Friday, September 20, 2013
That time when I sewed 100 metres of bunting
Kids, don't try this at home. No really.
You know those times when people in your life find out you sew and somehow think that's useful? This was one of those times. My work approached me to make 100 metres of polka dot bunting to hang up for a children's festival. They asked me for a quote of what it would cost for materials and my labour so all was good on the money front but this took forever. The problem here is that I grossly misjudged how long it would take to measure up 600 triangles, cut out said triangles, turn them right sides facing, overlock one side in one continuous thread, snip all the threads, overlock the other side in one continuous thread, snip all those threads, cut away the excess at the pointy end, turn them all inside out and stick a little screwdriver in there until the end actually looked pointy, iron them all so that the overlocked edges sat well and I didn't lose any metreage on them by not being pressed right, measure out the flags at 15 centimetre intervals down the cotton tape, pin the flags and the cotton tape together, sew in one continuous line, fill up the full to bursting bobbin 4 times and then iron the cotton tape to make it sit flat.
So really, don't try this at home.
However if you ever need to make bunting (and I say need for a reason, because who in their right mind sews 100 metres of this stuff if they don't need to?) you can follow my journey below. Or not. That's cool too. I already made it so I don't care either way.
How to make 100 metres of bunting
Now if you've assessed the situation and decided that you need to, or just really really want to, make this much bunting then you're going to need to get your numbers right.
Measuring your flags
I chose to go with a flag that would end up being 20 centimetres across the top and 20 centimetres length. After adding a seam allowance for overlocking I cut a flag of 21cm x 21cm. Don't do this. Don't give yourself only 0.5cm seam allowance even if you're only overlocking. Make it 22cm x 22cm because by the time you turn it out and press it you're going to lose a little more fabric and then all your measurements are out.
Oh and don't be precious with what you use to mark out the triangles. You'll be cutting on this line and it will either get cut off by your overlocker or it will be in the seam allowance. A pencil will do just fine.
Cutting your flags
Don't cut these out with scissors. Forget about it. Unless you've got an army of people wielding good fabric-cutting scissors you're going to want to cut these out with a rotary cutter and cutting mat. The you can cut them like a boss.
Here's what your pile(s) of triangles will look like. Take a deep breath.
Then set about placing them right sides facing down on a table. Or you could do this at the sewing machine. I found it easier just to have a whooooole lot of them ready to grab so that I could sew and sew and sew them through the overlocker.
I found out during this process that you don't even need to lift the presser foot on the overlocker each time you feed fabric through. It will naturally grab it and feed it through if you just butt the fabric up against the presser foot. Win.
Once you've sewn them all on one side you need to snip the thread between each triangle and pile them all up ready to sew them on the other side. Cut the threads again.
Now before you go turning them inside out you need to trim off the fabric around the point of each triangle. Otherwise the fabric will bunch up and look horrible once you turn it. So go ahead and trim them down, checking what it looks like when you turn it out.
Pressing the flags
I found it hard to press these properly straight on the ironing board so I made up a piece of cardboard the exact size of the finished flag. This way I could insert this into a flag, press it really quick so it would at least lay flat on the ironing board and then press the seams properly. Maybe you don't care about this as much as I do. That's cool. You can press them normally if you want.
And now you have a pile of pressed flags ready to sew up into bunting. Take a deep breath. You're nearly there.
Sewing up the bunting
Now it's a matter of sewing the flags to whatever you've chosen to sew them to. I chose cotton tape because it's lightweight and doesn't really fray. Also I found rolls of 50m of the stuff on ebay so it was really easy to just buy two rolls and not even need to measure out how much I needed. I just used it all.
I chose the 1 inch width tape so I had enough to fold over the flags and sew down.
So once you've decided how far apart you want your flags, mark that out continuously on the tape. Place the flag in the right spot, fold the tape over so that the edges meet and pin them all in place. Sew in a straight line until they're all sewn down.
Maybe you won't want to do this bit. I wasn't entirely sure I wanted to go and press the whole 100 metres again but I'm so glad I did. This time however I was only pressing the cotton tape down so it laid flat. This was also a great time to snip off all those pesky threads and make sure you'd caught all the flags while sewing (if not you could go back and fix it up on the machine or by hand).
Hang it up and enjoy
So you've survived the ordeal of sewing all that bunting. Now it's time to hang it up and enjoy. Or give it to whoever you made it for. Or whatever.
And there you have it. 100 metres of bunting.
Now you can breathe a sigh of relief.
And go back to sewing something normal.
at 6:44 PM