As my son’s first birthday rapidly approaches, the mama to-make list grows ever longer: the gift, the birthday crown, the food. There is one item on the list, however, that I know must be completed without exception: The Birthday Bunting. In my youth, we had a Birthday Streamer that made an appearance every year for all four children. It was of the crepe paper variety with a somewhat garish, but festive, pink and blue design. By the time the last of us became a teenager it was tattered and frayed, held together with tape, but present nonetheless. I remember how much it meant to me to see it up every year and how loved I felt when it greeted me as I awoke on my special day. This was a tradition that I knew I wanted to carry on with my own son.
This Celebration Bunting is made to be used again and again for numerous festive occasions in order to create lasting family traditions. It combines bright, sewn fabric and wool flags with chalkboard cloth panels on which you can write the name of the little one being celebrated, a special birthday message, or other holiday greeting. Then, simply wipe off the letters and the bunting is ready to be re-purposed for the next occasion.
(Note: Your needs may vary depending on the size and number of flags that you’d like to include)
½ yard of wool felt
¼ yard each of four different patterned cotton fabrics
½ yard of chalk cloth
4 yards extra-wide double-fold bias tape
Thread to match the bias tape and thread in a decorative color for the flags
Tools: Pinking shears, scissors, ruler, compass (or a round item to trace), marking chalk, sewing machine
Step One: Decide on the size and number of flags. It’s helpful to think of the longest phrase that you’d like to spell out and let that determine the number, although, it is easy to add flags in the future if you’d like to. I chose to have 18 flags with an overall size of 7” wide and 9” from the top edge to the bottom point for each triangle.
Step Two: In the wool felt, cut a rectangle that is 9” tall and the length of your fabric. From the edge, measure in half the width of your triangle (3.5” in this case). Using the chalk and the ruler, draw a line connecting this point to either side of the top edge. Using pinking shears, cut the long sides of the triangle. Continue on in this manner to cut all of the triangles.
Step Four: Using a compass set to a radius of 1 ¾” (or a round item with the dimensions you desire that you can trace) draw 18 circles on the chalk cloth and cut out using a scissors.
Step Five: Place a chalk cloth circle, right side up, on top of the right side of a patterned cloth triangle and top stitch. Repeat for all flags.
Step Six: Place a patterned cloth flag, right side up, on top of the right side of a wool felt triangle. Line them up at the top edge and top stitch the two long sides. Repeat for all flags.
Step Seven: Have the stack of completed flags at the ready. Sew a few inches of the bias tape closed to give yourself a tab by which to hang the bunting. Then open the tape, place the top edge of the flag snugly in the fold, and sew closed, adding flags as you go. After adding the last flag, sew a few inches of the bias tape closed for a hanging tab on the other side.
Step Eight: Using chalk, write your special greeting on the chalk cloth, hang for your occasion and enjoy!
Courtney Cable is a Midwestern mama who blogs about keeping a simple, mindful, beautiful, and sustainable home at A Life Sustained.