better job alternating colors on the yellow/blue than I did on the Christmas one.

Let me know how yours turns out!