Fabric and Burlap Bunting with Lettering


Here's a similar bunting but without the burlap. Pooh Bear was messing around before decorating the tree...
I got it in my head that a Christmas bunting might be fun.  True, bunting smacks of crafts fair (and as a vendor, I'm not knockin'  them), but with some festively dyed burlap to accompany the fabric, I thought it might be a pretty addition to our Christmas decorations.

But why stop at Christmas?  If you're the adventurous type, you could make your bunting reversible having, let's say "Merry Christmas" on one side and "Happy Halloween" or "Happy Birthday!" on the other.  (For "Happy Birthday" make sure you add the exclamation point at the end to make the number of pennants match up).

Sewing Scooby Snack rating:

  Two margaritas!  Practically speaking, you could probably drink more than two eggnogs during this tutorial, as it does have a good amount of steps and you're bound to burn off at least one of those drinks by the time you're done.

THINGS YOU'LL NEED:  Well,  this is a little tricky as you're making your triangle patterns by hand to your personal taste.  I'll give general guidelines, how 'bout that?

  • Red burlap, 1 yd (I got my burlap at Joann.com and it was pre-dyed, I didn't dye it myself)
  • White burlap, 1 yd
  • White felt, 1 full yd is plenty
  • Red felt, 1/2 yd is plenty
  • Jute rope at least 25 feet, but again, it depends on the size of your triangles
  • 2 cotton fabrics, 1 yd each (I used a subtle white snowflakes on white print and a red with white snowflake pattern)
  • Cutting mat and rotary cutter
  • Freezer paper, wrapping paper, or something similar for creating your patterns(card-stock)
  • Pen
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Sewing machine
  • Coordinating thread
  • Spray starch
  • Printer or Cricut machine (if you don't scrapbook, you may be wondering "what the harry is that?"  Don't worry, it's helpful but not necessary)
  • Scissors
  • Spray glue (I used Elmer's Craft Bond spray adhesive)
  • Tacky glue or fabric glue (I used Aleene's Original Tacky Glue)
  • Tape (for attaching trapezoid pattern piece to triangle pattern piece)
  • Electrical tape, or the like (to attach jute ropes together, if needed)
  • Skewer, or the like (to press out the corners of the triangles)
  • Acrylic ruler
  • Pins, straight and one safety pin

*Before starting scooby snacking  cutting of any kind, map out what you want your finished bunting to be.  So for this project I, for instance, needed 15 triangles and they were alternating red/ white throughout.  Keep this paper handy so you know off the top of your hat how many of each color burlap and fabric triangles you need as well as which letters should be in which color.

1.  Get your freezer paper (or wrapping paper, tracing paper, etc).  Here's where you fiddle around until you get the size triangle you like.  Fold the paper so it opens like a book and make half a triangle using your pen and ruler.  (The point will be at the fold line so that once cut and opened, you have a full, symmetrical triangle).

If you don't like the size or shape of your triangle, no biggie.  Keep tweaking your triangle pattern until you find one that you can live with.  Then decide if it's your smaller, fabric triangle size or your slightly larger burlap triangle size.  NOTE:  I'm not the best when cutting burlap, so I allowed extra-large burlap triangles so I could alter/ trim them once the fabric triangles were sewn on top of them.

2.  When you've decided on your burlap triangle, then you'll need to create a second smaller piece (think trapezoid)  to get attached to the top of your triangle.  This piece will become your casing for the jute rope.  Don't worry if it isn't exactly symmetrical, it'll be on the back.  That being said, if you plan on having your bunting exposed on both sides instead of flush against a wall, you might want to put down your flask and try harder to get it to look presentable even from the back.  I just used masking tape to adhere the top piece (trapezoid)  to the main piece (triangle).

3.  Let's get cutting.  Using your spectacularly self-created patterns, cut out your triangles.  If you choose to spell out Merry Christmas, you'll need 15 pennants/ triangles of burlap and 30 (yes, 30) of the fabric.  This allows for a space holding pennant (with no characters) separating the "y" of Merry and the "c" of Christmas.  But be creative!  If your triangles are fairly small, maybe you'd like to add two character-less pennants, like bookends, on the sides of your bunting.  Or maybe you just want a smaller bunting and choose to spell out "JOY," for example.


Be efficient with your cutting of the fabric triangles and maybe you'll have enough left over for a pot holder or a few coasters, you lucky duck!

4.  At this point, I sprayed the burlap pieces with laundry starch, since they were annoyingly starting to unravel a bit.  Be warned, though;  the colors may bleed (mine did...AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!) so keep away from your cotton triangles or anything else, for that matter!

5.  Match up the fabric triangles so that the back and front are the same pattern.  You should have 15 triangles total, 8 of one pattern, 7 of the other.  You'll now sew them, right sides together, with a 1/2" seam allowance.  **BE CAREFUL:  Just like when sewing up a placemat, you need to leave 4-5" of open space in which to turn the triangle right sides out.  Make the open space be along the middle of the TOP of your triangle. 

Here's what you have once you've turned your triangle right side out...pretend like you don't see the letter already on.

6.  Trim close to the stitching of your triangle (without cutting the actual seam) and trim the points.  Turn right sides out.  Use your skewer or other thin, blunt tool to press the triangle points out.

7.  Go to your ironing board and turn in and press the un-sewn portion of your triangle.  Depending on your fabric, you may be able to get away with not even pinning that 4-5".  While you're here, iron the rest of the triangle so it's nice and crisp.  You'll be doing steps 5-7 with all your fabric triangles, so consider doing them assembly line style.  Do step 5 a hundred bazillion times, then move on to step 6, etc.

