Betty here! Jack asked me to make him to Union Flag bunting (did you know it’s only the Union Jack if it’s flown at sea?) so I thought I’d do a little tutorial for you! This involves aging the fabric, and making a stencil as well as cutting out a boatload of triangles!
Things You Will Need
- A length of pale fabric
- Instant Coffee
- Sewing Scissors
- Hand sewing needles/a sewing machine
- Cream coloured cotton thread
- Two sheets of A4 Card
- Red and Blue acrylic paint
- A fairly thick brush (I had a household paintbrush to hand but a good artists one would be better)
I tea-stained my fabric, there are a few tutorials around online that will explain how to do this – (bear in mind that it will only work on natural fibres, so make sure you use something like cotton rather than something synthetic) – I pretty much just stuffed all of my fabric into a saucepan with three of four teabags, I used a single-sized bedsheet so that should give you some idea of how much you need. Add enough boiled water to cover your fabric! I used a sprinkling of instant coffee (we’ve been given loads, but neither of us drink it) on the top just to give the colour a more uneven look – you can add to this by scrunching up your fabric as you put it into the water.
I wanted more of an aged, stained look to my fabric, so I sprinkled some more coffee in different areas once I’d taken the fabric out of the water, and before it had dried. Leave it to dry naturally, or (as I did) cheat and use a hairdryer.
I’d recommend cutting your fabric into more manageable strips once it’s dry, before you start making your triangles! Make a stencil, about A5 sized from one of your sheets of card, so you can cut all your bunting to size – for my method it doesn’t matter too much if it’s uneven.
You’ll need to make two stencils, one for the red part of the flag and one for the blue – I traced my template that I used to cut my triangles with, and onto my second piece of card I traced the blue, and the red section on either side from an image of the union flag that I found online (there are plenty if you search) Cut out the parts that you need. I started with the red, to make things a little easier to line up. It’s good if you have a piece of board or something to lean on that you can tape the stencil onto, it makes things a little bit cleaner and easier, so you can flip the card up and down as you alternate your fabric triangles.
I used standard acrylic paint (Daler Rowney System 3) to do this, in red and blue, with a little bit of brown mixed with either to dull the colours a little and make them both a similar tone. Take your paintbrush and stipple and paint over the stencil, onto the fabric. Because I wanted mine to look a bit aged and shabby I wasn’t really so fussed about everything being too neat, some areas of the paint are patchy where others are a bit heavier, and I made the effort to try not to cover up too many of my coffee stains.
Leave them to dry! I don’t have any photos of the next stage, but it’s fairly straightforward; your fabric (presumably) will be hanging, and won’t get too much wear. The acrylic will also stop it from fraying, to a point, as it’s plastic and acts a little bit like a glue. My bunting hangs against our living room wall, and didn’t really need to be double-sided. I used some selvedge of leftover fabric to create the tape to hang my bunting from, and hand-tacked all my little triangles into place! Using a sewing machine would have been quicker and a lot better, really – but I had a bit of machine failure so I had to do it all by hand – you shouldn’t have that problem!
So here’s the finished bunting! Hanging proudly in what we’re currently calling ‘Victory Corner’ which has a few of our vintage postcards and posters hanging in it – it’s definitely a work in progress but they’re some of the first pictures that we’ve hung in the house. The living room is still a work in progress but we’ll show you the full makeover once it looks a bit more… livable.
Lots of love from Betty xx