Flag Banner {Tutorial}

I have fallen in love with all the flag banners (also called bunting) that I’ve been seeing around the web. I’m sure that I am fairly tardy as I hop up onto this bandwagon, but that is pretty typical for me. No one has ever accused me of being a trend setter.

I made the above banner for a baby shower a few weeks ago, and then decided that I wanted to make one to hang in the play room. There is quite a bit of open wall space in that room that is just crying out to be adorned with colorful triangles.

As I was making this banner, I tried to take some photos along the way so I could share my method. This project took me around an hour, but I was also messing with my camera for part of that time.

Materials you will need:

1) Fabric (I used scraps that I already had, but if you’re buying fabric I would get around 1/4-1/3 of a yard of each print) 2) Rotary cutter, mat, and ruler 3) Double-fold Bias Tape (4 yards) 4) Sewing machine and thread

Start by ironing your fabric (I didn’t actually do this because I always try and cut corners. However, I ended up ironing the triangles after I had cut them, so I should have just done it to begin with.) Then, with the fold of the fabric lined up horizontally, cut strips that are 5″ wide.

(See how wrinkled the fabric is? Whoops!)

After cutting all your strips to be 5″ wide, take one strip and turn it so that the fold is now lined up vertically on the left. You are going to measure 2 3/4″ from the fold. Because I’m using a cutting mat, I just count the 1 inch blocks when I’m measuring. I find using a measuring tape to be a huge hassle.

Next, line up your ruler so that it goes from the top left corner down to the place you marked (with either your finger or a pencil.) Being the corner-cutting-person that I am, I just put my finger on the bottom edge at the place that is 2 3/4″ from the fold. Line your ruler up and cut.

That first cut can be a little tricky, but everything else is pretty easy. Now you are going to count 5 1/2″ along the top edge, put your finger there, and line your ruler up with that point and the bottom. Now cut along the ruler edge.

Now, do the same thing, counting 5 1/2″ inches along bottom edge, line up ruler, and cut. Keep alternating bottom and top edge until you run out of fabric. Depending on the length of the banner you want to make, you’ll need two triangles per foot. So, for a 4 yard length you’ll need about 22-24 triangles.

We’re ready to stitch the triangles together. If you cut them as described above, they will already be in two layers (don’t pull them apart… you want them this way!) The wrong sides should be facing one another. This method leaves you with raw edges, which I kind of like.

With two triangles lined up (wrong sides together), stitch along one edge leaving a 1/8″ seam allowance. You will only be sewing along two of the edges, because the third edge will be tucked inside the bias tape.

When you get close to the point, just pull up your presser foot and swing that triangle around! It’s not necessary to lock your thread and start a new seam. It does help to make sure that the needle is down so that when you twist the triangle around you keep the stitch in place.

When I’m sewing lots of pieces like this, I use the “chain method.” (I’m not sure if that’s really the name or if I just made that up.) Basically, I just feed another triangle under the presser foot as the previous one is finishing up. I make sure there is a little bit of distance, maybe 2-3 stitches, but this saves me time because I don’t have to lock the thread each time I start a new piece. You’ll get a chain of pieces that are all linked together once you are done. Just snip them apart with some scissors.

We’re almost done! The last thing we need to do is sew everything together with the bias tape. There are different types of bias tape and I’ve probably used them all. The type I like the best for this project is the double fold (normal width.) The wide width is easier to work with, but I don’t like the way it looks as much.The single fold that is shown below will work and give you the same look as mine, but it’s more of a pain to work with. Ironing is involved…

For this step, decide how much of a “tail” you want on each end. Then, open up the tape at that point (I usually leave a foot or so) and insert a triangle. Make sure the edge of the triangle is all the way inside the bias tape- it should be at the crease.

Most people will tell you to use pins and put a pin on each corner and one in the middle. But, that seems like a lot of work to me. I actually tried doing it that way on my first banner and it took me way longer to get the pins in the right place than it did to just sew it without pins. So, use pins if you want but I think it’s simpler to do it without.

Helpful hint: if you aren’t using pins, make sure that you get the triangles completely inside the bias tape. I found it easy enough to stop sewing right at the end of one triangle, insert my next one and make sure the stitches caught the triangle in the seam, then arrange the rest of the triangle. These are relatively small pieces with straight edges, so it shouldn’t be too hard to do without pins.

Make sure your seam is pretty close to the edge of the tape, that way you are less likely to have parts of the triangle escape and not get caught in the seam. Continue sewing until you’ve used all your triangles, or you’ve come to the end of your bias tape. Hang the banner up, step back, and admire your craftiness!

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