8.  Let's do something really tedious have some fun now.  "Vanna, I'd like to buy a vowel!"  But we go a step further and make a handful of vowels and a slew of consonants.  To do this, you have several options:  use a Cricut machine, if you're a scrapbooker who happens to have one,  or use a printer.  I used a Cricut to make 2.5" letter cut-outs on card-stock, but you can create the same look by using a word processor program to print out (choose a grayscale setting to save ink) the letters and then cut them out of the card-stock yourself.  The size of your letters is entirely up to you, just remember size matters...you don't want to end up with letters that are too small to be read or have impact from a far, nor do you want to have letters that are too big to comfortably fit on your fabric triangle.  TEST ONE LETTER FIRST TO CHECK THE SIZE AND APPEARANCE.

So.  You've taken a little time and found a font and size lettering you like.  (Keeping in mind that you'll have to cut around these letters, even if you used a Cricut, so make sure the font is fairly easy to cut).  Cut out all the characters/ letters you need to spell: MERRY CHRISTMAS.  I chose all caps because I thought it might be easier to cut out.

You now have a pile of card-stock letters that look like this:

Don't worry about the color of your card-stock. You won't be seeing it once glued to the felt.

9.  Get your spray adhesive, in my case it was Elmer's Craft Bond spray adhesive.  Go outside with your card-stock letters and white & red felt, and your scissors.  NOTE:  I had to make a double layer of the white felt, using the spray glue as a bonding agent, because the single layer of this particular felt from Joann's was very thin.  Even though it added a little more work, I really liked the thickness and sturdiness this provided.

10.  With your surface area protected with newspaper, spray your card-stock letters with the spray adhesive with your letters RIGHT SIDE UP.  Then quickly press the letters RIGHT SIDE DOWN on the felt.  Make sure you consult your handy sheet you made at the beginning of this project to be certain you have the right color felt letters that you need.

An observation on the letter making:  since I was making 6 of these buntings with lettering at once, I thought I'd cut some corners (ha, ha!  cut, get it?!) and pin a stack of three felt pieces together.  That method yielded me 1 felt letter with an attached card-stock letter and 2 felt letters with no backing. Without the card-stock, the letters were way too flimsy and oddly shaped.  Not pretty.  I went back to cutting out a card-stock letter for each felt letter and the results were so much better--and it was easier to glue the letter onto the fabric triangle, to boot.  Here's a comparison:

The left "E" is back with card-stock, the wonky right "E" isn't.

11.  Take a swig of whatever you're drinking and have a seat with all your felt & card-stock letters;  it's time to cut.  'Til the cows come home.  Use scissors that are very sharp and allow for great precision and cut all those letters out.  When you're done, you'll have the felt side being letters facing right side up and the card-stock side on the flip side.

12.  Now get your fabric or tacky glue and glue each letter onto each fabric triangle, again consulting your trusty map you made earlier.  Try and have the letters pretty centered, but remember that this project is pretty forgiving since 1.  the triangles will be in a swag and there is inherent movement involved 2.  the bunting will probably be on a wall/ fireplace/ etc. so it won't be viewed or scrutinized up close and 3. if it's a holiday bunting, at least some of the time people will be seeing it in low light/ illuminated by Christmas lights and may be tipsy.  Whatever the case may be, don't sweat the small stuff if the letters aren't perfectly centered.

13.  Get all those nifty burlap pieces you made and head to the ironing board.  Fold over the top part (that was the trapezoid addition) and create a flap.  This flap will encase your jute rope later on.  Iron the flap down so it's easy to distinguish once you're back at your sewing machine.

14.  Go to your sewing machine and have handy complimentary thread to match your burlap triangles, in this case red and white.  Use a zig zag stitch to create the casing for the jute rope, leaving enough room inside the casing to wiggle your rope through.  (Better too much room than not enough).   Assembly line-style, sew all of one color at a time;  then you only have to change your thread once.

  1. Center your fabric triangles with the letters on them (and the one with no letter, as it's a separating pennant between Merry and Christmas) onto the burlap triangles.  Don't worry, you can always trim the burlap down a little later if things don't look even or perfect.  Pin in place.

16.  Sew, sister, sew.  Sew each pinned fabric triangle to its betrothed burlap triangle using the same color as your fabric triangle--or contrasting color--thread.  The world is your oyster;  you choose!  BE CAREFUL!  Make sure when you sew the top, wide part of your fabric triangle to its burlap piece that you don't invade in the space you allowed for your casing of the jute rope!  That would be no bueno.  Now not only is your fabric triangle anchored to your burlap triangle, but you've also closed up that 4-5" stretch of space at the top of your fabric triangle that you had when turning your fabric triangle right side out...like when you are topstitching the hole closed on a placemat.

17.  Now get your large safety pin and attach it to an end of your jute rope.

Wiggle your safety pin into the casing of your first pennant and inchworm it through until you have your pennant on your jute rope.  Repeat until all your pennants are on and space as you wish.  (If you suspect that before doing this step your banner might be too long, use two pieces of jute rope and have MERRY in a separate swag above your CHRISTMAS swag.  If you need more length, use electrical tape or something similar to attach two pieces of jute rope together;  you can always make sure to hide that tape in the middle of a pennant.


Here's a similar bunting but without the burlap. Pooh Bear was messing around before decorating the tree...

Now string it up;  you did it!