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.

So how do you get perfectly even triangles when you're cutting out 600? You don't. You get them pretty damn close and you deal with it. I found the quickest way to get things measured up was to cut out a piece of cardboard around 1 metre long by 21 centimetres and lay that down on the fabric. That way I could basically draw a line along it like a ruler so I had a ton of parallel lines 21 centimetres apart. Then I could go back and make a little dot at the halfway and full mark of these flags - so 10.5 centimetres and 21 centimetres. Trust me on this it makes it easy to get a ruler, line up the dots and Bam, you've got yourself 600 flags drawn up.

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.

Pressing (again)

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.

22 comments:

  1. They look fantastic but 100 metres? Phew. I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I know, it was such a marathon!
      Luckily for me I've just purchased so many indie patterns I'm actually motivated to sew something normal instead of locking my sewing room and running away.

      Delete
  2. Woah, I hope you were paid a bazzillion dollars for that lol! From a definite #selfishsewer :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, maybe not a bazillion dollars.
      Although I'm all about the selfish sewing now.
      I'm done with the good deeds!

      Delete
  3. Awesome - you deserve a bunting medal for that!!

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  4. oh.... god. That is easily my idea of a sewing nightmare. And sewing isn't supposed to be nightmarish!!! Gah. Love the idea of the cardboard insert though, Caroline's right - you deserve a bunting medal!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Yeah it did get quite nightmarish but it was actually super fun to shove the flags through the overlocker faster and faster. I turned into a machine!

      In a way it's given me a bit more confidence using my overlocker because I know that I can sew fast and pretty accurately.

      Delete
  5. What an epic project, well done you!! The fabric is so cute.

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    1. Epic indeed.
      I'm now itching to use my sewing powers for good.
      For myself I mean!

      Delete
  6. Honey I make a shedload of bunting and the tip I can add is, don't pin. Make a piece of card the length of the gap between them. Then as you sew each flag into the tape, and it is just about gone through the foot, use your gauge to spot the next placement. Put your thumb on it, and when that point gets to the edge of the sewing machine tray, slot your next flag in and off you go. Cheating? Hell yeah!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh well, it's done now.
      You need to find a way to cheat though, it just takes sooo long.

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  7. That was an epic piece of sewing. Hats off for seeing it through!

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  8. I remember being asked by an ex boss if I could sew up some bags for her and the next day she bought in a garbage bag of material for me.... Urgh. Anyway, I love your tip about the cardboard for ironing. I must remember that. The bunting looks great btw.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ohhh that sounds horrible.
      Yeah I'm glad they look ok, especially since they'll be hanging up right in front of me at work for the next week.

      Delete
  9. Oh My! That is an awful lot of sewing. what a marathon. You deserve some sort of medal for that effort. I read and rarely comment but thought this one needed a comment. still wow. just wow.

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    1. Haha "still wow. just wow" that pretty much sums it up!

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  10. Oh you have the patience of a saint! This is why I don't quilt because it involves so much fiddly sewing and you can't even wear it. Can you drape them around your desk after the week is out so they don't get packed away never to be seen again?

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    1. Ohh I couldn't even imagine quilting.
      Cutting up tiny bits of fabric just to sew them back together does not sound fun to me.
      Our theatre actually holds the same children's festival every year so they may sit in a cupboard for most of the year but they'll continue to be used for a whole lot of years.

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  11. Well done! 100 meters is a legendary effort. And they look so beautiful. I made Christmas bunting last year and cheated completely. I procured the premarked Christmas bunting fabric (who knew there was such a thing?!) from Lincraft, fused it together and cut along the lines with my pinking shears. They didn't quite line up for some of them (fabric was printed off grain) but you can't tell at a distance. And it looks fabulous strung around as decorations.

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    1. Wow I never even knew there was such a thing as bunting fabric!
      I think all that matters is that it looks good from afar.
      I got a little too caught up in the details when, really, it loooks great all hung up.

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